I have been accused of this before. My wife says this to me sometimes too. I can be opinionated and sometimes too much so. What I am learning is that if it comes into my mind, I may not need to say it…at least not out loud and not right then.
This can be especially critical while preaching or teaching. Thoughts come into my head in the middle of teaching and I have to quickly discern if they are form the Holy Spirit or from me. Maybe I don’t need to say that, maybe I do. Maybe I don’t need to say it that way. maybe I need to say that, but not now. Maybe what I am thinking is true, but does it need to be said right then. I have said things on occasion that have been misunderstood. Here are a few statements that I’ve said that made people mad or they didn’t listen to the context. Maybe I shouldn’t have said them or shouldn’t have said them that way…or maybe I should have. 🙂
One time while talking about serving in your ministry, I said, “If you are a member or have been attending here [at The Ridge] for 6 months or a year and you are not serving in a ministry, you are dead weight.” Well, that is true, but maybe I shouldn’t have said it that way. Some people got mad about it, but really the ones who got mad mostly were the one’s who were not serving. Maybe I should have been more tactful…or not. 🙂
I said one time in speaking of having a passion for reaching the lost of our community, “It’s not that I don’t love the people inside the church, its that I love those who aren’t here yet more.” Well, maybe I should have said, “…I love the people who aren’t here yet just as much.” Maybe that would have been better. Boy that really ticked off some people. I was accused of not caring about the church. I was told that I was too focused on evangelism. (Go figure that, a preacher too focused on reaching the lost!) Well, the context of that statement was that we didn’t need to be so focused on ourselves and meeting the “needs & wants” of the people inside the church at the expense of neglecting what we are called to do: reach the lost. Could’ve said that better, but the truth of the context was there. I think that has been a problem for the church in the past. Yes we have to grow the Body in order for them to reach the lost. Absolutely. So we do try to do both of those things. The are both a part of the Great Commission.
One time I said, when talking about people who have actually said to me that they were leaving the church because they felt guilty because we always wanted them to serve somewhere, “I thought, ‘Fine. you can go be a burden to someone else.'” Then I said, “Oops. Did I say that out loud?” Well, you can imagine how that went down. Most people laughed it off. It was true, but maybe not tactful. I had a few people get mad about that one too. Probably should have just kept that thought to myself.
I could go on. I’m sure that if you are a pastor, leader, boss, teacher, coach, parent, son, daughter, you can relate. We all have thoughts about things and have voiced them shouldn’t. Maybe it was just how we said it. I will say this, if I have ever offended someone in the church because of a statement like this, please forgive me. Talk to me about something that I don’t communicate clearly…don’t get in my face, but talk to me, not about me. I never claimed to be the best communicator in the world. I blow it often. I’ve done it with my wife and my kids. I’ve done it with staff and friends. It’s easy to do, if we aren’t careful.
So if you have thoughts you need to express to someone, by all means do it…in the right setting and context. Honest communication is essential to healthy relationships. Pastor, if you have something to say that is from God, by all means say it. If you have an opinion, make sure it lines up with Scripture. If it doesn’t, then don’t say it.
The Bible has much to say about words and how we speak to one another. One verse I like in particular is Colossians 4:6:
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Don’t always say what you are thinking…maybe sometimes it’s necessary, but not always. Someone’s probably not going to like the way I said this either! 🙂