I tend to value maintaining relationships over being right. I don’t know that this is always good or bad, but it is how I operate. You need to know it as you read what follows.
I learned today of a person leaving one of the churches I serve because of something that was said in a class. The person teaching/facilitating the class made a statement that another member of the group found troubling. Though the offended party has been involved with this class and this church for a number of years, they are leaving.
I don’t know many details about the situation and am, admittedly, making a couple of assumptions in what follows, but I believe the following to be the case:
- I believe the person facilitating the class made a flippant comment that was heard in a way they would not have intended for it to be heard.
- I believe the person that was bothered by the statement heard it as an authoritative position of the church being shared by one of the leaders of the church.
- I believe the person that was bothered by the statement asked no clarifying questions.
- I believe the person that was bothered by the statement did not share the discomfort they felt with the person who made the statement.
- I believe the person who made the offending statement still doesn’t know they caused offense (at least to the degree that they did) with what they said.
- I believe the person who made the offending statement would want a chance to hear a response from the person who was offended and to dialogue about what was said.
- I believe that if the two people had a chance to truly hear one another’s thoughts and concerns on the issue they would likely find themselves closer to one another in their thinking than they might imagine.
Though I don’t know many of the details of the exchange these two people had (or didn’t have) I make the above statements because I know there are a number of times in my life where I have been in both of these situations. I know I have said (and been blind to) things that offended others. I also know that I have taken offense at something said by someone else, but chosen not to confront them or engage in the conversation.
I share all of this today, with the hope that as brothers and sisters in the body of Christ we might take care to be intentional about the words that we speak, that we might hear what others say with a sense of discernment, and that we might ask clarifying questions and engage in constructive dialogue with one another when words offend or cause concern.
How about you? Do you see yourself at all in this scenario? What are your thoughts on the assumptions I make? Am I off base on anything? Have I missed any you would add? Do you tend to place a higher value on maintaining relationships or on being right?