Some people you know on only one level; the local barista, a taxi driver, the policeman pulling you over for speeding. Its a pretty simple relationship, because you’re the driver and he’s the cop.
But what if the cop who pulls you over is a guy from your soccer team? Or your barista is a member of your church? Or your taxi driver is the husband of the couple you’re doing marriage counselling with?
In those situations, you have to be clear about what “relationship hat” you’re wearing… you’re not wearing the soccer team mate relationship hat, you’re wearing the driver/officer hat.
You can really stuff up a relationship when you try to wear two hats at the same time; “So officer, remember how we won the final together!?” doesn’t work.
I think this is really helpful in church staff teams, where we’re all close and good friends in Christ. Sometimes we need to say things to each other on the basis that we’re “Christian brothers” only. Other times we need to say it on the basis that we’re “employees” only.
This also plays out in share houses. Flat mates need to get used to saying things like, “Hey, I need to have a conversation with you, not as a friend, but as a flat mate.”
Christians have an appropriate concern about their motives. We want to do things for the right motivations, and we want our church families to do things for the right motivations.
That’s a good thing. However, we can get caught up in the reasoning behind the right reasons. Are the reasons too guilt motivated? Are the reasons theologicaly sound? Are the reasons reasonable for where I’m at.
So, rather than doing Christian things for the right reasons, a better way to approach it might be to do things for the right person. Yes… Jesus.
When you consider who Jesus is, your forgiver, your brother, your master, your God… It motivates us relationally. We do things for him who died and lives for us.
Making friends with non-Christians is making friends. It’s not evangelism until you evangelise them.
And just so we’re all clear… Being friends with non-Christians is not evangelism either.
I’m all for building friendships! And its a great way to open avenues to evangelism. Just don’t call it something it’s not until it is.
Only rebuke when there’s not a conflict of interest; don’t do it because they’ve hurt your friend’s feelings, or to make someone else happy, don’t do it because it will give you an advantage.
Only rebuke when you’ve distanced yourself emotionally; don’t do it if you’re wrestling with forgiving them still, don’t do it if your feelings are going to be controlled by their response.
Only rebuke when you’re humble enough to admit you don’t know their motives; don’t do it if you’ve already decided that they intended evil or were malicious. You’d be rebuking something only God can know – and you’re not God.
Only rebuke when you’ve got the facts; don’t rebuke when you’ve just heard what they did, or when they’ve only told you snippets. Get the whole story from them first, prayerfully hoping that they haven’t sinned at all.
Only rebuke when your real desire is to please God.
Feedback is good. Even when its critical, hard to hear, ill-informed, or just wrong.
But feedback is bad when its anonymous because feedback – no matter how critical it may be – is relational. Its my opinion about you, but “voiced”. I’m not keeping it to myself, (and I’m not telling others ‘cause that’s “gossip”) but instead I’m making my opinion known to you.
But what happens when I tell you my opinion, but I don’t tell you it came from me?
All of a sudden you know what “someone” thinks, but you don’t know who that “someone” is. You could be speaking to them now, or tomorrow, or never even speak to them again. It could even be your best friend. You can’t know.
You can see how giving you feedback, without letting you know who I am, is ultimately very unloving, selfish and cowardly. Its a way of telling you what I think, without any consequences to myself.
So, if you get anonymous feedback, the only way to stop the effects of the selfishness that started it, is to just not read it.
If there’s no name on it, stop reading and throw it.
Since we pastor people, and people are not in a vacuum but are part of a culture, the cultural norms and tools affect what pastoral ministry look like from generation to generation. Our culture uses SMSs, phone-calls, emails and social media in particular ways, and if we are pastoring cultural-normalised sheep, we need to properly leverage these tools. So here’s my current perception/opinions/ideas… that will probably be proved wrong in many cases… But just observing the 18-25 year olds…
- Phone calls are for serious business. They are the 90’s equivalent of a formal letterhead. Calling to just say “hi” is a confusion of categories. Phone conversations needs to be planned-in; you need to SMS in advance, “Hey, can I phone you about this? How about now?”. This generation is telling us that the prospect of getting a “welcome phone call” is somewhere between weird and scary… and yet… if it’s done well, it still works!! Maybe because no-one else does it and they realise there’s actually a real person at the other end of the communication (sometimes lost in SMSs).
- SMSs are the new phone-calls. They work for our current Individualistic culture, because they are easily ignored. You don’t have to reply straight away. The message has arrived, but you are culturally allowed to deal with it in your own time (10mins, 10hrs, even 10days!!!). This means, while SMSs do steal people’s attention, they are good ways of one-way communication. And they do open the door to two-way communication.
We’ve recently tried sending mass SMSs to our whole church to pray for an evangelistic even WHILE it happens. Anecdotally, this has been received well.
- Email is more and more becoming a one-way communication tool. Most people are swamped by emails… but what that usually means is that they only respond to a very few of the emails they think they should respond to. Let me say that again… people still read almost all their email (headers/subjects at least). And for many of these emails, they feel an internal conviction that they SHOULD reply or take some action, but they don’t. Therefore email has become a huge source of individual guilt for people. They are not swamped by email, but rather swamped by the guilt produced when they look at email. Take home message, if you want a response, email is very unlikely to garner much.
- Social media is still a new beast. Someone somewhere made the valid point that in 20years time we’ll look back and think, what on earth were we doing then!?! It has certain characteristics of SMS and email; there’s so much of it (like email), but people don’t feel the guilt they do with email. It’s also personal like SMS. We’ve found that people are more willing to give their Facebook details and be Private Messaged on FB than they are being SMSed… maybe a trend to continue?
One of the take home messages is, if you’re involved in pastoring people aged 15-25… you should consider SMSing them a lot! I mean a lot… from a pastoral point of view, you get easy access to people’s personal thoughts almost 24/7. And then when you do meet with them, they feel much more connected to you – even if you don’t feel much more connected to them.
Power is an odd word, but in this case I simply mean the ability to make things happen within an organisation/church.
1. Role Power
This is the power someone has because of their title or position. They are the “pastor”, or the “youth leader”, or the “missions director”. This is the normal person people think of when you ask, “Who has the power?” But they’re just one type of power.
2. Expertise/information Power
This is the person who understands the details. They’re the Sunday school teacher who is the only one who seems to know WHERE to find anything, from mops to music sheets and everything in between. Or the guy who just knows whose house the couple are at tonight, and what they were doing last week, and that they’re on setup in the morning.
This person has significant power in your organisation. They, if they want to, can influence many and support or undermine your initiatives.
3. Relational Power
This is the person who knows everyone and how they’re doing. They are well liked, they are deep friends with many others. They are respected and a regular go-to person for people in trouble or distress.
These people have significant power in your organisation. They also have the ability to make your plans loved, or ensure your plans fail.
Do you know who the human powers are?