Have you ever run across someone who gets under your skin? In other words, whether it is their tone, comments, or behavior, something about them is irritating, and that irascibility is continuous and annoying. I met such a person playing pickleball. In this case, an older man seems to feel that he needs to tutor everyone else on the court even though his skills are inferior. He makes snarky comments, and I don’t like it. It gets to the point where when he signs up to play, others stay away because they don’t enjoy playing with him. Unfortunately, he does not seem to take hints or suggestions. He is fixed in his mannerisms and perhaps does not care what others think. So, I have to admit I was not thrilled when I read Romans 15:1,2 this morning.
Competition is one of my signature strengths. I don’t like losing or being wrong. By God’s grace I am mellowing with age. So, I can somewhat identify with John when he and his buddies were bothered that someone they didn’t know was taking on demons in the power of Jesus’ name yet wasn’t part of their signature team. I’m sure he felt that that it was completely inappropriate for one who was not spending time at the feet of the Master to minister as a supposed follower. But John and his fellow disciples were misguided in their thinking.
Exodus 17:6—“I am going to stand there in front of you on the rock at Horeb; when you hit the rock, water will come out of it and the people will drink.” Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.
Luke 15:2—And the Pharisees and scribes were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!”
Our pastor recently received an anonymous email that was highly critical of himself and his executive pastor. As an elder, I can honestly share that this kind of message serves only to discourage leaders. The person criticizing picks apart whatever he or she disagrees with, is not part of a solution and hides behind a cloak of anonymity rather than come and personally share what is misunderstood. It is too easy to be critical. It is also immature to lob rocks from the other side of the hill.
There is a popular phrase passed along by leaders, “Always praise publically, criticize or correct privately.” Unfortunately, this gets violated all too often in organizations where insecure or unthoughtful people publicly criticize employees, family members, or co-workers. I once had a fellow team member complain to the program director over his offense at some of my closing remarks. Rather than just come and tell me, he went “over my head.” When the director mentioned his complaint to me I was surprised and lost respect for a fellow leader who prides himself in leading yet was unprofessional by not speaking directly to me.
Jackie called her friend Sandy and informed her that she was going to quit her job. When asked why, she said that her company changed management and the new boss was unfriendly towards her and very critical of her work. Rather than try and figure out the profile of her new boss and how she might modify her behavior, it was easier for Jackie to leave. Jackie does not like conflict. Not many people do.
Do you remember growing up hearing the rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!?” The intent of that couplet is to steel us against teasing and badgering but, the reality is, words can internally leave nasty marks. Cruel, mean-spirited, or foul comments may inflict enduring damage and color the way we view the antagonist.
Matthew 9:32-34—Just as they were going out, a demon-possessed man who was unable to speak was brought to Him. When the demon had been driven out, the man spoke. And the crowds were amazed, saying, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel!” But the Pharisees said, “He drives out demons by the ruler of the demons!”
Jeb spread a false rumor about another leader in the church. His pastor after confirming the report was untrue, confronted him about the report and asked him to recant. Jeb refused and shortly thereafter, left the church. Unfortunately, in a bizarre twist of events, Jeb’s departure ended up in the elders expelling their pastor and church founder. The body of Christ lost a talented leader and in hearing this true story I was reminded of Jesus’ warning to his disciples.
Cabe and Rhonda are trashing their lives. He is an alcoholic and she is a spendaholic. While they love each other, their weaknesses create a bad spiral. Rhonda gets frustrated by the long hours Cabe works and so she rationalizes going on spending sprees. When Cabe gets the credit card bill inwardly he is so mad at Rhonda that he knows he will say things he will regret, so he gets drunk instead. Unfortunately what then comes out of his mouth is even worse. Sadly, both of them know God and inwardly understand that their behavior is unacceptable, but they will not be exiting their spiral anytime soon because of the way they are treated by fellow Christians.
My team briefed me at 3:30 p.m. The key slide in their operational brief that I would have to in turn brief my boss at 5:00 p.m. was awful. The words that were to describe our progress were not clear and there were too many confusing acronyms. And what was supposed to be a clear map for the location of the disaster in our exercise, with scope of destruction from a notional bomb, was just a big brown blob. Each subordinate unit that briefed me had much better graphics depicting roads, cities and key information. But I couldn’t use their work because by the time all the units finished speaking there wasn’t enough time for the staff to swap content. Inside I was fuming. This was our first chance to make a strong impression on our higher headquarters and our one slide was unprofessional.
Dr. Myles Munroe wr0te in his book The Burden of Freedom, “When a lifestyle of irresponsibility is allowed to increase, the voice of conscience is progressively silenced . . . Conscience has died throughout much of the world’s society because we have inherited a spirit of irresponsibility.” Irresponsibility thrives when we fail to punish wrong behavior. But we also spur its existence by too quickly applying mercy without permitting disgrace. This may seem odd since the word disgrace carries such a negative connotation. This is why Scripture is profoundly important. Notice how God used disgrace to teach us a lesson.
Cassidy sent out an email to her boss. The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for Grok Inc. cited several recent incidents that occurred and accused Konrad, a coworker and fellow executive, of harassing her and generally acting like a jerk. The boss was surprised because he had worked with Konrad for years and had never before received complaints like this about him or observed him to act in a way that was disrespectful to others. So he asked his CFO to call him. When she did, he questioned her as to what exactly Konrad had done. In the course of the conversation the boss realized that Cassidy was making several bad assumptions about her coworker. It especially galled him that she had not discussed her concerns with Konrad before sending him the negative report.*