Give it Five Minutes

(Choose to Respond instead of React)

Author Jason Fried tells the story of hearing a speaker at a conference in Providence, Rhode Island.  While the speaker was speaking, he was “making an inventory” of the things he didn’t agree with.  After Fried met the speaker, he immediately began to express to him the things he didn’t agree with.  Fried then describes how this speaker responded to his criticisms:

It was a simple thing. He said “Man, give it five minutes.” I asked him what he meant by that? He said, it’s fine to disagree, it’s fine to push back, it’s great to have strong opinions and beliefs, but give my ideas some time to set in before you’re sure you want to argue against them. “Five minutes” represented “think”, not react. He was totally right. I came into the discussion looking to prove something, not learn something.

Does this resonate with you?

I text others quite regularly.  One of the downsides of texting is that it is quite easy to react instead of think.  The text comes in and within seconds I can react and sent a reply.  I have learned to pause and think.  Yes, it is tempting to react but a quick reaction does not have near the value of a response that comes after thinking.

One reason why we often have difficulty even having civil conversations with people with whom we disagree is because we have reacted so quickly instead of thinking and then giving a thoughtful response.  This happens in marriages, with our children, and in our churches.

A few suggestions:

  1. In conversations with others at church (or elsewhere), we would do well to listen to their point of view instead of simply reacting.  You might ask, “Would you help me understand your train of thought?  How did you arrive at such a conclusion?”
  2. In meetings with others, with whom we do not agree, we might seek to really understand what they are saying and what is behind their particular concern instead of just reacting.
  3. When talking with our families, we might consider what is at stake when we simply react.  I can recall times when dealing with our children when I did not listen because in my thinking, I was already formulating my response.

Bottom line: Before saying anything, we might just give it “five minutes.”  It can be the difference in reacting and in giving a thoughtful response.

 

When Preachers Suffer Self-Inflicted Wounds

Serving as a minister can be hard – very hard.  Yes, there are many situations where preachers and their families have been mistreated by their own congregation.  These are real situations and deserve our thought, attention, and prayer.

Yet, I don’t want to overlook another reality for many who preach.  This reality is the self-inflicted wound.  Some of us misbehave and do not model what it means to be a healthy or a Christ-like minister.  For example:

*One particular preacher would not respond to the elders of his congregation.  Their requests, regardless of how small, were generally met with pushback.  He said openly that he does not like dealing with elders or anyone who might have authority.  He has only been with the congregation for three years. (He was at his prior congregation two years.)  It appears that unless something changes, he will be asked to move on.

*Another preacher was known to have a volatile temper, particularly when he did not get his way.  He became incensed one night in an elders’ meeting and spoke sharply to two elders who had raised a few questions about an initiative that he proposed.

*In one congregation, a long-time minister attempted to manipulate several elders so that he might get what he wanted from the elder group.  Often, he would pay one or two elders a lot of attention outside their meetings, leading them to think they were “best friends” with this minister.  Whenever this minister had a complaint or a request, he would use these two to push his agenda in the elder group.  Eventually, these two elders differed with him on a particular matter and the “friendship” was over.  It took some of the elders years to see how they were being used.

*In still another congregation, a minister was known as being very difficult for the other ministers on staff to work with.  Volunteers at the church also found him difficult.  He was once asked about his stubbornness.  His response was “That’s just the way I am.”

These self-inflicted wounds damage marriages, friendships, and one’s ministry with the congregation.  They often reflect emotional immaturity instead of displaying emotional maturity.  Such wounds may cause a ministry at a congregation to end abruptly or prematurely.  The bottom line, however, is that this does not have to be this way.

Ministry is hard enough.  However, self-inflicted wounds sometimes defeat a ministry that would otherwise contribute to the spread of the kingdom in that city.

Monday Notes

(Various resources you might enjoy)

The following are some examples of what I read in the past week.  Perhaps some of these will be of interest to you.

Benny Hinn is my uncle but prosperity preaching isn’t for me,” Costi Hinn, Christianity Today, September 10, 2017.

Managers as Mentors,” Walter C. Wright, Comment, December 1, 2006.

Happiness Traps: How We Sabotage Ourselves At Work,” Annie McKee, Harvard Business Review, September-October 2017.

The Mainliner Who Made Me More Evangelical,” Russell Moore, Christianity Today, September 20, 2017.

Right now I am reading two books, That’s Not How We Do It Here! – John  Kotter and Teaching Fish to Walk – Peter L. Steinke.

Perhaps one of these will be helpful.  I listen to podcasts, read articles, and am usually reading a book or two.  Of course, I would love to hear about any resource that has been helpful, encouraging, or insightful.