(During July, I am reposting a series regarding healthy habits for believers and church leaders in particular.)
Habit #3. Choose to contribute to healthy communication.
James Bryan Smith, in a seminar on The Good and Beautiful Life, said that our technology is way ahead of our ethics and etiquette. Remember that there is no substitute for face-to-face communication. Yes, email, text messaging, and other forms of communication are all helpful. Yet, they do not take the place of actual conversation with people who are right in front of us. I once heard of a family who spent an evening together — sort of. Throughout the evening, though they were in the same house, they emailed one another.
Choose to be the bearer of good news. Look for what God is doing in your church. Make a list of what you’ve witnessed. Catch people doing what is good, right, and godly. Far too much time and energy is wasted talking about what people did wrong.
Habit #4. Speak about others in their absence in a way that would not surprise them if they were present.
Stay away from anything that even remotely resembles manipulation. Love and manipulation are two very different ways of treating people.
I remember the first time I heard the expression, “It is better to ask forgiveness than seek permission.” A minister was telling some others that he typically did what he wanted in the congregation and then later asked forgiveness if that seemed necessary. I heard an elder justify his practice of not communicating with his fellow elders with this practice.
Really? Is this what we want to teach our own children? What if everyone practices this? Is this really the way of Jesus with one another?
Habit #5. Celebrate first base.
Not every Sunday is going to be a home run day in your congregation. Yes, there are those “home run Sundays.” There are those days when everything seems to click and it is so obvious that God has been at work in a powerful way. Most Sundays (at least in my experience) are not like this. You hit a single or a double. You get to first or second base.
I’m saying that it is important to be thankful to God for whatever good is done on a given Sunday. Look for the small moments of encouragement. Be grateful for some progress.
There are many Sundays when you wonder if you have done any good at all. I have learned that I need to trust God and believe that he will see that the faithful preaching of his Word bears fruit in some way. Know that God is faithful even when you can’t see any progress.
Which one of these three habits has been particularly important to you?