Good morning my friends. As some of you are aware, I spent yesterday at a teachers' conference with some of my staff. Like with all things there were some excellent workshops and some that were not so great. It seems every year I hit a theme in the workshops I attend. One year it was technology and how it can be used in education. The information I gained that year I used to transform our school's approach to education. This year the theme seemed to be about behaviour challenged students and how to handle them. I found these workshops to be of immense help but not because of the presenters. I found myself inspire and taught by teh Spirit in these workshops.
One of the workshops dealt with our attitude and the language we use in dealing with students who do not match acceptable behavour. As I listened I heard the language of Scripture being taught. From everything else the two presenters were saying I assumed they were not believers, but in this one area I say the world trying to copy what should be very natural for us as believers. I will take an example from the next letter we are studying, Colossians, in the first chapter:
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints. vs. 3-4
There are a number of things Paul is doing here as he begins his letter to a people he has never met. He is not the planter of this church, he has never visited, he does not know them, but he starts off with establishing a connection. Before he starts in on anything else he connects with them, he says, we always thank God when we pray for you. Try using that to start a conversation and see what kind of connection you immediately establish with a person. In the world we may start off with "I like that shirt" or "I like how you have your hair". It is a positive connection. The world would see this as practical psychology we we see it as loving people. No one should be better at this then the Church because our whole business is loving people into the Kingdom so we should have great people skills. We should not have to go to school to study psychology because we are under the authority of the greatest psychologist, Jesus Christ.
Our business is people; our business is to love people with the love of the Lord. Our concern must be the spiritual condition of that person, not their behaviour. Our connection needs to be established before we can deal with any behaviour problems. We cannot just go up to someone and start in on their wrong behaviour. We need to connect with them in relationship, we need to establish Jesus as Lord and Saviour and then we can look at behaviour. The example that was given yesterday could be an illustration of what we do not do in the Church. The presenter gave an example of a principal who was greeted on the stairs by a student who's shoe laces were undone. The principal greeted the girl back. "Good morning Susan. How are you today? How was your weekend? That's great. By the way, when you get to the bottom of the stairs do up your shoe laces please." I see that example in this letter and in all of Paul's letters. Before he starts in on some of the correction he makes a connection and he deals with some of the things they are doing correctly.
As lovers of everything the Father loves we should be able to speak the languages of love. Before Paul starts in on some things that need to be corrected Paul praises the church for what it is getting right. In this case he praises them for their faith and their love. With our fellow believers we often tear down and criticize them for things they are not managing to do right and for certain character flaws. However, we should have the ability to focus on the good things, the correct things about that person or that ministry. Criticism is not a language of love. Sometimes we disguise criticism as correction but not many of us should imagine ourselves as having the authority to correct. It is true that the Scriptures tell us to watch out for each other but Jesus also told us not to be concerned with the dust in our brother's eye when we have a log in our own.
As I reflected on the representation and the Holy Spirit worked on my understanding of Scripture, I realized I had already been equipped for this, I just wasn't applying it. I am responsible for a lot of people as a pastor and as a principal as well as a dad. Do I put the people before the mission? Am I concerned about them or what I can get out of them? Am I connected with them or am I keeping them at a safe distance? Am I using language that builds them up or am I noticing the shoe laces instead of the relationship? These are tough questions for me as the Spirit continues to break me and build me. I am project oriented. I am goal oriented. I am goal oriented because I have this mistaken notion that its results that matter to Jesus. My orientation is all off and it has to be realigned by the Spirit. Jesus is not goal oriented, he is relationship oriented. He is not in the business of people management, he is the business of people building. It is all about establishing love connections with people, establishing relationships for building people up, for inspiring greatness in people.
It is a good subject for a Saturday morning reflection; how do you treat the people in your lives? Do you spend more time correcting, criticizing, tearing down or are you a connector, a builder of people? There is still correction involved in building people, its just not the focal point and it is not the first thing to be dealt with. I am not a psychologist. I do not like the use of psychology in the Church. This is not psychology, this is the Word of God and we are not very good at it; but we can be, with the Spirit's help. Today, take the time to examine the language you use with the people you encounter, especially the language you use with your children.