May 28, 2012

Lovingly Authentic

The washer repairman arrived when my three-year-old son was in another room. This man was overweight and struggled down the stairway as if he had arthritis. As soon as my son came into the room, he said, "I didn't know the fixer man was fat! And...he walks funny, too." I had a discussion with my son that day but forgave his inappropriate comment based on his age.

In contrast to my son's verbal expressiveness, which some call "authenticity," I am guarded in letting others know my thoughts. Partly, this is because I know that what I say as a woman in ministry could have more impact on others than something a layperson expresses. Also, I am hesitant to engage in the messiness that results from knowing and being known.

God-honoring speech is somewhere in the middle of a 3-year-old's plain truth and an older Old School woman's fierce reserve. The Bible extols speaking the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15) Personally, I find this to be one of the hardest balances to achieve in the Christian life. Here are some things I am learning.

The heart of the matter is the heart. I am tempted to think that if my sins are hidden from the people I minister to, they are not really sins. Sometimes, pent up negative feelings come tumbling out, and people are shocked that I actually have some. My hesitance to say unkind things about people doesn't indicate that I love everyone as I should. Hating someone in my heart is a deeper sin. And, God knows my heart (I Samuel 16:7). I need to regularly repent and ask Him to give me love for other people. Then, with God's help, my speech emanates from a loving heart and builds up others.

Being truthful is not the same as expressing every true thought. I am tempted to let people know what I really think under the guise of being truthful (Exodus 20:16). It may be true that I don't agree with someone else's choices or that I get annoyed by her habits. However, if the Bible doesn't speak about it, why should I? It is the same as pointing out that a repairman's legs are arthritic. It is true but serves no edifying purpose. Instead, I should ask God how I can encourage people in their struggles with speech that honors Him.

Pick a few wise people to be your sounding boards. I am tempted to navigate the unique challenges of the ministry life alone, but I need someone to listen to me and my concerns. Prayer is a perfect outlet for this. Wise Christians can help me, too (Proverbs 24:6). They can see the difference between sharing my frustrations with people and sinful speech. God provided two trustworthy Christian women, who are not in my church, to talk to about my feelings. My husband is another reliable sounding board for sensitive issues.

For ministry women, speaking the truth in love is always a work in progress. I need to guard my heart, guard my speech and guard my choice of confidants.

1 comment:

  1. A good "authenticity check" for me is to think about other godly women whose speech I respect---and try to imitate them, as they imitate Christ.


Join the conversation!
All comments become the property of Sunday Women.

COMMENTING HINTS: If you are baffled by the "Comment As_____" choices, you can simply select "Anonymous" and include your name in the comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...