The worst problems are the ones you feel you could have avoided.
Regret, hind-sight – call it what you will, it is the nagging and persistent feeling that a situation was foreseen but ignored. Such is my feeling with issues once again in my leadership at church. Suffice to say that interpersonal relationships, gone sour, have poisoned the river of joy and peace and have sickened the spiritual health of many. It has become abundantly clear that there is no way an organization can survive a persitent dysfunction like the absence of trust. The book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni lists absence of trust as the first and most prominent of the dysfunctions that can befall a working group. Trust between people is more than just thinking the other person will follow through on committments. It is the agreement between parties that each has no hidden agenda, and that all statements and communications are truly aimed at building toward a common goal and clarity of mind. This type of trust takes time and hard work, which I realize I should have pushed a lot more in helping my team members to move past the hurts and resentments of previous conflicts.
As I looked at the situation spiritually, I realized that much of my hesitation came from a fear of saying or doing the wrong thing, of inserting myself into people’s “business”. I am acutely aware of my tendency to avoid conflict, and perhaps that seemed to work in the short term. In the long view, however, saying nothing is just as deadly as saying the wrong thing if saying nothing deepens the emotional wound or leaves it open. Knowing that I have read, studied, and been taught the words Jesus gave us to resolve relationship issues is different from actually saying those words to people, but that time has long past that they must be said. Anything less is like allowing the cancer of unresolved conflict to spread until it consumed the organism or organization it inhabits.
In my prayer and mediation this morning, the Lord led me to passages that echoed the sentiment of “His words in my mouth”. Our pastor preached from Ezekiel 3 on that subject on Sunday, and I found it again in Jeremiah 1:9, as well as Isaiah 51:16 and 59:21. Each time God confirms that he places His words in our mouths for the purpose of giving to those that need to hear. It was always humbling for me to think that God would allow His eternal purposes and plans to be revealed through such a bumbler as myself. Much easier to leave such high calling to the pastors and preachers of the world. But I find no excuse for those who seek after the Lord to not speak His words into situations where He has clearly placed us as intermediaries. If the words spoken are human in orgin, then of course we can expect human consequences – continual complications, hidden agendas, and questionable motives. But God’s words, when spoken in reverence of their source, have no such human consequence – rather they are divinely inspired to achieve God’s purposes, not our own. To say what God says is to agree with God’s purpose and direction, and to abandon and release our own purposes.
I pray that I will, as Paul says in Ephesians 6, speak boldly as I ought. His words have comfort, healing, and power even though I in myself have no ability to comfort, heal, or solve problems. So I release His words on the battered and bruised in spirit, knowing they will not return with accomplishing whatever the Lord wishes them to do. I close with the prayer of Psalm 19…
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
Looking unto the hills,