A Note from Mary Margaret West: If I’m honest, I’m one who is often quick to speak, rather than slow to listen. If we’re living and leading like Jesus, we’ll follow his example. Abby’s post today is a great reminder of what we have to lose if we don’t speak to girls like Jesus would.
“But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22
As leaders, we see students of all walks of life coming in our doors. Many may have grown up in church and understand the normal “do’s and don’ts” of being a “church kid.” But, there are also a lot of kids that coming to youth group or small group for the very first time and have no idea what to expect. They may say something inappropriate or hurtful unintentionally. Often, my knee jerk reaction is to correct them. Of course, our goal is to never embarrass them, but sometimes that happens. We should be teaching them the ways of Jesus through His word and by example.
Have you ever heard someone say something so ridiculous and wrong that it’s like they are asking for immediate correction? Maybe it’s a misguided political opinion or their vote for favorite Golden Girl doesn’t match with your own choice. You are so sure of your own opinions and answers that you make it a mission to correct your uninformed opponent. Because you are RIGHT, you just have to jump in to prove them wrong. Your goal is to ultimately get them to AGREE with you by any means necessary. Guess what? It is not going to happen.
Proverbs 15:1 says “a gentle answer turns away wrath.” I would bet that when you’re responding to these ridiculous, wrong, disagreeable statements, that you are not giving a gentle answer. The less gentle we are, the less gentle others will be. So many arguments start and grow from the simple fact that both parties want to prove that they are right. I am certainly guilty of this, and it usually almost always backfires. There are times when I am unequivocally correct. I even have proof from multiple sources accredited by the source of all sources, Google. Truthfully, it really doesn’t matter how “right” I am if I leave a trail of hurting people in my wake.
As Christians, we sometimes have the reputation of being harsh and quick to think we are right without considering the other party’s side. We can be judgmental. The second part of Proverbs 15:1 says “a harsh word stirs up anger.” As Christians, it is our duty to show the love of Jesus. It is not our job to correct others or our right to judge them. Jesus is not judgmental and sanctimonious and He definitely does not want us to be. We all know the feeling of being judged and criticized. It’s never fun. Our words should always be constructive; never destructive.
Being Christ-like requires us to understand that He is not staring down with a critical eye, waiting for you to mess up. In fact, He is constantly giving us GENTLE correction and guidance through the Holy Spirit. What if we tried to be more like that? If we see something in someone’s life worth speaking to, let’s pray for guidance on what to say and pray that God will let us know if it’s us that needs to do the speaking. Let us say whatever needs to be said in a gentle way that builds up others instead of putting them down. Being right does not equate to being effective. By the way, Sophia is the best Golden Girl.
Abby Underwood As a self-described introvert, Abby Underwood has struggled with social anxieties her whole life. Once she fully realized her value in Christ, she overcame the challenges of loneliness and stress that had dominated her relationships. With her unique perspective of life and being pastored by some of the leading pastors in small group development and church planting, Abby determined to use her life experience to make a difference. Her new found joy and freedom fueled Abby’s passion to help girls find their identity in Christ. To encourage high school and college aged girls to step out of their self-limiting boxes and become world changers, she created the service group, Girls Leading and Simply Serving (GLASS). Abby works as a member of the social media team and student ministry at Life.Church Hendersonville.