Before we assume leadership, we imagine we’ll need certain skills. It can be surprising to discover what is really needed.
1 Corinthians 15:5 says that love is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs (or some translations say ‘not easily provoked’ or ‘not irritable’). In other words, sometimes we should just let things pass by—forgive and forget— ♪Let it go ♫
The trick, of course, is discerning when it’s time to forbear and when it’s time to say something.
I suspect you are hoping I will give you three easy rules to do this. But it’s an art you learn by practice as you walk with God. One thing I have learned is that if I feel impatient, offended or insulted . . . those are usually cases for forbearance.
However, if you are going to lead long term, some things need to be dealt with. The difficulty is doing it in a way that both resolves the issue and invites a positive relationship. Sometimes my first step is to make sure that my goal truly is a positive relationship—not a desire to vent or prove I’m right.
When the time comes, I’ve found that it usually succeeds or fails based on my tone of voice. Am I speaking calmly and slowly? Are my words kind and respectful? Or am I accusing and choosing loaded words? No matter how valid the point, it will be destructive if delivered harshly. Since relationship is the goal, how we deliver our message is paramount. The key to “speaking the truth in love” is love.
I remember one dark time many years ago. I discovered this verse: “When there are no oxen, the stall is clean, but when there is a strong bull, there is abundant produce (Proverbs 14:4 CEB).” In other words, you can keep a barn clean without animals—but then what is the point?
When you work with people it may be messy—but people are the point of ministry.