“Tools to Work With”
Over an extended period of time I have been obtaining some tools for a wood shop in my back yard. It has a name that says a lot about my wood working skills. It bears the well earned unglamorous name, “The Busted Thumb.” Actually, it is the second wood shop to bear this medallion of reality. I earned the name while building the first woodshop about twenty-five years ago. I regally, and I might add, royally, smashed my left thumb at least twice in that educational experience. The deacons of the church we were serving gave me a book entitled, Helpful Hints For Carpentry. The book consisted of two pages. One held a large twenty-penny nail and the caption “The Right Nail” The second page held a picture of a well-mangled thumb with the caption, ”The Wrong Nail!” I have learned the hard way about using a hammer, but also the fact that the right hammer is as important as knowing how to use it. A craftsman not only knows how to pick the best piece of wood for a project, but also how to work with a piece of wood that is less than perfect for the task at hand. Having the right tool will give that individual the potential of turning a particular piece of wood from a so-so project into one that will bring appreciation and admiration.
One of the areas I am privileged to engage in, as a DoM, is Conflict Resolution. There are times when congregations experience the trauma of conflict. Often this impacts the pastor, other leaders, and the congregation. It is a painful and disruptive time in the life of that church. The sad fact is that almost none of our churches or pastors have been given any tools with which to work to help bring reconciliation and healing to the relationship. We typically function on the basis of past experience or learned behavior that has been just as destructive in the past as it is in the current.
We need to figure out which is the “Wrong Nail” and which is the “Right Nail.” Our goal must be to bring to our churches and ministers resources which can make a difference in their ability to communicate, problem solve, and to develop a healthy relationship with which to work. I am convinced that having these resources is as urgent a need as the many other areas of church life we address as a people of God.
The scripture clearly gives us spiritual direction and instruction as to how the people of God should and must relate in order to have integrity in bearing a witness to a broken world. I have found that often pastors and congregations know the Biblical mandates of reconciliation, but lack the process with which to apply those principles. This is a “Tall Order” for someone who is vertically challenged, but God is a BIG God. I believe our greatest days of mission and ministry are before us now, but we often shackle ourselves with the pain of our conflict and our broken relationships. This is the day to “run the race set before us” – it is not to be a three-legged race encumbered with the burdens of sinful relationships. We must have skill, courage, commitment and passion about the journey of faith God has given to His People.