A concern I have for the Christian Culture is the absence of these serious but seldom used phrases. For a group who was saved while we were still sinners, it always amazes me how confident we are in asserting that we have a monopoly on a certain theology. How often does a brother or sister get thrown under the proverbial tribal bus because they don’t understand the Bible the way you do. Here are four uncomfortable phrases Christians need to START saying more often:
1. I Don’t Know. As a pastor, I am always tempted to have and to hold all the right answers. But the truth is, sometimes I just don’t know. I even use this phrase when asked a question I really don’t know the answer to.
We shouldn’t be ashamed of people thinking we don’t know something. We should be more ashamed of faking the fact that we really do have all the answers.
Admitting you don’t know something demands vulnerability. And when we are that transparent, we run the risk of people realizing who we really are.
2. I Was Wrong. I rarely hear this phrase in a Jesus culture. Especially from people who have placed their theology in a prison rather than a home. How would you feel if no one around you ever admitted to being wrong. I personally would feel like a complete failure. As someone who can do no right.
But the truth is, we will be wrong – more often than we want to admit.
Wrong about the way we interpreted a Bible passage. Wrong about calling another faithful Christian a false teacher. Wrong about the fact that anyone who doesn’t read the books I read, listen to the pastors I listen to or go to the school I go to – have lost their way and have gone astray.
3. I Really Appreciate You. My growing concern for the church is that we won’t end up catching the ten leper syndrome. You know the story I am referring to (Luke 17:11-19). Jesus heals ten lepers only to have one turn back and return to Jesus – to thank Him. Even Jesus seemed perturbed at the other nine.
When was the last time we looked someone in the eyes – not in a creepy stalker way – but genuinely connected with someone face to face to tell them that you appreciate them?
When was the last time we let our spouse know that they are appreciated? How about your community group leader? Your pastor? Your parents? Letting people know that you appreciate them should be the norm, not the exception for funerals and eulogies.
4. Nothing. Sometimes, we just have to sit still and not say anything. Living in a noisy world, we are terribly afraid of silence.
Often, the best advice is no advice at all.
Especially when a person is grieving or going through a difficult time. Yes, there is a time to encourage, to build up, to edify, to rebuke, to restore, to call for repentance, to quote Philippians 4:6 to an anxious person, to quote John 14:6 to someone questioning the exclusivity of Jesus being the only way to God, to quote Ephesians 3:20 when casting a big vision. But saying nothing is the uncomfortable phrase that we need to get comfortable with. A crazy thing happens when you don’t say anything. You begin to hear. You begin to….listen.
5. No. I get tons of different opportunities handed to me every single day. But I have learned to say no to good things, in order to say yes to great things. If you are like me, you don’t want to disappoint people. If you are like me, you want other people to like you and to think that you are above the average, an overachiever.
But here is the thing: Saying yes to everything is not about being an amazing servant – it is about being a foolish steward.
Burning out because you have over committed yourself stresses out not only you individually, but the people around you collectively. Because you live in a community, collateral damage can happen when you agree to everything that comes your way. Twenty years from now, your church, your co-workers or your boss probably won’t remember the time you stayed up for twenty-four hours to finish a project. But your spouse or family will. Saying no is uncomfortable, I agree. But it couldn’t be more liberating.
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Question: What other uncomfortable phrase would you add to this list that we should START saying more often?