Yes, it has occurred to me that I may be wrong

Years ago when I was a young campus minister at the University of Illinois, I got tangled up with a few older pastors who wanted me out of that particular ministry (These pastors probably were about 45, which now seems young to me; I was barely 25, which at the time seemed quite mature! … LOL).

Some of the pastors were serving on the board of directors of the ministry in which I served.  Even though I felt I had done nothing wrong, some of them were convinced that my particular views on the charismatic movement were dangerous. To me, the way they assessed the situation was inconsistent, unfair and mean, but my youthful arrogance probably came through too, even though I think it was likely more personal insecurity than arrogance.  Anyway, I was all of 25 years old at the time.  The fence was still wet where my diapers were hanging.

In time, this conflict finally led to a vote of confidence on my ministry by the board of directors.  I won the vote, but things were never the same after that.  The two sides were cordial thereafter but we were neither conciliatory in word or deed.  And I can assure you that we never went on a vacation together!  In time, the complexion of the board changed and we moved on to other issues.

Since those painful days early in my ministry I have had plenty of conflict with people in the church and well, in life, too.  Now I spend some of my time actually helping pastors and churches work through their conflicts.  Some conflict resolution is handled well; some is handled very poorly.  (One pastor actually told me not long ago that he wants to serve were there isn’t much conflict.  My response after laughing out loud, “Well buddy, let me know how that works out for you!”)

I think, at least I hope, I generally have tried to live at peace with all people, as far as it depended on me.  But you know what I have learned over the years more than anything else?  When Christians fight over, well, just about any and everything — And they do! — the number one factor that often leads to either genuine reconciliation or to destroyed relationships is this: “Was anyone teachable?”

Was someone, anyone, even one person, willing to admit to being wrong?

I some times ask myself, and ask those I work with to ask themselves: “Is my view of Scripture here deficient?”  “Is it possible the other person’s criticism is valid?”  “Does the other person perhaps have a better solution than I have?”

Here’s an example from Jesus’ life.  This is what it looked like one time when Jesus encountered what I would call, well, some pretty unteachable, recalcitrant folks:

Luke 6:6-11…  [Emphasis in RED is mine.]

On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. 8 But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” 10 And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. 11 But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.
So friends, the next time you find yourself with an unteachable, disagreeable spirit, or you find others to be at odds with about everything you say, ask God to give you a teachable, humble spirit. You might just find faster solutions to the problem, wisdom to improve your relationships and even the likelihood that similar problems will not occur in the future.

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