...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Words that Really Don't Work in Church

There are a few words that I have heard that I would not use, under any circumstances, and this has nothing to do with being politically incorrect, and everything to do with basic human decency. I wouldn't use any word that ridicules, threatens, or dehumanizes others by their gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or national origin, disability, or really, for any other reason. The joke I thought was cute wasn't worth telling because it was demeaning at least.

Again, I have heard different epithets used from a variety of American pulpits, and guess what? Even if the word was used to prove a point or as a confessional, the result of shock and regret did not really justify it. Words do harm and in these cases, more harm than any possible good. Even if it may be somehow cathartic for the speaker do it, there are other ways of confessing and for good reason. Most of them are not in front of the Sunday morning crowd.

I have also heard preachers tell all in such detail that they had lost me and surely others. I feel you do not have to subject others to this kind of pain. Doing so reflects a troubled spirit. You can be authentic without causing everyone else to freak. You can be honest by also being considerate, leaving enough space in your words for others to see and name their own darkness.

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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