Tuesday, August 9, 2011

On speaking your truth

From hedge fund managers to sports "analysts" many people claim they can forecast the future; most of the time, they're telling you what you already know, or can find out for yourself! So church consultants from every persuasion tout the importance being more fruitful or successful in ministry, i.e., more people in church. Is fewer people supposed to be a good thing? Pardon the Charlie Sheen here- but-- DUH!

According to Deuteronomy, as the prophet's prediction actually happens, they are a true prophet. If not, they are a false prophet -- with dire consequences of course for the false prophet. Was this a corrective for the many false prophets who used their gift and office to advance themselves?

By just about any reading of the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible, the practice of soothsaying appears to be the norm, while the true prophet was the exception. From I Kings, read the stories of Elijah and the prophets of Baal- or what bad King Ahab said about Micaiah: "I hate him because he never prophecies anything good for me; it's always bad." (I Kings 22:8) Like Micaiah, maybe we should make sure our hearers want to hear the real message, not the pretend one we've concocted.

One of the dangers of the pastoral role, is that we become very gifted in working for the acceptance of others, and in being liked. Another pitfall is that in order to get ahead, we become experts at listening to every voice except our best one, the one that speaks to us in the whispers and sheer silence, the Holy Spirit. But what do pastors really have to offer anyone if we have never really been present to this Voice?

"Speaking the truth in love" doesn't guarantee that we will make friends or influence people, but it's the one thing we have to offer. It is not easy nor second- nature to many of us. But some people will appreciate and admire you for being honest and truthful- even as you proceed in gentleness and kindness.

" It is curious – curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare." -Mark Twain

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