“Tell your husband…”

how people want others to know without having to talk to the person who needs to know it

How do shepherds, their families, and friends encourage honest, open, and accurate communication?  What happens when people want to “send messages” to the elders by someone else?

Several years ago, a lady was upset about two issues in the church:  she had definite opinions about who shouldn’t be considered as elders and her dislike of a phrase I used in my sermons.  She was expressing her agitation to my wife.  After she vented for a while, she said to Gail, “That’s what I think and you can tell Jerrie if you want to!”

Leadership groups need to discuss, decide, and follow communication principles they’ll use to talk to others and themselves.  There needs to be discussion and training of the spouses of the leadership team about how leaders and spouses should respond to members wanting to give and extract information that belongs to the leadership group.

The way individuals respond will be deposits or withdrawals from the trust bank.  When Christians experience honest, open, and consistent principles of communication, they’ll feel comfortable telling and asking anything.  If there are conflicting principles used by different shepherds, preachers, or spouses, there’ll be pressure on the leadership team to plot one against another.

Some questions to consider:
  1. When messages are transferred from one to another, how does accuracy suffer?  Have you played the Gossip Game?  I’ve never seen a simple sentence transferred through several people come to the end accurately.  It usually has no connection with the original statement.
  2. What if the individual is afraid to talk to the elder or preacher — the ultimate destination of the communication?  If I am the feared person, I might ask myself, “What is there about me making it difficult for someone to talk to me?”  The one sending the message can be reminded it’s normal to be afraid to discuss some things with some people.  All talk is not pleasant and enjoyable.  Perhaps the first thing to discuss is why this person is afraid to talk to the appropriate person.[tweetthis]What is there about me making it difficult for someone to talk to me?[/tweetthis]
  3. If I transfer this message, will I become the designated messenger to the elders?  People have told me, “I don’t know why but everyone comes to me telling me their complaints rather than the one they need to talk to.”  If this happens repeatedly, it is probably because I’ve shown a willingness to deliver the message.
  4. What do I get from being the one others tell things that should be told to other people?  I can quit encouraging ineffective communication any time I choose.  [tweetthis]Have you noticed some people enjoy being the bearer of bad news?[/tweetthis]
  5. If I transfer a message a person is uncomfortable telling the appropriate person, is it because it’s the best way to communicate this or is it because I am uncomfortable telling the person with the uncomfortable message I won’t transfer a message that should be given to another person?  It’s amazing how I can help others and reduce future pain and dysfunction when I choose some appropriate pain by doing the best thing.

When the sister said to my wife, “That’s what I think and you can tell Jerrie if you want to!”, Gail replied, “I don’t want to.  I don’t carry messages to my husband.  Jerrie will be glad to hear what you think.”  She came.  I listened and responded.  Gail set a precedent in that church:  people who wanted me to know something should talk to me.

How do you handle “messages being delivered to the wrong mailbox”?

3 Ways I Helped Get Myself Fired

Why Would Anyone Want to Release a Good Preacher Like Me?

In a previous post, The Best Day of the Week to Fire Your Preacher, I told of the way my dismissal was mishandled.  There is certainly a better way and a better time to tell a preacher he needs to leave.

But the elder who did this wasn’t a vicious man.  He was a gentle man.  He didn’t enjoy what he did that day.  He had only served as an elder six months.  He was influenced by a small group of discontented people.  He didn’t come up with the the idea to advise me to leave.

For seven or eight years after the painful day, I felt I was the victim.  He did everything wrong.  I did everything right.  I couldn’t help it.

Then I started thinking.  Why would people ask him to ask me to leave?  Why didn’t they talk to me?  Why was I so surprised?  The idea of resigning, as he suggested, never entered my mind.  I loved the people in that congregation.  The church had grown every year since I came.  We enjoyed the community.  I planned to go to heaven from Madisonville, Kentucky.

Why were people upset?

The reason people do what they do is because they believe it is the right thing to do. Click To Tweet

“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
But the Lord weighs the hearts” (Proverbs 21:2, NKJV).

What Did I Do to Give People Reason to Be Upset?

1.  I didn’t handle anger well.  I worked hard.  I expected perfection from myself and others.  Others and myself didn’t do everything right.  I was frustrated.  About every six to nine months, I preached a “mad” sermon.  I thought I was “preaching the truth without fear or favor.”  However, I was venting my own frustration.  I can hear it now in my memory.  There was certainty and disdain as I told the brethren how they needed to repent and do better.

2.  I feared, avoided, and ran from any criticism.  I thought if anyone criticized me I might be fired.  The solution was never hear criticism.  Years later, I was told by a counselor, “If you will communicate continually you don’t want criticism, not many will criticize you…until they get ready to fire you.”  He was on target.

When I won’t allow others to tell where I’m missing expectations, there’s no way to relieve the pressure and natural differences.  One day, after I had been told to resign and was already looking for a church where brethren would appreciate a great preacher, a sister came to see me.  She said, “Jerrie, you talk like you’re better than everybody else.  You talk down to people.  You talk like you’re right and everybody else is wrong.”

My reply, “Why, I don’t do that!  I don’t think I’m better than everyone else.  You’re wrong.”  It took years to recount more objectively the conversation and understand I did exactly what she said I was doing.

3.  I didn’t have a trusted friend, mentor, or counselor who might have helped me deal with my anger, and evaluate perceived, actual, or needed criticism.  I had fears of what others thought but I was afraid to give them permission to tell me.  I didn’t know or trust anyone to help sort through my doubts, lack of knowledge, and frustrations.

One of my helpful prayers is:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23, 24).

If I can’t find a way to improve a painful event, I am a victim and will be hurt again by the next person who wants to hurt me.

Is there another person who helped get himself or herself fired?  What did you learn from that?