“Let’s just skip me.”
It was the morning prayer session of the Reynold’s Leadership Academy for pastors. We were grouped together and had to pray for one another. We were supposed to give voice to the biggest struggles we were facing in ministry.
I had no idea what to share, and frankly, it would have just been easier to “skip me.” But my peers weren’t so easily persuaded.
“Something has to be on your heart . . . tell us what it is so that we can pray for you . . .”
I professed that I was tired . . . that for nine years I thought if I worked 7 days a week, all would be well. Saturdays were reserved for sermon prep, Friday was my “catch up day” to catch up on all the stuff I didn’t accomplish during the week, and Monday – Thursday were office days. Surely folks would understand that in any job working 7 days a week was just not a good thing. I figured my colleagues would know and agree, “Preacher burnout.” It’s a real thing. But West needed to “grow” and apparently, in my brain, that was all up to me.
The day passed, we attended our sessions, and that night we had a fun outing. I figured I was “home free” as far as sharing intimate struggles and being vulnerable. As we walked back to our hotel a colleague approached me.
“I appreciated your honesty today and frankly, I’ve been at the exact same place that you are. We think if we do “one more thing” then all will be well. When really, that “one more thing” comes at a great cost to our soul. I do have to ask you, though . . . . I just don’t think you were completely honest today. Something else is eating at you. I didn’t want to push but maybe if you give voice to the truth we can pray together and you can confront the voices that haunt you.”
For a few minutes, I tried to BS my way around his statement. But he kept pushing. Finally – I admitted . . .
“When West was being chartered as a church, which we never intended to do, I was told . . .
‘West will never succeed as a stand-alone church because you know nothing about preaching. You have charisma but that’s it. You have no idea what it takes to be a great preacher nor are you willing to put in the time that it takes to craft a great sermon.
You do not know anything about the “order” of the church. You have no business sense and you will not be able to manage an organization that functions as a business. You’ve always wanted your cake and to be able to eat it, too.
Lastly, the bottom line, you will fail. You’ll never be more than a 200 person church and this world doesn’t need another one of those. You’ll stumble along and make do like “xxxxx church in xxxxx” until someone else picks you up and carries you on their coattails. But this is what it must be and these are lessons you will learn in time. I’ll be praying for you.”
Now – – – 9 years later I could share some thoughts about those words. But – until that night in Myrtle Beach 2 years ago, I had no idea how much those words haunted me and, frankly, were defining me.
EVERY SINGLE WORD WE UTTER EITHER HELPS or HURTS.
Those words spoken to me years ago almost crippled my calling because I believed them to be true. Had it not been for a friend of mine that night in the parking lot of a resort in Myrtle Beach, I’d probably still be self-deprecating. But – he prayed with me, over me. He prayed that I would be released from the negative power and energy of those words.
And here we are today!
Hopefully, by now you’ve taken the temperament inventory.
(This is all based on Kathleen Edleman’s study, “I Said This, You Heard That.”) And you’ve identified your primary and secondary temperament.
Below are the four temperament types.
Our temperaments tell us about how we are wired. Why we say things the way that we do.
Take a look at your temperament. Recognize that this drives our words and communication.
Yellow – Sanguines (People-oriented)
Use words geared around people and fun.
Aspects that describe this temperament are: creative, inspiring, and encouraging.
Red – Cholerics (Task-oriented)
Use words geared around power and control.
Aspects that describe this temperament are: motivated, great at delegation, and quick in an emergency.
Green – Phlegmatics (People-oriented)
Use words geared around being calm and harmonious in all things.
Aspects that describe this temperament are: Great mediators, great listeners, and always seeking peace.
Blue – Melancholics (Task-oriented)
Use words geared around being logical and analytical. Always seeking order and perfection.
Aspects that describe this temperament are: Helpful in solving problems and are never in a chaotic state.
The way we are wired not only colors the way we speak to others, it colors what we need from others when they speak to us.
Those words years ago crippled me for quite some time. It wasn’t until a friend took those words away and gave me new ones that I was able to claim my calling and see ministry differently.
What could our relationships be like if we all acted out of the strengths of our temperaments, aware of how our words impact others?
None of us want to be “that person” that gives a negative definition to someone because of our words.
Let’s be more mindful of our words today!