One of my favourite things about being a pastor is that I get to work with people. You might not always get that when you walk by my office (I keep my door closed most of the time) but that’s a function of the fact that I’m so easily distracted by people that I need to set boundaries or I’ll never get any work done. The truth is, a good week for me, heck, a good day for me includes meeting with people, sharing ideas, getting a chance to bounce things off people, get their input, etc. I get energy from being with people. It’s taken me awhile to confirm that in myself. But I know now it’s a fact.
The problem is, of course, that working with people is not always easy. I’m pretty opinionated. I have a sense for things, and I tend to believe I’m right. Sometimes it’s hard to take someone else’s opinion (when it differs from mine) and see the validity of it, see things from their perspective. On top of that, there are those people who don’t always “fit” – they have unique qualities that make them, well different. If you deal with data or information, and not people all day, you don’t necessarily have to deal with those things. But when you deal with people, and when you deal with people in the church those things pop up all the time.
I realized that just today, as I talked with someone that I do feel comfortable with. They shared that they’re fine with being straightforward with people. I am too – and then I realized – there are some people that I’m not exactly straightforward with. There are some people that I take great care to be tactful with. Sometimes it’s because I don’t think they “get it,” sometimes it’s because I’m afraid that they will “get it,” and sometimes, as sad as it is to say this, sometimes it’s because I simply don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.
I think tact is important. I’m not always tactful. When I am, when I’m deliberate about what I say, the words I use, my inflection, timing & affect – my communication usually goes over much smoother. And yet, there comes a point when tact turns into dishonesty. That’s not helpful – strike that – that’s NEVER helpful.
I love working with people. God willing, I’ll always have the chance to work with people. And as long as that’s the case, I’ll have to take the good with the bad. I’m hoping that I can learn to be honest with the bad that comes with working with people – because only when that happens can the work be truly “good” and not simply contrived & unhealthy…
(the above picture courtesy of Liberty Presbyterian Church – our staff serving together in January – great fun!)