Want to Play Tennis?
There are some lessons from my time as a ‘Pastor’ inside the structure that I really need to hold onto. One of those lessons has come to mind again this week, because I am afraid I often forget some lessons that I learn, unlike most of you readers who learn stuff the first time and never have to have things repeated. This involves what I call playing tennis with people. But first let me explain how I first learned this lesson. When I look at the situation now what created the tennis in the first place I would handle completely differently now. This is due to shifts in my life over views, beliefs etc. and also hopefully a greater maturity at how I would handle a people situation. As I have said before I may have been given the ‘Pastor’ label but I did not always do what it said on the tin. I got away with the label for far too long! I am not going to give specifics or names but I faced a situation in my early days in one place that caused me to step in (I was such a man of authority- no, just the one paid to sweep up the mess). This person was disrupting the group in an unsavoury way. I thought the best way to challenge the person was to write to him (as I said immature way of handling situations) and lay down the ‘churches’ views on the situation. This was the serve that began the game of tennis. He wrote back his reply with more questions and accusations, he hit the ball back in my court. I wrote again and hit the ball back. Without boring you with the rest of the scene, we played tennis for quite a while, both wanting to win the point, both hitting even harder, both putting spin on the ball, both thinking this time it is the hit that will bring victory. What we could not see was that we were both as stubborn as each other, neither was going to concede ground and this was an utter waste of pen ink, time, energy, stress, anger etc. Pointless! Then one day I believe I received wisdom from the heavenly realm, stop writing, stop replying, stop trying to answer questions that no one is willing to listen to any answers about. Each reply just gives more ammunition and just pours salt into the womb. Sometimes silence is the best way to bring peace. Let them win the point. This is tough when you like having the last word, but it does totally diffuse a situation.
Silence is Golden.
So I stopped writing to this person and amazingly he stopped writing too. The tennis game was diffused with immediate effect. I’m not saying it resolved the situation but at least no more fuel was poured onto the fire. I learned the lesson that I wish I could bring to remembrance all of the time, that the greatest weapon against critics and those that would question you and tear you apart is silence, what I call the right of not replying. It is a technique Jesus would often use to diffuse a situation. Yes it can frustrate all the more those who want to make a point or win a point, but arguments at least cease. Wasting breath, pen ink, time becomes no longer an issue. It is learning to be at peace with yourself and not feeling that you have to have the last word. That what you have written you have written. That people have a right to question and disagree without me making an issue of it. That these people will rip me apart if I reply or not so let them get on with it because if I say something back they just continue the process until there is only bare bones left to pick at. I have a right to even be wrong, and even if I am it is not the end of the world and Jesus is still Lord of all. If this silence frustrates that is tough, you will have to go and find someone else to debate with. This is not to say I will not talk stuff over with friends or answer puzzled inquiries from friends, but for those that just want to have one over on me or who know more than me I have a right to not reply. Everything inside me wants to defend and hit back but what does it say ‘if at all possible try to live peaceably with all people.’ Paul Leader stop being so argumentative! Losing an argument is not losing my salvation or my precious walk with Christ, and it is not losing those whom God has joined me with at a deep crying out to deep level. You want to make a point I will watch the ball go flying past and you can win. How does that feel? Boring playing tennis on your own?
Bring to Remembrance.
I just wish God would bring this stuff to remembrance before I go off on one. But I still get wound up at times. I seem to be able to take loads on the chin, sit back and watch things unfold, but every now and again it is like a button is pressed and whoosh. This happened this past week after a statement I made on Facebook. As my wife often said Facebook can be a dangerous place, at times it is. I was questioned and it was like I thought enough is enough and out flowed my keyboard with a clever reply. This friend (nearly wrote fiend there-Freudian slip) then wrote an even cleverer reply, I spun the ball back, and before you know it the ball is flying around, people can agree and disagree and take sides on who is right and who is wrong. My camp, your camp. After loads of hot air I thought, what is the point of the point? Had a nice clever answer for the nice clever answers, but I never wrote it and guess what? The thread immediately died a death, peace restored. The point was won by my opponent (he will probably be reading this and I like him really, we just disagree on so much). It will all go quiet then until the next time I push his button and then it will all fly again. Next time I want to just let the ball go flying over my head. Next time I do not want to get wound up or feel I have to support what I have written or explain why something is there. Those who need to read those words will find something in them, those who disagree will disagree even if I explain in heavenly languages received direct from the angel Gabriel himself, so what is the point? Why so exasperated over winning unwinnable arguments? It may frustrate the hell out of people but more and more I will exercise my right to not reply. I do not have to. I do not want to. I want to let stuff stand that will make us think ourselves outside of our boxes of comfort. Now true friends who are into building up if you are puzzled don’t stop asking or probing, but don’t expect a ball to come flying back over the net. You may just have to trust me, love me, work through it yourself. It is not me being ignorant, just being wise from a lesson learned a long time ago, and relearned every day. Judge me and I have the right to remain silent, yes it may look like I have no answer or that I cannot answer my accusation, but so what. There is only one who needs to know my motives and my heart, and others of relationship have no need to shoot the messenger. This is my right to not reply.