Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Principles Needed for Healthy Relationships

After quite a few strong comments on what I thought to be a very innocuous post yesterday, I thought it might be good to list five key principles that I believe are essential for healthy relationships among Christians.

(1). Disagreement is not the same as disunity. Some of the healthiest, unified bodies of believers disagree over issues, but are one in spirit and purpose. The key to unity is not conformity but compassion.

(2). Love covers a multitude of sins. When we constantly try to point out sin in others, the spirit of the Pharisees is more prevalent than the spirit of Christ. That is not to say a brother should never be confronted in his sin, but the reasons for doing so should be very clear and unselfish in nature.

(3). Listening is far, far better than talking. God gave us two ears and one mouth, and it seems logical that a person ought to listen twice as much as he speaks.

(4). Courage is the ability to do the right thing in the face of opposition. Humility is the ability to not care if anyone ever knows.

(5). The phrase "I feel" ought to be used constantly in disagreements. (Example: I feel you are mistaken rather than "you are mistaken"). This makes what follows the phrase impossible to dispute (how can you say, "No, you don't feel that") and gives the other person the ability to not feel accused while he explains himself.

Blessings to all,



Bob Cleveland said...


I guess the comment thread is indicative of the truth of one of the major points in the post - that people are people and can exhibit the old sinful nature most any time. That can crop up as secret meetings and all that goes with them, or in the form of one persona in church and another in blogdom.

CB Scott said...


This is well said and most certainly describes our relationship. We agree on much. We disagree on less. Yet, we are brothers due to the Blood of Christ and His calling to be so.

I must say though, I "feel" I have some trouble with number 5:-)


Anonymous said...

brother wade
I reread your post from yesterday, i feel that if anyone read the post and were offended by your comments, then they must be reading in between the lines. Your post should not have been insulting to anyone, simply an observation concerning closed door meetings. Aparently you are still considered a thorn in the side of some. Keep working hard for all southern baptists.
John Daniels

Anonymous said...


As a member of a church which gives to the Cooperative Program *because * of all the good it does, I *feel* that if all we have on our boards are syncophants, then we've certainly elected the wrong folks.

I believe that it is in our best interests to have folks with different points of view on these boards. People who can present alternatives to seemingly the most innocuous, but perhaps near-sighted , issues are some of the most precious.

I don't want everyone to agree with me. I want someone to express elegantly why I'm misguided and show me a better way.

It is my belief that the Holy Spirit has spoken through many of these folks in my life. I regret not having listened to all of them.

I have a strong personal interest in the Godly functioning of the board. In my wife's family are retired missionaries (you may had supped with them this week), Security Level 3 missionaries, and long-time associates who should be commissioned this evening.

In a larger, less me-centric view, we should all have a strong personal interest in the work of the board. I've done some light missionary work myself (you were in one of these groups as well), but not the hard-core, everyday growing of the saints. Those folks, and those who are tasked with their welfare, should always be in our prayers and have our support.

I also believe that at times, those tasked with the welfare should take stock and determine whether they are on the best path.

Sorry for the ramble. Thanks for the blog.


Gary from Norman

Anonymous said...

I stopped reading yesterday's comments about half way through; the personal attacks appeared to me to be far removed from the topic (are public meetings "better" than closed door meetings). Good advice in today's post.

I would add another, specifically for bloggers: 6) Don't feed the trolls. Sometimes ignoring inflammatory rhetoric - regardless of what side is hurling it - is the best way to deal with it. Keeping on topic is almost always a better approach.

Re: "(5).The phrase 'I feel' ought to be used constantly in disagreements." I would prefer people reserve "I feel" for statements that are actually feelings (happy, sad, mad, etc.)

Owning your thoughts ("I believe" or "I disagree") accomplishes the same purpose and is far better than the accusatory "You" statements ("You're wrong" or "You're a hypocrite").

OC Hands said...

I agree with the advice given by Wade when presenting a different opinion, to state it as an opinion, or as a "feeling." It is easier one's opinion, or feelings when they are stated in that way. But to say "You are wrong" is inflammatory, and basically puts an end to what could be a healthy and friendly debate. Bloggers often use the acronym IMO or IMHO to indicate that this is their opinion.
However (here we go again) there appear to be some who may not be interested in healthy relationships with those who have differing opinions. In that case, I agree with Bowden "Don't feed the trolls." Because it seems that any effort to "correct" these bloggers will simply escalate the arguments and turn into a word bloodbath.

OC Hands said...

My wife and I were scheduled to attend the emeriti meetings at Ridgecrest this week. But on Sunday she began feeling very ill, and we cancelled our flight. The last two days have been spent going from one doctor or lab to another. The result is that she has an inflamed artery in her temple, which if left untreated could result in loss of vision.
She is being treated with steroids and will have a biopsy on the temple area today to see what else needs to be done. The good news is that so far there is no damage to her eyes.
Please pray with me for her recovery.

Anonymous said...

When I read today's post I reread yesterday's to see why some would have a problem with it. Then I read the comments until I got tired of them.

It reminded me of a discussion with my son about church business meetings. He said his church doesn't have them - they trust the leaders. I said that isn't the point. There should be openness. I trust those in various places of leadership and responsibility in my church but openness allows for understanding, accountability, and participation.

Opoenness is even more important in the case of a board that serves an organization, such as the IMB. While a few matters should not be made public, such as those relating to missionaries in sensitive areas, almost every other matter the board deals with is the business of all who support it. It's not an issue of not trusting people, it's just a matter of being accountable, which good people in places of authority should be glad to do.


Paul Burleson said...


I would have to agree with the one who said that the word "feel" should be reserved for emotions. I think the word "think" or "believe" would be better. This, of course, makes it critical that we understand our "thinking" is not infallible.

Great post today AND yesterday in my humble but ACCURATE opinion. :)


Scotte Hodel said...

I'm with Rev. Burleson Senior on "I feel" vs "I think," but that's because in engineering our feelings usually lead us astray.

"I'm glad you had a zen experience with your homework, but I don't care how you feel. Tell me why."

The key point, always, is to avoid personal attacks and to respond humbly. I have already apologized publically to a student in my class this semester: "You were right. I was wrong. Here's why ..."

I'll be teaching our college bible study tonight on the reliability of scripture. A part of that lesson is a quote from Calvin's Institutes, book I, chap 7, part 4: " Profane men think that religion rests only on opinion, and, therefore, that they may not believe foolishly, or on slight grounds, desire and insist to have it proved by reason that Moses and the prophets were divinely inspired. But I answer,that the testimony of the Spirit is superior to reason."

He called me profane! So, as "DAD" said above, I must recognize that "thinking" is not the same as knowledge of the truth.

I am grateful for the many voices of reason and respect who comment on your blog. They are making an important contribution.


Anonymous said...

What has happened in the SBC is sad beyond belief. I have friends who gave their life to serve God in foreign lands only to have a rank fundamentalist controlled denomination call for their allegiance to an exclusionary document that should not even have a part in the life of a Baptist group, let alone the largest of the several Baptist conventions. Though I am no longer a Southern Baptist, I respect what you and some others are doing to steer the SBC back to a centrist position.

Lin said...

I can certainly understand why you listed number 5. It helps to cut down on the vitriol.

But as a communications trainer for many years, I would like to suggest the "I" over the "You" statements are quite enough.

Just start with "I" think, believe, etc. instead of "You" are.... This means I am 'owning' my words...right or wrong.

I spent a lot of time steering people away from the word 'feel'. We cannot deal with issues in a factual, logical manner when we focus on 'feelings'.

Besides, I 'think' most men have a real challenge saying, "I feel...." :o)

Just my 2 cents which is not worth much!

Anonymous said...

I honestly think one of the methods being employed by those who oppose you, Wade, is to toss a hand-grenade of a comment, one totally misquoting you, and then having their comrades point to the "bad stuff on the blogs".

Some people will do anything to see your cause defeated; they'll even "gin" up a few scandalous comment threads. A few who comment on your blog and a few who comment on SBCOutpost are extraordinarily good at this method. I wonder where their IP addresses show them posting from.