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Your Belief System and Your Church (19): Not Perfect, But Honest

I became an award-winning teacher only because I made every conceivable mistake in the book during my first teaching decade. Whether teaching in a classroom, supervising in a cafeteria, monitoring a hallway or outside the building, meeting with parents, working with colleagues and administrators, or conducting a concert, my mistakes were always made publicly. And my mistakes were never small ones. I have been before the school board, meetings in my subject supervisor’s office, meetings in the principal’s office, and confrontations in my classroom and hallways. The Lord gave me sense enough not to want to suffer the same intense pain again by making the same mistakes twice in a row, especially because teaching is so public. So I quickly determined to dissect minutely every mistake to learn from it.

APOLOGY LIFE STYLE. Apology, for the longest time, was my entire life style in teaching, until I got to the point of having a repertoire of edifying responses rather than emotional reactions. (Responding vs. Reacting is another section ahead.) God answered my desperate Solomon prayer of, “Teach me how to go in and out among the people.” From then on, the Lord gave me King Solomon responses whenever I needed them.

REACTIVE. On the reactive side, in my continuous apologizing time, I realized that students, parents, administrators, and colleagues were affected by my honesty, not perfection. I soon transferred this relationship to my own children. Children are not looking for perfect parents, just honest ones. I realized there are two things in life that you cannot fool—they both see straight through you. And when they do, all parts of your life had better match. One is dogs and the other is kids (of any age).

PROACTIVE. On the proactive side, I even took on myself mistakes that rightfully belonged to others and apologized for them. I call this “taking the underdog route.” God calls it intercession. In every conflict situation, when I assumed the humble underdog route, the other side would become apologetic and cooperative as well. Sometimes the change happened immediately, while other times it took longer.

HONESTY. Even students who were behavior problems came running to me for honesty. The Lord gave me King Solomon responses in all kinds of situations to cut through smoke screen facades they tried to create. One day on the playground, George ran up to me and complained that Bill (names changed) had just punched him in the face. The ensuing conversation went something like this.
“Bill just punched you in the face?”
“Yes!”
As I mimicked the motions, “You mean he doubled his fist like this and went kowpow on your cheek?”
“Yes!”
“And when did he do this?”
“Just now!”
“What do you want me to do about it?”
“Well, get him in trouble. He hit me!”
“I’ll tell you what—you go over to Bill and shake his hand and tell him ‘Thanks!’ For all the nasty ways I’ve seen you treat him in the last 6 weeks, he’s been nice to you. He just gave you 6 weeks worth of grace before he couldn’t take your crap any longer. If that had been me instead of Bill, I probably would have done you in within 1 week. Go shake his hand and tell him ‘Thank You!’”

I will never forget the look on George’s face when he heard those words. He had to pick his mouth up off the ground. George will never forget the difference between law and grace. Three other teachers standing beside me were astonished and said they loved having recess duty with me because they did not have to do anything. (I wonder if they ever realized how badly they indicted themselves!) Guess who George always came back to when he needed more problems solved?

RELATIONAL. All of this built great honesty and rapport with my students. Loyalty and affection also emerged. My hardened, street-wise, inner-city students wanted hugs on the way in to my class and on the way out. I never realized how strong this bond was, until one day outside life circumstances had me so low that I was crippled into momentary inaction. I admitted to one class that I felt so low that I did not even know if I would be able to teach their music lesson. I will never forget what happened next! The students spontaneously jumped out of their seats and mobbed me with a group hug. I was immediately strengthened, we laughed and teared, and we had a great music class. That hug, lasting less than 30 seconds, has never stopped feeding into me year after year. The gift that keeps on giving!

Pastor, ever wonder how to have your church members become loyal rather than divisive? What image do you portray? Do they know you as striving to be perfect or open to be honest? If you are reproached for having created an offense, do you respond or react? How deep are your levels of honesty and humility? If you stood up and admitted your deepest weakness at that moment, would you be immediately mobbed with a group hug?

Your Belief System and Your Church: (1) Introduction

Your Belief System and Your Church: (2) Your Paradigms

Your Belief System and Your Church: (3) Bondage or Freedom

Your Belief System and Your Church: (4) Gateway Skills

Your Belief System and Your Church: (5) Teacher Accountability

Your Belief System and Your Church: (6) Talking About vs. Doing

Your Belief System and Your Church: (7) Student Accountability

Your Belief System and Your Church: (8) Assessment

Your Belief System and Your Church: (9) Bury Dead Tradition

Your Belief System and Your Church: (10) Teaching vs. Learning

Your Belief System and Your Church: (11) Teachers' Three Phases

Your Belief System and Your Church: (12) Excellence is NOT a Goal

Your Belief System and Your Church: (13) My Teaching Limits Were Their Learning Limits

Your Belief System and Your Church: (14) Unlearning Creates Success

Your Belief System and Your Church: (15) Pioneers vs. Settlers

Your Belief System and Your Church: (16) Real and Lasting Learning

Your Belief System and Your Church: (17) Problems With Memory

Your Belief System and Your Church: (18) Ownership Creates Success

Your Belief System and Your Church: (19) Not Perfect, But Honest

Your Belief System and Your Church: (20) Take Risks and Give Away Control

Your Belief System and Your Church: (21) Out of a Job

Your Belief System and Your Church: (22) KCAASE and Proverbs 24

Your Belief System and Your Church: (23) Responding vs. Reacting

Your Belief System and Your Church: (24) Only When Performed

Your Belief System and Your Church: (25) A Supervisor's Vision

Your Belief System and Your Church: (26) Glimpses Into the Spiritual

Your Belief System and Your Church: (27) One Reason Alone

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Golly how I wish my parents had been more honest and less it's gotta' be right 'cause I'm the parent! Pastor, my parents were my first authority figures. I react or respond (it depends on the day) to you much like I did to my parents when I see your behavior. Your honesty (within reason), humility, and gentle response, will improve my reception of you. I know you're human. Often I wish you would just admit it so we can both be on the same page.
You reveal a good point about honesty. The honesty I am describing is that of revealing what's inside yourself more than what you think you need to address in the other person. Much like, take the telephone pole out of your own eye before you address the splinter in the other guy's eye.
Dave

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