Correction does much, but encouragement does more. ~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
It sounded catchy, but it’s not necessarily biblical. Check out 2 Timothy 3:16–17 to see what I mean:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
I realize that correcting a Christian isn’t popular in our culture that screams, “Don’t judge!” But that’s not how God’s Word looks at it.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted (Gal. 6:1).
Obviously if someone’s not a Christian, we don’t expect them to obey God. They’re dead in their sins. But if someone is a believer, here’s how God tells us to respond to them:
If anyone does not obey . . . warn him as a brother (2 Thess. 3:14–15).
And then in 2 Timothy 4:2:
Be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
It’s scary, I know. As I write this, I think I need to have a conversation with at least one sister in Christ who’s making some foolish, dangerous decisions. I’m afraid I might lose her friendship. But will I fear her or God more?
Is there a believer you need to gently but boldly warn as well? I’d love to hear about it.
My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins (James 5:19–20).
He waits for that last person to receive His free gift of forgiveness of sins and eternal life with Him before He returns for His bride, the Church.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
He waits for His enemies to be finally defeated.
When Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet (Heb. 10:12–13).
He waits to judge the world.
Do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart (1 Cor. 4:5).
Sometimes He waits to come immediately when you call so that your faith might grow so that God might be greatly glorified.
The [two] sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. . . .
Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him” (John 11:3–6, 14–15).
He waits to be gracious to you.
Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him (Isa. 30:18).
How does the fact that your God waits encourage you in your own wait? Can you think of any other ways God waits?
Have you seen the meme “rustle my jimmies”? It came into use in 2010 and expresses strong emotional angst toward someone else’s post on the Internet.
As a blog manager for the past seven years, I’ve observed my share of “jimmy rustling” in the comments section—on this blog and on other blogs. Yes, it appears even Christians get their jimmies rustled from time to time.
When I read a disgruntled commenter expressing sharp criticism toward the author of a post, it makes me think of this admonition from James:
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be
quick to hear
slow to speak
slow to anger;
for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (1:19–20).
I can’t help but wonder how this verse might read if James were addressing modern-day blog readers. Something like this, maybe?
Know this, my beloved Internet users: let every scanner be
quick to read carefully and slowly all the way to the end of a post
quick to seek to understand where the author is coming from
slow to comment
slow to get their jimmies rustled
for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:19–20).
One of the best pieces of communication advice I have ever received is to seek to understand before seeking to be understood (again, just another way of summarizing James 1:19–20). It’s no different from how we are supposed to read the Bible—seeking to understand the author’s original intent rather than jumping to conclusions.
That said, would you mind if I passed on five pieces of advice that will aid you in not getting your jimmies rustled—and not sinning in your responses?
1. Don’t judge a post by its title.
In order to catch readers’ attention in a culture glutted with information, bloggers have to write intriguing titles in order for readers to even click on their posts. So give the author a break and read their post before blasting them for their title. Even then, don’t blast them for their title. Comment on their whole presentation, not on six words stripped of their context.
2. Don’t post a comment before reading to the end of the post.
Often the writer is making the same argument you are . . . you just didn’t stick around long enough to realize it.
3. Do ask clarifying questions.
Rather than reading between the lines and connecting dots that aren’t really there to connect, ask the author what they meant by such-and-such. Give them a chance to clarify rather than putting words in their mouth.
4. Do pray, re-read, and wait a bit before you instantly post a comment.
Growing up, my mom taught me not to send an important email immediately after writing it, but to leave some space before sending it. She probably got that idea from the Word of God: “Whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way” (Prov. 19:2).
Words can never be taken back. I trust bloggers are doing the same thing as they write a post: praying, re-reading, and waiting before instantly posting their thoughts on the worldwide web.
5. Do share truth in love.
If correction is indeed needed, share this correction in love. The apostle Paul says it better than me:
I . . . urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Eph. 4:1–6).
I’m not saying you have to agree with everything that’s posted on the Internet, or even on this blog. Hardly! But I am asking you to help me change the commenting culture to one that honors God, gently corrects where needed, and encourages where possible.
I’d love to hear what you think. Have you noticed this same trend? How have you either contributed to or bucked the my-jimmies-are-rustled-and-you’re-gonna-hear-about-it system?
Trillia: I don’t speak on something I haven’t experienced or researched well. It’s that simple. For example, I won’t speak about raising teenagers because my children are young, but I wouldn’t mind being on a panel with older women who could speak to that topic.
Paula: I ask what the purpose of their event is and if there’s a topic they want me to cover. Then I open my Speaking Engagements folder on my computer to see if there’s anything I’ve already written or taught that I can repurpose. No need to reinvent the wheel!
The Role of Prayer
Trillia: I ask the Lord to fill me with His Spirit and give me wisdom as I read His Word—I don’t want to make things up when I speak. I’d like to truthfully speak from His Word. I ask the Lord to help me be self-forgetful so I can serve well without thinking much about myself. I ask that those who hear have ears to hear what He might have for them, and if there’s anything I say that wouldn’t be helpful, that those words would be tossed from their minds.
Paula: It’s impossible to pray enough! The power of prayer is phenomenal. When I recently spoke in Brazil, there were literally thousands of people praying around the world. I’m convinced the fruit that continues to come out of that week is a direct result. I’d recommend setting up a prayer team. I email mine before and after an event to be sure I have prayer covering.
Trillia: Get someone to listen to you who would be willing to tell you hard things. I have a friend and colleague who regularly critiques my talks. It has been the most helpful thing I’ve done in a long time. He’s a trusted scholar, which definitely helps, but he’s also not afraid to tell me the truth. Finally, he not only wants me to do well; he wants those who hear me to be served. It’s a blessing!
Paula: Consider every opportunity to speak as vital practice and preparation. No opportunity is too small: making an announcement, emceeing a wedding reception, or hosting a small group. See if it can be recorded. Then, when you’re done, ask other great communicators to critique you. It’s scary, but invaluable.
The Three Best Tips We’ve Received
1. Critique yourself.
Even as painful as it is, listen to your talks or watch the videos so you can see and hear what you are saying/doing.
2. Be organized.
Have a clear goal for each message. I wrote my messages out word for word at first, but now after a few years, I can do an outline on some talks.
3. Be yourself.
You can’t be anyone else! Don’t try to mimic someone; be you. Don’t try to be an entertainer. If you’re a teacher—teach.
1. Channel your nervousness.
I will never forget my college speech professor telling our class that everyone gets nervous right before they speak. The key is to channel that nervousness into . . . energy!
2. Keep your priorities straight.
Don’t ever forfeit time with God for ministry.
3. Take your thoughts captive.
Something I’ve learned is to take the thoughts captive that inevitably come: I’m not ready. I’m not adequate. They have the wrong girl. If God brought this speaking engagement my way, He must think I’m the woman for the job. Praise Him; His strength really is made perfect in our weakness!
I read over the talks and pray. I pray a lot. I feel my great need for God while speaking. It’s not like writing where you can edit; once it’s out of your mouth, it’s out there. So I pray. Where words are many, sin is close by. I want to be aware of that.
I also try to chat with those I’ll be speaking with (in the crowd). I want to be their friend, if even for that moment. I like to relate with them so that when I’m up there, it’s clear we are in this together.
I wake up early—even though I never sleep well the night before a speaking engagement—and spend time with God, in spite of the fact that I can barely keep my eyes open.
I arrive earlier than I think I need to be there, and I’ve yet to get there too early! There’s always something unexpected to attend to.
I like to greet women as they come in and get to know them a bit. (Sometimes I’ll change my examples and illustrations on the spot after I learn about women as they come in.)
After I’ve spoken, I thank God. He came through . . . again! Soon after the event, I write my host(ess) a thank-you note and journal about the event. It allows me to process and learn. I also update my prayer team, then try to rest. Easier said than done after all that excitement!
I bet you’ve learned a trick or two from your teaching experiences! What speaking tips can you share?
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies-in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 4:10–11).
When I was a teen, all I wanted was to be “normal,” to fit in. But my parents’ rules wouldn’t allow for it. I had to wear shorts that hit the top of my knees. My knees.
I was pulled out of square dancing in P.E. class in fourth grade, and I wasn’t allowed to spend the night at classmates’ houses or watch certain movies in school. I was weird, and I hated it.
I’m not the only one. Audrey wrote me,
Most of the people I know think I’m weird bcuz I don’t want to talk about guys and first kisses cuz I want to wait for my wedding day to have my first kiss!!!! And we’re only thirteen so why bother??? Now they all think I’m lesbian just cuz I choose not to gossip about guys (or girls) . . . Sometimes I really hate being a Christian.
I wonder if Audrey knows the real reason she’s weird.
1 Peter 2:9–12 is just one of many passages in the Bible that shows the real reason Christians are weird:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for [God’s] own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
God considers us “sojourners” and “exiles” on this earth. We might as well be aliens from a different planet! We’re separated from our true home, and we’re . . . different.
If you’re in Christ, you’re ultimately different not because you don’t belong to the cool crowd, but because you now belong to God.
If you’re in Christ, you’re ultimately different not because of the length of your shorts, but because you now wear the righteousness of Christ.
If you’re in Christ, you’re ultimately different not because of whether you can spend the night at classmates’ houses, but because you are now a home for the living God.
If you’re in Christ, you’re ultimately different not because of the words that don’t come out of your mouth, but because God has given you a brand-new, clean heart.
If you’re in Christ, you’re ultimately different not because you don’t go to homecoming, but because you’re going to heaven.
If you’re in Christ, you’re ultimately different not because you don’t belong to the cool crowd, but because you now belong to God.
The older I get, the weirder I want to become. Here’s a peek at a journal entry I wrote a few weeks ago after reading Acts 16:
Paul is crazy weird, in the best sense of the word. He is so focused, so “all in.”
He’s sitting in prison . . . praying and singing praises to God. Strange!
The doors to the prison open after a giant earthquake . . . and he sticks around rather than making his escape. Weird!
When the police come and tell him he can leave, he says, “No way. You beat me publicly, you threw me in prison publicly . . . you can take me out publicly.” Crazy!
Oh to be as crazy all-in as Paul.
Lord, would You continue to make me bold and trusting and 100 percent sold-out to You? Please God, no more holding back. If I’m going to be weird, I want to be WEIRD.
How about you? Are you weird? If so, do you know the real reasons you’re weird? I sure hope so!