My wife is an amazing cook.
I on the other hand tend to use the smoke detector as an oven timer(!) and have had a few culinary disasters (including a notorious fish pie that Allana refused to eat and the cat ate and promptly threw up!).
I was at a seminar on Thursday about the Turning Mission happening in a couple of weeks in Bristol. The main guy, Pastor Yenka, was talking about discipleship, about the awkwardness and danger of kind-lies, “If I didn’t tell her I didn’t like something I’d be eating it for the rest of my life!”
Those of us who are well mannered brits, shifted uncomfortably, having had that awful experience of not liking something but not ever having the heart to tell someone, and how this sometimes snowballs.
-There was a phase when my dad was a Vicar in Eastbourne, where my dad kept getting knitted some pretty retro jumpers, and he never had the heart to say he didn’t like/wear them, and so the knitting continued (and continued and continued!)
The truth is sometimes we end up living with things because we live in fear of confronting it, what we don’t challenge and change we ‘may be forced to eat it for ever!’
Difficult truths breaking the re-occurring cycles of behaviour.
Sometimes the more something is tolerated, the more embedded and established it becomes, it takes root, and becomes harder, and harder, and harder to change.
Sometimes, we have to speak truth and say:
“I’m not going along with this anymore!”
” I’m not playing the game any longer”
“I am not being complicit in this deception any-more”.
For those people who like me hate upsetting people this is like our worst nightmare, but if we are to be faithful and honourable sometimes it requires us to say what we would, by choice, rather not.
Often it is easier to ignore the elephant in the room, or go along with the crowd like in the story of the Emperors new clothes, yet often the more kind, merciful and loving thing is to speak truth with love.
If we don’t say something now, will we be living a lie and deprived from an alternative future that God might be wanting us to embrace.
We shy away from challenge, but loving feedback can be a wonderful catalyst for change, transformation and new beginnings.
Perhaps everyone is secretly waiting for someone brave enough to acknowledge the truth of a situation, sometimes a word in season can be a Kairos time (a God moment) that births a new idea of great fruitfulness.
Saying the difficult and hard truth is often difficult but is the more loving thing to do.
Sometimes saying the truth means standing out from the crowd.
Sometimes saying the truth will make you unpopular and will sacrificial and costly.
Ultimately truth and love in pastoral care belong together.
Often we have people who are big on truth, but they are normally unloving, tactless and cause pain and hurt where-ever they go.
Or people our so ‘nicey, nicey’ that nothing of challenge ever is said, people never change, things stay as they are, boats are never rocked, nor elephants acknowledged.
I don’t want to be like either model, I see both all the time, and think they are both dreadful, but when we look at Christ we see a different model, a model of love and truth, grace and mercy, word and spirit.
If you don’t care what people think, you’re probably a bit of a monster.
If you don’t ever challenge people, you are withholding great treasure from them, and in sins of omission probably being a bit of a monster.
So, a challenge, to end with, do you love the people you serve alongside enough to challenge with grace, love and want to see them thrive?
Are there some truths you need to be brave enough to challenge?