'Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen…. Be kind, and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you' (Eph 4: 29-2).
In ministry it is very easy to drop our guard sometimes and just let slip what we really do think about the quality of the leadership or the ministry around us. This is particularly easy to do during a time of challenge and difficulty within church life, leadership and ministry. Sometimes even as we speak we realise that what we are saying is not right and our hearts drop to the floor with a thud, we suddenly become aware that we were out of line. If what we say creeps out to a wider audience then that is when the damage is done and trust is broken. Of course this has to be balanced with wisdom and justice and the challenge of confronting wrong doing – that maybe is a reflection for another day.
However, when we have dropped our guard and hurt people or damaged ministries we need to act with contrite hearts and confess where we have been wrong and ask forgiveness from God and those who have been hurt. When forgiveness is given we know that we have met with grace and that trust can be rebuilt and ministry can be strengthened. How often do we do this in our leadership and ministry?
In my work I listen each day to Christians many of them in leadership and they are struggling with broken relationships, lost dreams and lost hope. God breaks through with His grace into these painful situations with love and our part is to discern His will and be willing to listen to Him.
Recently I have been reflecting upon the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus raises the issue of forgiveness often throughout this teaching. As Christian leaders and in the Christian discipleship of others we need to adopt a lifestyle where the hallmark of Christian living is forgiveness and we see the need for forgiveness to be acknowledged.
I grew up listening to this statement in sermons. 'Those who forgive are those who know they are forgiven.' Take a few moments to pause and spend time in appreciation of the forgiveness that Jesus Christ constantly brings into your life.
What is it like to be forgiven by God?
Read Matthew Chapter 5 over this month and consider the following thoughts,
Jesus is setting out how he wants his disciples to relate to others:
What does this tell us about how we should relate to one another in ministry?
What is it to be “Merciful”?
What is it to be “Pure in Heart”?
What is it to be a “Peacemaker?”
Can you think of a person in your life that is merciful, pure in heart and a peacemaker?
What do you notice about them?
What might you learn from them?
Where and with whom do you need to extend mercy in order to be a peacemaker?
Ask God to bring peace in relationships in your life. Pray for your church, pray for your homes and pray for your communities.
Jennie Fytche is freelance children’s and youth work, pastoral care trainer, mentor and a trustee of the Sophia Network. Jennie lectures at several Bible colleges in England and works as the North East and East regional staff member for Acorn Christian Healing Foundation training in listening skills as a foundational skill for life and for effective ministry. Jennie is married to Ian and has two teenage daughters – she loves spending days retreating to the beach with her family!