April 15, 2019

Weekly Reflection – Life is Not a Cowboy Movie

Weekly Reflection – Life is Not a Cowboy Movie

We all enjoy the stereotypical cowboy movie where the Lone Ranger (or Paladin) charges into the desperados’ hideout, guns blazing, and settles the injustices he has found there. Unfortunately, that approach seldom works well in real life; it usually leaves a few bodies bleeding in the road. Real life is not a cowboy movie!

Some universal truths govern our effectiveness in attempting to change others to what we perceive is a better path.  Most of these come from my training as a hospital chaplain. 

The epistle of James has always been a useful guide for me.  “Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of  God.”  (James 1:19)

Seek first to understand the situation before trying to change it fully.
Earn the right to speak, i.e., FIRST establish a positive rapport.  Does the other person feel heard?  
Do not criticize unless and until the other is willing to let you hold their heart in your hands. 
In other words, wait until the other person wholeheartedly believes that you genuinely care about them.

Do no harm while trying to do some good.
And the old prophet, Micah, shared this universal guideline, “…and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)  Humility, kindness, and justice:  sounds like a good rule.  One aside; I suspect that on the subject of justice, the prophet is thinking more of seeking justice for others rather than on righting injustice that has been done to us.  Jesus said something about the other cheek.

There are situations where we interact with a group of peers in ways that have the potential for conflict between members.  These are good times to ask the question, “What is our purpose here?”  Is it to build one another up or to attack the others “error”?  I suspect that the building up option is more often the objective.  In that case, I am adopting the rule of always speaking in “I” terms rather than “You” or “They.”  I can speak of how something affects me.  But I may not have earned the right to address how I perceive the “other” should change.  The intent here is always to “Do no harm.”

Have a blessed and peaceful week!

Chaplain Allen

For more on this topic read: No Solo Christians!