When people leave it can get weird. When we run into people at the mall, or the movie theater, neither side knows what to say or do. They wonder if we're mad at them, we wonder why they even left...the situation often gets a little awkward. My husband (pastor) has always told me, never be last to say hello. What that means is, always be first to greet, hug, smile, and ask how someone is doing. This immediately shuts down all negative thoughts running through your head in that moment, and wipes away any of theirs. Unfortunately, I wasn't always good at this...
When we planted in Nashville, we let things feel personal when people left. We embraced the awkward moments we had, and kept moving forward. We felt betrayed, and hurt. And, I am most certain the people leaving did too. Communication was not always a strength of ours. Avoiding conflict, more than seeking a resolution was our default setting. As a result, we still see the fruit of that to this day. You see, often the last impression you leave on people, is how they usually always remember you.
Believe it or not, the impression you leave on people matters, whether you think you will ever come in contact with them in life again or not. Just think about all the people who have been rude, or hurt you negatively in the past. When it comes to people changing, or growing it is hard to believe isn't it? So, if it is hard for you to believe anyone else can change or grow in the area that they were so evidently weak in, what makes you think it would be easy for them to think you grew or have changed from when they last saw you?
Many of you know we are planting a church again in a new city. Right now as we are in the baby stages of gathering a team. We are somewhat dealing with how we handled things in the past that was seven years ago! We just went through a church planter assessment. Some of the questions we had to answer, were how will we handle communication better this time? What will we do when people leave? Thankfully, we just went through an intense two years of growth, where Jesus started peeling the layers of full-time ministry back one by one, and taught us life long lessons of how to love people. If you want a book "What Not To Do In Church Planting," we could probably write it for you. Just take a quick peek back in any of my blogs, and I am most certain you will find what you are looking for.
However, through that season in the dessert, we have come out strong on the other side. But, like I said we are in the team building phases as a church plant again. Many of our connections now, are connected with the people from the church in Nashville. I would guess, if someone asked one of them as a reference, they would probably attest to --Jim and Jessica being poor at communicating--. Hear me, I am not talking about communication from a stage. I am talking about when sticky situations arrive, how we handled them. Those people would probably believe we are still the same, and wouldn't reference us very well. And, that's ok. We don't need to prove them wrong, or try to change their minds about who we were then and who we are now.
The point of this blog is to encourage myself, and you to love people well. Love people extraordinarily well. When the enemy tries to breed disunity, attack it with grace and seek unity. After, if they feel lead somewhere else, bless them when they go. Always be the first to say hello when you see them other places. Your last impression you leave with people matters. No, it isn't about you and your reputation. But, Christ calls us to lay down our lives and to love people. If I am failing at that, then I am not doing my job.
xo a girl who sleeps with the pastor