Cal Jernigan – Senior Pastor

In my post last week, I told of having received a number of emails suggesting I said something in a sermon that was inappropriate (something perhaps politically incorrect). I recounted what I had said, and asked you to weigh in and tell me what you think. I was hoping for some response. I was certainly not expecting the amount of responses I received. In that post I stated I would write about what all this has shown me. This post is my best effort to deliver on that promise.

*First, I want to thank all of you who took the time to respond and express your thoughts. I was truly blown away by the sheer number of people who did this. It was everything I could do this week not to add my own comments to the comments that were coming in…yet I felt that if I did so, I might taint the conversation. Just know that I (and many others) read every comment and have given them serious thought. Thanks for getting involved!

*I can truly tell you that I would have “bet the bank” (it’s a metaphor…I’m not a gambler… please don’t email me! LOL!) I would have heard far more people stating that what I said was inappropriate than the number who would have suggested it was not. It seems like we are quick to catch that which potentially offends and easy to pile on. I was pretty sure I was setting myself up for this. Others agreed. However, clearly the “not inappropriate” opinion carried the day through the responses. This surprised both me and others. I am reminded of how often we communicate verbally when we are in disagreement with something and how rarely we think about commenting on what we do agree with. Seldom do I hear from people who agree with what I said. It’s far more likely I’ll hear from folks when I get it wrong than when I get it right. This is unfortunate.

*I am impressed with the deep thought a number of these responses represented. There were some serious insights shared by a number of you. I appreciated listening to the reasoning/reasoned responses of so many. Let me assure you this means more to me than you know. Our people think deeply and aren’t afraid of owning and sharing their thoughts.

*If we are not clear regarding the motive of why a person says something, we would do well to give them the benefit of the doubt, rather than assume they meant it in the worst of ways. This reflects a very difficult aspect of communication. We are all capable of hearing things that were never said, and never implied. We can easily project onto others what’s in and on our minds, regardless of whether it’s on or in theirs.

*As to the implication of the video, I thoroughly agree that there is a pejorative way to speak of girls, and this is harmful. To say that someone “runs like a girl,” or “throws like a girl” is without question demeaning. It implies all girls run a certain way and all girls throw a certain way. It implies something is wrong with the way they do it. This is certainly not true. However, to find fault with the expression “screaming like a little schoolgirl” implies it is wrong for little schoolgirls to scream the way they do, or worse, to imply they don’t scream in a certain way. They most certainly do. To suggest they don’t is to lose touch with reality or to be afraid to notice or state the obvious.

*One sentiment that was repeated constantly is that we should probably lighten up a bit. I couldn’t agree more. Our culture is making it hard to laugh and enjoy a good story. We seem to be taking ourselves way too seriously. I appreciated the insight many shared that this was not an interpretation of Scripture that was being discussed, but the way a story was told. Wouldn’t you hate to live in a world where we became afraid of telling stories, or jokes, or laughing just for fear we might offend someone? I would.

*Lastly, while I certainly wasn’t lacking a sense of being appreciated as the pastor of Central, I can tell you without question I have been blown away with the kind words of affirmation. This has once again caused me to realize how incredible of a church this really is. As I said already, the original emails I received on this were not at all unkind, which I appreciated greatly, yet this whole process has helped remind me of the power of words. Our words can build up and our words can tear down. Words are powerful. We must choose them carefully.

Thanks for sharing yours with me.

Got any more?

Reflections

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