“Discussion was very informative, but I was very uncomfortable with a comment made by the presenter. She loudly made it very clear that she was a “Jesus freak” and glorifies Him in everything she does and if this makes anyone uncomfortable we are welcome to walk out. I thought it was unprofessional, inappropriate, and rude and made me feel extremely uncomfortable. Although I had the option to leave I didn’t feel this should have been an option in the first place. — isn’t a faith based organization is it? I will be calling your organization to discuss further.” – statement from an event evaluation.
This one angry comment among so many positive ones has taken up a lot of space in my head in the last 24 hours.
I am associated with many organizations. Some faith-based, some not. The faith-based ones are easy. Conversation about the scriptures and prayer and programs within the faith-based ones are expected, so when I tend to get “over the top,” I am able to be free and authentic. However, we are called to be involved in the world, so I am also involved with professional organizations that are not “faith-based,” but ARE led by professed Christians.
Over the last couple of years, this and other organizations that I am involved with have asked me to be “more sensitive.” Submitting to the authority in leadership, I get that. The scriptures tell us that a kind word turns away wrath, and all words are to be seasoned as salt. It is my heart’s desire to draw others TO Christ rather than away from Him or away from a professional organization that can provide the tools and encouragement to others who tread this journey.
I was not the presenter at this event, I was the facilitator of a panel/roundtable of professionals who serve faithfully and successfully in a leadership role. However, I was reminded that if I made comments that could give the impression that a workshop had a Christian overtone, that I should make it clear up front. I did, and it bit me.
I don’t remember my exact words at the intro and I knew 90% of the women in the room. I’m sure I tried to be funny, but in the least, I tried to be authentic and clear. My heart breaks that I, in my limited vocabulary, was not more tactful so as to draw this one woman closer to Christ, and instead offended her to the point that I don’t know if she got anything out of the workshop at all. And was she the only one?
This is the issue for me: It would be so much easier for me, as a Christian, to be involved in groups and organizations that are safe and faith-based. That would be safe. It would be so much easier for me, as a pleaser, to be so sensitive as to not offend anyone and have no convictions whatsoever. But that would put a filter on me so great that I probably wouldn’t say or do anything at all. It would also be easy to say that “the gospel is offensive” and that’s just too bad that she was offended. But I wasn’t sharing the gospel, I was trying to be sensitive, and instead it came off just the opposite.
This I know…
1. I will invite others to pray for me when I take on such a “front man” role in the organizations that are not faith-based, to pray for favor in the eyes of the audience, and
2. I will pray that I did not do so much damage to that one woman’s journey to Christ that I can forgive myself, and
3. I pray that someone with favor in this woman’s heart will be able to show her the love of Jesus that she did not hear in me.