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Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I thought we came up with a new word yesterday and I was so excited.

I was in conversation with a coworker at Westwinds and I got tongue tied with the word appreciate. The context however was one where we only kinda appreciated something and detested it at the same time. So, my tongue failed me but my coworker immediately retorted, “Appreciahate.”

I Googled the word thinking his brilliance matched with my slur was monumental and historic. To my dismay, Urban Dictionary had already defined it. This is what it said:

1. The ability women have to both appreciate the beauty of another woman and hate her for the same reason.
   Charlotte looked amazing and all the other women appreciahated this.

This definition didn’t speak to our little nuances or context so I’ll expand and offer another definition.

I could sit down every day and make a list of the things I’d like to change about any number of things in ministry. I wish we were reaching more people. I wish people were more proactive. I wish we could expand our staff. I wish our church had no back door. I wish the financial giving was on the upswing. This list could go on all day.

Many things on my proverbial (and actual) list are things I can influence. Many are not. Or, at least, I haven’t found a way to influence them . . . yet. Many of them keep me up at night sometimes and I find myself praying about them a lot. Many of them are issues we deal with regularly as a church staff and we’ve tried many innovative things to turn them around. We also have a team of elders who are very involved in troubleshooting.

Every once in a while (all the time) someone will invite themselves in to the conversation and offer advice about how we can solve a problem as if none of the above is or has ever happened and as if we are totally unaware of the problem at hand. I am not adverse to advice but there are certain kinds of advice that will make me go a little whack. It is this kind of advice I appreciahate.

2. The feeling one gets when they receive unsolicited advice from someone they either don’t know, know well enough, and/or don’t trust who is disconnected in one way or another from the problem at hand. 
   Steve knew Sheila was trying to help but he appreciahated how she suggested the church hold a bake sale to meet budget and acted like they were dumb for not trying it yet.

There are generally two groups of ministry advice most people in full-time ministry appreciahate.

Group #1 
  • Not involved in ministry 
  • Do not volunteer anywhere
  • Are barely interested in the church most of the time
  • Have no idea how ministry works
  • Maybe even go to another church
Group #2 (includes at least one or any combination of the following)
  • Go to the church just enough to think they know how to do things better
  • Are in a business they liken to ministry in some way 
  • Think their business/corporation/real job expertise gives them better insight to your small world problems
  • Give money to the church and think that should buy them power
  • Refer to you as “buddy” or “boss” or “champ” 
  • Have no idea their idea was something people did in the dark ages and it didn’t work then either
  • Have a ton of advice from the church they used to go to and usually start their sentences with something like, “Back at Third Baptist they used to . . . “
If I’m honest, I’ve opened my mouth and offered ministry advice to someone when I shouldn’t have before. We all make mistakes. And, if we are problem solvers by nature it’s even harder to shut up.

So, here are a few words of advice to anyone who is considering offering ministry advice to anyone for any reason to save you from being appreciahated.
  1. Never use the money you give the church as leverage to offer your advice. You can never, ever start a sentence with anything remotely close to, “I’ve been giving to this church for a long time and . . . “ 
  2. Never begin your advice giving by handing someone a book, CD, DVD, etc. and suggest they watch/listen to it for insight. This subtle move communicates, “I know something you don’t know and you too will be enlightened when you see/hear this although you should already know it, punk.” It can also communicate, “I don’t know how to put my thoughts in to words but I still know better than you.” Loaning these items for feedback may be appropriate as long as you are really interested in feedback as opposed to building your case or spreading your propaganda. 
  3. If you are a chronic advice giver, admit it to yourself. Listen to yourself talk when you are in conversation. Are you doing most of the talking? Chances are, they want you to do more listening and leave more pauses. They may even ask you for advice. Wouldn’t that be something?
  4. Double-check your credentials. Are you really that smart? Have you really gone through the same fire? Do you really have basis for your suggestions? Make sure.
  5. Ask permission before spewing. Try a simple, “Are you asking me for advice? I might have something that could help.” Let them say yes or no.
  6. Do not send unsolicited advice in a letter or email. This makes you look frightened and/or cocky and/or even more disconnected than you probably are.
  7. Own your idea. If the planets align, you’ve been given permission to speak, you are in good relationship with the person, and you believe you can actually help, own it. Don’t give someone else the idea and run. Never start with, “You know what you guys should do?” In most cases, nobody wants to do your idea. They have probably tried it before or have a good reason not to do it. If you own it, they may have opportunity to tell you why it doesn’t line up and thank you for your suggestion. Don’t drop it and run. Don’t become the flaming bag of doody on their doorstep they have to deal with. If you own it, they may hear you, and it may be just the thing they were hoping for.
  8. Ask yourself, “Do I have everyone’s best interest at heart or am I more concerned with being heard?” If we’re honest, for most of us, the selfless times are few and far between.
  9. Ask yourself, “Is it possible I don’t have all the information or history to offer the advice I have to offer?” Then ask, “Is it my job to find this stuff out or leave it alone?” If you decide it is your job to pursue more info and history ask yourself, “Am I the only one who believes this is my role or do others expect me to give insight?”
  10. Sit on it. Often times, an email will come across my desktop that offers the kind of advice I appreciahate. As a rule, I let it sit at least a day before responding. This works on the other side too. If you have a burning piece of advice to give, take a breather. Pour yourself some herb tea and relax. Pray. If it’s still there the next day, go back through number 1-9 on this list.

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