The Time I Made an Eighty-Something-Year-Old Cry

I pride myself on being able to relate to people. I work hard at being authentic and showing up in a way that honors who God is calling me to be.  It just so happened that I was taking questions at an event the other day and I failed miserably at relating.

The goal of the day was to invite them into a time of reflection on their God calling, but we had carved out some time for discussion on where the church is and where we are going. I love a good Q&A; I think it opens the group up for growth that is hard to find on its own.  We were in the process of wrapping up the Q&A section, when the question was asked, “Tony, why don’t you like the Bible on the altar?”

I had a great answer for this! I went on about my theology on sacred symbols and how they can be a barrier to first-time visitors to the church. I talked about how young people have stepped away from symbols and one of the ways we could be an open church is to not let ourselves get tied down in such symbols.

I was so proud of my answer, and I had thought of it so quickly!! I was on fire. Until that fire was put out by the tears of the eighty-something-year-old woman who was crushed. Her family had donated that Bible, in memory of her late husband. In one fail swoop, I managed to break her heart.

There is nothing worse than watching someone you care about cry, and it was the broken-heart kind of cry. As a leader I had made a huge mistake; I listened with my head and not my heart.  She wasn’t talking about “the” Bible, she was talking about “a” Bible, a Bible that meant something to a very specific part of our church family.

I was so busy coming up with the perfect answer I forgot to listen for the right answer.

The tears of that woman reminded me of something very important: I value relationships and I want to lead that way. This experience rocked me in the best kind of way; it challenged me to think about life differently. Life requires us to be in relationships and to be leaders. With that in mind I’ll be re-branding my blog a bit, the focus now on relational leadership.

If you want to be intentional about the type of relationships you are in, then you must be willing to lead.