Let me just get this out there: I love memes. You just can’t go wrong with a funny and witty meme. I am not sure how or when this fad began but at this point, Facebook should just change its name to “meme book.” While many of them are entertaining, I’ll admit that there are times when they annoy me. It seems like people would rather post a picture of Rob Burgandy with a catchy phrase rather than actually express their own original thoughts. Regardless of that issue, I think some memes can be downright hilarious. I’m bringing this up because I am seeing a disturbing trend emerge and it quite frankly makes me fear for society.
I have long believed that people are far too bold when they are behind theirkeyboard. They say things online, in emails, and in text message that they would most likely never say to someone’s face. The funny thing is that this boldness is truly a sign of being cowardly. My basic business principle is that when people send me a nasty email or message I respond with a phone call or a face to facemeeting. This catches a lot of people off-guard…and that’s the point. In our technology driven world, people are now hiding behind their keyboards and meme generator apps. Somehow people have accepted the idea that if they say something nasty via a witty meme that it’s not as damaging as just posting their actual opinions. Or worse, they actually put in the effort of creating the meme but express themselves that way to create a sort of division between them and the opinion. Let's talk about this for a moment.
I believe many people have forgotten the basic rule their parents or even grandparents taught them: “If you do not have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.” Usually memes have a sharp truth to them. The person posting it is often too socially inept to say something like that for themselves and think they can diffuse the situation by posting a funny little picture. And don’t think this doesn’t affect people in the church. It is so easy to do “hit and run” posts with memes that even Christians forget a basic nugget of wisdom found in Proverbs 15:1 NIV that states, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
If you look back at my blog posts since 2010 it’s no mystery that I was a bitter person who was hurt by things that have happened since I’ve entered the ministry. I think it shook me up because it’s something I never would have imagined would happen. I won't go into all of the details. If you are interested just begin going back through my archives. I have not taken them down because they are part of my past and who I am. Those situations were real and they mattered. However, I can tell that writing those blogs did not do me a whole lot of good. The true healing came when I began to send out emails of apologies to those I have hurt and those whohave hurt me. That’s right - I apologized to the people who hurt me. They may have mistreated me, but in the end I was no better than them. I realized that I may have hurt them from behind the keyboard as I wrote about the incidents. Receiving forgiving responses back from them was very therapeutic and I literally felt like aweight had been lifted off my shoulders.
I have only been on staff at two churches over the past 20 years (not including the time I ran children's church at the church I grew up at). My first youth/associate pastor role in Milwaukee lasted 8 years. My time here at Radiant Fellowship began in 2003 and this August marks my 10 year anniversary as lead pastor. I’ll admit I’m kind of proud of that. I truly believe this is all because of my Dad who taught me to be loyal, hardworking, and to value stability. This kind of longevity blows the ministerial statistics out of the water and I thank God for giving me the strength to endure it. Whether they’re a church staffer or attender, the people who bounce around from church to church every few years should look at themselves and realize there is a problem. Could it be that if the church has been there for years and they have a solid group of attendees that have been coming for years that the church isn’t the problem? Could it be that you, the person bouncing around from church to church, are the one who needs some correction?
I compare this to the person who can’t seem to keep a friend for long. Things go well for a while but isn’t too long before they begin to burn bridges and drift off to the next group of friends. I am going to go out on a solid limb here and say it is not the friends who have the issue but rather the one who keeps going through friends like crazy. Lately, it seems to be the American way to pass the blame and take the easy way out. This kind of self-protection makes sense because it is difficult to step back, take a look at yourself, and ask yourself, “What is wrong with me?” It took a few years for me to get the point where I could ask myself that question but I am glad I did it. Taking a sober look at myself and being honest about my condition put me in the position where I could have the stability in my family and ministry that I enjoy today. I am so thankful for the healing process that began when I looked at my own behavior and realized I had to change. It has even allowed me to look at other people differently. When I have a disagreement with someone or feel like someone is picking on me, I now realize they are simply hurt and I pray one day they will find healing as well. There are too many other ways to live life than to make broad generalizations about things that have happened to us. Life is too beautiful to live in bondage to the people who have hurt us or have let us down.