I love/hate difficult discussions!

Proverbs 27 6

I am in a position in life where I “get to” and “need to” have difficult conversations on a regular basis.  Any time you are in leadership you will have to discuss, evaluate and try to encourage improvement in yourself and others, and that process can be difficult.  In my position, most of my difficult conversations have to do with life choices and heart issues and at times those discussions can be challenging.  However, over the years there are aspects of these conversations that I have grown to appreciate and therefore I would say that I have a love/hate relationship with difficult discussions.

I think it’s pretty easy to understand why I hate hard discussions, however there are so many good things that come out of “well thought out” difficult discussions – and these apply across the board to way more areas than just church life!  If you are married, on occasion you need to have difficult discussions.  If you are an employee or employer, on occassion you need to have difficult discussions.  If you are a parent, or a student or even just a friend to someone, on occassion you need to have difficult conversation.  Now before I share with you why I both love and hate these types of discussions, let me define some situations that might fall into this category.  When I say “difficult discussions” I mean: you need to talk with your spouse about spending patterns…that’s difficult.  You need to talk with an employee about his refusal to meet your expectations…that’s difficult.  You know that you should talk with your friend about the way that they are treating their kids and their spouse…that’s difficult.  These are just a few examples, you likely have some of your own right now, but let me share with you why I love/hate these talks.

Why I hate these talks

I’d guess that it’s pretty easy to understand why I don’t like the responsibility of sharing my observations with others concerning their lives, but there are some pretty particular reasons that I struggle in this area.  First of all, fear and anxiety makes it difficult to have these conversations.  Fears about what others will think, how they will react and what will happen to our relationship are very real.  Maybe you’ve experienced those feelings and it’s kept you from saying anything.  I know I have!  Second, all of the “what if’s” roll through my head as I am preparing to have a difficult conversation.  What if they get mad?  What if they don’t respond well?  What if they quit?  These are some of the things that we all experience when we need to step into someone’s life.

Reasons I love difficult conversations – Despite finding these conversations difficult, there are several reasons that I’ve grown to love them and would encourage you to embrace a gracious, loving and truthful approach to your relationships!

  1. Having difficult conversations allows both parties to grow and improve!  It doesn’t matter if your conversation is revolving around work, school, home or spiritual life, everyone has room to grow and improve.  I’ve found that we don’t tend to grow when we are allowed to coast!  When we drift, we drift down stream…not up!  I also think that each of us want to be the very best that we can be in the different aspects of our lives, therefore at times we need to be challenged and encouraged.  Having difficult conversations can accomplish this as long as the conversation ends with help and hope!
  2. Generally, these conversations strengthen your relationships.  Recently I had a conversation with my wife where I shared a few things that I had been thinking about.  I was nervous about sharing these thoughts, however after we were able to talk and discuss them, our relationship was strengthened and even more trust was built!  This is why I love these types of discussions.  My closest friends are people that I can absolutely tell the truth to and they can do the same to me…and we do.
  3. Difficult discussions force both parties to check their motivations and fight drift!  Whenever you are going to talk with someone about something you’ve noticed in their lives, you need to check yourself first.  I think it was a famous philosopher (jk) who said: “Check yourself before you wreck yourself”.  When I’m struggling with something and a friend talks with me about it, it guards me from coasting and vice versa.
  4. Difficult conversations cause me to pray and rely on God.  I love difficult conversations because they make me uncomfortable, which causes me to run to God for help.  This is a good thing for all of us to embrace.  I am naturally inclined to taking care of things myself and so when I feel out of my comfort zone I am reminded that I need someone bigger than me!

Let me leave you with this: I know these discussions are not fun, but they are fruitful. Proverbs 27:6 says – “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses” In other words, someone who tells you the truth in a gracious way is to be trusted over someone who simply says whatever we want to hear!

So…how about you?  How do you feel about difficult conversations?  Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

I love/hate difficult discussions!

What We Learned From 2 Services

On Sunday, April 5th, a day known to many as Easter 2015, we experimented with something that I was extremely nervous about: 2 services on a Sunday morning.  This endeavor is something that we have been thinking about, praying about and working towards for several years as we have been growing.  I was still nervous!  What happens if no one shows up to the 1st service?  What if we don’t have enough volunteers to do this well?  Will people show up at 7 am in order to be ready for an 8:30 service?  All of these questions were swirling around in my head.

Thankfully I was reminded over and over of Jesus’ words to us: John 14 12

So..we did it, we took the plunge and experimented with 2 services on Easter knowing that last year we were 5 parking spots away from being full!  How did things go?  Well, in a word, they went great.  But along the way we learned a few lessons and here are some thoughts in the wake of our great “2 service” experiment:

  1. Our volunteers are my heroes – I was totally amazed and overjoyed by the involvement and the investment of the people here at Oak Grove.  Not only did you pray, invest and invite but you also showed up early, helped clean, set up and held doors for others who are new to Oak Grove.  We had people here at 6 am on Sunday morning and we had volunteers here on Saturday night preparing for the opportunities ahead.  So…Oak Grove volunteers, you are my heroes!
  2. Attend One, Serve One helps us – The fact that you can attend a service and then serve during a second service really helped us on Easter.  No one should miss Easter and everyone should be able to be with the people that they invited.  Having two services helps us with that.  If you serve in the nursery, Power Up or any other ministry during the first service, now you can attend the second service!  This is great!
  3. Some people like an earlier service…even one that starts at 8:30!  This fact totally surprised me.  I did not think that people would attend the early service but we had over 120 people just in the first service and many of them thanked me for having an earlier service.  For some it was helpful to their work schedule.  For some it helped them with family plans.  Whatever the reason, some people enjoy the earlier service!
  4. 2 services multiplies our impact – Having two services allows us to double the impact of one service that takes many hours to prepare.  Every week there are literally hundreds of hours that go into preparing a service so that we can teach, lead and inspire people to love and follow Jesus!  When we utilize two services full-time we will be multiplying the impact that we can have on our community and this is a good thing.
  5. We can do this when God opens the door – The last observation that I had is this: when we need to, we can do this full-time and we will be able to do it well because so many have caught God’s vision for the church: to make more and better followers of Christ.  Will there be challenges, yes!  But Easter showed that we can do it.

Thank you all for your participation and for believing that God is going to use us to do the same works that Christ did and also even more!

What We Learned From 2 Services