Our breakfast table conversation this morning was a search for self awareness. In a playful way, Karen pointed out some issues I have that might warrant deeper examination. This produced a playful, yet defensive, response from me. I pointed out that she has some issues to unpack herself. This went back and forth. This conversation produced in me an "AHA" moment. Local church communities would benefit from self awareness conversations. My step son Sean has said "Few persons are afflicted with the disease of self awareness." He is correct. I would extend that to say "few congregations are afflicted with the disease of self awareness." In my stewardship consulting role I was called to a local church that had severe financial problems. In this particular local church I discovered that they 1. lived out of a theology of scarcity, not a theology of abundance, 2. had not conducted a financial drive in the last 10 years. 3. their members have consistently refused to turn in pledge cards in those 10 years and 4. stated that every member in their church gave 10% of their income to the church already ( the first church in Christendom that has 100% compliance in tithing). None of these were mentioned as a cause for their financial stress, rather the perceived problem was "We are older and are all on a fixed income." This congregation was not gifted with the disease of financial self awareness.
In yet another of my consulting travels a powerful man of faith, a deep disciple, a strong local church leader pulled me aside telling me "Our pastor does not have the gift of effective communication. His heart is in the right place and his ideas are good but he has failed to communicate important matters with us."
"Communication is important," I replied "What was his response when you took this concern to him?"
"I haven't talked with him about it." the parishioner explained
Some congregations, some congregational leaders are not afflicted with the disease of self awareness. In still another congregational meeting, a finance chair was circular in his complaints and criticisms while other board members were doing their best to hide smirks and rolling of the eyes. The finance chair did not have self awareness about his own behavior but even more problematic, other board members were unwilling to invite this leader into a necessary process of self awareness. We continue in behaviors of decline under the pretense of "I just don't want to hurt their feelings by telling them that!" or my favorite, learned at my mother's knee "If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all." Our silence has been the enemy of self awareness We must help each other with our blind spots. The church for tomorrow must be afflicted with a congregational disease of self awareness.