Expect to be Quoted
Do you know that you are repeated? I know I am, as are others. As a new pastor in a new community, I am the adjusting "newbie". I am the one who does not pronounce names correctly or know who legendary names are. I'm the one who does not know community traditions and customs. I'm the one who gets lost. I'm the one who does not know about long-held hurts and wounds. It's both painful and fun. It's fun being ignorant of all the rules and being able to plow ahead into new territory.
Because I learned long ago that I should expect to be quoted, and misquoted, I try to judge my speech judiciously and graciously. I expect to have what I say about others repeated. Isn't that a good thing? Should not our words be repeatable?
The other day I had to confess to a pastor-friend that I had been holding a grudge against him for a slight I felt. I told others about my hard feelings, but did not tell him. After a couple of months, I felt like such a hypocrite. I was teaching direct conversation from Matthew 18, but was not practicing it myself.
So, in a random phone conversation I said. "Do you have a few minutes to hear my confession?" He said "Sure." And I proceeded to tell him, to his face (or voice) what I had been holding and telling others, but not him. It felt right and good for me to tell him what, I'm guessing, he already heard from others I'd been saying about him. Now we are in a place of reconciliation and clarification.
Among pastors and denominational leaders, I think there is a long way to go here. We are civil and polite, but not always honest. We value loyalty and team-play, but not honest critique. I do not have a solution to this problem other than person-by-person, case-by-case. I need to demonstrate to my critics that their criticism of my and my gaffs will not render them to the out-cast party of disloyalists. Pastors need critics to be their friends and loyal adversaries.