Do you want your phone to stop ringing and your emails to slacken off? Do you want to be able to make a fast exit from church instead of being slowed down by a word with this person and that person? What a Godsend for your wife not to have to cook large Sunday meals for friends and family! And if friends stop dropping by, you may actually get that home improvement project completed!
One of the most time consuming aspects of life on planet Earth is interaction with other human beings. Not only can interaction be time consuming, it can also be emotionally draining. Let's face it: some people are tar babies. But if you are committed to the Great Commission, it is hard to justify complete avoidance of the human race, no matter how tempting that can be.
I have a tried and true timesaving technique to share with you. I have known of this technique for years. I discovered it while a member of a sin-ridden church in Virginia. I was still new in the Faith and, naive person that I was, believed that the church court system of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) was the epitome of Matthew 18, and that by following the Book of Church Order procedures of the PCA, problems would be solved in the church and Christ would be glorified. Go ahead and laugh. I deserve it. No, I am not blond, although I have my moments and that sure was one.
I was reminded of this technique this weekend while munching Subways with my brother Bob, cousin Ken, and a dear pastor friend. We were catching up on old times and acquaintances. As we were reminiscing, a pattern emerged in our interactions with brother and sister Christians. It was a powerful moment and I realized that I needed to let others know about this time and labor saving technique. I call it "The Offer."
Here is the scenario: You and a fellow Christian have a disagreement or some other problem. Maybe it is a doctrinal difference; maybe it is sin, real or alleged - whatever. Let's say you try to resolve this conflict by discussing it, but you make no progress. You feel you cannot deviate from your position, you believe you are right; and for whatever reason, your brother can't or won't deviate from his position. Tensions build. It is time for you make "The Offer": "Let's take our Bibles and sit down and see what the Bible says about this. I promise you that I will change my position to agree with whatever the Bible says and I ask you to do the same. And I promise you I will try my best to conform my life and thought to what the Bible says and I ask you to do the same."
In the experience of my panel of munchers, "The Offer" has worked every time. No one has ever taken any of us up on it. I have most often said this to people who were church leaders - elders of pseudo-Reformed denominations. My pastor friend and cousin have had the experience with elders, church leaders, as well as regular folk they have been ministering to. Ken's experience takes the prize of our small group. When he asked this of a lady "apostle," she prayed from the pulpit that, in Jesus name and by the power of the Holy Spirit, God would "bind the teaching of Brother Kenneth and protect the church from the doctrines" he was trying to teach. But Ken's experience was unique among us, and the other times our statements just resulted in quiet. Peace and quiet. No more phone calls from that person, no more emails, nothing. Zip. Nada! Sweet, sweet silence. You often don't even have to bother with a "hello," when you see the person again. We have found that we often receive the gift of invisibility after making "The Offer," so if you choose to speak to the person, they often don't seem to hear you!
There you have it. A tried and true method. What a concept for crowd control in your life! "The Offer."
Now, dollars to donuts, some of you may have tried "The Offer" without realizing what a blessing it can be. And when you said the "magic words," you were broken hearted at the results and unable to rejoice at the increased freedom of having one less person to contend with. Get over it and move on! If you have that much spare time, take up walking or gardening or a craft.
Now, seriously, I hope one day that my lunch bunch and I can sit down and exchange stories about the ones who took us up on "The Offer." I really think I could handle it - after I regained consciousness.
- Susan Burns
Susan is the managing editor of the the Faith for All of Life magazine and the Chalcedon Report (bi-monthly newsletter). Susan has worked for Chalcedon since 1997. She lives in Virginia and is rather fond of animals, especially her many cats.