What’s Up with Pastor Todd 3/24/22

Different point of view, an orange colored owl standing out from the crowd. ( 3d render )

What’s Up with Pastor Todd 3/24/22

What does the word “grace” mean to you? To me, “grace” points to an attitude of openness, trust, curiosity, invitation, and groundedness. It has a feel of lightness and play. Grace is making space for another person to be their best self. Grace–especially in the Christian sense–is a free gift, undeserved and unconditional. 

As a child I was taught that grace is the pivotal point of God’s plan for salvation. We were taught that the whole of the gospel could be summarized in three words: 1) “guilt,” that is, the recognition that every one of us is imperfect and in need of forgiveness, 2) “grace,” that is, God’s unmerited gift of forgiveness and healing through Jesus, 3) and “gratitude,” that is, our response to God’s grace in living lives of joy and service. 

The word “grace” came to mind this week as I was listening to your stories about First Church of Christ in Saybrook. Many of your stories were stories of conflict, disagreements, differing viewpoints, the heartbreak that results when differences lead to divisions and divisions lead to folks leaving the church. 

Grace in response to differences in perspective could also summarize the recommendation of a church leadership podcast I regularly listen to. In his podcast for this week, church consultant Carey Nieuwhof interviews scholar Francesca Gino, who teaches at Harvard Business School, about her latest article in the Harvard Business Review, entitled, “Managing a Polarized Workforce.” I recommend both the article and the podcast.

Dr. Gino offers very helpful and concrete advice based on her research into what causes and what helps with conflict. Rather than try to summarize them here, I refer you to the resources above. Here are my takeaways:

  1. Conflict is normal.
  2. Differing viewpoints are desirable because when they are engaged in a healthy way, they actually increase the organization’s effectiveness.
  3. We can learn skills to transform conflict into moments of profound insight and deep connection.
  4. Engaging directly in conversation with someone who disagrees is often not as bad as we imagine it will be.

I’m looking forward to creating grace moments with you as together we learn new behaviors for engaging natural, God-given differences.

Author: toddyonkman

I am a husband, father, author, and Transitional Senior Minister of First Congregational Church of Granby (CT).

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