Thursday, May 19, 2016
What's the Motivation?
I now live in a part of the country where rumors and gossip are a way of life. Small town living combined with communal living can read havoc on any church or organization and it pains me a great deal to see the enemy get a foothold in this manner. Very effective strategy it seems.
I want to do some "thinking outloud" by writing this down because I have come to some conclusions and I would love to be argued with if I'm wrong. I'm trying to figure out the motivation of those who would like to make "anonymous reports" about others. What is the point?
First of all, I think I need to own the fact that where I work we have an anxious system, and that makes people fearful of what will happen to them if they report something and use their name. This is a problem. But if we are going to strive to live as Jesus taught, He already gave us clear instructions
Matthew 18 tells us what to do when a brother or sister has sinned: “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over." In reading this it seems to be that the point of "catching" anyone doing anything wrong is to win them over, and this is done by direct confrontation.
So, if I hear or see something that leads me to believe that a brother or sister has sinned, it is my responsibility to go to that person, myself, and confront them. And if that doesn't work, then the next verse says that I go back again and I take someone with me. Nowhere in scripture does it say, "If you think someone is sinning, go ahead and report them and ask to remain anonymous."
Back to motivation... So, if my motivation is not to win the brother over, what could it be?
1) To "rid the organization of sinners." Well, we kinda need employees, so if we are going to get rid of all the sinners, we wouldn't have employees, so we can't get rid of the sinners. So then do we just get rid of the ones who are the "really bad sinners" and not the "kinda bad sinners." I get the idea here, but I also think that Jesus was much more about grace and restoration. He wanted to get rid of sin... not sinners.
2) To prove that I am right. If I think I know what has happened, I can go and expect someone else to investigate, and if they investigate and find out that I was right, then I can be assured of who was telling the truth and who was lying. Unfortunately, the truth is never quite that easy to discover. And, this seems to be a pretty selfish motive.
3) To get someone else in trouble. This seems kind of mercenary to me. What is the joy is watching someone else get punished? If that person is someone you love and care about, then why would you want them in trouble, especially if you could help them to be healed and restored. Which is preferable?
See? I can't figure out the motivation. I assume the best about everyone, so I don't like to think that I may be surrounded by individuals who have the motivations above. To me, the damage that is caused by the rumors, gossip and reporting is more distracting to the mission than any "sin" that has supposedly been committed.
The conclusion that I have come to is that if a person wants to report something anonymously, they care about protecting themselves more than they care about the person that they are reporting about. If self-protection is the goal -- and not the organization, or the church, or the family -- then this all makes sense. But if the goal is living in unity, restoring others to relationship with Christ and others, and the health of the organization, church, or family system in paramount, then protecting myself is not an option.
I long for the day when people around me have the courage to confront and restore one another. I attempt to model biblical confrontation whenever I can. I strive to err on the side of grace, regardless of how much criticism this brings me. My goal is to restore others, not to condemn them. I remember reading about a guy who said once, "Neither do I condemn you -- go and sin no more."
OK, probably way too heavy for a Thursday morning at 8:20, but my thoughts this morning. I stole the quote above from my friend Anita King, someone I do not know well, but someone who has impressed me more by the way she lives her life than most. It comes up eloquently what I'm trying to say.