Brene Brown continues to be The Patron Saint of Vulnerability, polishing the lens through which I see things. Consider all the Bible stories that have a connection to shame and face-saving (Zacchaeus, Ruth, Leah & Rachel, Peter, etc. etc. etc.
We Church People are called to help people save face – and God knows we have ample opportunities:
- The most judgmental couple in the congregation – who regularly condemn people for various reasons – learn that their own daughter is getting divorced. We can secretly embrace schadenfreude. Or we can comfort them as if they never mentioned how spiritually bankrupt we must be for being divorced ourselves.
- A church staff member is caught stealing money. We can openly share this with everybody. Or we can quietly let this staffer go “for family reasons” or “health reasons” or some other face-saving reason.
- A 80-something church member’s son commits suicide and she doesn’t want anyone to know how he died. We can whisper the truth in the church parking lot, or we can protect this confidentiality and sit with her for as long as she needs.
- There’s conflict between the pastor and other leaders, and it’s clear that a change in leadership is needed. We can shame and blame each other. Or we can prayerfully consider what’s honestly best for the church and move accordingly.
Church should be the last place where people are shamed.
We should be The Go-To Place to share our failures, our mistakes, our disappointments, our anxieties, our weaknesses. I see a slow (very slow) shift in how we are the church together in terms of helping people save face. We are slowly moving from a Mad Men Church (“Appearances are everything“) to a Real Life Church (“I am a screw-up and so are you. But there’s grace.“)
What face-saving efforts have you seen in your church lately?