Caring Enough to Correct

CC BY-NC, FreddieBrown, Foter
CC BY-NC, FreddieBrown, Foter

In college I started a Friday night event on my wing called Midnight Monopoly. It was a leisure outlet for those of us who didn’t work or have other entertainment to make fete of an otherwise boring evening. It was always a fun time.

One night roommates joined the game; as we played, one made an innocent joke about the other. It was not received well, however, and the other guy spitefully and openly countered with the sharpest, crudest remark he could muster. Everyone quickly overlooked the comment, but I sat there appalled. I was the wing chaplain and decided to let it pass and confront the guy once the game ended.

In my room with him, I addressed the comment—how ugly and unchristian it was and expressed to his own roommate and spiritual brother. How could he say such a thing? I explained that he needed to apologize and simply repent. I wasn’t trying to be a dad, but it sure felt like it. The comment had offended and angered me.

Well he didn’t like it. He left abruptly and said nothing to me for two weeks—that is until a knock at my door one evening. “Can I talk to you for a minute?” He explained that he had thought very much about what I had said to him and felt convicted. He acknowledged his wrong and thanked me for having the courage to challenge him. He also stated that he had apologized to his roommate.

The Profitability of Correction

Proverbs 27:5-6 says, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Challenging others is never easy, even when done lovingly. Some people let offenses and bad behavior go unchallenged rather than making folk accountable for them. But this is wrong and unloving.

It is also a false conception to think we can become successful or mature individuals, even good Christians, if we fail to submit to correction. Accountability safeguards character by cultivating wholesome traits and challenging negative ones. Correction, a form of accountability, is essential to personal growth and also God’s plan for us. Being non-teachable and prideful, however, causes us to miss valuable lessons and costs us in the end.

Hosea graphically expresses the need for correction and repentance: “Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us” (6:1-2, NASB). Here is the idea of purposely wounding, perhaps to set a fracture or to clean away infection.

And sometimes we don’t see that our lives have defect or fester with some sin, so seeking accountability is a positive and proactive move to ensure integrity and godliness. Moreover, godly reproof is a grace and sign of God’s ownership. We should welcome it and not resist it, lest we accept the charge of Hebrews 12:8—“you are not legitimate children at all.”

The wing mate I confronted serves the Lord today around the globe sharing the love of Jesus with orphans and the distressed. I consider what I did a small but necessary part of preparing him for the ministry he performs today.

What might we be leaving untended in the lives of others God is burdening us to correct? And are you asking the Lord to reveal the places in your life in need of correction? Just own enough humility whether you’re correcting or being corrected. It helps to remember Jesus’s words that we bear abundant fruit when we are pruned (John 15:2).

The Wealth of Kindness

CC Theresa Thompson Flickr
CC Theresa Thompson Flickr

I attended a Christian college that emphasized togetherness, so dorm life was not unlike having family around. In addition to the RA, each wing on campus had a chaplain and community outreach coordinator, along with a brother- or sister-wing to share the college experience. It worked well and made for good friendships and strong morale.

I served as a chaplain in my junior year. It wasn’t the best experience because I was a total mismatch for the wing; perhaps it is more accurately stated that many of the guys didn’t really have Jesus on their minds! But if it was paying my dues in any way, then that something better came the following year when I was promoted to be a spiritual life dorm director.

Bursting with Love 

As the dorm director I worked with the men’s campus chaplain and supervised six wing chaplains of my own. I had great guys. I bore a vision of an internally strong and personally rewarding experience and not our going through the motions of doing what campus chaplains did devoid of real meaning.

NC-ND madlyinlovewithlife Flickr
NC-ND madlyinlovewithlife Flickr

I spent the first three weeks casting my vision and building camaraderie, and by the midterm I knew my group was a pot of gold. They were quality people and leaders that I deeply respected, and I really wanted them to know how much I appreciated them.

Each week we had Dorm Group, a time when we met just for peer review and any type of devotion or fun I chose. This particular week I had to get out of my system how much love I felt for these men. I was so grateful to God for their gifts and how they contributed to the group. So I decided that I would tell them face-to-face during Dorm Group, each man individually before the group; however, I also knew that I would be overcome with emotion.

Well I was one giant teardrop! But I made sure that I left it all on the table and that they knew I didn’t see my place only as the scholarship role it was. They were very gracious.

Go Ahead…Do It

Expended but relieved, I cut the meeting short and everyone left out quickly, yet they still wanted to hang out. They all decided to head down to one of the chaplain’s rooms and told me to come along. I really just wanted to sober myself up and maybe head down later, but some pined for me to come, so I did.

ND Lights Camera Click Flickr
ND Lights Camera Click Flickr

When we had all sat down, the host pulled back a curtain where there was a surprise party all set for me! I was stunned. They had been planning their feelings toward me that week just as I had done for them. In fact, they thought I was on to them by the way they abruptly left the room, but I had never detected a thing.

Our meeting continued in that room as one-by-one they let me know how much they appreciated me as their leader. The entire night was deeply moving. They told me later what I already knew, that it could’ve only been God knitting our hearts together like that.

Isn’t God cool? I encourage you to unburden your heart of all the love and admiration you’ve wanted to share with someone but felt too ashamed to do so, or you diminished the act. Do it. Write a letter. Whisper it during the car ride. Say it in the silence at dinner. Promise yourself. You can never guess how repercussive the kindness may become.