Last Friday, April 20th, I had the privilege of speaking in our Upper School Chapel about God’s call on His children to “Love Your Neighbor” from Galatians 5:14. For those who were not able to attend, we did stream this talk on Facebook Live, and it is currently posted on our Facebook page – click HERE to view.
The goal of that chapel message was that we would all acknowledge our own sin, seek forgiveness that comes from Christ alone, and then ask that God would grant us the gift of repentance so that we could love God and others well. As is often the case when I speak in chapel, I was personally convicted of my need to heed my own challenge to love MY neighbor. That got me thinking of relationships that I have that are not what they should be. It also got me thinking that I needed to be the one to work toward healing a few friendships. But HOW? Well, I am glad you asked…
Step 1 – Acknowledge the speck in my own eye before pointing out the plank in my neighbor’s (Luke 6:41-42)
When I think about relationships that are not healthy, my mind goes first to what the other person did wrong. If I am honest, it was this thinking that probably got me where I am today. So, I need to ask God to show me where my behavior has caused the strain and own it.
Step 2 – Confess to God (I John 1:9)
Once I see my own sin, I must confess it to God, asking Him to grant forgiveness and the gift of repentance. I must love God (by honoring, obeying, confessing) before we can appropriately love our neighbors.
Step 3 – Confess to Neighbor (James 5:16)
Given that God is holy, and I am not, the hardest part of healing a relationship ought to be my confession before God. But, my pride usually makes my confession to a friend very difficult. But, it is just as necessary. I must initiate contact. I start by acknowledging that the relationship isn’t right. I confess my part in the damage, as specifically as possible. And, then I ask them to forgive me.
Step 4 – Plan for Repentance (II Corinthians 7:10)
I follow up on my confession by immediately jumping into sharing my “plan for repentance.” Basically, I tell him what I hope my actions will look like to him to show that I desire a healthy relationship - and that I am going to work toward that end. If my confession and pursuit of repentance are sincere, then they are unconditional. I will confess my part whether my friend own’s his part or not. I said that I “immediately” jump to my plan for repentance SO THAT I don’t leave time for the other party to confess at that time. IF I hesitate, I am saying, “I am sorry, and it is now your turn.” That is not owning your part. That is presuming a shared role and implies that I am sorry if and only if you are as well. The same is true with my plan of repentance. I will pursue my plan even if my friend chooses a sick relationship over a healthy one.
Step 5 – Stop Talking and Accept the Response (Proverbs 10:19)
Once I have confessed and shared a plan for repentance, I then need to be quiet. My tendency is to fill the silence with more words, which usually turns into excuses as to why I did what I did. This negates the confession. I can only control my actions, not the reactions of my friend. Therefore, I must simply stop talking and allow for any response that I may receive.
Step 6 – Seek God’s Grace (Titus 2:11-1)
I said above that the confession to the friend is difficult, and it is. BUT, so is keeping the promises you have made – especially if they were one-sided. So, the last step in healing the friendship is to ask God to grant me His grace to honor my plan for repentance, and if God wills, to restore a friendship to a health greater than it has ever seen!
Is this easy? NO! Does it always work to heal any and every relationship? No. Will relationships heal on their own if we just ignore the problems? Again, no.
I have done this in the past, and God has blessed with restored relationships in some situations. And, it is time for me to do it again, seeking to heal relationships that are not honoring to God. I commit to doing so. Who’s with me???
What a week this is! We go from shouting "Hosanna" to "Crucify Him!" We weep at the death of our Savior and rejoice that "He is risen, indeed." As we look forward to Easter vacation, may we be mindful of the reason for this season and worship our God who saves sinners unable to save themselves.
It has been less than six weeks since I last wrote to the entire WCCS community after the tragic school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Over these last weeks, we have grieved, we have asked tough questions, and we have sought to shore up our own emergency management plans. In my previous letter, I shared some of the precautions that we have taken over this school year as we focused on school safety. While not complete, I believe our efforts have been successful.
As we look to wrap up this school year and move to next, we are transitioning from our current focus on SCHOOL SAFETY to an intentional focus on SCHOOL CULTURE. We will continue to do all that we can to provide a safe physical environment for our students but need to move beyond this to providing a safe emotional and spiritual environment as well. We are very aware that most of our safety efforts treat the symptoms without getting to the heart of the matter - the hearts of our students!
It is with immense joy that I announce that WCCS has hired a full-time School Chaplain beginning with the 18-19 school year! His name is Jake Tassy, and I believe that God is bringing him (and his family - wife, Katie, and high school son Micah) here at this time to help ensure that every student is cared for, both emotionally and spiritually! Jake has an impressive resume that uniquely qualifies him for this position having been a(n): second grade teacher, professional soccer player, junior high youth director, inner-city (Charlotte) ministry director, school chaplain at international school in Ecuador, and family ministries director. He will organize our chapel programs, counsel students (and families) in need, and point all of us to Christ. Studies have shown that students "thrive" when they have at least ONE adult (often at school) whom they trust and can count on, especially when hurting. Part of Jake's job will be to work alongside the faculty and staff to be sure that every student has that "someone!" As he does so, we all will be working to help students treat each other well. I would ask you to begin now praying for Jake and the rest of us as we seek to broaden our definition of "safety" at school.
You may have already noticed some of our efforts to partner with our parents to impact the culture of our school. Our Lower School has begun Love and Logic training for our parents. On our Upper School campus, we invited our parents to chapel on March 16th where we had a special speaker come in and talk to our students (and faculty and parents) about social media. I have heard from many that both efforts have been helpful!
There are also more efforts on the way through the end of this school year. We are planning one "culture-shaping" activity each week. There will be more information coming, but I wanted to put the big rocks on your radar:
School-wide "day of prayer" in partnership with ACSI on Thursday, March 29th
Lower School "grow a new friendship" activity - during week of April 9
Upper School Love Your Neighbor day / chapel / prayer time - April 20
School-wide "heal a friendship" exercise - during week of April 23
School-wide parent training in citizen active shooter response (tentatively evening of May 3)
Blessing our graduates effort - second week in May
Celebration of blessings from 17-18 - third week in May
Prayer for continued grace in 18-19 - fourth week in May
It is my great hope and prayer that you will join us as we seek to honor Christ, educating students to bless our world as disciples of Jesus Christ!