Here’s what happened –I was getting on Zoom calls. Meetings, classes, coaching sessions, business, social, and other events called me to the corner of the room “stage” setup where I get online. I noticed that when I logged on for a meeting in early to mid 2021, and said hello in the millisecond window I had back then to speak before the host thought me ignoring them, their reply was unusual. Mind you (a Southernism), all I said was hello.
They looked at me for seconds and said, “Hey Doc. Are you okay? You look tired.” My reply was quick and without edge or attitude: “No, I don’t.” And they were out of sorts for a bit; I watched them adjust and recover for the meeting as the others logged on. It was the first time I pushed back about harassment like this. It felt amazing, but more than that it forced me to inspect the possible why. Short answer: I found no reason sufficient for me to make peace with the behavior, that has continued at random with different people for more than a year. To be clear, it’s happened for most of my adult life, and I allowed it.
On another Zoom call, as soon as I turned my video on and said good morning, the reply from the other person was scathing. “Oh my gosh, is something wrong? Are you okay?” I sipped my tea, said I was fine, and waited on them to start our meeting. It was not concern for me being displayed, not genuinely. It was overbearing and tacky.
Do you ever have experiences that come one after another, and you realize there’s a lesson there? They are not spiritual experiences per se, but they are strung together in ways that force you to pay attention. In previous times, when this happens to me, I look for God — for the “revelation” or some deeper understanding of why me, and what is the value I can carry forward. As a recovering perfectionist and relaxing over-thinker, I harbor a bit, pondering and wondering why the repeat occurrences.
Not now, though. Now, I fight the urge to go off. *Go off: Southern United States speech for challenging the experience and the one who brings it, often vocally. There is another Southernism that if the common denominator is you, then pay attention to the experiences because you are the problem. I decided that was incorrect too after significant consideration.
But as for you, communicate the behavior that goes with sound teaching.Titus 2:1 NET
Apostle Paul encourages Titus in ministry and lays out some safe boundaries with parishioners female and male, older and younger. Other versions of Titus 2:1 hint toward Titus sharing things that are proper and appropriate for sound teaching or doctrine. The verses that follow describe the prescribed nature of older and younger men, older and younger women, slaves and masters (what some might make the employer and employee dynamic today), along with grace and hope in Jesus Christ.
Titus 2, if we pan out to consider guidelines for humanity, exhorts us to goodness, self-control, purity, kindness, and other like virtues. Paul encourages Titus to stand his ground as their leader and not let himself be looked down on for his youth and as he is learning. My question is this: how often do we consider our behavior?
I have had people with surface or situational connections to me who felt free to label me according to their distanced perceptions. We had no regular tea dates, or calls to keep up with one another. We had no personal rapport; and these were not accountability chats. We were friendly, that is all. Their words were unimportant to them, throwing off their labels as if I was to accept it, swallow it, and adjust because they said so. I felt attacked, and strengthened my resolve at intentional civility.
Intentional civility — behavior that goes with sound teaching (Titus 2:1). I have a colleague, Danny Simms, who says often, “If you can say it, you can ask it.” Putting the power back in each other’s hands to speak well of ourselves, or the accurate version of where we are in life. This supports the teaching of faith and Godly confession. Taking time to get to know and learn one another reinforces the “fitly jointedness” in our community as the body of Christ.
Bereans are noble and have working brains. Let’s think about our connections with one another, believers, disciples, and sons of God. Let’s be considerate of our approaches with all men, aware that a witness is within. Let’s do wellness checks with one another with the sensitivity those moments demand, and let’s give people room to answer as themselves and not our labels.
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"In the darkness of night, I wait expectantly for understanding and knowledge for your people."
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