Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Teaching and Learning


In the blogging world, I'm sure that writing my opening statement all in caps is equivalent to yelling from a mountaintop.  But when I finish a teaching or when I complete a sermon - that's exactly what I feel like doing.

Teaching.  Communicating a thought.  Sharing lessons learned.  Bringing enlightenment or clarity.  Using words in ways that encourage; elicit tears; cause laughter; reveal.  It's simply - Resplendent!

(Can you tell that I just participated in a conference?!)

This past weekend Frank and I were privileged to teach workshops at the EXPERIENCE Conference for Peninsular Florida.

My topic title was: Dealing with Difficult People!  And judging from the attendance for both of my sessions, there are a LOT of difficult people involved in church work!

Having been part of church my entire life, I've had a bit of experience in this area.  That's why it  was such fun to help those in the classes look candidly at the elements of conflict.
Such as:
  • personality styles
  • non-verbal communication
  • timing issues
  • root causes/attitudes
  • evaluating motives
We laughed a lot!  (Mary Poppins was a great philosopher, "A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down!")  Some swiped at a few stray tears.  There were lots of "Amens" and "Uh Huhs."

And although it wasn't part of my original notes, I ended both classes with a miracle story about why we NEVER burn bridges in the midst of conflict.

Frank and I were so very young when we started pastoring.  And the second church we worked with voted for us to resign after just two years.  They determined we were the reason that growth had been slow.

We were devastated!  To us, their vote declared that we just weren't very good at what we thought God had called us to do.

 Following that business meeting, Frank regrouped and decided to have a final meeting with the official board.  By the time they started moving toward his office, he was "loaded for bear!"  Fully intent on "setting them straight!" 

But a trusted friend intercepted and quietly whispered,  "Don't ever burn your bridges, Pastor Frank!"  Bob looked at him steadily.  "You may need to cross back over that bridge some day."

Although young, my husband was wise and teachable.  He decided to heed the advice of his friend.  The final board meeting was succinct and civil.  

We left without a negative word.  And within a short time, God opened another door for us at Crossroads Assembly in Asheville, NC.  We formed friendships there that are dear to us still.

A few families from the first church ended up attending Crossroads.  Even one of the original board members and his family.

Fast forward nine years.

We had so enjoyed working with Pastor Mike Brown and the entire team.  But that year we accepted the call to pioneer a church on the coast of NC. 

One small problem - no funds for moving.  We needed a miracle.  

After service our last Sunday in Asheville, Frank said that the couple who had served on the board in our other church wanted to meet with us.  I immediately became nervous.  

Did they want to tell us what a poor job we'd done before?  Did they want to urge us to abandon our plans?  My stomach churned as we moved into Frank's office.

We closed the door, had prayer and the husband began speaking.  Within a few short sentences he relayed details about the other church we had never known.  

The church fell on hard financial times after we left.  In an attempt to keep it afloat, the board members went together and purchased the building.  Unfortunately, their best efforts couldn't keep things going.  The church disbanded and eventually the building was sold.  The board members made a pact to never use the profit personally.  It was left to each member's discretion what ministry would be blessed with their portion of the money. 

The story, though interesting, seemed to have no relevance.  I anxiously waited; listening for the real purpose of our meeting.

"When we heard that you would be starting a new church, Frank and Sheri, we knew you would need funds.  So we determined that the profit remaining in our account would go toward this pioneer work."  

With that quiet statement, the former board member crossed back over the bridge Frank had refused to burn so many years before.  And he handed us a check for $900.00!  More than enough to cover the moving expenses for both our family and the couple moving with us.

We all deal with difficult people from time to time.  Sometimes the encounters are painful and make no sense.  But the important lesson to learn and teach is this:  Never Burn Bridges.

God uses bridges for transporting some incredible miracles!



  1. As always enjoyed reading your post, encouraging and wise. Thank you for taking time out to share. Blessing to you and your family!

    1. So thankful it was an encouragement for you! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Thank you Sheri, It's wonderful to be reminded of God's grace and provision and it's nice to know "the rest of the story". Jean

    1. Paul Harvey was a favorite for me too, Jean. God's grace is simply amazing, isn't it?!

  3. Sheri,

    I just posted this on a Pastor's Wife group forum that I am a part of. Thanks for sharing such an amazing story; would have loved to have been in your teaching sessions.

    And oh, by the way, is anyone excited about a certain grandson's arrival??!! :-)

    1. Oh, my friend. Always promoting and encouraging! Thanks much!

      It's fun knowing we are down to DAYS now until Noah's appearance! :-)

  4. Hi Sheri ,
    I came from the Pastor's Wives' group that Becky mentioned above. Thank you for your wise words this morning. My husband and I have been dealing with gossip in our church and it has not been pleasant. But God has been faithful and has helped there to be repentance and reconciliation. Thank you for your encouragement! I will visit your blog again. God's blessing on you and your ministry.

    1. Hi Lisa,
      So glad the story encouraged you! We, too, have dealt with the sin of gossip in a church. It can indeed be deadly.

      But God's GRACE........

      I'd enjoy keeping in touch. Feel free to facebook me.

      Blessings, Sheri

  5. If I burned bridges, I'd be stuck in one place with nowhere to go! Great encouragement to me to practice and keep working towards being humble. Thank you!

    1. Guerrina, so good to hear from you; hope all is well! Your word picture is great - we'd all be stuck I suppose! :-)