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When Adventists Differ
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By Roger Hernandez
 
Description: http://leadsu.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Hernandez-Roger_00081.jpgIf you are a leader or work with one eventually you’ll disagree, sometimes vehemently. The GC session provided such a scenario. After the session I heard different responses to the decisions, (one of them got a bit more attention than the others). The responses were as varied as an international food fair in a local church. After reading them I questioned whether people were watching the same event!

Here are some of the social media, print and public declarations:

This was the best GC ever!

This was the worst GC ever!

God’s will was done.

God’s will wasn’t done.

Your side is possessed.

Ditto.

The “they said, we said”, was relentless.

On July 8th, some were happy, some were sad, and all had been paying attention.

I want to take some time to address the pastors, leaders and administrators that feel that the wrong decision was made on that day.

How do you move forward when you disagree?

How do you support what you believe wasn’t God’s will?

How do you navigate through the conglomeration of hearsay, Bible truth, politics, the Global South and North, prayer, true believers and serial negativists? (I’m pretty sure that’s not a word, but you get it.)

How do you respect your denominational leadership when you disagree with them?

Here are five principles I use for myself. These work for me, and I hope they can be helpful.

1. Turn away from extremes.
Most of the chatter leading up to the GC was polarizing (at best), demonizing, name calling and fear based. Do you know when that approach has worked? Let’s see…NEVER! I tried to stay away from getting into social media arguments because of the extreme nature they usually take. The problem is that nobody thinks they are unbalanced. Some of my friends even went on social media fasts. They are better for it, and it kept them saner (not completely sane but not as crazy as some from both sides got).

Always love people you disagree with. Some from a distance.

This is not always easy. That is the reason why I have made a decision to not spend time arguing on social media and will swiftly unfriend and block aggressive saints that are not only willing to die for the truth, they are willing to kill for it. That does not mean I don’t love them. I agree with Jon Accuff that sometimes the best gift you can give an attacker is distance.

2. Turn to grace.
Grace means not calling them names, questioning motives or demonizing people. Grace means giving those on the opposite side the same grace I’ve experienced in my own life. I ask myself, “How would I like people to disagree with me?” For the sake of argument, let’s say you believe that the wrong decision was made. What if that was you making the decision? Think back to mistakes you have made. What did you appreciate about people in the other side? What did you learn from their attitude? Do you believe people you disagree with need grace too, or is that just for you?

3. Take the best option. (To think the best.)
I am showing my bias here. I pull for the church. Call me a homer if you’d like, but my love for the church supersedes my disappointment from an unfortunate result. I didn’t agree with the decision in San Antonio, yet I don’t believe there are Machiavellian intentions coming out of Silver Spring. I have lived my life trying to believe the best about people. It has served me well. I have seen enough people become so consumed with mistrust that it starts affecting their function. If I want for things to get better I must not get bitter. Upset? Perhaps. Disappointed? Sure. Not bitter.

4. Think mission tension.
While I hold strong views in support of women in ministry, an even stronger held value is lost people and their need for a Savior. Therein lies the tension. While I do my part in affirming women, it must be simultaneous with the decision not to allow a controversy to determine the quality of the effort in reaching those God misses the most.

5. Trust God.
We say this is His church, but we experience a despair takeover when things don’t go our way. We preach about God having a plan, but are ready to throw in the towel after a disappointing outcome. The purpose of God is many times delayed, but never defeated. Don’t ignore your conscience, but also don’t dismiss God.

A final word for those who have felt like quitting: Take that towel you have in your hand. The one you are about to throw, and wipe your tears, wipe your sweat, keep going.

My thanks for Lucado for the title.
 
Roger Hernandez is ministerial director for the Southern Union Conference