Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:17-18
The Principle of Perceptions: I have responsibility for how others perceive me.
I consulted with a traditional, small town First Baptist Church who was in severe conflict. There was a variety of issues, but the primary problem was broken relationships. So we spent some time addressing those relationships. One of the personalities involved was a young, dynamic high school teacher who had a fantastic presence with the teenagers. He truly loved the Lord and brought teenagers to the Lord (and to the church) by the busloads. Literally hundreds of them. He was a bit eccentric, which is why the teenagers were so attracted to him. He shaved his head, wore old blue jeans and a “Jesus Freak” tee-shirt to church, even on Sunday mornings. His theology was solid, his teaching was wonderful, he loved his family (wife and three kids), and they loved him. As I met with him, I remember thinking to myself, “I wish my own teenagers could meet this guy.”
But as wonderful as he was, the jeans and tee-shirt were a bit of a problem in the eyes of some of the older folks in the church. Actually, as things got increasingly tense, it became a problem with quite a few of them. But in his mind, that was their problem, not his. He told me, “When I come to worship, God isn’t concerned with what’s on the outside, He’s concerned with my heart.” True enough. And you certainly couldn’t argue with the results of his ministry. Obviously, God was using him powerfully in the lives of the youth.…