Christian Educators Should Disagree Without Getting Offended

Robert F. Davis previously served as vice president for Advancement at Bryan College in Tennessee and consulting vice president for Advancement and Alumni Affairs at Liberty University in Virginia. | (Photo: Robert F. Davis)

Being honest with one another is paramount to a healthy professional relationship! Honesty is characteristic of a person of integrity and teachers should ooze integrity!

"Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us." (Titus 2:7 & 8 ESV)

In the last piece I wrote on honesty for teachers I said, "Integrity is a virtue! It is the quality of being honest, having strong moral principles, and moral uprightness. Listed first, in this definition, is honest. For me the rest of the definition cannot be achieved if honesty isn't present."

Following this I presented two situations from my experience which were both graphic and perhaps shocking. In actuality they were experiences upon which deep and lasting relationships were formed. To me they weren't shocking, rude, discourteous, or obtuse. They were simply, well honest!

What has been shocking to me is that Christian educators cannot disagree, with passion, without the other party being offended. Everyone seems to feel as though they have to "tip toe" around a disagreement so no one gets upset.

Of course the way this usually plays out is one of the parties either offers a mild statement as a possible alternative, but not with enough enthusiasm to elicit actual consideration or they simply say nothing. That on which you can be sure is that this milquetoast individual will complain to friends about that which took place instead of what they hoped would happen. It usually also festers.

My wife and I have become Blue Blood "junkies." We like this television program so much that we not only watch it at its regular time, but seek out reruns on other channels. We also ordered DVDs of seasons one through five. The program is real. The values it teaches are good. And it demonstrates the effects of poor decision making.

Each episode has at least one Sunday dinner scene. At dinner the rules of engagement are fascinating, the enforcement of the rules exemplary, and the outcomes real lessons in life!

At least two open and honest relationships may be recognized is most every episode of Blue Bloods.  The most vigorous is that between Police Commissioner Francis (Frank) Xavier Reagan (Tom Selleck) and Garrett Moore (Gregory Jbara), Deputy Commissioner, Public Information/de facto Chief of Staff. The other is between Frank Reagan and Mayor Cater Poole (David Ramsey). Both of these relationships exhibit conflicts, strong conflicts. The characters go at each another "tooth and nail." It should also be understood that in each relationship one character serves at the pleasure of the other, a boss/employee relationship.

The most passionate exchanges are between Frank and Garrett. While Garrett serves at the pleasure of Frank he accepts the responsibilities of his job and holds Frank's feet to the fire. Frank often resists, demonstrating that he can be "obdurate." It shouldn't go unnoticed that Frank and Garrett, also Frank and Carter, always survive their passionate expressions and their relationships are strengthened. I know, I know, this is television drama, but I have experienced this first hand in real life.

What can we learn from this? If we analyze these scenes, determine their generation, execution, and outcomes, we can learn a good deal about human nature and interpersonal relationships. This is substantive food-for-thought and should very well be discussed in a faculty meeting. That is if substantive things are discussed in faculty meetings. Each individual's personality will work this out, work it through as revealed through their own style.

A close friend of mine warned years ago, before a change, not to be worried when experiencing that which would certainly appear, the "FUDS," fear, uncertainty, and doubts. He said, "Just keeping moving forward working things out as you go."

So practice being honest with colleagues. Plan your words carefully. Plan your logic and rationale. And press on!

"I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Phillipians 3:14 ESV)

Robert F. Davis has 40 years of experience providing counsel for educational and not-for-profit institutions. He previously served as vice president for Advancement at Bryan College in Tennessee and consulting vice president for Advancement and Alumni Affairs at Liberty University in Virginia.

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