Recently Mark Craig gave a sermon that I keep thinking about.
Mark is the Senior Minister at Highland Park United Methodist Church and when he first started working for HPUMC in 1995, he came into the job knowing that many of his friends and colleagues had wanted the job that he ended up getting. He also was told that he was not the first choice. He also knew that he was coming into a congregation that had enjoyed a long-time well-loved minister.
So, here Mark was – starting a job that is considered one of the “plum” jobs in Methodism – but he certainly wasn’t feeling the love. You might expect that friends and colleagues would have sent congratulatory notes and cards, but no. Instead he got a letter signed by several people asking for his removal.
His only letter of congratulations came from someone he didn’t even know, someone from another faith. It was from Dr. W.A. Criswell, the leader of First Baptist downtown – and one of the most important leaders of Christianity in the country. Mark still has that letter.
Mark went on to say that he learned something from that experience. First, that he keeps a folder of nice and encouraging letters that he can pull out whenever he likes. Second, that when presented with something negative, he deals with it, and then throws it away.
When I heard Mark give this sermon it really hit me. It hit me because I tend to do the opposite. Yes, I’m a positive people person who loves to laugh, but I don’t have a folder of encouraging notes and cards (although I am lucky enough to have been the recipient of some). I have a folder of doomsday articles from The Dallas Morning News and others about the state of the economy, why charitable giving is down, and stuff like that. It also includes some emails that were written about me by fired employees – written after they knew that they were going to be fired, so as you might imagine, the emails are not flattering! This is the crap I have been keeping – not the good.
I am confessing this to you to be held accountable. I’m throwing away the negative and starting afresh. Keeping the positive, the encouraging, the kind, the good.
Will you join me? And if so, will you send me a note for my folder? I’ll return the favor.