Content written by Rev. Mike Hunter, CCA
I don’t like you…it’s more serious than that…
Every parent has heard the phrase.
“I don’t like you” …from a child displeased with the consequences, punishment, or responsibilities the parenting unit delivers. From my ministerial experiences I’ve known parents that wilted to those words…instead of raising children they tried to make sure the kids liked them, tried to be a buddy, in all things. I wish I had a success story to tell you, but I don’t. There is more tragedy than success to buddy parenting.
Rather, those who grow up in tough love usually come to see the deep rooted commitment to self reliance, responsibility, discipline and being healthy. Consistency, rather than shallow rooted likability is the key to parenting.
Churches sometimes go the misdirected way of chasing likes…the attempts to formulate ministry around likes rarely succeed…in fact they mostly accelerate spiritual and organizational decay.
Like is fleeting. Like is fickle. Like cannot be sustained. The consumers of like move too quickly from one to the next and the church of Holy Like will never find real heaven. You can quote me on that.
For God so loved the world that he sent his son so that you might like him and he like you…is not how the passage goes.
People get out of marriages because they don’t like the person anymore. I submit if liking something about them was why they married in the first place then the premise was flawed from the beginning. All those likes, from looks to laughs, change over time. If you didn’t see something beyond the liking you at first you will most definitely move on to something you like now and newer. And the cycle never heals itself. It is a narcissistic lie that we keep self inflicting.
After years with a congregation, many in ministry still get asked, “Do you like being here?”
When I am posed with this question, I usually feign the answer they want to hear….yes, I like being here very much. It is an answer that makes me too much akin to the parent afraid to speak truth to a tweenager or a spouse that refuses to deeply commit in the face of aging change.
I’ve disappointed myself in the answer. I’m done with the guilt of it.
I’ve decided to start answering the question more truthfully. I don’t like my church or community or congregants…it’s more serious than that.
I’m called to be here.
God called me to this place in this time to do all I can for this corner of the kingdom. You may not always like what transpires for that matter, neither may I. But when we look only through the lens of likes, neither of us is seeing the right perspectives. We are short changing one another…and God. But if we see through the lens of how God’s calling is what brought us here and brought us together, we will be able to more clearly see what God is doing…in me, in you, in our congregation and community. And in that, we can build a future. One that can last long after all the likes have faded.
As children turn into parents and remember hard lessons they acknowledge they now teach, as spouses embrace and grow in love more deeply even if sickness or any of those other less romantic lines from the wedding vows come to live with them, so too can we grow to something far richer than just liking each other.
Church and community…I don’t like you…it’s more serious than likes…God called me here.