Please Don’t Take Me The Wrong Way, But…


Last week I read an interesting article on the subject of “dissonance.” Not dissonance in music (which I didn’t even know there was such a thing), but dissonance in relationships. I wrote down some of the main points and then deleted the article so please don’t ask me for it. Sorry.

Dissonance occurs when you think you’re coming across in one way but people see you in a totally different way. Dissonance works the other way around, too: it occurs when you think you perceive someone else accurately, but the other person doesn’t agree.

The author suggested that dissonance is a common culprit in marital disputes. And that made me wonder how often dissonance is a common culprit in church disputes.

Again, the author said, “The greatest single cause of dissonance is the fact that people behave their worst when they feel most powerless.” Think about that. Isn’t that interesting? Have you ever found that to be true with someone in your church? Have you ever found that to be true about you?

Dissonance keeps you from reaching people, and it keeps other people from reaching you. You are not immune to dissonance. You might not be the one to blame…but you could be.

I’m always on the side of pastors. This is my bias. I know it. I think there’s a need for it. This is part of who I want to be, i.e. the champion of pastors. But sometimes we’ve created out own problems…not the church member(s). Pastors can do dump things, say dumb things, and think dumb things of others. Often times this results in dissonance.

Never underestimate your ability to come across in a way you didn’t intend. Never underestimate your ability to choose the wrong word to use at the wrong time. Never underestimate your ability for body language and facial expressions to sabotage your relationships with others. Never underestimate your ability to contribute to dissonance.

But here’s the challenge: how can you know how other people perceive you? The answer is two-fold, simple, but uncomfortable:

  1. Ask God to show you how you come across to others. Yikes! I’d rather have God hold a mirror up to my face than someone else who might just smash it over my head. And speaking of someone else…
  2. Be brave enough to ask someone how you come across. This very well might hurt, but it will be worth it. You see…we don’t see what we don’t see and often times what we don’t see hurts and frustrates those around us.

Do you have someone like that in your life, someone who is for you, but at the same time will be honest with you? What if you asked someone on your broad, or someone on your leadership team, or the whole team, or your spouse, “What do you see in me that I might not see? If I had a blind spot, what might it be?”

Did I already use the word “yikes?”