Have you ever received a word of instruction or correction from someone who obviously needed the same coaching they were so eager to give? Perhaps someone attempted to give you marriage advice while their own marriage was falling apart. Or maybe you received a scolding about gossip from a person who was a notorious gossip themselves. How did that make you feel? Were you open to receive instruction from them? Probably not!
In recent times, “Lead By Example” has become a popular and very appropriate catch phrase. The flip side of this, of course, is “Do what I say, not what I do”…. not a highly recommended way to lead! Walking in integrity means our actions need to match our words. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount: “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? Or can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5) This principle is an indispensable foundation for all ministry, and is certainly a critical component of reconciliation.
So do you feel like you’re ready to get involved in the work of racial reconciliation? Maybe you have a burning desire to boldly speak out and right wrongs. On the other hand, perhaps you don’t feel particularly bold or well-qualified, but you sense you need to do something and you are not sure where to start. Whether you’re bold or timid, experienced or inexperienced, one of the very first steps toward becoming a reconciler is to step back and take a personal assessment. We don’t have to be perfect, but we do need to practice what we preach to the best of our ability. As Michael Jackson sang in “The Man In The Mirror”, we begin by taking a good look at ourselves.
I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the word a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change.
Do we have “logs” in our eyes, lack of knowledge, or other issues which need to be addressed before we can be useful in reaching others? Do we have unconscious / implicit biases we are not even aware of? Unconscious biases are the assumptions, stereotypes, and unintentional actions (positive or negative) we make towards others based on identity labels like race, religion, age, gender, or ability. Because our implicit associations are stored in our subconscious, we may act on our biases without even realizing it. Often, our implicit biases contradict our values.
Dr. Tony Evans provides a useful tool he calls a “Racial Self-Assessment” in his book Let's Get to Know Each Other (highly recommended). Another simple tool for looking at our own biases can be found following this link: https://lovehasnolabels.com/resources/questions-to-self-reflect. Please don’t skip this vital step in the process. Let’s take some time to honestly search our souls as we start this journey toward reconciliation.
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” (Psalm 139:23)