Everything needs a maintenance check. Houses, cars, churches, big-ticket items come with instructions and timelines on upkeep. And believe me it can be costly when we ignore those checkups. Sometimes we can reverse or repair the damage, regroup and get back on course. Other times the damage is permanent.
We are good at looking after our tangible property. And we’re getting better at maintaining our physical bodies. But we don’t always do a good job in maintaining the wellbeing of the relationships in our communities.
We don’t seem to have a manual or schedule for those things we cannot see or touch: our spiritual and emotional selves.
We need to check ourselves
Women of the ELCA’s purpose statement can serve as our maintenance checklist. How? I’m glad you asked.
As a community of women created in the image of God, called to discipleship in Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we commit ourselves to grow in faith, affirm our gifts, support one another in our callings, engage in ministry and action, and promote healing and wholeness in the church, the society, and the world.
When you feel led to respond or comment on social media or blogs, wait 60 seconds and answer these questions:
- Does my response bring insight or comfort to the community of women created in the image of God?
- Does it respect the writer and other respondents as women called to discipleship in Jesus Christ? Or does it bully, shame, offend, shut down or make unfounded absolutes about an entire group?
- Does my response support others in their callings, their thinking? Will it be helpful to the conversation? Or will it add to the chaos? (Don’t be the character Clairee from the movie Steel Magnolias who says “…if you don’t have anything nice to say come sit by me.”)
- Is my response factual or is it my own opinion? (I adore unicorns, but they are not real.)
- Would I respond this way if I was sitting in a circle, face-to-face, with the writer, those reading and others responding?
Now, edit, wait 60 seconds, and answer the questions again. Some will not enter the conversation if they feel the cost is too high. When we have ground rules for our community, we can talk about anything.
Have you ever been afraid to speak up on social media? Tell us about your experience. Hit send.
Valora K. Starr is director for discipleship with Women of the ELCA.