article is written by Barrington Brennen, counseling
psychologist and minister of the gospel. It is intended to
stimulate objective and critical thinking and discussion
about the third quarter’s Sabbath School lesson topic: “The
Role of the Church in the Community” (2016). It is not
designed to answer specific questions from the lesson but to
open new avenues of thought and action.
quarter’s adult Bible lesson quarterly in the Seventh-day
Adventist Church is so timely. It is entitled "The
Role of the Church in The Community." Each topic rivets
home an important message of “making the gospel attractive
and not a pain in the neck.” This week’s lesson, entitled
“Jesus Won Their Confidence”
(August 27 to September 2, 2016) is another practical example
of how sincere Adventist Christians are to love and live.
However, do you know what really came cross my mind when I
read the topic? It is this: “Win their confidence?
You gat to be kidding!” How can we win the confidence
of people we judged, hurt, ostracized, and condemned for so
long? How can we win the confidence of people with whom we
acted so superior for so long? Of course, we know it all.
We have it right—so we think. It is as though we are
saying, “You don’t have it, so you are not going to make it.
Ah! Where? You are not going to heaven.”
Another serious point is this: How can we win the
confidence of people not of our faith, if we do not have the
confidence of all the people within our faith? Some of us
only show up to church because we do not know any better,
but we will not want anybody in church to know our
“business.” Either we think they are “too nosey,” or that
they “gossip too much.” “Win their confidence? You gat to
do we win the confidence of those with whom we come into
contact —Adventist or not, Christian or atheist? Here are a
few tips I put together:
Do not try to “win” them. Avoid having a
battle to win them like it is a tug-of-war. Do not
“hit” them over the head with “the truth.” In that
case you are going to lose. You will push them
away. Even if you are successful in coercing them
on your side, it will, in the end, be a win-lose
situation. Soon they will pull away, and it will
leave bitterness in the mouth. Make it a win-win
situation where in the long run both side remain
happy. Contact them with a genuine reason to
either be friends or provide their needs.
Witness without strings attached. Far too
many Adventists believe that they must win someone
to Jesus or the Sabbath before they win them to
their hearts. This is not always the best
approach. We are to do something expecting nothing
in return. Do not always seek to invite them to
church if you have not won their confidence and met
their basic needs as yet. Do not seek to pray with
them without their permission.
Get rid of the drive that you must “win one” for
Jesus this year. This is a good goal if it is
not the end in itself. We win that “one” for Jesus,
and we move on “winning others” and leaving the
other behind cold and hungry for understanding and
Get rid of the pride and self-righteousness.
Too many of us really act out in a negative way our
belief that the Adventist Church is a superior
church, and that it is the only vehicle that will
lead people to the kingdom. They walk around with
their chests puff out as if they are saying, “Hey!
Look at me! I am an Adventist! Do you know what
that means? It is a guaranteed seat in the
kingdom.” Many of us really do not believe this,
but we act this way. Humility is a key component
that will open doors and will help us to win the
confidence of people.
Stop judging their dress and lifestyle.
do so many of us believe that lifestyle is the first
prerequisite for salvation? I believe it is this
way because, humanly speaking, it is a very easy
measuring tool. So we are inherently taught to
judge and not to love. We have been conditioned to
judge one another instead of loving and accepting
each other unconditionally. Our judgmental attitude
makes people feel guilty, which results in making
them vegetarians for a week, dress reformers for a
month, and Sabbath keeper for a year.
Start listening with the heart and not just the
ears. Things begin to happen when we listen to
them not just with our ear but with our hearts.
What is “heart listening?” It is:
Listening with compassion
– “I will seek to be sensitive to what is being said
and watch my body language.”
Listening with understanding
– “I will try to understand and put myself in her/his
Listening with appreciation
– “I will respect and acknowledge her/his feelings
Listening with patience
- “I will listen while honoring the personality and
limitation of the speaker.”
will not preclude that my information is better, that
the person does not care, is not understanding, or is
Listening with humility
– “I am willing to change, accept wrong, forgive,
receive forgiveness, acknowledge the goodness in the one
I am trying to help.”
believe this quarter’s lesson is telling us these four
Those who are understanding have been understood.
Those who are loving have been loved.
Those who are caring have been cared for.
Those who are comforting have been comforted.
must conclude with an excerpt from my article “The
Butterfly Principle,” published February 2014. It
is how and why butterflies are attracted to you. The
principles will also help us to know how to “win” the
confidence of someone.
the ‘butterflies’ around you are not landing on your
‘hands,’ it might be due to the lack of ‘moisture’ on your
hands.” The “butterflies” represent the people with whom
you come into contact each day, those we are witnessing to.
The “hands” represent the relationships you seek to foster
each day. As the butterfly that is attracted to the hands
feel safe to land, trusting that you will not crush it to
death, so it should be with people around you. “Be my
witnesses” not my judges. Do you have “moisture” in your
hands? Are people attracted to you, or are you a pain in
the neck? We are to take the time to create “moisture” on
our hands, so that others around us will be attracted to us
and feel safe to “land.”
WHAT IS THE “MOISTURE?”
The “moisture” on your hands
is a symbol of the attitudes we are to have so that others
will feel emotionally safe to be in our presence. Those we
are witnessing to must feel emotionally safe in our presence
before they can spiritually connect. It is also about
having an attitude that is so “sweet” that others cannot
help but be attracted to us. To illustrate
are five behavioral attitudes that can create “moisture” on
Unconditional acceptance: Unconditional acceptance is
being able to understand and tolerate the qualities of the
person you love, work or live with, no matter what it is.
“This doesn’t mean that you must accept everything that
person does especially if it’s inappropriate and rude. What
it does mean is to forgive them, and try to work past these
problems; if that’s not possible, distance yourself and show
them some tough love. How wonderful it would be if everyone
in our society just accepted everyone as worthy of
appreciation and respect. There is no prerequisite that
persons would have to demonstrate to be accepted. The
person would know that his speech accent, color or skin,
race, educational level, gender, sexual orientation, is not
a barrier to being accepted in society.
Unconditional loving: This is loving anyone regardless
of income level, nationality, ethnicity, race, etc.
Unconditional love is affection without any limitations.
This generally means to love someone . . . no matter what
they do or who they are. This does not actually mean you do
not see their fault, but you just love them despite
everything. An example of this is a parent's unconditional
love for her/his child; no matter a test score, a life
changing decision, an argument, or a strong belief, the
amount of love that remains between this bond is seen as
unchanging and unconditional. This scripture passage
speaks directly to this topic: “Above all, love each other
deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1
Peter 4:8). Note the word “deeply” suggests that it is not
superficial. It is profound and meaningful. Also the word
“cover” does not mean to hide or ignore. It is about not
holding wrong against the person. This version of the text
makes it clearer. From the New Living Translation it says:
“Most of all, love each other steadily and unselfishly,
because love makes up for many faults.”
attitude of forgiveness: At attitude of forgiveness is
greatly needed in our society. It is the willingness to
make amends, to see the other person’s point of view and not
hold grudges. We would have less violence if more of us
demonstrated this attitude of forgiveness. Colossians 3:13
says, “Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another,
if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ
forgave you, so you also must do.” If most of us claim to
be Christians, then this attitude of forgiveness must be
clearly demonstrated among us. Forgiveness is not amnesia.
Forgiveness is a decision not to hold the wrong-doing
against the persons who have caused you pain. However,
forgiveness does not eliminate accountability. If someone
stole something from you, that person may be forgiven, but
making amends it still appropriate. Restitution is an
important part of building a healthy society.
spirit of compassion and kindness: “Genuine compassion
is based not on our own projections and expectations, but
rather on the rights of the other: irrespective of whether
another person is a close friend or an enemy, as long as
that person wishes for peace and happiness and wishes to
overcome suffering, then on that basis we develop a genuine
concern for his or her problems. This is genuine compassion.
Compassion can be demonstrated by helping persons who are
needy, homeless, rejected, and abandoned. Our fragile
economy today is making it more imperative for us to be
compassionate and kind. There are many who are hurting in
our society today. Some who do not have money to buy food
to eat, or even a soft bed to sleep on. Let us be
compassionate and kind to everyone.
gentle spirit: Having a gentle spirit also means one is
humble enough to listen, change, work with others and has an
attitude of cooperation. The Greek word most often
translated as gentleness is from the word “prautes” and has
no meaning of aggression at all. It is from the same root
word as "meekness." Common meanings of gentle are kind and
amiable, as well as "free from harshness, sternness, or
violence." We do need more people in our society with a
“gentle spirit.” There is far too much aggression,
harshness, and violence. Even the way we speak is to
demonstrate a “gentle spirit.” Our tone of voice, choice
of words, and often rudeness, is a turn onto others. Let us
display a gentle spirit among us. Do you have a gentle
spirit, or are you a pain in the neck?
STOP CONDEMNING: Far too many of us are so busy
criticizing and condemning each other that we have lost the
attractiveness we once had as a people. We need to get rid
of the self-righteous, self-exalting, loveless attitudes.
We have become “dry” and “dull” people. We need to make the
effort to create “moisture” on our “hands.” Christian
comedian, Mark Lowry said these profound words:
the sinner, hate the sin?
about: Love the sinner, hate your own sin!
don't have time to hate your sin. There are too many of you!
Hating my sin is a full-time job. How about you hate your
hate my sin and let's just love each other!"
can we apply these concepts and principles to this quarter's
lesson topic "The Role of the Church in The Community" and
to effective witnessing? Discuss with your friends and
Can we win their
Yes, we can! I’m not kidding.
Barrington H. Brennen