In HOPE
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David Timms 

Issue 5.17

Ministry Resource

Phil Towne, a friend and one of our e-community, recommended a book he recently read, Stumbling Toward Faith: My Longing to Heal from the Evil that God Allowed, by Renee Altson (Zondervan, 2004, 192 pages). Phil described it as "a tremendous book" about the author's personal struggle with abuse, blame and shame in her past - an "intense book" with an "approachable style." You might want to check it out. 

HOPE Happenings

Did you know that Hope International University is building a series of strategic partnerships with other institutions and organizations, including Reasons to Believe Institute; Christian Resource Ministries; Methodist Theological Seminary in America (Korean); and Seoul Christian University (Korean)? 

Blame & Shame

Blame and shame are the oldest weapons in the human interpersonal arsenal.

 

We blame others to divert attention from ourselves, and we shame others to control their behavior. If I can find fault or frailty in you, and can exploit it, it elevates me. Your flaws and failures make me feel better about myself and give me leverage to manipulate you.

 

Nobody enjoys being blamed or shamed, though there's plenty to go around. We all harbor plenty of mistakes and weaknesses. So, we tend to respond in one of two ways. Either we seize the initiative to exonerate ourselves and point the finger at others. Or, we build a facade behind which we can hide for protection. It's part of the "human condition."

 

Leadership also makes us prone to the "Blame and Shame Game." Historically, the strong have often increased their power by making the weak even weaker. Suppressed and stifled people are likely to be subservient. 

 

We shame each other into service. "If you really loved Christ, you wouldn't hesitate to do what I'm asking." And we blame each other to avoid personal responsibility. "Our pastors or elders are the reason that this church is not growing."

 

Perhaps our language reflects these categories more than we realize. After all, fear drives us to accuse others or simply withdraw from them. And fear is the common currency of our culture.

 

A brief - even superficial - look at Jesus, calls us to a different response. Guilt was not His method of operation. His ministry kit-bag did not include these weapons. The very people most commonly blamed and shamed in His day became the ones He affirmed and restored.

 

Perhaps it would help us to re-affirm that the gospel is much more about restoration and regeneration than accusation and embarrassment. Even the convicting work of the Holy Spirit leads more to repentance and transformation than dishonor and humiliation.

 

When the church - and those of us privileged to lead within her - returns to gospel, grace, and renewal, the Kingdom truly will be coming.

 

May criticism give way to kindness, and blame give way to grace. The blight of shame must turn into the blessing of forgiveness - in marriages, families, and churches. As we abandon blame and shame, refusing to use it against others and resisting owning it when applied by others to us, we'll find freedom and renewal. Let's discard this destructive tool of our human trade.

 

In  HOPE -

Hope International University
Fullerton, CA 92831

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David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board of the institution. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.

For back issues of In HOPE, see http://www.hiu.edu/inhope/