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Jan6ThuInstead of criticizing, let’s build each other up. January 6, 2022 by Captain Sheldon Bungay
- Filed Under:
- Opinion & Critical Thought
I have all but given up on the practice of making New Year’s resolutions. Statistics showing abysmal success rates, coupled with my own plethora of failed attempts, have forced me to stop proclaiming that this is the year I lose the extra weight, take up running and drink less coffee.
Yet, there is still something exciting about the prospect of a new year, as one chapter closes and a new one waits to be written. It’s a time to reflect on lessons learned and mistakes to avoid repeating. And many people eagerly anticipate the unknown opportunities on the horizon.
At the heart of our resolutions is the desire that the future will be better than the past. And despite my hesitancy to make formal resolutions, I, like so many others, have a long list of things that I would like to see improved in the next 12 months.
I hope that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to become a distant memory instead of a present reality. I hope that geographic regions currently experiencing conflict and war will identify avenues for peace. And I pray that Christians everywhere will continue to explore new and innovative ways to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.
But there is one more deep desire I have for this year, specifically for The Salvation Army. In 2022, I hope that Salvationists, employees, volunteers and friends choose to treat each other better.
That might seem like an odd desire given that we are a Christian organization where love for each other should be second only to our love for God. Yet, in recent days, as I have been observing dialogue between Salvationists, reading the online comments sections for past Salvationist articles and listening to the laments of my own colleagues and friends, I have wondered if our territorial value of dignity, which states that “we respect and value each other, recognizing everyone’s worth,” is more of a goal to strive for rather than a consistent reality.
While the salvation of souls, spreading of hope and building of just communities is needed now more than ever, much of our time and energy has been hijacked dealing with differences of opinion over musical styles, the validity of certain programs and what colour we should paint our sanctuary walls. Add to this the polarizing effect of important conversations on inclusivity, equity, racism or government-imposed health restrictions, and many of our planning meetings or social gatherings become tension-filled and fraught with criticism.
But what if we were better?
What if every individual connected to The Salvation Army in the Canada and Bermuda Territory decided that things will be different in 2022? What if we all resolved to adopt the words of Ephesians 4:29-32, and exchanged our unwholesome talk—belittling, badmouthing, criticizing, gossiping—for that which builds one another up? What if we traded bitterness, rage, anger, slander and malice for kindness and compassion? What if we were quick to forgive? After all, that is exactly what God in Christ did for us.
We’ve just celebrated the birth of the Christ Child. It’s a season filled with messages of peace and goodwill—something the world desperately needs to hear. But if your house looks anything like mine, you might be reading these words in between dismantling Christmas decorations, or while eating that last piece of Christmas cake before your new gym membership kicks in. January reminds us of the tension between “already” and “not yet.”
As I consider this tension, the lyrics “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me” are ringing in my head. If I have hope that Salvation Army personnel and friends everywhere will treat each other better, then I must do my part.
In 2022, I am choosing to be more patient, loving, forgiving, kind and compassionate. Which means I must also be less judgmental, less critical and, to the delight of some closest to me, slower to speak. Oh, wait! Did I just make a resolution? Would you consider making the same one?
Captain Sheldon Bungay is the corps officer at St. John’s Temple, N.L.
Illustration: Pamela Maxwell/Lightstock.com
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