Restoring a Sense of Balance

My last day of vacation is today.  Tomorrow, I return to my ministry after a three-week break. 

I’ve spent a good deal of time thinking the past few days about what I could do to keep some of my post-vacation glow alive – and I’ve come up with one playful idea that could greatly help.

“What is it?” you ask.

I would come back from vacation with what I’d call the “One-for-One Rule”.  Let me take a moment and give a little background about why it’s needed before I explain what the rule is.

In the year I went without missing a Sunday at church, I noticed that many people focused their frustration at the ongoing COVID situation by becoming VERY critical of things.  This was true in a variety of places.  I noticed it particularly in the context of our worship service.

At the conclusion of each weekly service, I would be inundated with a laundry list of things that had gone wrong.  “The lighting was poor”.  “The audio cut out in places”.  “The progression of the slides was off”.  “The cameras weren’t focused enough.”  “The music was too loud.”  “The was too quiet.”  You name it, and I heard it.

The frustrating part of the situation was that folks either didn’t see – or completely overlooked – all of the good things that were happening.

This distorted ratio of words of critique/complaint to words of support/encouragement caused many of us in positions of leadership to become completely overwhelmed and disheartened.  It was as if nothing we were doing was good enough.

As I started looking around during my vacation, I noticed it wasn’t just a church thing.  It didn’t matter whether I jumped on social media, or stood in line at a grocery store, or picked up take-out from a restaurant.  Everywhere I went, folks were grumpy, grumpy, and grumpier – and they were verbally taking it out on one other.

With that said, let me now explainn the rule.

The “One-for-One Rule” would require that you could offer only one word of critique/complaint before you had to stop and offer one word of support/encouragement.  If you couldn’t think of a word of support/encouragement, then you would have to stop after the word of critique/criticism.

And the best part of the “One-for One Rule” is that it wouldn’t stop with a single conversation.  If you were talking with someone, shared a word of criticism/complaint, and then ended the conversation because you couldn’t think of a word of support/encouragement – the next time you encountered the person you would have to start the conversation by offering a word of support/encouragement before you could launch into new words of critique/criticism.

I think it would be fascinating to help people track their ratios of negative to positive words.  For as I sat back during vacation and looked around, I realized most people seem completely unaware of their imbalance.  They are simply offering unfiltered words that reflect their anger or frustration during these uncertain times.  By bringing that awareness to the forefront of their minds, I think we could affect a huge shift in our energy.

And the best part is that it wouldn’t just benefit one pastor returning from a three-week vacation.  It would benefit all of us.

Is anyone out there game to try? I don’t know about you, but I am.  Wish me luck!

About Pastor Craig

I'm a 54-year-old who lives in Los Angeles, CA with his black Labrador Retriever named Max. I'm an ordained clergy person in the United Church of Christ. My passions include spirituality, politics, and sports (Go Houston teams, go!). I use my blog to start conversations rather than merely spout my perspectives and opinions. I hope you'll post a question, comment, or observation for me to respond - so we can get the conversation started!
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6 Responses to Restoring a Sense of Balance

  1. Lila says:

    An excellent idea. I’ll practice at home.

  2. Olivia Brancusco says:

    I am definitely trying this. I love it.

  3. purrsistent says:

    I love this idea!

    Back when it first became clear that the pandemic was going to be with us for more than a month or two, a friend of mine came up with a thing he called “A+ Positivity Month.” For those who wanted to participate, the rule was that for a month, for every critical thing you posted on social media, you had to post TWO positive things—an action we could collectively take to fix the problem, something unrelated that was going right, or praise for someone doing good in the world.

    Doing this exercise for a month made me keenly aware of how much easier it is to deal with what’s wrong if we also maintain our sense of what’s right and what we together can do to make it better.

  4. Cheri Moore says:

    Love this idea!!! I’m sharing it with my Journey Group (Small Group) and my churches Leadership Board.

  5. Stevie says:

    Brilliant. Boy that makes me think. Complaining is such a bad habit.

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