BUD SELIG AND THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH
This past Monday marked 25 years since Major League Baseball players went on strike. I remember the summer of 1994 well, because - thanks to a business associate of my father - I had the opportunity to sit not far behind the American League dugout at the All-Star Game the month prior. (I gotta admit, it is neat to know that I attended the only All-Star Game played in a year where the World Series was not played.)
I remember watching the coverage of that debacle and just being incredulous at the thought there was no way out of this that didn't involve a strike. (Admittedly, my bias against Bud has it's roots in the fact he, as an owner, could not, no matter his intentions, be a truly objective commissioner.) To this day, I believe it was an unnecessary work stoppage and the fact the owners had one of their own as commissioner did not help the situation at all.
Without boring you with a lot of details, let's just say I became a pretty avid baseball fan in my junior-high and high school years, and picked it back up again later on, even serving as commissioner of a fantasy baseball league for ten years. However, in all that I still had a raw feeling about Bud and MLB in general because of the events surround the 1994 debacle.
As the 25th anniversary of the start of the strike rolled around on Monday, for a moment it was like I was sitting in the parsonage of my good friend and mentor (for whom Joseph is named) in Canonsburg, PA watching the news coverage as it happened. I still am upset that the season was cancelled, and, yes, I still think Mr. Selig had no business being the owner of a team while also serving as commissioner, but with the advantage of hindsight, while I think it could have been handled in such a way as to not cancel the season, there's no point on dwelling on what could or should have been. I really should cut Mr. Selig a break concerning his complicity in the debacle of 1994, because I also know that I do not nor did not have all the info he had; more importantly, I need to give Mr. Selig a break because I trust he was doing the very best he could with what information he had on hand.
What does this have to do with life in the church? Well, there are times that pastors and other leaders make decisions that we find abhorrent. There are times that pastors and other leaders make decisions contrary to their own wishes. There are times that feelings get raw and visceral towards people and groups that make decisions that we simply cannot believe happened. Much like Mr. Selig, people get hung out to dry for decisions that we believe were wrong and contrary to THE OBVIOUS solution.
What difference might it make in the life of our church (or, for that matter, our families, our work environments, our community, and our world) if we assumed the best of intentions for all involved, and separated our distaste for a decision from our personal feelings towards the decision-maker by giving them the benefit of the doubt in the fact they did the best they could to make said decision?
In other words, would we want Jesus to hold us to the highest and strictest standards to which we hold others with whom we virulently disagree? This is not to say there is no room for disagreements within the body of Christ or the local church - but there had better be much more room to remember who is at the table is more important than what is ON the table.
Have a GREAT week!
Grace and Peace,