Most people know what a “write-off” is in business. It happens when something becomes worthless, and you write it off of your balance sheet. It doesn’t just magically disappear, it has to be accounted for and paid down somewhere else on the sheet. But, for the purpose of cleaner accounting and saving energy, it is a common thing to do in business.
People do it in relationships, too. Someone says something that is hurtful or does something that disappoints or injures us, and we “write” the person off. In essence we are saying, “This relationship is worthless to me. I’m not going to spend any more energy on it.” And, we write the person off.
In church life, it happens all too often. We are often disappointed with something someone we respect does or says. It is especially easy to do if we don’t have that close of a friendship with the person.
Something is announced on social media about a misstep or a wrong statement and we make the choice to never believe in that person again. Now, I’m not suggesting those actions shouldn’t have consequences – when someone betrays trust, there has to be consequences.
But, writing someone off is another thing altogether. When we choose that, we are actually suggesting that God’s grace is insufficient to redeem the person. It may be a family member that keeps stumbling in the same place over and over again. It might be a public figure that reveals a moral failure, or a personal friend that disappoints us for the last time.
The consequences will render themselves. But, you and I don’t have to write them off. We don’t have to assume they don’t matter anymore and they are not worth the energy it would take to stay connected to them.
Ministry leaders – don’t write off the people in your church that disappoint you or criticize you. Don’t give up on the fellow staff member or the person who withdraws their support. The day may come when you will need a lifeline – someone who won’t write you off.
Until then, be that person for other people.
Reach out. Pray. Forgive. Love. But, don’t write them off.
We can’t afford it.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.