You Left Out Someone

Our sister congregations in Panama are always looking for ways to enhance their Bible teaching for the children. They recently discovered how flannel boards could be used to teach the children. Flannel board lessons might not hold the attention of an over stimulated child growing up in the United States, but the children raised in the jungle are mesmerized by the felt cutouts of Noah, Moses, and Jesus sticking to the flannel board. Recently a sister at Skyline coordinated a ministry team who worked for hours and hours cutting out felt figures so several sets of lesson material covering the entire Bible could be shipped to Panama.

This scissor-wielding ministry team did a great job sitting in a room for hours, concentrating on cutting out the felt animals, people, and scenery. I helped the team in the best possible way – by trying to be a cheerleader while refusing to pick up a pair of scissors. The team leader was so happy that the work was getting done and that the members of the team were enjoying themselves so much in the process. At the conclusion of the project, she provided me with a spread sheet she had used to record all the names of those involved on the team.

The team leader was glad when I told her I wanted to write a note in the church newsletter thanking all those who had prepared these teaching materials for the children of the jungle. So using the spread sheet she provided and some photos I had taken, I sat down and prepared a note informing the congregation of the project results and thanking all the team members for their hours of devoted service. This was fun for me for a number of reasons. I admired the group’s abilities because I cannot cut a straight line with scissors, much less accurately cut around the shapes they had to cut. I have seen the church classrooms in Panama. I have talked to the ladies who so want to teach but have little in the way of resources. And what a great job they did! I was eager to share the joy of this ministry teams’ success with the entire church family through this thank you note.

The day after we sent out the church newsletters, the ministry team leader stopped by the church office to prepare some additional teaching materials to be sent to Panama. She kindly spoke some words to me that stopped me in my tracks, words I always fear hearing after I have written a thank you for the church newsletter. “You left someone off the list.” Immediately I asked, “Who did I leave out?” And in the moments between my question and her answer I feared hurting someone’s feelings, discouraging someone by my words that were meant to encourage, or even making someone angry.

My anxiety was relieved instantly when she revealed the name of the sister I had accidentally overlooked. I breathed a sigh of relief because the sister she named is one of the most humble servants of Jesus I have ever met. She is the last person in the world who would be offended by my gaffe.

After I calmed down and processed the blunder and my fear, I was pretty sure none of the team members would have become angry as a result of my blunder. But I started thinking about my instant relief when I heard the name of the sister I had omitted. The more I thought about it the more I began to reflect on my responses to other people and their actions. If someone else similarly had overlooked a name, would they be relieved to find out it was me? Or would they be fearful that they had overlooked an easily offended person? What about you? Are you the easily offended type that causes everyone to walk on egg-shells around you?

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”
Proverbs 19:11

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