As a Thanksgiving tradition, I hang Christmas lights around our front house windows. At the end of the season, I roll up the lights and put them in the box labeled "lights." Last year every strand of lights worked except for one set. This year when I went to the box, two additional strand of lights did not work. I did not want to purchase new lights this year so I began to investigate the strand of lights to determine where the problem existed.
I plugged in one set of lights and saw that it would work but it kept blinking on and off. I sat down and pushed in each light bulb because I noticed several of them were loose in its socket. After pushing in each light bulb firmly, the strand of lights remained on. Victory! I grabbed the other set of lights and began the same process of investigation. The problem was different this time. This time I noticed something different. Some of the sockets were missing light bulbs! Oh, possibly this strand of lights was not working because some lights were missing. Could my theory be true? Yes, I found extra light bulbs and placed them firmly in the vacant sockets, and behold the strand of lights shone brightly!
This week I was installed as the rector of St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church. What a joyous event! It has been my personal experiences from working with churches in congregational development, a parish priest, and working at the diocesan level in Rochester, NY that gossip, rumors, miscommunication, hurt feelings, and sabotaging creates challenges on everyone, and puts a damper on parish ministry. Like the strand of lights, it only takes a few light bulbs to create challenges for the complete strand of lights. I believe the only opportunity to eliminate the issues above, especially “hearsay", is to do what I did with our strands of light...go to the source. The source being me because I might have the answer you are looking for instead of assuming the answer, and creating “blinking lights." I believe going to the source is important because we are here to shine as lights of Jesus Christ.