I am amazed that humankind can put a man on the moon, go to the bottom of the sea in submarine, create and figure out how to solve the famous Rubiks Cube, and still, we do not know how to communicate effectively with one another.
Why is going directly to a person so difficult? Why is it juicy and attractive to believe a lie than to seek the truth? Why does creating chaos and conflict appear to be the norm and accepted? The Nobel Peace Prize should be awarded to anyone who can solve these problems.
In the meantime as we await the nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize for a major contribution to humanity, I believe the 10 Rules for Respect from the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia are a helpful tool to address these issues. The 10 Rules For Respect were written by Bishop Greg Rickel, who is the bishop of the Diocese of Olympia. He stated on the diocese’s website that “In every Letter of Agreement I have had with congregations, and now with the Diocese of Olympia, I have asked that the “10 Rules for Respect” be spelled out as part of the agreement. I first saw these in an article by Church of the Nazarene pastor Charles Christian. I think they are quite helpful in framing our communication and life together. I vow to do my best to follow them and invite you to do the same. We will all fail, but through gentle challenge and loving encouragement these can become a foundation for healthy communication for us all.”
I concur with Bishop Rickel and I have adopted them for my use as the rector of St. John the Evangelist and it is my hope that you will do the same. I believe they are helpful in framing our communication and life together.
10 Rules for Respect
1. If you have a problem with me, come to me (privately).
2. If I have a problem with you, I will come to you (privately).
3. If someone has a problem with me and comes to you, send them to me. (I’ll do the same for you)
4. If someone consistently will not come to me, say, “Let’s go to Rev. Dr. Deborah together. I am sure she will see us about this.” (I will do the same for you.)
5. Be careful how you interpret me-I’d rather do that. On matters that are unclear, do not feel pressured to interpret my feelings or thoughts. It is easy to misinterpret intentions.
6. I will be careful how I interpret you.
7. If it’s confidential, don’t tell. If you or anyone comes to me in confidence, I won’t tell unless a) the person is going to harm himself/herself, b) the person is going to physically harm someone else, c) a child has been physically or sexually abused. I expect the same from you.
8. I do not read unsigned letters or notes.
9. I do not manipulate; I will not be manipulated; do not let others manipulate you. Do not let others manipulate me through you. I will not preach “at you.” I will leave conviction to the Holy Spirit (The Holy Spirit does it better anyway!)
10. When in doubt, just say it. The only dumb questions are those that don’t get asked. Our relationships with one another, at the end of the day, are the most important things so if you have a concern, pray, and then (if led) speak up. If I can answer it without misrepresenting something, someone, or breaking a confidence, I will.