Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"I am offended"

easily_offended Proverbs 19:11 says, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offence.”

It is fashionable today to get offended. A recent search on Google of the phrase “I am offended” produced 185,000 results. It’s a powerful statement. Say to someone, “I am offended by what you did” and automatically your problem becomes their problem, regardless of whether the offence was intended or not. It is as if we feel that we have a right not to be offended and we hold the entire world hostage to this expectation.

Christians and non-Christians are equally guilty of this. As the CEO of The Voice of the Martyrs, I hear more than my share of concerns and complaints from those who read our newsletter, website, email news service, or watch our videos. Sometimes what we write and present is offensive to certain people. Some do not appreciate the nature of our ministry and what we stand for and we can make no apology for that.  Sometimes we offend people due to carelessness or oversight.  Other times, we did not anticipate that something might be taken in a certain way.  Many of those who contact us with concerns are godly, well-intentioned people; many give their concerns respectfully and courteously. I value their comments and we are a better organization for having listened to them. Others are less courteous and nothing you say or do will satisfy them. I confess to being especially stymied by those who preface their complaint with, “I found this offensive” or “I was offended by this.” Behind the statement is the expectation that I will admit that they are absolutely right and promise that we will never make this error again. The problem is, sometimes the offence is of such a nature that it would have been difficult or impossible to anticipate; you just can’t always guess what will set someone off.

We need to keep in mind that when a comment seems offensive that it may not have been intentional or aimed specifically at us or our group. We need to consider the context that things are being said or done. Many times, we may have misunderstood and taken wrongly what the other person intended to communicate. Give the person the benefit of the doubt and avoid jumping to conclusions that automatically assumes the worst or plays into our own fears, insecurities or, alternately, our own convictions and pet peeves.

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