I was teaching teachers the other day. I had to do the same sample lesson twice to two different groups. On this occasion my computer decided not to speak to the data projector so all the sample material I wanted to use couldn’t be displayed. Instead, I would have to tell them about it. Not an ideal but a workable, if clumsy, alternative. I explained this to each group. In one group they took this in their stride and made the most of the situation. The time allocated was nearly too short. In the other, no matter how positive I was there were one or two negative people who pulled down the group. It was hard to believe I was teaching the same lesson.
I made a couple of mental notes: teachers can be just as helpful, or annoying, as students. But I also reflected on my own behaviour in group situations. Did I always try to build up the group, especially when not everything was going as it should? How does my attitude affect those around me?
In community, our attitudes are so important. Community is such a precious and fragile treasure. Nurtured and supported it is beautiful and life affirming, but if it is neglected, or worse, deliberately sabotaged, it becomes a place of pain and anger. Broken community displays the uglier aspects of our human nature.
This incident reminded me that healthy community requires a deliberate attitude on my part. It requires a sense of grace and forgiveness – it requires me to treat others just as I wish to be treated.
Now where have I heard that before?