Speaking Truth with Love
Hillary Taylor is a Mission Intern with Global Ministries serving with Branches, a social justice and economic empowerment ministry of the South East District of the Florida Annual Conference. What follows is a blog post from her first term of service in South Africa.
Hillary Taylor (left) with Mazwenkosi Nomxego, a seminarian at Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Photo: Philppa Cole
I recently visited an agency that ministered to disfigured children. The agency’s owner (let’s call him “Allen”) has done wonders for these children, but his work is drawn from anger rather than love. He’s angry about cultural practices that disfigure the children, as well as South African society’s ignorance to such abuse.
As a missionary, I think often of ministry’s dangers. When one works with the poor and marginalized, it’s easy to become disheartened with the sinful state of humanity. Anger can lead to hatred. When we begin to hate, suffering is inevitable.
Because “Allen” cannot let go of his hatred, he alienates people from his ministry rather than attracting them, thus affecting support for the children. He’s lost sight of how Jesus drew all types of followers to ministry—by speaking truth with love.
Speaking truth with love doesn’t mean we can’t get angry; it means we don’t allow our anger to control us. It means guiding newcomers to ministry with a reassuring hand, while being honest about reality. Truth without love is brutality, while love without truth is sentimentality.
Jesus engaged others by revealing personal stumbling blocks (Matthew 19: 21-23), but he did not condemn their choice to turn away from discipleship. It is the same for us when our hearts are hardened. Being engaged with truth and love leaves us open to change our minds about ministry. It also helps us testify to the power of love.