On being admonished

Published 9:46 am Sunday, April 10, 2022

By MICHAEL J. BROOKS | Guest Columnist

It was a striking comment in a book we used in midweek Bible study. The chapter was about growing in relationships, and the writer said sometimes we had to “wound” others. He cited Proverbs 27:6: “The wounds of a friend are faithful . . . .”

I stated I didn’t feel comfortable with this concept. Another attendee suggested a better word is “admonish,” which is an activity the Apostle Paul encouraged to do (Romans 15:14).

Later a deacon came to me with a pointed question. He asked if I’d ever been admonished.

“Yes, of course,” I replied.

“What did you do?” he asked.

I told him that if the admonishment was ill-advised, I overlooked it. But if it was on target I tried to change my attitude and behavior.

And I thought of two examples.

A church leader waited for me one Monday morning. He was upset that I’d asked my associate to preside the night before at the concluding service of a Bible conference. I explained that my wife was ill and I needed to sit with our two small children, so I asked my associate to host in my place. The leader told me that I was the pastor and I always needed to preside at church events.

In my heart, I didn’t agree with his assessment since I believe in sharing responsibilities. I was there, the service went well and the church was encouraged. But I listened and thanked him for his thoughts. Years later I remain puzzled why this was such an issue. I was admonished about something inconsequential.

But I remembered another time a church leader came to announce a family who had begun to worship with us was distraught at something I’d said the Sunday previous. He prodded me a bit as to what they told him they heard. I shared a funny (and true) story about a lady who did something crazy in a previous church. I described her as “a few fries short of a Happy Meal.”

The leader explained this family had a grandchild with some brain injuries and who’d had multiple surgeries, and apparently, they thought I was insensitive to this. I didn’t know about their grandchild and certainly wasn’t trying to belittle anyone with a medical condition.

I called the family immediately to schedule a visit, but they didn’t take my calls. So I showed up anyway. I apologized profusely and learned more about their grandchild. I followed up with a heartfelt note. They later joined our church. It was an admonishment I needed to hear.

Admonishment is a Christian practice that must be carefully considered before discarding or heeding. We need God’s wisdom in deciding which to do.

Reflections is a weekly devotional feature written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church, Alabaster, Alabama. The church’s website is Siluriabaptist.com.