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Being Right – Doing Right

Sherri S.

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (NIV, emphasis mine)  1 Peter 3:15-16

 I am writing this post a few days after “support Chick-fil-A day”, and during a time in which several of my new hospice patients have indicated their denominational preferences during the intake interview  by saying something to the effect of  “I used to be Baptist but now I’m a Christian.”  We’ve had some good-natured teasing about that in the office but it started me thinking about how the world perceives Christians of all denominations and how our own actions, while well-intentioned, may come across in ways that are less than loving and Christ-like.

Accountability, having a clear conscience, is not just about doing the right thing. It is about doing the right thing in the right way. Scripture tells us what that is: with gentleness and respect. For example, this week many took a stand for the scriptural view of marriage without making statements of hate and anger against a group of people.

When we give an anwer with gentleness and respect we open the door to conversation and reconciliation. We open the door to relationship. That’s what Jesus did and that’s what changes lives.

How do we as social workers maintain an attitude and spirit of gentleness and respect? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Meticulously maintain your own personal relationship with Christ. Prayer and scripture reading should be your most used line of offense and defense – not your last resort.
  • Keep your role clear. We are not here to judge but to love and guide. ( 1 Cor 13)
  • Remember that the most aggravating, impossible patient/client/consumer/colleague you have is just as precious to God as you are.
  • Remember we are held accountable for anything we do or say that keeps someone from the kingdom of God. (Read Luke 17:2)
  • Remember that God has a purpose for you right where he has placed you. Pray every day to be faithful to that purpose, and thank him for the privilege of serving him there. Thank him for providing what you need for each day.
  • Remember that the tenets of our profession are not our ultimate authority. When there is a conflict between the profession and scripture pray that God will give you the courage to take a stand and the grace to speak the truth in love.
  • When it is necessary to speak a hard truth – and don’t we do that all the time? – we must speak it in love and with a goal of reconcilliation and restoration.

When he called us to service through social work he knew the responsibility we would shoulder and the authority and influence we would wield over broken and ruined lives. Yes, there is great accountability in this place, but with that is the promise of his presence, guidance and power, and when we fail – his never-ending grace.

Thank you for your service. May the gentleness and respect of Christ fill you to overflowing abundance that splashes over each soul you touch today.

Sherri S. has been a social worker for twenty years, first in the field of mental health, and  currently as a medical social worker with Emerald Coast Hospice in the Florida panhandle. She has been a member of NACSW since 2011. Connect with Sherri at her own blog at www.sherristone.net

7 thoughts on “Being Right – Doing Right

  1. Great post, Sherri S. – thank you for sharing! It made me think this morning of a scripture that the Lord is now having me "learn in process": Matthew 5:11-12 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Loving others with gentleness and respect, even when the gentleness is not reciprocated is both a challenge and a blessing. In these situations Christ shines through us because we don't have the humility, the patience, or the ability to express agape love without Him.

  2. I like that scripture Jennifer. I think it's becoming more important all the time for Christians to remember that and take courage and comfort from it. We are in a profession that can often conflict with Christian values and test our ability to disagree in love. What great scriptures to keep tucked into our hearts and minds. Thanks for your comment.

    1. Dear Jack,Sorry I just noticed that I petsod this same exact note on last years blog so I didnt think that you would notice it. Here is my original message please read it and consider it because I have been praying for 1-2 years for a moment that I am going to explain Your Band has been such an inspiration to me. I went to the concert in evansville when you all sang with Casting Crowns and John Waller. I had bunches of fun. I (sorta) got to meet the band but I didnt get the chance for us to talk and (really) meet you all. I have been praying since the release of your first album that the band could meet with my friends, the church family, and me. I have adored you guys and have put my life in a position to go the opposite way . I found your blog and thought to myself this would be a perfect moment to ask you if I could meet the band.. because I have prayed to God that I would not let the moment pass me up when I came to it. Thank you so very much, God Bless, EBP.S. Is there anyway that my parents could contact you? My email is (you all dont have to play I just would like to meet with all of you) your band has led me to go (with the help of the Lord) the opposite way Please email me as soon as you can, although I realize that you all live busy lives, but please come just for a few days to meet with my church family and meet me. thank you

  3. So many of the ideas in your post resonated with me, Sherri. Thanks much for your post. My favorite of your bullet points reminds us that just as our own dignity, self-worth, and self-esteem are ultimately grounded in God's love for us as shown through His having lovingly made us in His image, through God reaching out to us by becoming one of us to reconcile us to Himself through Jesus, and through God working in us to transform us little by little into who the persons we were created to be – so the dignity and worth of others are equally grounded in this same deep love God has for even those in our lives we find it hardest to love.

  4. "Remember that the tenets of our profession are not our ultimate authority. When there is a conflict between the profession and scripture pray that God will give you the courage to take a stand and the grace to speak the truth in love." Thank you! As a long-time Christian but newbie social worker, this statement was a relief to read. I have been struggling with how to reconcile some tenets over the past 2 years of my masters program. I know I will continue to work out conflicts as I am planning on working in the public school system. Your post helped me know it's OK to work out these conflicts. As a peace-maker not a confronter, I am praying for courage and grace and love!

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