I hated Ty Gibson.
You are probably wondering why that is. Is it because his good looks? His sharp wit or his inspirational quotes on twitter? Why do you hate Ty Gibson? Aren’t you like a pastor or something?
Let me share a story. Several years ago I met Ty Gibson for the first time. All I knew about him is what other people said about him.
*He leads an “independent ministry”. (that was used pejoratively)
NEXT STEPS: Young Adult Ministry Training
*He does not support the work.
*We have some concerns about him.
Then we had a meal together. We sat around a table and started a conversation. That day I also met the Rosario brothers who were involved with GYC en Espanol. I knew no one in those circles either. Hispanic churches (as many ethnic churches) are usually on their own vibe without much interaction with the wider Adventist body.
A strange thing happened. The longer the conversation went on I found myself saying: “these guys are not crazy at all. In fact they are normal people!”
Fast forward several years. Ty has become a good friend. I have grown from suspicion to tolerance to acceptance to connection. How does that happen? Here are some lessons learned:
1. Let’s not pretend.
We are a fragmented body. There are websites and battle lines drawn. There are allegiances and dismissive comments. Attacks and dismissal of the “other”. The first step is not to play nice but to be loving. That includes realizing that you are not the sole possessor of ultimate truth in every single item. What we have now is the belief that being together is the same as unity. I made a decision to get to know Ty. Warning: it usually gets worst before it gets better, but it’s worth it.
2. Let’s get to know people, not caricatures of people.
Are you GYC or the TOP? For or against WO? Drums or organ? Vegan or super vegan? The list is interminable. For example here is a comment of a pastor I know. “Only in the crazy, wonderfully wacky world of Adventism can a Pro-life, 2nd amendment supporter republican be called a liberal because he preaches from the NIV.” So true. I am so happy to be friends with people who are not like me. That has given me a deeper perspective on life. If I have a God that always agrees with my positions what I really have is a God made in my image. That’s called idolatry.
3. You can have your preferences, but love trumps all.
I have a family member who loves Trump. In his mind Trump has brought prayer and God back to the White House and America. The best president ever! I’m not a big fan. One thing I noticed. I have my political preferences but I love my family member more than I do the donkey or the elephant. Someone said that when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Instead of living my life constantly trying to convince people how dumb they are and hammering my position into people I want to seek a relationship. A deep relationship can change a heart with greater effectiveness.
I was just thinking the other day. What a great friendship I would have missed out on if I had never taken the time to get to know someone!
I love Ty.