Monday, May 11, 2009

Commenting in Church

As much as everyone might laugh when I say this, I struggle with the urge to comment too much in church. (I know; I made up for it with my blogging.) I think the reason I struggle in church is two-fold:

1) There really is an incredibly wide range of understanding and maturity in any adult class at church. It is so hard to say something that everyone will understand and no one will misunderstand - and I don’t want to cause serious misunderstanding and/or offense. While that is true to a degree with blogging, there is a self-selection process that tends to weed out most of those who can’t handle dissenting opinions. Therefore, it’s much harder to surprise someone with something they have never considered previously and risk hurting their testimony.

2) Given my current calling and education, I am seen as one of the “experts” in our ward (and even more so in the tiny branch we attended recently). Therefore, when someone asks a question that results in silence, the teacher tends to ask me - which makes me hesitant to comment at other times. I still comment, but it makes me hesitate.

I also use the "importantly incorrect and/or dangerous doctrine rule". (When something is said that is so incorrect that it is dangerous, it needs to be corrected as quickly as possible.) If I think a comment fits that classification, I will comment every time - as gently as I can, but directly - and usually waiting to see if anyone else jumps in to comment first.

Finally, the truly ironic thing about my situation is that my callings give me an aura of “conservatism” or “authority” - even though many of my views would be challenged by some as “liberal” if it weren’t for my callings. I think that is sad, but I understand why it is so.


Christy said...

I have written and erased this comment a few times now. And just did it again. And again.

I don't blame you for being weary if people are looking to you for clarification of the doctrine (although I am grateful for the clarification you gave me on the scripture mastery). I think that many of us are looking to be taught new information in classes such as Gospel Doctrine (oh, I love it when Brother so and so teaches because he knows so much). My understanding is that we should be sharing our experiences and our testimonies of living the principles being discussed, not nit-picking about the finer points. Is this why you are hesitant to share?

Christy said...

I hope my previous comment came out right. I meant are you hesitant to share because people are nit-picking, not because you don't wan't to share your testimony!

Papa D said...

Christy, I should have been clearer. I hesitate to comment largely because I talk so much overall. *grin*

I'm a High Councilor, so I speak in a Sacrament Meeting almost every month. I sit in on the weekly administrative meetings in the ward where I am an adviser, so I talk regularly there. I bear my testimony fairly regularly in Fast & Testimony meetings.

My struggle really is one of trying to avoid pride and feeling like I must contribute. I have a lot to say in an open forum like blogging (DUH! That one's obvious to all in the Bloggernacle.), and I don't want to monopolize or keep others silent because they assume I will say something.

I just find it fascinating that I comment so much when I blog and yet am hesitant to comment in church meetings. That doesn't mean I don't comment there, as well. I do. I just feel differently about it.

bwebster said...

I run into this a bit myself. The first two-and-a-half years we were in this ward, I was the Gospel Doctrine teacher. I prepared heavily, read extensive supplementary materials, and generally brought a much broader context to whatever we were studying (D&C, OT, NT).

Now, on a regular basis in HP Group lessons, if the instructor or someone in the group brings up an issue or question for which no one has an answer, everyone turns and looks at me. If I can't authoritatively give an answer or clarification, they all look a bit disappointed. :-)

Like you, I tend to volunteer a correction only if I consider the issue to be sufficiently important. ..bruce..

Michaela Stephens said...

I sometimes wonder if making insightful and helpful comments is a spiritual gift. Perhaps it's that gift of knowledge or gift of wisdom the scriptures talk about. I've noticed that if I feel like I've talked too much and decide to hold my peace, often someone else is called on who says something similar to what I was thinking. This leads me to believe that it is probably the Holy Ghost working upon people during the lesson to share at the appropriate time and if one mouth is somehow "out of commission" it will work on others to speak what needs to be said. Other times it seems no one brings up the point that would have been shared and then I realize that perhaps my comments were really needed.