The communities that you may find yourself in generally have one common goal—unity. In fact, the word “community” has within it the roots of two words “common” and “unity,” which accurately describe what the organization is striving toward. Although unity is an important goal and necessary component for the success of a group, it may often be difficult to achieve. Two actions, when properly implemented, will go a long way in developing unity within an organization—acceptance and guidance.
Those two actions may seem like they are on different ends of the spectrum and should not be included together in the same pathway, since acceptance brings with it the connotation of honor and respect, while guidance may bring negative thoughts of needing correction. In his book Building Up One Another, Gene Getz suggests that not only are these terms necessary for unity within a group or organization, but the concepts are also very complementary to each other.
I remember years ago, while teaching at a rural public school, I had the opportunity to work with a community member and friend who was involved with a local chapter of the extension office that was implementing a grant for a macroinvertebrate study. I knew the representative from the community and attended church with him, so I knew he had a heart of gold, but he often would come across as blunt and gruff. The project required the use of several of my classes to collect samples at a local river and record the data for state-wide data analysis. Since we attended church together, the representative had asked me to bring him a list of something relating to the study to our next church meeting. Since it was before the digital age, it was unfortunate that while I was helping wrangle up my four children to go to church, I had left the list on my kitchen table at home. Since there was not an immediate deadline for the list, I thought that it would be fine to get him the list the next time we met. I thought wrong. The friend/representative expressed his frustration with me and said, “Your word is your bond. If you say you are going to do something, you should do it.” Though I thought the response was a bit harsh, upon further reflection, I realized just how often I let my busy life get in the way of those kinds of commitments. Keeping my word was something I needed to make a higher priority.
Life lessons like this help shape us into who we are today. In hindsight, I respected “Bob’s” concern for me as a friend to point out something that needed improvement. I also learned that it is important that I examine my own attitudes towards acceptance of others before I am overly critical of how I am accepted. Finally, I learned that guidance, correction, or counseling done with the right motive and by the right person can be a demonstration of care and genuine concern.
Therefore, as we strive for unity within our organizations, schools, and other groups, recognize the importance of accepting one another, and the need for the proper kind of guidance, correction, and counseling.