Sunday, April 10, 2011

conscientious or contentious?

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In his sermon last week, I thought I heard The Right Reverend Dr AK say we needed to be "contentious Christians". It was challenging and unexpected, but made sense. I mean, Jesus didn't exactly present a meek brown-nosing example of living the Way.  The apostles and disciples weren't martyred because they were nice and accommodating, living their faith out "in private". So, being "contentious"Christians makes sense.

Well, that was at the 9:00 service. At the 10:45 service, I realized I'd misunderstood that lilting African English. He had not said "contentious." He had said "courageous." Be courageous Christians. The message still made sense, was good, was sound. But now I had "contentious" stuck in my head.

It reminded me of a good friend who recently had an annual job review. Her new supervisor gave her an excellent review. Unfortunately, automatic spell check played a trick and changed one crucial word in her review before it was submitted. Instead of describing my friend as a "conscientious" employee - which she is - the printed review described her as a "contentious" one.

The truth is, she can be contentious. And that isn't a bad thing. She knows her stuff. She stands her ground. She gets things done. But her supervisor was appalled at the mistake. No one wants THAT on their permanent record. That is not a glowing term. The entire review was invalidated and had to be resubmitted (gubment work, you know).

Which brings me back to that word. I don't like being around contentious people. They make me uncomfortable. Yet I don't think twice about being contentious with my loved ones. They know me and they love me anyway, right?  I'm starting to think that isn't fair. These are the people I should treat the best. However, I don't like being contentious with other people. After all, they might not agree with me, or worse, might not like me. Heavens to murgatroy, not being liked is a fate worse than death, right? Right....?

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