By Rev. Tony Marciano
Many years ago, when George H.W. Bush was running for President, he uttered these famous words in a debate, “Read my lips, no new taxes.” It won him the presidency. It cost him the re-election.
Try being a homeowners association board president when you are trying to raise the dues. No one rises and calls you blessed. No one thanks you for your volunteer leadership and sacrifice. No one is grateful that you are looking out for the best interests of the community.
What I learned is that they “smear” you on Facebook. When the newsletter came out asking for the homeowners to vote to raise dues, the social media ranting began. It was similar to being on the editorial page of the local newspaper. You can’t do anything right.
One homeowner not only said “evil” about me on Facebook, she emailed our property management company. I captured her address and decided to pay her a surprise visit.
I stopped at her house, rang the bell and asked for her. When she came to the door I greeted her by saying, “I heard I’m graying your hair for free.” She looked at me very puzzled. My next sentence was “Do you know who I am?” Silence. I continued with, “We met 10 years ago.” Silence. I said, “I’m your HOA president.”
We had the best conversation. I let her talk as she shared with me her frustrations about the neighborhood. I let her know I shared most of her frustrations. I showed her how I was planning to improve the board and the community. I left her house, having made a friend.
Why are we so terrified of conflict? There are so many reasons. One reason is that we want people to like us. Therefore, we don’t confront people. We hope the problem just goes away. It doesn’t.
I have a friend who, I think, has a codependent relationship with God. When she gets into a difficult situation, she doesn’t address it. Rather, she prays and asks God to change the situation. Yes, I believe in prayer. I also believe that God will give us the strength to address difficult situations.
Remember, Jesus called the religious leaders of his day a bunch of blood-sucking vipers. Not exactly a page out of the book by Dale Carnegie, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
There is a Scripture verse that says, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
It’s interesting that it says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you.”
Conflict is inevitable. We think we should skip through the fields, pick daisies and never disagree with anyone. That’s not what this Scripture is saying. It is telling us conflict will come. What will you do?
I will confess to you I wanted to write a very nasty Facebook response to my neighbor. I’m glad I didn’t. I took the high road and made a friend, instead of an enemy.
I’ll be back soon. Until then, live well my friend.
The Rev. Tony Marciano is the executive director of the Charlotte Rescue Mission. Visit www.charlotterescuemission.org for details.