Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Keeping It Real Series-Avoiding Third Person Offenses

A third person offense basically works like this, let’s take three fictitious people and name them Sue, David and Michael. These three are mutual friends and have an on going fruitful and healthy friendship. They enjoy each others company, they go and have the occasional dinner together at their favorite restaurant, discuss their struggles and victories in life together and even go to the same church. But one day, David and Sue have a conflict. This is no ordinary conflict, as it takes a toll on David and Sue’s friendship and before we know it, they’re no longer friends. All communication is broken off, in fact they totally avoid each other. During this whole time, Sue has been going to Michael to discuss the conflict and falling out that’s been occurring with David. What Michael doesn’t realize is that Sue is “poisoning” David and Michael’s friendship. Whether intentional or unintentional it’s occurring.

Before we know it, Michael is resentful towards David without even hearing David’s side of the story. One day David decides to call Michael, but Michael refuses to take the call. Though out the week, David tries to contact Michael but each time Michael goes out of his way to avoid David’s phone calls. David reasons with himself that maybe Michael is just busy and doesn’t have the time to talk to him, totally oblivious to the real reason Michael is avoiding him.

At church, the next Sunday, David spots Michael across the sanctuary and after the service rushes to catch Michael to greet him. With a sideways glance Michael disappears out the door before David can catch up with him. David stops in midstride hurt, frustrated and clueless as to why he’s being avoided.

The weeks go on and occasionally David tries to contact Michael, but all to no avail. Hurt and disillusioned, David gives up, and before we know it, Michael has disappeared from church. Eventually over the next ensuing months, Sue and David finally work things out and the friendship is restored. David now goes through the rest of his life wondering what happened to Michael and wondering what he himself did to deserve Michael’s rejection.

This is a simplified example of how third person offences occur. The sad part of it is, David never had a chance to tell his side of the conflict with Sue and was robbed of the opportunity to make peace with Michael. The situation could have been avoided all together if Michael had simply been willing to sit down and speak honestly with David. Instead, Michael lacked the integrity to give David a fair chance to clear things up and repent to Michael.

It’s been my observation over the years that almost always the third person offence is never resolved, which if repeated too many times has the possibility of wreaking very real and devastating emotional havoc on the person who finds themselves in David’s position. Don’t be like Michael, at least give the “Davids” the benefit of a doubt and give them a chance.

Without a doubt at sometime or other in my life I have been a Michael. If you're reading this and I was a Michael to you, I humbly ask your forgiveness.