Posts Tagged civility

Civility: Os, David and ME! – Doug Hunter* – CSU – Whitfield Center

Doug HunterSeveral years ago, I was part of an international conference of Christian business leaders for which Dr. Os Guinness was a primary speaker.  His first message focused on his book The Call, which, for many in the room, myself included, had been a personal affirmation of their own c all to business as their platform for ministry.  It was one of the first clear articulations of the value of business – as well as other non-church related callings – as ministry, and essential to the building of the Kingdom of God.  The message received a standing ovation and rave reviews.  It affirmed all of us.

His second message also focused on one of his books.  This time it was The Case for Civility, and the response was somewhat different.  If you have read this excellent work, you know that Os has one primary theme:  Unless we learn to listen and converse with those whose opinions and worldviews are different than our own, it won’t matter what “truth” we want to get to the table for consideration.  It won’t be heard because of the noise of our biases and acrimonious ways of communicating.  Os’ call for “a naked public square” where we leave religious, political and other identities at the door, and come only to examine truth claims based on their own merit and the fruit of living them out was challenging to say the least.  To that group of business leaders who were fighting to be able to express their faith through their businesses – and, most of whom are wired to be strong willed (maybe “opinionated”?) – it was hard not to hear a message seeming to say civility calls for “being nice” and letting other have their say – no matter how wrong they might be.  However, Os was reminding us that “To be human is to have deep and abiding differences with other humans over worldviews and values” (The Case for Civility, Page 180), and that civility “is a tough, robust, substantive concept that is a republican virtue, critical to both democracy and civil society” (The Case for Civility, Page 3).

Dr. David Dockery, former President of Union University and now President of Trinity International University, often used a term that is helpful to this consideration when he spoke of “Convictional Civility.”   Generally defined as “a lifestyle of bearing witness for Christ and of contributing to the common good.  From the pulpit to the public square and from the campus to the courtroom, followers of Christ are to demonstrate Christian virtues through winsome civility and Christian values through wholehearted conviction.” (Convictional Civility, Page vii-viii)  Or, as I hear Dockery saying, the robust hard work of engaging in evaluation of truth claims and contending for those I believe to be real truth is best accomplished when it is accompanied by a life or lives that demonstrate the power and actual results of those particular truth claims … living out what you really believe to be true.

Of course, this is nothing new.  Ever see any lack of civility in the pages of the Bible – even from the “good guys”?   And William Wilberforce’s second great purpose after the abolition of slavery was “the reformation of manners”, which had a distinctly civility-related impact on England.  Nevertheless, our need to restore civility to the public square here in the United States is perhaps the most understated, misunderstood and yet essential challenges we face if the truth of the gospel is to get the kind of culture-impacting hearing we all desire.  (Note:  Please don’t assume I am discounting God’s ability to shine the light of truth anywhere or at any time He chooses, e.g. dreams and visions in the Middle East, etc.  I am simply contending for our role in stewarding His truth.)

Let me conclude this post with several things I have been convicted to do as I ask God to work on my own civility.  Perhaps they will be helpful for you as well.

  • Understand that true civility is a spiritual discipline, and requires work and practice.
  • Understand that true civility is not possible for me apart from the power of the Holy Spirit
  • Learn to listen and work on hearing what is being communicated
  • Understand that just because I speak the loudest or hold the floor the longest, that does not mean I have communicated or “won” my point. Civil discourse is never a monologue.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak what you are thinking even if you are not sure how to say it clearly or you are afraid of the response it might receive. Robust conversation includes working through bumps in clarity and in conflicting ideas/worldviews
  • Don’t just read or study an idea or issue – take time to think and to listen to God. It’s amazing what God can say to a mind open to and focused on hearing Him.
  • Balance the comfort and encouragement of being with and hearing from people who are like minded with the need to be challenged by the company and ideas of people who don’t think like or look like me
  • Ask God to give you the wisdom to discern when and the courage to interrupt a conversation when it is clearly not laced with civility or leading to a God-honoring conclusion.
  • Be sure your spouse knows she/he has permission to speak into your life about your own display of convictional civility.

*Doug Hunter – Executive Director, Whitfield Center for Christian Leadership and International Programs 

Charleston Southern University    

Doug Hunter began his business career in the vertical transportation industry in 1971 with Carter Elevator Company, being named its President and Chief Executive Officer in 1987.  As a Christian CEO, Doug became involved with the Fellowship of Companies for Christ International (FCCI), and was invited to join FCCI’s board of directors in 1992.  When he sold Carter Elevator in 1994, Doug moved to Atlanta to work full-time with FCCI.  In the years that followed, God developed his heart for international ministry by allowing him to work, speak and influence business executives in over 30 countries.  He participated in ground-breaking ministry in both Mongolia and Vietnam, became the Founding CEO of Media Asia – a project utilizing sports television in China as a platform for the gospel – and worked with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.  In 2002, Doug joined the staff of Perimeter Church in Atlanta to lead Business Partners International (BPI), a strategy to facilitate the global kingdom impact of men and women through the use of their business skills and passion … building on the belief that Business IS Ministry and Business IS Mission … and that the “call” to business is as essential to building the Kingdom of God as any other calling within the Body of Christ.  In 2007 Doug returned to FCCI / Christ@Work as President and CEO, and saw God expand its ministry of equipping and encouraging Christian business leaders both throughout the US and to 30 countries across the globe.  He stepped out of that role in 2011.  Doug currently serves as a consultant and member of the Global Leadership Team for the Global Cities Project of Campus Crusade for Christ International / Cru.  He is also engaged as a member of the Lausanne Workplace Network, the Global Think Tank on Business As Mission and serves on the Leadership Teams of Call2Business and the National Faith & Work Association.  In February 2013, Doug was named Executive Director of the Whitfield Center for Christian Leadership (WCCL) at Charleston Southern University in Charleston, South Carolina. The WCCL is seeking to be at the leading edge of the movement to provide a steady flow of next generation leaders – whatever their vocational calling might be – who are equipped and committed to learning, leading and serving from a distinctively biblical worldview.  At the same time, Charleston Southern is uniquely positioned to be a resource for marketplace / professional leaders whether they be in Charleston, the Southeast or anywhere in the world.  In September 2015, Doug assumed responsibility for strategic leadership of CSU’s new International Programs. Doug has been married to his college sweetheart, Janet, for 46 years.  They have 4 grown children and 3 grandchildren.


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Approaching Civility in a World Awash in Self – Thomas Crowl*

PSALMS: 138:6…Though the Lord be high, yet He hath respect unto the lowly: but the proud He knows afar off…

Thonas CrowlI observe another American political season filled with vile, hate-filled language attacking the very basis of our democracy. I think on a simpler time when a bright mind called P.M. Forni would pen “The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct”. I look forward to a few months ago when a Charleston Churchman would call for a “Say Something Nice Day” as a reprise to anger and hatred. I look at the 25 rules and see many that look to the denial of self and the observation of the souls around us. It is a blessed similarity.

My dear wife is always the first to remind me that we should always look to the best reason for a particular act rather than descending to the depths of doubt and anger. Our news media calls out to a different spirit and looks to the phrase “if it bleeds it leads” as a sensationalist press seeking to grab the attention span of a media world.

I challenged my spirit today to review so many examples around me of civility. Just the other day a noted country singer would speak the words “always be humble and proud” finding strength in the meek spirit that found genuine pride in humility. I see our Savior on the cross saying “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” pushing back from the well of anger and self-pity that surrounded him. Often civility expresses itself best when we just listen calmly and do not react. In this respectful…inclusive…welcoming way we invite our Savior to be our guide.

Civility is the oil that calms the roughest wave…is the honey in the ears of the tormented spirit and always seeks to “walk in the other man’s shoes” as Franklin Roosevelt once said seeking empathy in a world embroiled in tragedy. Civility is generous looking for the best and offering frequent praise, positive advice and reinforcement to advance our brethren.

The civil world looks to the best that grows within us, respects our positive efforts to improve and gives kindness to the lowly animals and our blessed environment that all may grow in peace. It is an eternal value that is known to God and is so needed in our world where discrimination, separation, isolation and greed call out to us from every corner.

HEAVENLY FATHER…grant to me this day the civil tongue…the welcoming hand and the loving spirit that will heal a divided nation and world gone mad with self. Never let us forget the wondrous example you sent to us in your divine Son those two thousand years ago.


*Thomas Crowl is a retired judge who works in Florida as a volunteer having been born again in His service.

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Candidates rebuff ‘say something nice’ challenge – Bob Allen -Baptists News Global

  JUNE 2, 2016

A South Carolina Baptist layman voiced disappointment after the three remaining candidates for U.S. president rebuffed his challenge to a one-day moratorium on incivility.

For the 10th anniversary of Say Something Nice Day, founder Mitch Carnell asked presidential candidates to agree to a two part pledge: do not say anything negative about each other and if possible say something nice on June 1.

All three candidates not only ignored a May 20 deadline to respond to the challenge, Carnell said, but if anything stepped up the negativity that characterizes much of today’s polarized political debate.

Carnell, a member of First Baptist Church in Charleston, S.C., said the committee promoting the annual observance hoped a one-day lull in the war of words would have a positive influence leading to a more civil discussion of issues facing the country.

”We are in need of good examples of civility in the public square,” Carnelltold the Baptist Courier, newspaper of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. “The present level of rhetoric is totally lacking in respect for differing viewpoints.”

The candidates have a second chance to tone down the rhetoric this weekend. June 5 marks the 10th anniversary of Say Something Nice Sunday, an annual observance that began when Carnell observed negativity from both students and teachers when he volunteered to help at an inner-city middle school where his wife taught.

The experience inspired Carnell to write a booklet called Say Something Nice, Be a Lifter! He intended to distribute the book in public and private schools. That didn’t work out, but the idea took root after his home church passed a resolution declaring the first Sunday in June Say Something Nice Sunday.

From there the idea spread to other churches of various denominations, and Say Something Nice Day made its way into the cultural lexicon, appearing today on most online calendars listing major holidays and observances.

Carnell said in an email June 2 he has no way of knowing exactly how many churches or individuals are heeding his call to say something nice. “We ask them to let us know, but only a few do,” “he said.

Ten years into the movement, Carnell said he is pleased with response to his efforts, “but as you know we have a long way to go.”

The First Baptist Church of Charleston website offers free downloadable resources for observing Say Something Nice Sunday on the messages/resources page of the church website.

Carnell said the purpose of Say Something Nice is simple: “On this one day, do not say anything negative about any person, Christian organization or group, and, if possible, say something nice.”

His challenge to the presidential candidates was twofold, that either on June 1 or June 5 “I will refrain from saying anything ugly, demeaning or derogatory to or about anyone, especially any of the other candidates running for the presidency of the United States” and “I will say something nice, uplifting or encouraging to or about at least one person running for the presidency of the United States.”

“I understand that remarks related to physical characteristics are off limits for this exercise,” Carnell stipulated in the candidate pledge

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June 5, 2016 Is Say Something Nice Sunday

iSt. John the Baptist
The purpose of Say Something Nice Sunday is very simple. On this one day do not say anything negative about any person, Christian organization or group and if possible say something nice, uplifting, and encouraging. What comes out of our mouths is reflective of what is in our hearts.

This is the 10th anniversary of our movement to change the downward spiral of our speech to speech that is more Christ-like. It is amazing how a kind word can make such a difference in someone’s life. People often respond with, “You don’t know how badly I needed that. I have had a terrible day.”

Rev. Garry Hollingsworth, Executive Director/Treasurer of the South Carolina Baptist Convention said, “It is timely for you folks to encourage this kind of cooperation among God’s people since we face so many spiritual challenges in this state and our nation.”

scan0002.jpg BishopThe Most Reverend Robert E. Guglielmone, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Charleston (all of South Carolina,) enthusiastically endorsed the annual celebration. He said, “The decline of civility is at an epidemic level in our society and unfortunately has invaded our religious life. The disrespect shown to Christians by other Christians is far from what Jesus wants for His people.”

Rev. Marshall Blalock, pastor of First Baptist Church and a member of the committee, emphasizes, “In conversation, an attitude of grace dissolves the temptation to pre-judge the words or the reactions of another. Grace keeps us from being easily offended, and in a conversation on a difficult subject, you neither want to give or take offense. Our world has been divided long enough – let’s build relationships that can change it, starting right here.”

Free materials are at Click on Messages/Resources at the top of the page. Scroll down on the right to Say Something Nice Sunday. There are Bible references, devotionals, art work and the purpose.



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