I used to have a job that involved calling at people’s homes, which meant dealing with their dogs!
Every dog that’s ever bitten me – and there’s been a few – seemed to surprise their owner.
They would exclaim, ‘Wow, I’m really surprised, he’s never done that before’, as if it was somehow my fault.
Their surprise was offered as some kind of comfort and explanation just in case I thought their dog was a bad one or worse still, that they were a bad owner. If I was the first person their dog had ever bitten then my gift to them was the awareness that the dog they didn’t think capable of biting anyone actually was.
Once they knows the dog bites they should either train it not to, or at least be aware of when it might and remove the possibility .
I’ve used this analogy many times when I’ve spoken at a church for the first time and something goes wrong.
I was once at a church and one of the leaders suddenly got quite confrontational at dinner about my message. It didn’t bother me, I like a good debate, but I could see the pastor becoming increasingly uncomfortable as I would’ve been if it was one of my team treating a guest rudely.
Afterwards the pastor apologized to me and said, ‘I don’t know what got into her today, she’s never done that before’. The implication being that maybe it was my fault that somehow I turned an otherwise passive lady into a confrontational, argumentative person all in one sermon.
I used the analogy of dogs biting me to point out that once he saw his dog bite, or in this case his fellow leader verbally attacking me, rather than dismiss it he should note it.
When unusual things happen and stuff goes wrong during a visiting speakers visit, and especially one who’s a committed local church builder, then his or her being there at that time is no accident. It may be that it happened because God knew that your visitor would either bring out the necessary irritation to make the dog bite, or that your visitor would know exactly how to handle and fix that particular problem that your leadership style doesn’t bring out.
Either way, it’s a gift to you, not a threat. I’ve often said to pastors, ‘it’s ok, stuff sometimes happens when I go to places, don’t keep apologizing for the dog just realise that sometimes some people can act as a catalyst for change’. Some people’s gift to you is that they get bitten in front of you, simply to get you to focus more attention into an area.
Thank God for people who help us more by accident than many do on purpose. People who were just passing through when we had a systems failure, admin breakdown, staff tensions, poor performance etc.
See them as a gift who reveal a need to focus more attention in certain areas. And to every dog that’s ever bitten me I hope your owners diligence meant that I was the last.
Somehow I doubt it.