Ever walked into a home and sensed a heavy atmosphere? How about a shop and as soon as you walk in the staff go immediately quiet and compose themselves trying vainly to disguise their interrupted heated argument? Maybe you've walked into a home where everybody is smiling and have obviously just been laughing? Perhaps you've walked into a shop and the smiling staff immediately treat you like their most valued customer? Whether it be a home, a school, a business, or a church, tone (atmosphere) is tangible. What tone are you setting?
In hay-days of King Solomon there was a tone of joy, peace and optomism throughout Israel. Solomon had recently completed the Temple. This new centre of culture became the epicentre of the tone being set in Israel-
and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the LORD), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD,
“For he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever,”
the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud,.
Over time, Solomon's heart was lured away from the Lord and the entire tone of Israel changed. Leaders settone. When you discover that your contribution to a group, a home, a school class room, a shop, or a church, contributes to the tone there, you are exercising leadership. This is why it's important in a church for dads to set a positive and happy tone in their home - especially on Sunday morning - because the tone your family brings to church contributes to the overall tone of the church. It's also why participating in the singing with ghusto is such a positive tone contributer, and why hanging around after the service to chat (especially with newcomers) is so critical to setting a vibrant life-giving tone in a church.
What is it that sets tone in a family, a home, a school, a business or a church?
1. Initial conversation - some psychologists think that the first four minutes from when a person of influence (a leader, a dad, a mum, a principal, a boss, or a pastor) enters a room determines the tone of the room for the next few hours. When a leader enters a room and greets those there with genuine delight, and ensures that the initial conversations are positive and caring, they contribute to a warm tone. This is why it's important for a Dad not to come home grumpy to become grumpy when he walks in the door of his family home. Dads, use the first 4 minutes of your arrival home to connect positively with each family member. Engage with them happily and show an interest in their day and watch how that tone creates a healthy atmosphere in the home.2. Listening happens - people are encouraged to talk because the person of influence matters enquires and listens. Henry Cloud tells the story of a CEO who called a meeting of his district managers to explain to them the new merger their company was undertaking. Several managers asked questions about the impact of the merger upon their departments explaining that they had recruited team members from across the country who had relocated their families to new homes and schools. The CEO reasurred his District managers that they had nothing to worry about because their newly merged company would be streamlining its systems and introducing new product lines to raise the bottom line. He left that meeting and turned to Dr Henry Cloud and remarked that that meeting had gone well. Dr Cloud strongly disagreed. He told the CEO that he had not listened to his District managers, instead he had been dismissive of them. The CEO immediately disagreed with Dr Cloud. "See, you're doing it again!" replied Dr Cloud. "You didn't listen to what they were telling you and you're not listening to me now." Within 9 months this CEO was forced to leave the company. When a leader listens, a tone is set. When a leader doesn't listen, but instead dismisses what people tell them, they set a tone.3. How mistakes are managed - innocent mistakes don't mark the end, sometimes they are laughed at, sometimes they result in learning. However a leader handles mistakes contributes to the tone of a family home, a school, a business or a church. There was once a businessman who had a manager make a costly (read multi-million dollar) mistake. At the next managers' meeting it was expected that the embarrassed manager would be humiliated. Instead, at the managers' meeting the costly mistake was not mentioned. Later the boss was asked whether he was going to sack the guilty manager. "Sack him?" replied the boss, "No way! I just spent millions training him!"4. Appropriate touching - even a simple handshake can set a tone. Sometimes a hug sets a positive tone, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes a pat on the back creates a tone that affirms and disarms. When Jesus extended His hand to the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8) He set a tone that created a social tidal wave still lapping the shores of the 21st century.
When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he wanted to change the tone of their church. They had become unkind, inconsiderate, carnal (unspiritual) and proud. He wrote to them and appealed for them to create a new tone in their church. Don't tolerate sin, but do show kindness to one another.
¶ Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant.
First Corinthians 13:4
In our church we can create a tone where people are loved, accepted, and forgiven. The tone of our church can be inviting and disarming for pre-Christians. By going out of our way to welcome and take an interest in our church visitors, we create a healthy tone in our church. By inviting people back for meal we are creating a healthy tone in our church. By encouraging someone who has a go, we create a positive tone in our church. By praying for your pastor who is praying for you, we create a tone in our church. We want the tone of our church to be warm, sincere, caring, considerate, kind, compassionate, spiritual, balancing fun with fervour, and faith with hope. We don't want to be the best church in our community but the best church for our community. We want the tone of our church to be highly sensitive to what God is doing in people's lives and to be used by God to help change lives for eternity.
Father, please help us to reflect You. When we feel like snapping at someone or saying something that cuts unnecessarily, please restrain us. When we feel self-pity because although we reach out in Christian love to our brothers and sisters it won't always be repaid. Forgive us for losing heart and not pursuing You with all of our heart. May You love both the world and the Church through us. Cause us to set a tone that is inviting, welcoming and redeeming. In Jesus' Name, we pray. Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.