keep your big mouth shut

keep your big mouth shut May 19, 2013
keep your big mouth shut cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
(click on image to check out David’s art)

There have been many times in my church career when opening my big mouth has led to my departure. The first time I was naive and challenged something thinking that someone would care. The next time I was less naive but still nervous that I wouldn’t be heard. The next time after that I absolutely knew that opening my mouth about an issue would lead to my dismissal.

It had even been suggested to me that I should run all my thoughts and cartoons and writing through my superiors before publishing them.

I hate gag orders both real and implied. On one dismissal I was actually told to sign a gag order in order to receive not only a severance package but the rest of my pay that was owed me. I refused to sign. Call it stubborn. Call it stupid. But I walked away free. I hear from people every day who have done the same thing. It’s more common than we know because once you’re outside the system you can lose the venue where they can be heard. Unless you start a blog or something.

There are times in our lives when we absolutely know that taking the risk and opening our big mouths is going to cost us something. Certainly we know it is going to upset the order of things. Things will change. Maybe not the thing your challenging but your association with it and its association with you.

I was just talking to someone the other day who misses church. But he can’t bring himself to go because he said he has to compromise too much, he has to concede too much, he has to effectively shut off the largest part of who he is. And he’s not willing to make that deal.

The woman in this cartoon… her partner doesn’t realize that her big mouth is attached to a big mind. He would rather play by the rules so he can continue playing the game. She’d rather not. They have some talking to do.

If you can find a place where you don’t have to play the gag game, then I celebrate that with you. If you can’t, then simply admit it and find a way to move on from there.

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  • Pat68

    For some of us, I just think it’s a part of who we are. Some would say we’re troublemakers, rabblerousers, cantankerous, difficult–call it what you will. But, if asking honest questions or making suggestions that are out of the box makes me those things, then guilty as charged. I just can’t sit idly by when I notice something that seems amiss and not comment. One sign of a place you might want to consider leaving, is if they are threatened by questions, new ideas or dialogue.

  • Chester

    Right on, DAVID !

    This fellow is in absolute agreement with the principle you use as your standard insofar as gag etc. agreements are concerned. The problem with many superiors in our corporate world ( including the religious organization world ), is their fear that a subordinate will replace them if allowed to think independently with the brain God gave them. It is often referred as rocking the boat.

  • Aviatrix

    Yep, this is one big reason I left the church. Of course, nowadays I don’t think I could sit through a sermon without getting really annoyed, standing up and saying, not “Amen”, but “No, that’s wrong! What it really says is this, and what Jesus did was…” So no church for me.

    Gag or non-disclosure or “I won’t sue you” agreements to receive severance are not uncommon, but not paying you earned wages for time worked is illegal (sorry, my manager “red alert” just went off). But I know you were just glad to be out of there.

  • Helen

    This is exactly why I stopped going to church. I felt like I had to bite my tongue and stifle my true self. I’m considering going back, but I’ve promised myself (and warned my husband!) that this time I won’t be keeping my big mouth shut.

  • Adam Julians

    Yeah that sounds like a tough one with the gaging order.

    Well there is a prominent Evangelical leader here in Scotland that i have just got into a ding dong with. Could have caused mysefla problem on that one. The background is that the Church of Scotland is currently comgin to a decison of the the ordination of gay clergy. This leader, part of the Free Church. which in history brok away from the church of scotland. has stated “Today the Church is again being asked to follow the fashions of the Establishment and go against the Word of God…. Our only hope is not in Church politics but in Christ”. Well, the church he leads does have a complimentarian stance, no female leaders or elders and his position on homosexuality is that homosexual practise is is a sin.

    My response? “I have to, on all consciousness in Christ caution against tribalism
    and an anti C of S rhetoric [that does have female leaders and is considering ordaining gay clergy] in the light of the agreement I have with the assertion you have made about the centrality of Christ, not church politics”.

    His reply? Adam – you completely misunderstand both me and the post….! I have no interest in tribalism nor in ant- C of S rhetoric… But if you want me to go gentle on those who have sold the church down the river, and sold their birthright for a mess of potage….forget it! I am tired of being called ‘narrow’, an ‘extremist’ , ‘tribal’ or whatever whenever I have spoken about this issue. Most people said I was exaggerating and things were not as bad as I said. I admit I was wrong. Not because I went too far – but because I did not go far enough.

    Whew – I admit i was unprpader for that – caught me off guard. Not sleeping after this and how the conversation developed on facebook. Help me out folks – did i make myself too vulnerable in sharing what was on my conscience before Christ — and cautioning against being trbalist and anti Church of Scotland rhetoric? Would be nice to ease my anxiety and get my sleep back on track! Me and my big mouth!

  • I can relate to this. 🙂