I admit. Nothing was agreed beforehand about payment. My bad for assuming, but I did assume there was a standard payment for this kind of public speaking. Nevertheless, only twice in my multi-decade speaking career did I not get paid when I likely should have, and this was one time. So I am left to guess if what I shared at the annual convention wasn’t exactly what they were expecting and maybe that’s why I wasn’t paid.
My topic was unity. The reason I was assigned this topic was that two civic organizations in one town were merging into one, and the convention was launching the newly-birthed organization. Perhaps they were expecting a feel-good, pat-on-the-back type of address that day. That’s not exactly what I gave them.
I’m not an obnoxious speaker, and I despise extremism in addressing crowds, but knowing what was happening, I couldn’t simply present a blah, blah, feel-good speech about the glories of unity.
Unity is glorious, but getting there isn’t. Disunity is one of the most common villains of life, and unity is one of the hardest virtues in life to maintain.
I told them this.
I said, “Unity draws blood.”
We are all created with unique differences. We view life from different perspectives. Our values vary.
Traditionally, historically, commonly, it was (and is) our differences that divide—or create DIS-unity.
Yet the glory of unity is in finding the glory in diversity. We are all created with unique differences because God knew that this is the way we would grow stronger and become better. When we learn to celebrate diversity, instead of resisting it, quenching it, denying it, fighting it, dividing over it, or controlling it, we find a treasure hidden in a field.
Perhaps I shocked the convention a bit when I said: “You don’t need humility to attain unity.” I paused and then finished with a phrase I commonly use, “You need brutal humility.”
Unity is the fruit of strong character, maturity, and godliness. Unity is the way of love. It is the outflow of those willing to embrace Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13:4: “Love suffers long…bears all things…endures all things.” And Paul, again, in Philippians 2:3: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” It is embracing Peter’s words in 1 Peter 4:8: “Love covers a multitude of sins.”
Yep! Unity draws blood. On any level—can’t get it any other way. But honestly, that’s not necessarily a negative thing. Attaining unity, though hard, is an incredible blessing. It’s through the grace of God, the blood of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit, that unity, at any level, can be actualized. I like what Ruthie says to me often when a challenge shows its ugly face, or when we seem to be on different pages: “No matter what, we’re in this together!” Now that’s a platform for unity!
“Let us labor to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).
In my book, Kingdom Culture, we explore some of the foundational concepts that will help you understand the fullness of the kingdom culture.
What do you think of when I say, “Unity is glorious, but getting there isn’t”?