by David Briggs, Huffington Post, 6/1/16.
Humility. Intellectual humility in particular.
New research projects are finding the more pastors are perceived to be intellectually humble, the more likely they are to be forgiven by people who took offense at something they said or did.
This was especially the case in one study for perceived transgressions in the area of religious beliefs, values or convictions, core areas of religious identity that have the potential to tear asunder congregations.
All congregations are going to go through “relational wear and tear,” and the tension can be particularly high when strongly held religious beliefs are threatened, researchers said.
But humble clergy who model openness and mutual respect may provide the “social oil” that keeps the congregation from overheating and breaking under the strain, new research indicates.
Listening to others
…Humility involves being other-oriented and having an accurate view of your own strengths and weaknesses.
Intellectual humility includes being open to new ideas and being able to regulate arrogance. Thus, intellectually humble individuals are able to present their own ideas “in a nonoffensive manner and receive contrary ideas without taking offense,” said researchers reporting on studies of intellectual humility and religious leadership. The team, led by researchers from Georgia State University, found intellectual humility was associated with higher levels of trust, openness and agreeableness.
“…The more victims perceived the religious leader to have intellectual humility, the more they reported being able to forgive him or her,” reported the study’s researchers, led by Joshua Hook of the University of North Texas.
It is the unusual congregation that can avoid internal tensions for too long.
More than six in 10 congregations reported some kind of conflict in the past five years, according to the 2015 Faith Communities Today study.
…More than a quarter of all congregations experienced a conflict in the last two years that led some people to leave the congregation, according to the 2006-2007 National Congregations Study. Nine percent of congregations experienced a conflict that led to the departure of a clergyperson or other religious leader.