In just 5 year short years of ministry, I’ve already sat through more staff meetings than I can remember, or even care to. There are few that stick out in my mind. One of the most memorable staff meetings to me occurred while I was the Associate Children’s Pastor at Life Center in Tacoma, Wa. We were either getting ready to host, or had just hosted Dr. John Perkins (a leader in racial reconciliation) at our church. As were planning or recapping our time with him, the lead pastor started talking about tolerance, and I don’t know what came over me, but in a quiet moment, I mumbled “I hate tolerance.”
You could hear a pin drop in the room. In a calm and non-judgemental way, I was questioned about my statement. “Brad, what do you mean by that?” I was young and had not fully thought out the statement yet, but I have since articulated it much better than I did that day. I hate tolerance because it is the lowest level of acceptance between two people. In fact, tolerance implies a level of unacceptability, a forced, unenjoyable relationship. Think about the last thing that you tolerated. What was it you tolerated? An annoying noise you could not figure out? An old car, while saving money for a new one? A dead-end job? How did you feel about it? Probably not good.
Tolerance by definition (of the dictionary app on my MacBook Pro) means: “1 the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with; the capacity to endure continued subjection to something, esp. a drug, transplant, antigen, or environmental conditions, without adverse reaction.” To me, tolerance does not sound like you enjoy or even like; it certainly does not include love. Tolerance says, “I don’t like this, but it is not going to go away, so I’ll put up with it.”
I propose to you: don’t tolerate, choose love. Love is the highest form of acceptance. Love says, “I don’t have to accept you, but I want to. I will serve you, respect you, and treat you better than I would like to be treated.” Love accepts someone without regard to their political belief, lifestyle, or differences. Love does not “tolerate” someone while passing judgement.
Choose love today, and everyday.