March 2023

Topic – Faithful Civility Panel Discussion

Speaker:David Miller (CFO for UT System), Melissa Tindell (Exec. Dir. Communications for UT System)

Date: March 23rd 

Intro: Last month we explored and discussed some of the roots and fuels behind our current culture of incivility. Our intent this month is to explore the “So What?” How are we as Jesus-followers to bring our faith to bear here? As Christians, we are called to a different standard. Our lives speak more loudly than our words. We see this issue played out in the larger political and public arenas but acknowledge that it is also playing out in the hallways and watercoolers of our workplace.

We acknowledged the need to define what we mean by this word/concept. Here is our working definition of Civility: Foundational respect, whether we agree or not. Working harder to understand the other than to express your opinion. The ability to disagree agreeably.

Question 1 Where have you seen and experienced incivility in your spheres? How do you approach and address it as Christ-followers?

Question 2 Do the people you work with know that you are a Christian? Is there reluctance or fear in letting them know? What are the sources of this?

Question 3 When you fail, what is/should be the response? How do we own our failings? Think through the importance and power of this.

Question 4 Take some time to think about what your onramps to civility could be. Can you adopt some godly Rules of Engagement?


We encounter issues of civility and incivility daily – at a macro level and at very personal micro levels. It is helpful to have a Jesus-way of addressing them.

Some of our thoughts:

Remember that people are Imago Dei – created in the image of God. Remember and practice the Fruit of the Spirit daily – especially in challenging places and with challenging people.


  • Relationship – is fertile soil. Rhetoric and argument are unhelpful and unfruitful. The better way is understanding, listening, kindness, curiosity, empathy, seeking to know and be known.
  • Humility – from genuine vulnerability, able to admit our failings and ignorances.
  • Faith – in God and his sovereign control despite the mess; in Truth that will ultimately set us free.
  • Prayer – Lots of conversations with God along the way.


  • Look first for common ground. Chances are good that you have 95+% that you agree on. Start there and keep it in mind.
  • Don’t assume a negative motive. Ask instead. Seek to understand their perspective.
  • Personalize everything: In place of broad generalizations (Well, UT said…) ask who at UT said…
  • Find ways to turn down the volume, don’t be a part of the fruitless noise.
  • Invite dialogue – “Tell me more about…” “Tell me how you came to believe…”
  • Always talk substance over soundbites. The broader the discourse, the less substantive it is.
  • Asking questions is always more productive than making statements. They are conversation starters vs enders.

Next month we’ll explore the Civility of Jesus in scripture.

April 20th, 11:15 am at the Christian Student Center on Melrose

As always Lunch is Provided. Please register via our website.

Thoughts on Shepherding

As we meet with top administrators and leaders two needs continue to rise to the forefront – Civility and Mental Health. We have begun to dialog on different aspects of Faith and Civlity this Spring semester. This Summer we will be test-piloting a new training initiative called Shepherds’ Abbey.

Shepherds’ Abbey is a practical resource to help leaders be aware of and care for the needs of others as they walk with God and cultivate healthy and flourishing communities. Please stay tuned to learn how you and others can participate and take advantage of this new resource.


What we are praying for you:

May God grant you an abundance of His wisdom. May He prepare your hearts to welcome and love our university and students. May they show you love and respect in return. May God give you grace as you help those who aren’t thriving, courage to say what needs to be said, tools and knowledge on how and when to speak love, and strength when they feel weak. When you feel unseen, May He remind you that no moment goes unnoticed. That He is using you to shape the future in one million small – yet significant – ways every day. May God bless you and grant you peace.

How you can pray for us:

  • Please pray for us as we trust God to raise up new partners for this next phase of growth with Collegiate Abbey.
  • Please pray for our families and spouses, for their safety and protection and flourishing.
  • Please pray for our April events and the details to come together.
  • Please pray for our new resource “Shepherd’s Abbey” which is currently in development.

britton sharp

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