When it comes to working with church leaders, I’ve found that the word “NICE” is one of the most problematic four-letter-words. In terms of damage done to the church, I rank it as way more dangerous than any f-bomb someone might drop.
I’ve tried, but I can’t trace the origins of when “nice” became a Christian value, but we should all rue that day. “Nice” Christians rarely tell the truth if the truth wouldn’t be “politically correct.” They pretend everything is all right, even when their church is in a tailspin. And “Nice” Christians find it offensive to hold someone accountable for their behaviors. Does your church have a bully who terrorizes church leaders from making decisions that would carry the church forward? When I mention Matthew 18:15–17 to the board too often I hear, “But it wouldn’t be nice to tell Bully Kelly to either behave or s/he has to leave.”
Take a look at the New Testament through realistic eyes. Jesus was kind, but nice? Hardly. He wasn’t above pointing his finger and loudly identifying hypocrites for everyone to see. He never once offered to change his plan or soften his expectations just because someone might be offended. And don’t forget, the “repent or leave the church” idea came from Jesus himself.
What about Paul? Anyone under the delusion that he was “nice”? “Give that man over to Satan” (1 Cor 5:5) just doesn’t sound very “nice.” And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Not being nice doesn’t give us permission to be mean … we’re called to be “kind” to one another (1 Thess 5:15) and to everyone else, for that matter. But kind is not synonymous with “nice.” It’s not kind to overlook bad behavior – not for the bully, not for the victim, and not for the church. It’s not kind to allow staff or volunteers who say “Yes” to a ministry but don’t have the time or energy (or passion) to bring it to fruition to continue as church leaders.
Nice isn’t an authentic Christian value and the word should be expunged from our vocabulary … at least it should be if a church plans on being effective, faithful, and sustainable.