I Don’t Trust Dr. Ben

gp11Highly autonomous. As a predominantly autonomously driven introvert and agent provocateur, the opinion of others likely affects me far less than it might affect others. I believe that this is how God wired me. In contrast, more socially driven extroverts might be affected more by the opinion of others, and by whether or not others like or dislike them. I hope I am not caricaturing any social butterflies (who are really fun people), but only making rather broad general statements.

If you say NO, it’s DONE. To put it bluntly I might even declare–at least to myself, but not to others (I don’t want to come across as being disrespectful or uncaring or rude!)–that I could care less whether or not others like, dislike, approve or disapprove of me. In fact, I am highly motivated and encouraged to do the very opposite of what others desire or expect of me. Thus, I often tell others with a big warm cheeky smile, “If you tell me NO, it’s DONE! If you say Stop, I Go.” So, my wife has learned to use reverse psychology on me. What a wise woman she is!

A glaring blind spot? Maybe by writing this post, I might be completely refuting what I am claiming above: That I am actually quite bothered by the opinion of others, yet insisting that I am not! Perhaps so, since we all likely have glaring blind spots and glowingly positive yet rather inaccurate assessment of our true selves.

Yes and No. So am I bothered or not by the opinion of others? The honest answer is Yes and No. Yes, in the sense that all people, young and old, want to be loved and accepted and appreciated by others. At the same time, No, because I’m still going to do what I believe is right, regardless of others. The strongest single major practical restraint upon my life is whether or not it negatively affects my wife to an inordinate degree. I believe that a happy wife is a happy life. (I’m proud that I figured this out.) As a Christian, I also want to weigh my conscience based on Scripture, in particular whether or not it expresses love for God and others or not.

Spoken to others but not to me. Over the last few years, several older UBF leaders have said to others but not to me personally, “I don’t trust Dr. Ben.” Since they are older senior leaders, their opinion obviously carries weight and therefore it influences the opinion of others in UBF toward me, especially those who do not know me. For years, I simply ignored these comments, since it was not spoken to me in person, but only to others. Furthermore, my value, validation and vindication comes from God, not people. Most importantly, my life will go on in the goodness, grace and generosity of God’s overflowing abundance, regardless of their opinion of me. So why am I blogging about this?

Matthew 5:23-24 says, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”

Reconciliation. It might surprise some UBFers that the gist and thrust of the entire Bible is reconciliation. Our mission should primarily be for reconciliation, not church growth. Our discipleship should be for reconciliation, not making them Bible teachers. In my opinion, if any church fails in reconciliation, it has failed as a church, regardless of how many disciples they may raise or claim to raise.

Uncomfortable and messy. So, yes, I wish to seek reconciliation with anyone and everyone who does not trust me. I have made some private attempts at actively seeking reconciliation. God willing, I will continue to seek reconciliation, as uncomfortable and messy as this might entail.

Why don’t people trust me? These again are things I heard others say in my absence, which then are relayed to me through the grapevine. I am: bashing UBF, slamming my shepherd (Samuel Lee), tearing down UBF, ungrateful, unsupportive and jealous of UBF leaders, causing Bible students to leave UBF, not training anyone, controlling everyone at West Loop, not studying the Bible but only reading books, teaching grace but not truth, proud, rebellious, childish, immature and untrained, because Samuel Lee only loved me but never trained me!

No wonder, people don’t trust me. I might have some difficulty trusting such a person as well! Nonetheless, I wish to actively seek reconciliation, believing that it pleases and glorifies God.

Sorry for another rambling blog, which is actually all of my blogs! Sorry if this is excessively introspective. As always, I’d love to hear your take and angle on my rambling.

14 comments

  1. I just thought of another reason why some people don’t trust me. I write posts like this one!

  2. I can relate to the emotions you are expressing, Ben. In my soul I have experienced “third heaven” joy, peace and contentment beyond belief. In my work I have experienced numerous victories regarding communication, relationship building and leadership. I’ve found pockets of people in online communities who “get it” when I express my thoughts. And I’m in the process of building an actual marriage.

    So when someone shares that I am “doing Satan’s work”, it stings. I can tell from experience making absurd claims like that hurts way worse than being told your ministry has problems. When I was Mr. UBF, I was hurt by what Chris and others said, but it was a mild pain, like that of a surgeon’s knife. I healed quickly and was better off for hearing what ex-members said. But the vicious rumor mill at ubf is just dreadful to bear; the ubf rumor mill is so un-Christ-like and far more like the sin of gossip than anything we’ve ever shared on this blog.

    Like you, I just shake it off… haters gonna hate, breakers gonna break, fakers gonna fake…

  3. My other two thoughts are these:

    I have a VERY difficult time trusting anyone at ubf.

    However I CAN trust Dr. Ben, WestLoop and our ubfriends :)

    • Thanks, Brian. Though some have questioned me about this, I do trust you, even though we both have some pretty rough edges and some points of disagreement. :-)

  4. Joe Schafer

    Why do I trust Ben? Because I can count on him to be honest and say what he really thinks. He doesn’t lie to keep up appearances or to gain cheap approval. We don’t always agree. But if he doesn’t agree with me, he won’t pretend that he does. That’s the mark of a trustworthy person.

    But I don’t trust those people who don’t trust Ben. I don’t trust them because they won’t be up front and honest about why they don’t trust him. They don’t trust Ben because Ben follows his conscience rather than the ubf party line.

    • Thanks, Joe. Though some may not like you saying this, it is such a soothing comfort for me to hear you say this. Some, of course, would think that I am posting this to “get back at them.” I don’t think I can help this, other than to no longer blog publicly anymore.

  5. Hey everyone look at the title of the latest ubf.org article.

    Don’t we all need some relief from ubf? Oh wait, they mean money.

    Relief from UBF

  6. forestsfailyou
    forestsfailyou

    Reading your posts here made me trust you more than any other UBF person. You are not afraid to tell about bad things, admit wrongs. Normally the response to bad history is to just move on, look at good things, forgive.

    • I actually do want to “move on, look at good things, forgive,” and I’d like to think that in some way I have done this. Yet, I am of the firm conviction that I also need to look back and address the things that grieve and dishonor God, since they were done in His name, albeit with “good intentions.” I hope this does not come across as sanctimonious.

  7. I trust Dr Ben, Brian, Joe, Mark, David, Michael Chris and those on UBFriends. Many in UBF don’t understand that they have to earn trust just cant slap a missionary, shepherd or Pastor title on someone just because they do all that UBF requires of them and are political correct. Dr Ben is a man of integrity. He does not sweep the bad and ugly under a rug and say, “Trust God.” I sincerely hope that change is coming for the health of families, students, and the body of Christ. God will do it..starting with men of true integrity.

  8. I trust Dr. Ben because he is honest and he speaks and acts as one who is fully alive. He doesn’t try to b.s. or mislead you, rather he is upfront about what he dislikes and what he is passionate about. And most importantly, he is not afraid to admit his failings and flaws. It is very rare, in this day and age, to find someone like this in the church.

  9. Thanks, guys, friends, for your very touching comments that moved my heart. Now I have the task of not letting the nice things you’re said get to my head.

    Also, I need to brace myself to eventually hear some people say that I love ubfriends because I love being praised and “exalted” for blogging and doing nothing, while I refuse and reject real discipleship training and humbleness training in ubf.

  10. Charles Wilson
    Charles Wilson

    Hi Ben. I agree with what others have said above regarding your trustworthiness. Your article brings two things to mind regarding “trust”: 1) a personal trust (that is, of the person Ben); and 2) a trust of the UBF-man Ben (that is, this is really more an issue of compliance). You listed personal characteristics but in the reasons why people have said (behind your back) that they don’t trust you shows me that it’s about not trusting you as a worker/propagator in the UBF context, despite your decades of such as a UBF man and still claiming to love and be in UBF. In my opinion, this is also why reconciliation is not such a concern to others. Or, I am just reading and projecting my own experiences into your article!

    Maybe I am too trusting of others, but generally I like to trust others unless they have shown me otherwise, especially those who claim to believe in Jesus. I know that trust isn’t easy to earn though very easy to lose. Having a change of opinion, however, even deviating greatly from tradition or the status quo, doesn’t seem to me to be a reason to say you don’t trust someone. Which points out the lack of personal relationships with others, despite years of “co-working” together.

  11. An English professor I had once said, don’t trust the writer, but trust what she/he wrote.

    That means, we shouldn’t make assumptions about people we don’t know. But what people say, do, write, are tangible. We can “trust” that because it’s real. What we can’t trust are our own assumptions about people, their motives, and so on.

    Of course, in many ways this ministry has done the opposite. We put trust in people because of claims and suggestions and assumptions (or not trust them for the same reasons).

    We can trust in what people say and do–but we don’t have to believe them.

    The fact that Ben is “trying on” a multi-faceted postmodern identity is apparent, and I can beleive he is expressing himself and seeing what works/what doesn’t. I like that.

    And what would happen if we actually took people at what they said and did?

    I also like your comments, If you say no, it’s done. If people say no to Bible study or meetings or whatever, ok. accept it. Marionetting people in positions can sometimees work to help them come to God, but only in an Isaac sort of way (ie. in spite of everything we do wrong, it comes out right) and this is very rarely a good story.

    I also trust people when they communicate to me instead of communicating to others about me.

    Also, trust is built when people respond to criticism instead of smiling and nervously laughing and saying nothing.