Written by Jennifer Brownell
"Now there came to Ephesus a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria. He was an eloquent man, well-versed in the scriptures. He had been instructed in the Way of the Lord; and he spoke with burning enthusiasm and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the Way of God to him more accurately. And when he wished to cross over to Achaia, the believers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him." - Acts 18:24-27a
Oh, Apollos. Young and confident and brimming over with your new-found faith. You spoke boldly, only to be pulled aside by two venerable old-timers and have your preaching corrected. There is no record of Priscilla and Aquila’s words to you, no record of your response. But we do know the result. Some time later, you chose to leave their company, and you went on with their blessing to preach to others.
Sounds to me like you were Godsplained, Apollos. You’ve heard of mansplaining, right? Maybe the word Godsplaining is not as familiar, although I’m certain that what it describes is well known to you.
Unlike mansplainers, who condescend, belittle and interrupt, Godsplainers listen at least as much as they talk. Godsplainers assume good intent. Godsplainers understand when correction is needed, and explain without shaming. Godsplainers build upon the wisdom you already have. In short, when Godsplainers speak, you know that God is still speaking, because God is speaking through them.
I love your story, Apollos, because it reminds me of the Godsplainers in my own life. Those who have met me where I was, taken me aside to explain the Way, and then set me back on the path again.
Holy Friend, Thank you for speaking, still, through those whose wisdom gently but firmly meets my enthusiasm. Amen.
Jennifer Brownell is the Pastor of First Congregational Church of Vancouver, Washington, and the author of Swim, Ride, Run, Breathe: How I Lost a Triathlon and Caught My Breath, her inspiring memoir.