Why do I have to be the bad cop?

By Gerry Lewis | Published Wednesday, August 13, 2014

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You are likely familiar with the phrase “good cop/bad cop.”

Before I continue, I must offer the disclaimer that I mean no disrespect to any law enforcement personnel by using this familiar terminology. In fact, there are a couple of local police officers I have known almost their entire lives. I love them like family. If they catch me violating the traffic laws, I hope they will love me like family… and give me the ticket I deserve with a smile and a hug.

But I digress.

Good cop/bad cop seems to happen when two officers are working as a team to get information out of a suspect. One plays it tough and intimidating; informing the suspect of how bad it could go for him. The other offers encouragement and a cup of coffee; explaining how the suspect can help himself by helping them.

At least that’s the way it goes on the shows I watch.

I am not a policeman, nor do I play one on television but I am, by nature, a good cop. God has wired me with a natural bent toward encouragement, generosity and mercy.

In times of crisis and stress, I tend to be the diplomatic, calming influence; making sure that everyone is OK. That’s the positive side. The negative side is that I so want people to like me that I am sometimes hesitant to say the hard, but helpful, things. I would much rather be the perpetual good cop and let someone else deal with harsh realities and possible consequences.

Maybe some of you can relate. It works out great when we can walk away from a situation and be seen as the hero – the one who stepped in and calmed things down, then rode off into the sunset. (I’ve watched a lot of westerns, too.)

But it’s an unbalanced, and sometimes detrimental, approach in situations where we have ongoing, deep connections… like parent relationships, friendships and mentoring/supervisory relationships.

The biblical book of Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings that address practical issues of life. There are some verses within Proverbs 27 that help me with this whole good cop/bad cop dilemma: “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” (27:5-6). “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (27:17).

Rebuke? Wounds? Seriously?

The key word is “friend.” Because I am by nature an encourager, I will only say the hard things to people I love, and only when they are moving in a destructive direction. A knife is not sharpened by a soft polishing cloth, but by another piece of metal with just the proper amount of abrasion.

Our lives matter so much to God that He puts us in “sharpening” relationships so that we can speak the truth in love and help one another on life’s journey.

Hmmm… B.A.D.C.O.P… Being Available Daily, Creating Opportunities for Progress.

Dr. Gerry Lewis, author, blogger, church consultant and leadership coach, serves as executive director of the Harvest Baptist Association headquartered in Decatur.

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