I have been thinking about this for as long as a few years and as short as the last few minutes. So here is what I have harvested in that time.
Often others do things that we don't agree with, or that we consider wrong. Sometimes those things are just irritants to us and at other times it is sin. Matt. 18 gives us a clear directive if it is sin, but what if it is just not the way that we would want it done?
I have watched many others struggle, and I have struggled, with this. It is really difficult to be forbearing with others. When others are doing something that we think is totally the wrong way to go about it, we want to give our opinion as God's Truth. We may want to make it a sin to do it the way they are doing it, so that we can call them on the carpet and make them change. Well, if it is sin, then we are commanded to say something. BUT if it preference then I/we need to remember that we are only accountable to God for our actions, not the actions and attitudes of others. We will not have to give an account for what they are doing, or saying, but we will have to give an account for our words, actions and attitudes.
I was reading this morning and came upon this section in Thomas a' Kempis' book. It is not difficult to read, but I think it is right on. Have a look.
"WE MUST not rely too much upon ourselves, for grace and understanding are often lacking in us. We have but little inborn light, and this we quickly lose through negligence. Often we are not aware that we are so blind in heart. Meanwhile we do wrong, and then do worse in excusing it. At times we are moved by passion, and we think it zeal. We take others to task for small mistakes, and overlook greater ones in ourselves. We are quick enough to feel and brood over the things we suffer from others, but we think nothing of how much others suffer from us. If a man would weigh his own deeds fully and rightly, he would find little cause to pass severe judgment on others.
The interior man puts the care of himself before all other concerns, and he who attends to himself carefully does not find it hard to hold his tongue about others. You will never be devout of heart unless you are thus silent about the affairs of others and pay particular attention to yourself. If you attend wholly to God and yourself, you will be little disturbed by what you see about you.
Where are your thoughts when they are not upon yourself? And after attending to various things, what have you gained if you have neglected self? If you wish to have true peace of mind and unity of purpose, you must cast all else aside and keep only yourself before your eyes.
You will make great progress if you keep yourself free from all temporal cares, for to value anything that is temporal is a great mistake. Consider nothing great, nothing high, nothing pleasing, nothing acceptable, except God Himself or that which is of God. Consider the consolations of creatures as vanity, for the soul that loves God scorns all things that are inferior to Him. God alone, the eternal and infinite, satisfies all, bringing comfort to the soul and true joy to the body."
True peace and a clear conscience come from looking at ourselves as we truly are and not worrying about what others think of us and what others are doing. I can get wrapped up in what others are doing and saying, but that is not where God wants me to be. He wants me in His Word and to follow it as closely as I can, and let Him take care of the rest.
If you are a leader, you have a much greater responsibility to get this right than others do, because many eyes are watching what we do and are trying to model their lives after ours. This is weighty, but God gives us the position we have and the grace and faith to be in that position. Be humble and receptive to others input in your life. They may be the only eyes that can see what is really going on at this moment.