I went to grab one of my favorite coffee cups this morning and the handle felt strange, like it was “gloppy”, sticky or hadn’t been cleaned well. I mindlessly rubbed it for a second and it became clear quickly that this was more than a little incomplete washing. I observed more carefully (challenging to do since I was still anticipating my first cup of morning coffee), and it became obvious that the handle was actually collected fragments glued together. 😦 Someone had broken the cup handle, decided not to tell me, and instead glued the evidence back together – I suppose in the hope that I wouldn’t notice? Fat chance! (My friends know I have a bit of a mug fetish…)
This situation reminded me of an “ice breaker” question I once heard… if you were at a friend’s house and the toilet wouldn’t flush after you were in the bathroom, would you tell the host/hostess, or would you try to slip out unobserved and not go through the shame of admitting the fact… and the need for help?
I was greatly surprised at how many people responded that they would be too em-barrassed to tell the truth! As a homeowner with the gift of hospitality who has LOTS of people in her home ALL the time… I can tell you, I WANT TO KNOW if my toilet isn’t functioning!! I want to be able to fix it and not have the problem get worse with time (no more detail needed, right?).
I also WANT to know if someone broke my mug… not because I really care that much; I just greatly prefer knowing to being surprised by the fact when I groggily reach for my mug in the morning.
I realize that in order to encourage people to tell me the truth, I need to respond correctly when they do… and it is much easier to respond well to a broken mug or a malfunctioning toilet than to respond well to an observed character flaw or an opposing opinion or a poor performance review. It is my responsibility to aggressively invite truthful feedback and appropriately consider what they say… This isn’t always easy, and I want to grow in this area. My reaction to the truth will greatly affect whether people follow through and tell me the truth when I ask for it.
Help me learn more… Do you prefer to hear the truth? What helps you respond well when someone “gives it to you straight”?
Just thought of another principle…from 1 Thess 5:14…”and we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” I need to check my motive when I give truth. Is my goal to give out truth or to help the other person? I need to remember to ask, “What does this person need in this moment?” Maybe he is already down and beating himself up with truth. The truth that person needs to hear is the truth about grace, love forgiveness etc. Truth does not have to be like yucky medicine and conflictive. Truth can come in the form of help and encouragement. Like we read in Elmer’s book about service being defined by the one being served, I wonder if giving truth and how we give it is better defined and accepted by the needs of the hearer…not the one giving it.
When I was little, sometimes my mom gave me yucky medicine or crushed up aspirin mixed with a little sugar. I got the medicine I needed to get well, but it never tasted so bad. Wonder if that is a metaphor for giving truth? Like the Mary Poppins song…a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down, in the most delightful way…Great post!
Yes, a bit of “sugar” helps – especially for children… as adults, I think we may need to be mature and take the “medicine” even if it doesn’t “taste good”, but when it is up to us, we certainly can help make it easier by adding sweet grace to the truth. Thanks, Steve!
They can give it to me straight, but it needs to be done with grace as well. Don’t blast me. Give me some positive feedback first so that I can feel better about myself. 🙂 I, too, have experienced the “Let’s not tell Mom” syndrome around my house. Never good.
Certainly! Truth given with grace is the best kind! 🙂 We all can use to give and receive more grace!