I like people that tell the truth. I appreciate talented communicators: artists, poets, writers, storytellers, comedians, teachers, journalists, film makers. Sometimes pastors, sometimes politicians. I think it’s fascinating that pastors and politicians are in a different category. It makes sense. We expect a lot from someone who is speaking for God or in theoretical charge of everything.
It’s interesting too that some genres of communication are often maligned and carry a bad reputation. Am I going to lecture you about this now? Am I going to give you a sermon and start preaching? Maybe. I love lectures and sermons. Fascinating and powerful modes of communication if done well. Talk about negative connotations though… lecture, sermon. Yikes.
I like people that tell the truth, and it is important to note that we are all capable of this activity. For some, it is their job. I think it’s important to realize that truth can come from any source. A lot of our difficulties in discerning true things is our stupid inclination to believe that some sources are always right or always wrong.
And telling the truth is tricky because we don’t always want to hear it. We aren’t ready for it. It is easier to not know, or not face it directly. I like the truth, but it’s painful to hear, and to speak. I just listened to an author interview video with Donald Miller and he said that he has lost several friendships because people asked him to give them feedback on a book. He told them what they needed to fix. They said they were done. He said that they had a year left, at least. He said that now when people ask him to read through a book he asks this:
Do you want me to affirm you or do you want me to criticize the work?
We need a lot of people in our lives. I think that’s important. We need people that affirm and support and encourage. And we need people to be honest and direct and accurate about the specifics in our lives and in our work. We don’t want a doctor that is too worried about our feelings to tell us that ______ is wrong with us. We don’t want a … you get the idea.
This stanza from a Wendell Berry poem has been in my head all day:
To be sane in a mad time
is bad for the brain, worse
for the heart. The world
is a holy vision – a clarity that men
depend on men to make.
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