4 Questions to Consider Before Speaking Truth
Recently I was having a conversation with a friend who was frustrated that someone who she barely knows felt like she had the right to confront her about some things in her life. My friend acknowledged that she could use some guidance but this was not a person in her life that she felt knew her well enough to approach her with this “truth”. So right off the bat it made my friend skeptical of her intentions and less likely to be willing to listen.
Friends let’s talk about speaking truth for a minute. One of the things that REALLY bugs me about social media and the internet in general is that somehow it’s become acceptable to fling our “truth” to anyone out there.
And by truth I mean pretty much what we think on any topic at any given time.
Here’s why that doesn’t work:
Trust is essential to vulnerability and in order to truly influence a person’s viewpoint we need to first establish a relationship.
Social media is filled with what we call in the Daring Way™ the “cheap seats”. Using the metaphor of an arena as a place where courage is displayed, the cheap seats are filled with critics who are ready to throw tomatoes (or worse) at you in the form of anonymous criticism.
But “I have the right to my opinion”, we say. They’re asking for it by being online.
Well sort of. I’m not going to address why individuals sometimes choose to over-share online cause that’s a whole other topic. . . But yes in this day and age we all have the “right” to voice our opinions but here’s the thing, unless I know you, unless we have a relationship and I know you are personally invested in my life I don’t actually have to care about your opinion.
That may sound a bit harsh but we don’t have to let everyone speak into our lives. Not all opinions are equal. The truth is that if I’m struggling with something I will seek someone out that I trust; a close friend and mentor because they have earned the right to speak into my life.
How have they earned that right?
By listening. By being involved. By practicing non-judgement. By spending time with me. By respecting my boundaries.
All of that is earned over time through relationship.
If you’re not in the arena getting your butt kicked too, I’m not interested in your feedback. -Brene’ Brown
Most of the people we interact with on social media have not earned that right.
And this goes for my Christian friends too, maybe especially. I see it all the time someone posts something that another person might disagree with theologically and all of a sudden there’s an all-out battle on their Facebook page. Or all the open-letters to people we’ve? What are we hoping to accomplish?
We want to “speak truth in love” and stuff, right? Guys, let’s not. At least not like that.
We cannot use the Bible as a weapon to virtually thump someone on the head with that we don’t actually have a relationship with in real life.
That’s not the way of Jesus. He transformed lives because He got to know individuals. His disciples followed Him even to death because they trusted Him with everything.
Get to know your people. Get to know the families in your church, take that young mom out for coffee, listen to her heart and earn her trust. Get to know your neighbors. Invest in people. Then and only then should we even consider speaking “truth” (with love and with grace) into their lives.
If there’s no pre-existing relationship we can’t really expect to influence.
When faced with the opportunity to speak into a person’s life let’s consider the following questions:
- Have I earned the right to speak into this person’s life?
- What do I hope to accomplish/ what outcome am I expecting by sharing this feedback?
- Can I provide feedback without shaming or blaming this person?
- Am I willing to engage in conversation, ask questions and seek to understand this person’s perspective better?
And let’s also remember to seek out truthful feedback from trustworthy sources first.
What are some things you consider helpful when giving or receiving feedback? Let me know in the comments.
I go to Cornerstone. I think speaking the truth in love is helpful. I could certainly use better modes of communication with friends and colleagues in this area. Sometimes rebukes are helpful. A friend recently made a pretty firm distinction with me on an area of life which was not glorifying God. It hurt to hear. I felt it was judgemental. But that was my flesh not wanting to give up my sin. The bible instructs us to judge one another. Sometimes God comes as a Lion and sometimes as a Lamb. I course corrected and am happy I submitted eventually to the firm warning. I am grateful that though we don’t always deliver it well- it is fruitful if heeded. Sometimes upon meeting people Jesus spoke harshly to them- if they were in the wrong. Once- he corrected Peter pretty profoundly regarding not being derailed from The Fathers’ plan. It is a balance of grace and truth I think. Ideally, we know the people before speaking truth in love- but sometimes folks will do so without knowing us at all. I think these are good guidelines you laid out. I guess I just wonder your thoughts on the scripture “God corrects those He loves.” and if this correction is ever done in anger – anger for truth and rooted in love.
Thanks for your feedback!
Hi Kristen, thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. And I definitely agree that rebukes are not only helpful but necessary. You stated that you had a friend point out something that was not glorifying God, my point in this post is primarily that we are more willing to receive correction from those we trust. There are many examples in the Bible where Jesus connected with someone in a personal way before pointing out their negative behavior. As Christians I believe we absolutely need to be rooted in God’s truth and be willing to share it. My concern is more about social media and less intimate spaces where we haven’t necessarily made a connection with a person and yet want to share our opinion on how that person is living without actually knowing them on a personal level. Unfortunately I see that a lot lately. I just personally think trust and a relationship is essential in allowing ourselves to receive correction. I think that’s even true in relation to God. Of course God corrects those He loves, but those of us who have a relationship with Him and going to be much more willing to receive that correction because we trust Him too. I hope this clarifies a little bit more. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, really appreciate it!