“Don’t shoot the messenger”
We often hear this phrase when someone has a challenging word for us or when we have to share a truthful word with someone else. The phrase, “truth hurts”, is a shared sentiment by many whether in marriage, the workplace or a church setting.
Do we, perhaps, only listen to people when their words support us and build us up? What if their words challenge and disturb? Who has spoken challenging truths to us recently and how did we react?
Defensive. This is an immediate reaction that comes to mind. We often get defensive when someone shares a challenging truth about us. Maybe the truth is related to how we communicate, or our temper, or the way we did a task at work. It feels like criticism. It feels like they don’t like us.
Angry. Mixed with a defensive reaction is anger. “How dare this person tell me to slow down”, I thought to myself when I was speeding through a parking lot full of people. IMAGINE THAT!!! I got upset because someone corrected a dangerous (and illegal) behavior of mine that could potentially put others in danger. But it was the truth. And I needed someone to remind me to slow down; to change my behavior and slow down.
We tend to be a culture that promotes a sense of entitlement. Webster’s dictionary defines entitlement as:
the state or condition of being entitled; [being] right. belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges.
We feel that if we want to drive fast in a parking lot, so help us God, WE WILL. ”It’s my car and can do with it what I please”. ”I have a voice too and it matters.” We believe we are entitled to say what we want, when we want and however we want to.
Tragically, some have been deeply wounded by a spouse, boss, manager, leader or pastor who tried to share a challenging truth without gentleness, compassion or care. The words wounded us and caused in us a posture of defensiveness we continue to carry around in the present moment.
Can you forgive the person who wounded you so that you can move forward and receive challenging truths from those who manage you, married you or minister to you?
Let’s be workers, spouses and parishioners who are open to receive challenging truths that will improve our quality of work, relationships and life.
Peace be with you.