The Kind, The True, The Necessary

art by Coren “Kizer” Stone

I found some notes I jotted down from a sermon by Dudley Rutherford some years ago. Anything of wisdom you find below originated with him; any imbecilic ramblings are mine.

Before we say anything to anybody, as Christians we should ask ourselves:

Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?

What’s also important is that we ask these questions in that order.

To be kind doesn’t mean to be accommodating or enabling; it means to show the person/s we’re communicating with a modicum of respect as human beings.

Not be cruel, insulting, dismissive, judgmental.

Please” and “thank you” have an important place in public discourse.

But showing respect does not meant rubberstamping the actions, words, or beliefs of another.

Being kind means being willing to point out where another may be going astray.[1]

It does not mean ridiculing them, though sometimes cloaking an observation in humor or irony may help get the message across easier.

Why is being kind #1 w/a bullet in Christian communication?

Because nobody will listen if they don’t think we care.

It would be like translating your message into a code only you can understand then attempting to get others to read it.

Not.

Gonna.

Happen.

You will be tuned out, turned off.

And  by the same judgment you make on others, you[2] will be judged.

And dismissed.

And insulted.

And ridiculed.

Talk to others the way you want them to talk to you.

It’s important that what we say be true.

Now, there’s a difference between bearing false witness (“That’s him, officer!”) and polite fictions (“Great haircut!”).

We can tell if a person is looking for genuine input to make a decision or fishing for compliments.

But there are times when it becomes necessary to speak truthfully and frankly.

The first thing we have to do is make sure we are in full possession of the facts.

Few things are more ridiculous, more schadenfreude-inducing than watching someone pompously hoist themselves on their own petard.[3]

Unless you want to bring tears of joy and unrestrained hilarity into the lives of others, make sure you’ve got your own facts correct before wading in.

‘Nuff sed.

Finally, is it necessary that you bring this up?

99 times out of 100 the person already knows -- they just don’t want to acknowledge that they know because they are embarrassed or because they’ve decided they like things the way they are or because there’s some unseen factor that’s influencing their situation.

The purpose of an intervention in AA is not to make the drunk aware of the fact they have a drinking problem.

They know that already.

It’s to make them aware that other people will no longer be enabling their drinking problem.

But that these people still love them and care about them.

And they want to encourage them to voluntarily take the steps necessary to change for the better.

You don’t call an intervention when a teen sneaks his first beer, or when a dinner guest has one drink too many (though you may want to call them a cab).

Your friend is aware his ass looks huge in those pants.  It’s not necessary to tell him.

Your sister is aware her husband is a bum.  It’s not necessary to tell her.

And it’s really not never ever necessary to bring up something that’s just your own @#%&ing opinion.

You keep that one lip zipped, taped over, locked tight.

Offer it only when it’s asked for…

…and then make doubly / triply / quadruply sure they really want your opinion before offering it.[4]

Y’know what’s always necessary?  Listening.

I posted at the top that before we say anything as Christians we should consider these points.

But by “say” I mean “draw” or “write” or “put pixel to screen” or any of a thousand and one means of communication we have at our disposal.

We are here to help, not to hurt.

We are here to help build bridges, not cast down stumbling blocks.

We are here…to hear.

.

.

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[1]  Wisdom & discernment abso-mutha-luvin’-lutely needed here, folks.

[2]  And by “you” I mean YOU, Buzz Dixon.

[3]  This is why political panel debates are so much fun.

[4]  Ask ‘em to pay for it.  That separates the men from the boys.

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