Posts Tagged honest talk
I wise mentor once said to me, “If you want to know what people really want, watch what happens.” Words are fine, actually more than fine. I love words. I make a living putting words on the page in a particular order to get a particular message out. But when it comes to character, watching what happens will tell you more about a person than their words.
Watching what you do will also tell you what you really want, no matter what you insisted upon verbally. I can tell you I’m over your slight when you stood me up at the movie theater. It’s OK. All is forgiven. But if you call me again and get the cold shoulder, you’ll know what I really think.
Words can be used as a subterfuge, to disguise our real desires and inclinations. Words can be true and direct, or they can misguide. But it’s much harder to cover up with our actions. Our actions display what we really want.
This is true even of larger issues. People have ended relationships–marriages, jobs, business associations, sports teams, etc.–not by stating openly that they want out. Rather, they acted out until someone else–a spouse, boss, coach, etc.–ended the relationship for them. This gives the one who wanted out the advantage of being “out” without taking responsibility. They can say, “He left me!” “They fired me!” “The coach threw me off the team!” But it’s what they truly wanted all along.
The tricky part is, sometimes we act out what we really want, yet we are so adept at self-deception that we don’t realize what we’re doing. We can complain about happened–and mean it. We can feel the pain of loss and the grief of separation–and it’s real. But something down deep really wanted the outcome we got.
As my wise mentor said, “If you want to know what people really want, watch what happens.”
Last evening a commercial came on for Happy Campers, think Pillow Pet that zips into its ‘home”. At the end of the ad to a peppy tune, the seemingly hypnotized child’s voice sang “Happy Campers make everything better.” While I am sure that Happy Campers add a bit of stuffed animal fun to life, I seriously doubt that they make everything better.
In our world filled with noise and words clamoring for our attention and our funds, these types of claims become more and more hyperbolic. Recently after visiting our branch bank we received a call to ask about our experience. As the questions proceeded the bank representative said “Could you imagine a world without our bank?”
Yes, as a matter of fact I can. Having moved as often as I have I don’t tend to exude tremendous bank loyalty. Yet, after the call I was astounded of the bank’s self importance and desire to give life to such a claim from satisfied customers like me.
In a world filled with noise we are all tempted at times to aggrandize a statement or two to get attention. We may do this so that what we have to share might break through the cacophony of sound that floods our age.
We may do this for a completely different reason. At some point we have felt the need to firm up our answer or add a bit more emphasis. “I really mean it this time.” Behind this assertion is the fact that in the past we dropped the ball or that we didn’t mean it last time.
“Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No”; anything more than this comes from the evil one.”* (Matthew 5:37) Jesus in His continual desire to not merely address our behavior, but the heart behind it, prompts us to consider our verbal responses. Any time we are tempted to strengthen our response we need to consider our motivation.
At times it is because we haven’t kept our word in the past. Why not? Sometimes it is because we have been unavoidably detained. Other times it is because we have said “yes” too casually, when our true setting was “no”, or maybe we have said “yes” to so many opportunities that there is no possible way that our schedules would allow. Either way we have a verbal integrity issue that stems from the heart.
Casual “yes” often means that we like saying “yes” to people. “No” seems so mean, unless of course you aren’t going to follow through on your “yes”. Often this stems from not caring enough for people to tell them the truth, but selfishly offering “yes” to appease ourselves in the short run. With a heart that is too concerned with people pleasing casual “yes” quickly erodes our verbal integrity.
The “yes” to everything can stem from inability to really assess our time or a covetousness heart that wants to do it all. In the fullness of God’s love we for us we are entrusted with limited time. This time constraint necessitates prioritization, seeking first, so that we can do the things that are most important. “Yes” to everything can be a desire to live outside the bounds that God gives us as stewards of our time. Filled with the hunger to do it all, we schedule three things as once and realize that one of the things we can’t do is be counted on.
In a world of noise we all need people who we can count on. “Yes” may not ring with the bravado of our culture, but there is true blessing in consistently maintaining verbal integrity.
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