Quick, what is the best advice you've ever received? Your answer should not include words like 'yellow' and 'snow'! No really, have you had sage advice given you from wise people? I sure hope so. If you haven't then I'll have to assume you weren't open to advice or you weren't listening. Horrors! Please say it's not so!
A year ago, Tracie and I took part in solid leadership training from the Orange Tour held in Mt Joy, PA and were filled with great teachings from some leading gurus in leadership development. One such fellow was Jon Acuff. Acuff mixes humor, holy conversations and straight down the middle training to lift his audience to consider new ways of engaging people and building relationships. Leadership at it core is simply finding ways to start and grow relationships.
Here is a slide he shared with us that certainly struck home for me.
I can vividly remember many things my father said to me that were not always rosy, warm, and cuddly. In fact, at times he would be quite harsh with his words and tone of voice. I never doubted dad's love for me and looking in the rear view mirror I can see how his direction for me was always done so with my best in mind. I'm guessing that dad was employing the same kind of parenting and training he had received from his daddy. Was his way the best way? Probably not. But he used what he had to make me a better man and for that I'm grateful.
The image that Acuff shared was in response to leaders having to say things in a constructive manner that aren't always received as such. If I weighed all my dad's advice on the warm fuzzy meter, I would probably have 2.5 ounces of the good stuff.
On the other hand, if I were to weigh the molding, shaping, and teaching that took place in dad's words, I would have several long tons of wisdom and experience to claim. Please don't ask me how many pounds are in a long ton. I just always wanted to use that phrase in a blog.....
Okay, I had to find out for myself. A long ton has 2,240 pounds in it. Thank you Wikipedia!
Getting back to the image from Acuff though.
How many times have instruction and training been offered and the receiver immediately assumed the giver was overbearing, vindictive, angry, and pompous? Probably too many times too count. If we start at a place that does not allow for stretching and growth on our part then anything spoken to us will sound mean and spiteful. I wonder how many times Jesus spokes words to his disciples that we wouldn't utter to our own kids? Here are just a few:
Matthew 8:26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (Storm of Galilee)
Matthew 14:31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. (Peter sinking into the sea)
Matthew 16:8 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? (Warning the disciples to heed religious leaders)
Matthew 16:23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. (Jesus predicting his death)
If we desire to grow as a leader, then it is imperative that we weigh the person's heart instructing us. It is also important that we receive instruction and evaluate our own place in the equation. What changes need to occur in us so that growth can continue. What will we have to let go of and or what will we have to grasp in order for wisdom to sink into our experience? Ask ourselves, is this instruction meaningful for me in growth areas? Is there any reason why the instructor would give me bad advice and do so harshly?
Going forward, let's receive instruction as though our future depended on it. Let's not rush to judgment on the instructor's harsh tone but look beneath the words to their heart. Let's consider that Jesus, if he were here, might not make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside but might rather dust us up a bit with words of admonition and rebuke and always for our good!
A Musing Pastor
PS: If you're still confounded by the 'yellow' and 'snow' comment, ask me sometime and I'll explain it.