Tag Archive: a nonny miss?


i am continuing this series which i feel has gone so much further than the initial email that got it started and has provided some valuable insights which needed a springboard to launch from. so am daily becoming more grateful for it as it has helped me share what i feel have been some helpful ideas about living life to the full.

what i am wanting to look at today is something that i have found immensely helpful in my relationship with tbV [altho still definitely have a long way to go] and in some of the conflicts i have been involved in in recent times [who, me argue?] and i imagine that the more i get this right, the more effective i am going to be in terms of challenge and even rebuke…

the concept is very simple: receive the rebuke/challenge/word of wisdom you are about to give… so using the email i received, let me for a moment assume that i had written it – i am ready to send it, but before i do, let me put myself in the place of the person hearing it and see what they receive…

rebuke

Brett, let’s be honest: your youtube videos suck. Big time. And I don’t even see the purpose in it.

hm, okay if i am receiving that particular sentence, is it going to make me open to hearing the message, or is it likely to make me angry or sad or antagonistic and make me react rather than respond to the heart of what i was trying to say?

i think it becomes quite easy once you make the time and effort to do that. that line is an easy one but sometimes we do need to deliver tough Truth to people we Love and it is not going to be an easy one to hear. by becoming that person hearing the message i will more than likely find a better way to deliver the message.

how would i receive a message that my videos are a waste of time? the word ‘suck’ followed by ‘big time’ is probably not going to be the best way, right? and as i mentioned yesterday, by changing a strong statement into a question, maybe i can ease towards a time when i am able to share that, ‘well honestly, i don’t think they’re a great use of your time.’ i know that as a person who regularly has to do a stock take on how i use my time [cos i do tend towards getting caught up in addictive things altho often very silly and time-wasting ones] i am aware that that can become an issue and so i am likely to listen to the message and take it to heart if it is presented well.

on the other hand i don’t want to water down the message so much [if it is a strong message that really does need to be heard] that the point of it is lost completely. but i think this is where relationship comes in – i try to be accountable to everyone – as someone with an audience, as a Christian leader in different areas, i am aware that that is a crucial thing to do. but at the same time it is the people who i have specifically invited to speak into my life – people like Regan Didloff, Rob Lloyd and Bruce Collins, people like Mike dreadlock Strauss and Mandy Hunt and of course my wife Valerie [and a bunch of others] who get a much stronger invitation to speak more directly and harshly where necessary. Val will be able to tell you i don’t often take it well in the moment [does anyone like to be told they are wrong?] but that i will take the criticism to heart and more often than not think about it for a while and then make a response to it later.

a clue i can share with you is that accusations such as “you always” or “you never” don’t go down well in arguments or even received emails – questions are good as well as “i feel that…” or “i think…” statements which allow space for you to be possibly wrong instead of just loading something on to the person you are speaking to…

so i encourage you next time you are about to write an email or have a conversation with someone that requires you to share a tough Truth [in Love] to take a moment and try and receive it in the way you are about to give it, and see how you would respond and whether it is worth taking another minute or two to figure out a way that you would receive that particular message well. i believe this will help give your message a much needed boost and possibility of getting through to the person you are engaging with.

let me know how it goes…

[to continue to part V: a glimpse into the why, click here]

‘So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.’ [Ephesians 4.11-16]

that is a rather long passage, but i do generally like to give context for a verse i want to use and i felt like this whole passage sums up this part of the message that i want to take from the anonymous email i received a week ago.

so this is the portion of the email i am going to be looking at now:

‘Brett-boy, you need to rethink how you spend your energy.
And here I’m speaking in particular about the humor side of your energy. To take an example: Brett, let’s be honest: your youtube videos suck. Big time. And I don’t even see the purpose in it. Will you really stand before the Jesus one day and when He asks you “So how did you spend your valuable time?” answer “Well, there are these youtube videos I made.”’

this is both a simple concept and a difficult one to get right [perhaps these are all so easy for me to blog about as i have lots of experience in the getting-it-wrong department in days gone by] but the idea mentioned in the Ephesians passage is of ‘speaking the truth in love’ with the intended purpose being that ‘we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.’

this point seems to almost precede the point of the message. a question one needs to ask when challenging someone else about something is, ‘Am I right? Is this thing, that I am about to speak to that person, the Truth?’ Once I have ascertained that I am speaking Truth to them, it seems to be so very important that I get the ‘in Love’ part of the delivery of my message right, otherwise to some extent the Truth is invalidated. Was it Truthful? Yes. Did I speak it in Love? No, well then the whole message is lost!

truth-in-love-300x270

Why is this so important? Well Jesus has set it out for us so clearly: When asked what the greatest commandment in the law is, ‘Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” [Matthew 22.37-40]

so the end point is always Love. and until i can get that part right, then it might be better for me to hold my tongue. the Ephesians passage reminds us that the intended consequence of speaking the Truth in Love is that the whole body will be built up and so that each person will be able to do the job required of them. this is vital, crucial stuff here.

i really believe that one of the largest travesties of the church for so long has been that those who ‘get the Truth’ and speak it, so often don’t have the Love to accompany it, and so much damage is done. but it goes further than that because i also strongly believe that too often those who ‘get the Love’ part of the Gospel, so often refrain from speaking the Truth. and damage is done both ways. we confuse ‘being Love-filled’ with not challenging people or confronting sin when it needs to happen [but in Love]. we mistake ‘being nice’ with ‘being Loving’ and that too can have terrible consequences.

BRINGING IT BACK TO WHAT IT’S ABOUT

so if my anonymous friend was wanting to do a better thing, how could that have happened?

to me, ‘Brett-boy’ sounds very condescending – that might not have been intended, but simply using ‘Brett’ would have done the trick.

‘let’s be honest – your videos suck’ could have perhaps been a more personal ‘i must be honest, i don’t really think your videos are all that great’ which at least removes some of the sting and personalises the opinion instead of proclaiming a statement of truth.

and i have already spoken a little bit into ‘And I don’t even see the purpose in it’ which could have been posted as a question such as,’I’d be interested to hear the reason behind why you make these videos?’

are any of these hugely malicious things? not at all – but out there in the world, and sadly too often in the church, there are examples that happen all the time that are way more hurtful and display a complete lack of Love and it is those that i am wanting to speak into.

the writer to the Corinthians didn’t seem to think Truth counted all that much [or anything else for that matter] if Love was not a huge part of the message both in word and deed:

‘If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.’ [1 Corinthians 13.1-3]

having hard Truth spoken to you in Love doesn’t always mean it is easy to hear. but it definitely becomes a lot easier to hear and if i walk away from you completely convinced that you Love me, then i am so much more likely to take some more time in considering the words of Truth you have spoken to me, even if i did not receive them well in the moment.

what’s your experience been in hearing hard Truth from people spoken in Love?
and i suppose the more painful question of, is this ringing any bell for you of times when you may have spoken well-meaning Truth but with a lack of the much-needed Love?

[to read on about receiving the rebuke you send click here]

To take an example: Brett, let’s be honest: your youtube videos suck. Big time. And I don’t even see the purpose in it.

i am continuing with my response to the ‘a nonny miss?’ email i received, because i feel there are a bunch of things to be learned from it, which relate far beyond this simple email.

the second part i want to look at is specifically that line ‘And I don’t even see the purpose in it.’ – now i really only want to use the email as a launching point because i think this point goes much deeper than the silly you tube videos i sometimes make, so let’s forget the videos and take a step back from our lives and look at them through this lens. because i think this is something i have been guilty of in the past and probably still get wrong, but have definitely observed myself getting a whole lot better at it as i get older…

so the launch point is this – someone saw something i did, didn’t understand the purpose of it and so formed a judgement and then acted on that judgement.

sound familiar yet? anyone else out there cringing just a little.

i just returned from a visit to one of my best friends, dreadlocked Mike [who was part of the duo who helped give me dreads two years ago!] and it was so good seeing him and getting to hang with him again. and to be reminded of this incredible gift that Mike has…

Mike has this amazing ability to make a strong statement about something – eg. Clowns suck! [i don’t think he thinks that] – and then when i jump in and agree with him – “You’re so right Mike, clowns are evil!” [they’re not! well, most of them] he will spend the next thirty minutes trying to convince me why clowns don’t suck and are in fact amazing.

Yes, it can be frustrating and seem hypocritical at times, but what i have witnessed through it is Mike’s ability to really put himself on both sides of an argument [especially one he feels quite strongly about] and argue the merits of both sides. I think that later he weighs it all and hopefully takes into account what i have added and comes up with a refined opinion on the matter, but i really think it can be a powerful thing in terms of being able to, to some extent, understand the reasons behind an opposing view point.

perspective

how many of us can do that? i’m not talking about agreeing with someone you disagree with. i’m talking about taking the time [and humility] to try and hear or see things the way they are. who knows? it may end up changing your opinion or mind about something… although more often than not it may just help you understand why you see things the way you do so much more strongly.

i think the older i get the less i feel i KNOW [for absolute sure fact real] but the things i do KNOW i feel i know so much more strongly and believe more deeply. i have an insane amount of incredible people in and around my life and they keep me sharpened in so may areas and i am so grateful. people who take time to move beyond the superficial and really wrestle with life and faith and relationships and poverty and world transformation and the current form of Graeme Smith.

so i made some silly videos. someone saw that and came up with an opinion and then challenged me about them [which i Love, but we’ll get to that later] but he never took time to ask me, ‘So why do you make those videos? Is there a reason?’ and so he may never know [altho i imagine i will mention it sometime during these]

the asking of that simple question, ‘Why did you do that?’ or similar ones like, ‘Why do you think that?’ ‘How come you do things that way?’can be a powerful relationship builder. You don’t have to agree with the person’s response, but it is helpful to know it.

my challenge with this post is for you to ask someone a question this week [and i would LOVE it if you came back here and gave feedback in the comments] about something you don’t understand [that they do or think or feel] – someone from a different religion [why do you pay five times a day?] or cultural group [what does family look like to you?], perhaps it could be a close friend [what is your practice in terms of saving money?] or someone in the office or school [what do you like about that particular band or song or sport?] or a hundred other things. but be on the look out for something that doesn’t make sense to you and even maybe something you have a strong opinion about and simply ask the question in a non-threatening way, and take time to really listen to their response. maybe it will prompt a question in response… maybe it will strengthen relationship… perhaps it will simply inspire a moment of, ‘Wow, i never saw it that way.’

1 Corinthians 13.7 ends with ‘[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’ and i really love that – this feels like an aspect of Love hoping – that the person i don’t understand is not simply an idiot who has chosen an opposing view to mine, but someone who i can learn from and be encouraged by and build relationship with.

[to continue to the next post springboarded from this mail about ‘Speaking the Truth in Love’ go here]

‘test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.’ [1 Thessalonians 5.21-22]

this is one of my favourite verses in the Bible – to be faithful to it, the verse is speaking specifically of prophecies, but i have found that it is a generally great life principle to extend to all things – hold on to the good, let go of the evil/hurtful/untrue.

so when it comes to giving a response to the ‘a nonny miss?’ email i received, this feels like a great place to begin [and thankx to my friend ‘Art Lives’ for helping point me in that direction] – what is the good in the email?

and there may be more than this, but i think for me the strongest benefit was the call to be aware of how you spend your time and to spend it well.

Time Flies - Janus Syndicate

i stumbled upon this quote today – “Time is the coin of life. Only you can determine how it will be spent.” – Carl Sandburg – which i find to be so true.

there have been many, no that probably deserves a little bold, many times in life when i have felt convicted about the amount of time i have been spending in some particular activity [which may or may not be a bad thing in and of itself] and i have felt God saying to me, “You need to cut this out completely or tone it down in this or that way” and i have [sometimes with more kicking and screaming or dragging of my feet than other times] and each time i am obedient to that call from God there is a strong sense of relief and freedom and an awareness of some of the better things i can be spending my time doing… this ranges from tv watching to sport following to computer games to poker to church related activities and probably more i can’t think of.

too much of a good thing, or even a neutral thing, can be a bad thing. i imagine that Time is a resource way too many of us take for granted… and it is not one you can recover, so it makes so much sense to keep on returning to a place of evaluating how you spend your time and making great decisions on how you use it.

so that is a positive i take from the anonymous email caution i received last week – do i agree with it in terms of the specific issue it was related to? i may comment on that a little later. but the call to watch yourself in that area is one that is at the very least a good reminder.

and i think it takes on greater significance when you are married – because now a neutral or good thing may become a bad thing when it takes away from time you should be spending with your life partner [and this is not an easy one to navigate always as there is a strong likelihood that the two of you will think differently on what is good and bad time spent on different things, but hopefully you make good space for communication around the topic] and so there is more introspection that needs to take place.

so two powerful lessons learnt or revisited – one to be able to look into criticism, even that which may not necessarily seem valid, and to seek that which is good and learn from or be encouraged by that – and two to be reminded once again that time is such a valuable resource [and we don’t know when ours or other peoples’ runs out in this life] and to take stock of my life and my activities and evaluate whether the time spent is valuable or good or not. for that i thank you.

what i really love about the verse i started quoting is that it comes from a context which calls us towards being joyful, and so i will look at that a little more closely in future musings…

‘Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.’ [1 Thessalonians 5.16-20]

[to continue to the next response post looking at life from the other side, click here]

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