There is a popular phrase passed along by leaders, “Always praise publically, criticize or correct privately.” Unfortunately, this gets violated all too often in organizations where insecure or unthoughtful people publicly criticize employees, family members, or co-workers. I once had a fellow team member complain to the program director over his offense at some of my closing remarks. Rather than just come and tell me, he went “over my head.” When the director mentioned his complaint to me I was surprised and lost respect for a fellow leader who prides himself in leading yet was unprofessional by not speaking directly to me.
Yesterday, my wife shared that a friend called and told her in the process of hiring his replacement, one of his coworkers bad-mouthed him in front of their peers and the person they were considering hiring. This only increased his hurt and anticipation to leaving a place where criticism is handed out like candy.
In both of these situations what was truly troubling is that Christians were the ones leveling behind-the-back, or public denigration.
Matthew 18:15—If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother.
If someone offends me and I go and tell the boss but do not address the one perceived as causing the problem, in essence I have now created a bigger problem. First, I will surely lose the respect of the one with whom I have an issue for what will be taken as betrayal or back-stabbing. Second, a mature boss will see me as immature for not addressing the issue directly with the other person. Third, the trust chain is badly damaged and no organization can operate successfully for long without trust.
If someone offends me and I publically criticize that person again I have made things much worse. First, I have undoubtedly damaged the person embarrassed in front of everyone else. Second, I communicated to everyone who heard my words that I am not trustworthy and that I am either insecure or mean-spirited or both. Again, the trust chain is broken.
Jesus knew that conflict would be a severe challenge for His followers. He gave very clear guidance in Mat. 18:15-18 how to address a fellow believer for sinning. Our first response when we see a wrong or perceived wrong is to go directly to the one responsible and try and make things right immediately. We may not succeed in going privately to the offender but at a minimum we demonstrate love and kindness. Love never trashes people. It is patient, kind and does not act improperly. It is not selfish, provoked and keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:4,5). If we as God’s children don’t get this right, how can we expect the world to learn from our example? Go in private and thoughtfully express your concern. In the process you will win friends, build trust and bring glory to God!
Confront the problem, but in a way that preserves the relationship and the person.—Dr. Henry Cloud in integrity
©2017 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)