My team briefed me at 3:30 p.m. The key slide in their operational brief that I would have to in turn brief my boss at 5:00 p.m. was awful. The words that were to describe our progress were not clear and there were too many confusing acronyms. And what was supposed to be a clear map for the location of the disaster in our exercise, with scope of destruction from a notional bomb, was just a big brown blob. Each subordinate unit that briefed me had much better graphics depicting roads, cities and key information. But I couldn’t use their work because by the time all the units finished speaking there wasn’t enough time for the staff to swap content. Inside I was fuming. This was our first chance to make a strong impression on our higher headquarters and our one slide was unprofessional.
I could place the blame on the folks who did the sloppy work but that would demonstrate poor leadership on my part—ultimately I was responsible. For whatever reason, they chose to go with a product that even they acknowledged to be substandard. We were stuck and I would just have to do the best I could with lousy props.
Psalm 141:3—LORD, set up a guard for my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips.
My leaders knew after one rebuke they had let our organization down. Inwardly I could think of many more negative things to say to men who knew better. But if harsh words exited my mouth and I overreacted the damage I created would far exceed their mistake. I had to remember Proverbs 16:31—“Patience is better than power, and controlling one’s temper, than capturing a city.” Remember the old adage, “It’s no good to beat a dead horse?” Further spewed anger could not fix what was already done. When the offending leader apologized later, as best I could I calmly explained why we needed to do better and then bit my tongue rather than chew on him further. And then an amazing thing happened.
My boss did not take the briefing. A lower ranking officer filled in and when I owned up to the fact that our graphics were substandard, he said nothing. I promised we would do better and we moved on with no apparent damage. Relieved, my operations team said they would not let me down like that again. We were better and inside I was grateful for God’s help in guarding my mouth. Forgive, forget, and move on. Better to have the door of my lips stay closed than incessantly swing open letting impatience, anger and frustration do their dirty work. “A rebuke cuts into a perceptive person more than a hundred lashes into a fool” (Pro. 17:10).
Discipline yourself so that your words are few and full. Become known as a person who has something to say when you speak.—Richard J. Foster inCelebration of Discipline
©2014 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)