In the past few weeks I have had the good fortune to speak to gatherings of forty to fifty people at several town hall events. Everyone was part of the same organization I belong to. In most cases, I did not have time to seriously prepare. In hindsight, I am not sure that I would have said anything differently than I did. As the new kid on the block, the theme of the request on subjects the individuals wanted to hear centered on my viewpoint. In defense of what followed, I reminded folks that I was asked to blunt, to the point, and candid.
As I think about it, as candid as candor can be, it does have its limits. At some point, too much candor causes the audience to turn off. Individuals and communities cannot hear what they cannot hear.
Along the way I tried to share a whole story. There is always good in others. It may take some digging; in this case it was not hard. It is fun to share one’s view on the gems that one has discovered. To many who have been there for some time, they already know these truths. Being reminded of them gives them new life.
I talked of my belief that each could do more. I shared what I could see as well as the things that I could not. The two-edged message came with compliments and the hope, each laced with accountability and help.
My approach followed a pattern I have found in those that influenced me the most. When I have listened to their confession to God, the words described a model anyone can follow; “I’ve preached you to the whole congregation, I’ve kept back nothing, God – you know that.” (Psalm 40.9) The God I know talked of value you and I bring, it is priceless. Divinity goes on to talked of the things we do well while alerting us to the ways we fall short. There is hope and accountability wrapped in compassion and love. All critical if winning is the goal.