Delivering messages is not as easy as it looks when you know somebody. Bicycle messengers worry about traffic and irate clients when they are late. FedEx worries about losing packages and irate clients who do now get what they expect. While I have sympathy for messengers in this category, in the bigger scheme of life they have it easy! The content of the messages they deliver are out of their control. They do not have to spend any energy for time designing the message, anticipating how it will be received, or making sure that the content means what is actually intended. When the messenger is going to verbally deliver the message, I find that one's role and responsibilities are radically different.
It is almost too easy to use politeness, a desire to walk away liked, and our natural fear of confrontations as an excuse to not deliver difficult or painful messages. The model from wise individuals before our time does not reflect that kind of approach. When confronted with evil, “Peter responded, 'What's going on here that you connived to conspire against the Spirit of the Master? The men who buried your husband are at the door, and you're next.'” (Acts 5.9) Difficult situations can call for candid, some would say, harsh message delivery.
I keep reminding myself that there are guidelines driven by the principles of compassion and mercy help.
First, only deliver messages that you have earned the right to deliver. If you are not in a possible of friendship, responsibility, or accountability, carefully consider the messages you think others need. It may not be your role.
Second, deliver tough messages with kindness and compassion. The heart of the message does not change. The attitude that comes with the words does. Talk as you would want to hear the words.
Third, never shy away from the truth if conditions one and two are met. You may be the only person to deliver what needs to be said.
Today will be filled with messages. It is an opportunity for compassion, community, and engagement to shine.
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