At times, the messenger gets all the blame as well as all the credit. It is interesting to step back and see if the messenger deserved all the credit s/he received or does our admiration and thankfulness rightly belong to the source.
Corporate and institutional environments continually reinforce the mantra that being a messenger has distinct upsides and significant risks. It is as if by delivering the message, the messenger becomes the message. When it is a message that the organization wants to hear, good things tend to follow. Praise is just the beginning. Reward and trust often follow close behind. Equally true, when the organization does not want to hear the message, the messenger pays the price! Even if the consequences filter back to the cause or source, the primary recipient is the one who first said the words.
With the benefit of time, I have learned to be more cautious in my role as a messenger. Truth is much more powerful when delivered by a trusted messenger. This becomes increasingly important as one is able to assess the audience because knows that the listener is rarely able or willing to hear everything.
More importantly, being a messenger is more than just sharing. A messenger is also a guardian of the source. S/he sees and understands the moment, picking the right time play the role described by the psalmist; “He spoke the word that healed you, that pulled you back from the brink of death.” (Psalm 107.20) As important as the messenger is, time and place, the source is the reason for renewal and restoration. Words and Love matter.
I recently watched a messenger struggle to deliver the word. As I think about it, there are opportunities that all begin with the listener. The combination of being willing and open to hear flexibly when a messenger delivers the word is ideal. It is also a rare combination that I would do well to embrace today. Life today is full of opportunity windows with useful and healing words if I am willing and able to hear.