Read: Proverbs 28
Key Verses: Proverbs 28:23. “In the end, people appreciate honest criticism far more than flattery.”
Devotional: If you’re human then you probably don’t like when people tell you things you don’t want to hear. No one likes being told that they’re being annoying, overbearing, unkind, obnoxious, weak, a bad listener, a poor leader, a subpar communicator or anything else considered less than flattering. We want our egos to feel encouraged and bolstered not slapped around and deflated.
A few weeks ago I was doing a teaching on the concept of listening. If I’m honest with myself I’ll admit what those closest to me already know: I’m not a great listener. I get easily distracted, my mind races in a million directions. True listening has never been natural for me, it’s something I have to intentionally force myself to work on and often in real time. As I was sharing some of the Biblical concepts on listening with my group, I could see a few of my key leaders chuckling in the back of the room. I almost immediately knew what their laughter was focused on. “This guy should be preaching to himself.” I acknowledged to the group right then that I was not a great listener, we all laughed about it and moved forward.
Afterwards my leaders razzed me for a few minutes about my ability to teach what I don’t always practice. They proceeded to imitate my go-to phrases that make it clear to them that I’m not really listening.
We laughed some more and then one of my core leaders said something along the lines of, “Hey, we’re your closest friends, we can tell you these things.” Whatever small amount of defensiveness I felt in that moment suddenly melted away. These weren’t fiery arrows shot from enemies. These weren’t darts designed to destroy. These were words of honesty from the people I share my life with. These are the people that my family and I journey with. Over the next few days I was reminded again and again that these people are in my corner. Who better to be honest with me about what my weaknesses are than people who I know are for me and have my best interest at heart.
The prayer I have for my life is that God would allow me to stay surrounded by people who love me and can be honest, sometimes brutally honest with me about what my weaknesses are. How much better is it to be surrounded by people who love you and can help you improve than people who don’t love you and only tell you what you want to hear? I’ll take one honest friend over ten dishonest friends. “Dishonest” seems like a strong word to use here but I think it accurately communicates what’s happening. If you don’t have anyone in your life who ever honestly, lovingly criticizes you then chances are you’ve surrounded yourself with dishonest people. If all you ever hear are words of flattery from those around you then you’ve cheated yourself of a God honoring, real, truthful, heartfelt, intimate, good times and bad times, thick and thin friendship. We need those types of friendships.
Take Action: Who would you consider your closest friends? When was the last time they were honest with you about some of your weaknesses? Is there a chance that you’ve surrounded yourself with people who only choose to flatter you?
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