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Compassionate Candor

7 Feb

Sometimes candor, the quality of being totally frank, is helpful. Sometimes, it hurts.

I’m not sure what to think about this exchange!

“Soon after our last child left home for college,” the woman said, “my husband was resting next to me on the couch with his head in my lap. I carefully removed his glasses. ‘You know, honey,’ I said sweetly, ‘Without your glasses you look like the same handsome young man I married.’

“And my husband replied with a grin, ‘Honey, without my glasses, you still look pretty good too!” *

When we use candor, we are being open and honest with a person. But too often, the temptation is to become harsh or insensitive.CompassionateCandor

Paul tells us to become more like Jesus our conversations.

While the context of Ephesians 4:15 is the need to speak truth in doctrinal matters—that we must speak God’s truth rather than worldly philosophies, and do so lovingly—many counselors use this verse to remind Christ-followers how to speak to each other if they are to “grow up into every way into him . . . into Christ.”

Certainly, even without this verse, we know our speech is to be truthful, because truthfulness is part of God’s character. He is a God of truth (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 57:10). Jesus said, “I am . . . the truth” (John 14:6).

But Ephesians 4:15 says our speech must also be loving. And that’s not surprising, because God is love  (1 John 4:8).

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons we do not speak with compassionate candor is our problem with pride.

  • We think we know it all.
  • We think we know more than others.
  • We think it’s our responsibility to set them straight.

Oh, how we need humility before we speak. Why?

1. Humility recognizes we have our own issues, our own struggles. That’s why Jesus encouraged people to consider their own problems before confronting others with the truth they may need to hear (Matthew 7:1-5). We’re not to judge others; God is the judge of human hearts. When we are mindful of (and even acknowledge) our own weaknesses and limitations, our hearer will be more receptive. This kind of authenticity also brings honor to the Lord.

And authenticity is a key word here. Pride and defensiveness will become evident in body language or tone of voice, even if our words sound “humble.”

2. Humility before speaking will communicate a Christ-like attitude. We are not to think of ourselves too highly, but to speak from a desire to serve others (see Romans 12:3 and Philippians 2:1-5).

3. Humility will allow us to listen first, choose our words carefully and not jump to any conclusions (James 1:19). Honesty must be accompanied by thoughtfulness and sensitivity.

4. Humility will allow us to be gracious, charitable, compassionate with our words. (Consider Luke 6:36-38.) The intention will not be to embarrass, but to help. [In the case of an erring believer, to goal is to restore! There is a proper way to speak truth in love, in that case (Matthew 18:15-17a).]

Humility is actually just part of speaking truth in love. Mary Kassian, author of Conversation Peace, said, regarding the kind of speech we need to share: “… tenderheartedness is just part of the equation, but you also have to add honesty in there, authenticity . . . humility and faithfulness.” **

Compassionate Candor is a matter of packaging truth for others in a way that will help and serve them and glorify God.

We must birth the truth in humility and wrap it in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a love.

We practice this best in the home. How do we practice compassionate candor with a marriage partner? With our children?

Practicing Compassionate Candor:

1. Consider the most kind, diplomatic way to express a painful truth. Wrap it in love that the person will understand. Maybe you can even sandwich it between genuine praise and concern for the person’s perspective.

For example: “Sweetie, I appreciate your hard work in the yard this morning. Do you think you could put the tools away now? I know you don’t want all that stuff to get in the way or our neighbors seeing the pretty yard when they come home from work.”

2. But don’t think in terms of a formula: If I say this and this, he will do that and that. Just be genuine and speak the truth in love, but remember, your “packaging” of the truth may look different from situation to situation.

Kassian said, “People communicate in different ways, and so sometimes that’s just a matter of understanding , or sometimes understanding someone’s communication pattern. . . .” **

It often helps to ask questions for greater understanding before sharing your “truth” statement; but be careful to be wise and loving even in asking questions.

“You want to be very careful not to use loaded questions,” Kassian said, “or questions where you’re not asking a question but you’re passing judgement.” **

3. Don’t manipulate. Again, check your heart first. Are you humble? What’s your purpose?

4. Be alert to times your family members practice compassionate candor and praise it.

5. Be encouraging every day. Be sure you are practicing approval, genuine praise and gratitude so family members will be more open to the interaction of more difficult conversations.

Think about how you speak the truth in your home. Would a bit more humility encourage compassionate candor?

* Humor adapted from CybersaltDigest, 4-8-13

** From “Using Your Words to Heal,”

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of stockimages at


Get Real

12 Oct

Gilbert, South Carolina, is such a small community, Beau was surprised they had a community paper. He asked an  old-timer about it.

“You really have a newspaper, eh?” he asked.

“Well, we all know what everybody else is doing,” the Old Timer said, “but we like to read the paper anyway … to see who’s been caught at it.” *

I lived in a small community like Gilbert once. Everyone knew everyone’s business.

I didn’t like it.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate authenticity, transparency and honesty. I’m a “Get Real” person.

“Get real” isn’t just a sarcastic comment with me. It’s an invitation to living in truth.

  • It’s tempting to wear a mask. To be a hypocrite. Get real.GetRealHeart
  • It’s popular to make choices in the culture to get ahead, to impress, to be a “success.” Get real.
  • It’s destructive to follow the crowd – when it takes you somewhere you don’t want to go. Get real.

Living in truth means living an authentic life, refusing to compromise who we are and what we believe. Isn’t that what we want from the Family of God?

As Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts, wrote on her blog: “I have felt it – how no one wants anything of anyone but to be honest and real and to trust enough to take off the mask.

We crave authenticity, but we don’t get to define what that word means – God does.

My husband recently taught his way through 1 John, and as he taught, I caught some of God’s signposts for Authentic Christianity.

1. Authentic Christians confess Jesus as Lord (1 John 4:15). They aren’t afraid to identify with and speak up for Jesus, the Son of God – no matter the circumstance.

2. Authentic Christians have a heart for righteousness and hatred for sin (1 John 3:9). They can’t snuggle up to sin. Guilt from habitual sin makes believers uncomfortable. They don’t excuse sin. They claim God’s forgiveness and then live the exchanged life (“put off – put on,” Colossians 3:1-7).

3. Authentic Christians love “the brethren” (1 John 5:1). They enjoy being with other believers because they want to love, encourage and edify one another (Hebrews 10:24-25). Authenticity is transparent, others-focused, and grace-motivated.

4. Authentic Christians are obedient to the Word of God (1 John 2:5; 5:3; 2 Timothy 3:16). They consider the scriptures God’s manual for living – a source of wisdom – and how God reveals Himself in the world. They value the wisdom of God.

5. Authentic Christians are eternity-minded (1 John 3:2). No matter how real they try to be in this world, they are certain their true reality is in the future. This life is the believer’s journey to become more like Christ, and finds full fulfillment in heaven.

Are you living in authenticity? If not, GET REAL!

*Adapted from Cybersalt Digest, Issue #3744, 9/16/11

— Dawn

Oops. Caught in a Lie!

4 Apr

“Two guys were taking Chemistry at the University of Mississippi. They did pretty well on all of the quizzes and the midterms and labs, such that going into the final they had a solid “A”. These two friends were so confident going into the final that the weekend before finals week (even though the Chemistry final was on Monday), they decided to go up to the University of Tennessee and party with some friends.

“… They overslept all day Sunday and didn’t make it back to Mississippi until early Monday morning. Rather than taking the final then, they found their professor after the final to explain to him why they missed the final.

“They told him that they went up to the University of Tennessee for the weekend, and had planned to come back in time to study, but that they had a flat tire on the way back, and … so they were late in getting back to campus.

“The professor thought this over and told them they could make up the final on the following day. The two guys were elated and relieved. They studied that night and went in the next day for the final.

Chemical Formula“The professor placed them in separate rooms, and handed each of them a test booklet and told them to begin. They looked at the first problem, which was worth 5 points. It was something simple about Molarity & Solutions.

“‘Cool ,’ they thought. ‘This is going to be easy.’ They did that problem and then turned the page.

“They were not prepared, however, for what they saw on this page. It said:

(95 Points). WHICH TIRE?” *

Is the scripture verse, “Be sure your sins will find you out?” ringing in your ears right now? (Numbers 32:23. See also Cain’s secret sin, that was exposed ~ Genesis 4:8-10.)

I (Dawn) laughed as I read Bill and Pam’s account of their son’s stubborn lie in their book, The 10 Best Decisions Every Parent Can Make. On pages 36-38, they tell the story of little Zach, age four, who grabbed some goodies out of an ice chest before dinner ~ though he had been instructed not to eat any more before dinner.

Pam caught him with stuffed cheeks, and said, “Zach, tell me the truth. Did you eat more chocolate after I told you not to?”

With a chocolate ring around his mouth, he shook his head no. The next two pages detail Pam and Bill’s efforts to get stubborn Zach to admit his act of disobedience and his continuing lie.

They tried repeatedly, pleading with him to tell the truth and praying that God’s Spirit would help by working on “his stony little heart.” Finally, after being put into a time out alone ~ a strategy that worked better than a spanking on this people-loving little guy ~ after an hour, Zach confessed. Pam thanked him, told him that she forgave him, and took him to Bill to make the same confession. Then they loved on their little boy.

Bob and I had a similar situation with our son Michael when he was almost four. I remember sitting on the end of the bed, Continue reading

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