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Friday, October 31, 2014

Timing and Truth

Are you more likely to "speak the truth" or "in love"  try to keep the peace at any price? To achieve a balance, what do you need to learn? (Serendipity Bible  Fourth Edition, page 1628).

Mark 9:33-35 (NIV).

They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

I am fascinated by the rule of 10 – it takes 10 years to fully master any complex art or skill. It is interesting that Jesus did not begin his ministry until age 33 or thereabouts. In my view the principal reason for this seeming delay is his gaining mastery of a particular skill of leadership, namely timing.  In the quote from Mark above, note that Jesus did not pounce on his disciples while on the road, but waited until an appropriate moment to broach the subject.  Speaking the truth, therefore, is an art that must be mastered.  Not only is timing essential, but is it is essential as well to differentiate attributions of motive from fact.  We can often attribute motives without sufficient inquiry and be very wrong in that attribution.  Here again, one can all too easily become the proverbial brash bull in a china shop.

I would like to give a very personal illustration of the importance of timing. Mark Stroemach was my supervisor at work.  Occasionally he would have to reprimand me. He always without exception chose to do so in private. No doubt, he had a great urge to reprimand me at once, getting it immediately off his chest. But he realized that the most effective method  that would best avoid interjecting  resentment and malice would be to do so in private.  It is palpably apparent that mastering timing is essential in effective truth telling. The major challenge is to find an appropriate moment without rationalizing delay into bland indifference or succumbing to rank mediocrity.

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