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The discomfort of honestycomment (0)

July 1, 2010

By Jean Roberson

The thing I love about her is you always know where you stand.” Have you heard that before? People usually say it when they are describing a woman who is very honest. She may even make you uncomfortable with her level of honesty. However, this statement oftentimes carries with it a measure of respect.

I worked with a woman like this.When she would call me, there was always a part of me that cringed inside and thought, “Oh my goodness. What is she going to say to me?”

However, because she was willing to be honest with me and others, I recognized her genuineness and the integrity with which she conducted herself in her relationships. I even found myself seeking her advice in difficult situations. I knew she would be honest with me, even if it was uncomfortable, because she valued honesty in relationships. Honesty is difficult though. It makes us nervous. Sometimes it is because we are afraid of honest feedback about ourselves. Other times, we do not feel qualified to give honest feedback. And sometimes we are afraid of creating uncomfortable moments or hurting someone else. 

Yet think of how Jesus conducted Himself. Remember when Jesus was honest with the rich young ruler, telling him he had done well but needed to sell his possessions and follow Him?

What about when Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him that evening? Jesus also was honest with the religious teachers of His day when He healed the crippled woman on the Sabbath in order to show them the compassion of God. 

Were they uncomfortable moments? Probably so. Was anything said that was meant to be hurtful? Certainly not. Why then did Jesus speak so candidly? Perhaps it was because Jesus knew that honesty makes us better people.

We cannot grow in our faith, work or character unless we are honest with each other. Jesus was committed to those people and their growth more than He was committed to calm relationships. We must be committed to others, too.

Certainly there is a difference between being honest and being mean-spirited. Certainly we know that how we say something is as important as what we say.

However, we cannot run away from honesty simply because we fear frustration in our relationships. When we are honest, we become more comfortable with it. We develop relationships as those who are honest, which speaks to our integrity and authenticity with others. Perhaps people may even say of you, “With her, you know where you stand.”

A Takeaway Value …
Honesty, though sometimes uncomfortable, leads to growth in others and develops our integrity.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Jean Roberson, MSW, LCSW, is a ministry consultant for national Woman’s Missionary Union. She serves as team leader for the adult team and director of Christian Women’s Job Corps/Christian Men’s Job Corps and International Initiatives.

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