Tact or Fact?
By Hally Franz –
The pantry was bare, the freezer slim-pickin’s, and school lunches were getting really lame. I could put off grocery shopping no longer. So, without a list, my kids and I headed out for food. While taking children to the grocery store has its drawbacks, mine are now old enough to be great fetchers and cart pushers. Since provisions had gotten sparse at home, I told my shopping partners they could each pick a few “special” items for lunches.
In case you haven’t noticed, kids like food that comes in unusual forms. I think this especially applies to girls. My daughter loves fruit that comes rolled rather than in traditional piece format. She likes cheese already chunked or sticked; sliced cheese is yesterday’s dairy. While these fun, fancy food items often cost more, surviving my shopping excursion was worth it.
As expected, Rosaline came forth with a few lunch goodies. However, I was surprised when Ivan, my fourteen-year-old son, presented a giant bottle of mouthwash for my approval. He said classmates had informed him he had morning breath, so he wanted to get it. By all means, get the mouthwash!
As we continued our shopping, I noticed Ivan didn’t seem offended by this charge. Perhaps, he has grown to understand that, like him, his peers are not always highly sensitive. It seemed that he was just accepting this as an observation from his friends—one that should be considered and acted upon.
While that observation didn’t devastate Ivan, it would upset any adult. Likewise, it is absolutely not something we would share with a friend or peer. A counselor friend of mine once told me she thought validation was the most important element in effective counseling. I tended to agree with her. It is my nature to soothe, affirm and reassure those in my circle, but rarely am I moved to challenge or criticize another person.
I wonder if that is always the right approach. Kindness is important, but so is honesty. Do we have a tendency to validate erroneous thoughts and feelings when we should be calling them out? Is it kindness or fear that keeps us from correcting another person’s sinful behavior and beliefs? Maybe, it is kinder to worry less about tact and more about fact, sharing with others what is true, and giving them the opportunity to consider and act upon that.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, provide me with the words and manner to constructively challenge sinful attitudes and deeds in those I encounter, so that I may help others come to Christ.
BIBLE VERSE: “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should” (Ephesians6:19-20 NIV).