ThePreachersWord recently received an email from a regular reader, a friend and Christian sister.
We always enjoy getting responses from our readers. And it’s a special pleasure to hear from old friends. With a friendly greeting, “Hello Brother” her first line began, “I want to tell you how much I enjoy your thoughts and words of encouragement posted on your blog…”
But I knew there was more. This was going to be a special message. A personal message. Something with substance.
I knew it because of the subject line on the email. Two words:
My friend continued to describe what she considered a personal “annoyance” regarding my blog. Then she concluded by saying, “Love you brother, and appreciate the work you are doing to spread the Word. I hope you do not take offense to my attempts to offer a constructive observation.”
Well, I did not take offence at her response. She was right. Although, I did not see her observation as something that should cause “annoyance.” However, I cannot get her email out of my mind. Especially those two words: “constructive observation.”
Through the years of preaching and public ministry, I have received from well-meaning brethren different kinds of suggestions and advice. It usually begins with these words, “Let me give you some constructive criticism!” It reminds me of an older preacher who quipped, “There is no such thing as constructive criticism. It’s just criticism!”
There’s an element of truth to the preacher’s observation. Especially if you’re on the receiving end of the constructive criticism! But, a “constructive observation”? Well, that’s different. It’s a kinder, gentler approach to offering a suggestion. It is also the application of Biblical principles.
“Be kind and compassionate one to another,” Paul urged his readers. He also commanded them to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” (Eph. 4:31-32).
A “constructive observation” is kind. There is no bitterness in it. Or angry words. Or unseemly insinuations.
In the great love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, the apostle wrote, “love is patient. Love is kind.” When a “constructive observation” is offered it is bathed in love by its kind and patient words.
How much better would our relationships be with brethren, family and friends, if we practiced our sister’s approach with a “constructive observation” when it is needed?
Regarding our interaction with non-Christians the Bible encourages: “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. (Col 4:5-6)
Defending our faith does not give us the license to be ugly, unkind, or judgmental, of those with whom we disagree. Gracious, responsive words will do more to win over the “outsider” than hurling hypercritical epithets. How about trying a “constructive observation”?
Sharing a“constructive observation” is more than just a practical approach, or an effective method to make a point. It flows from a tender heart. A meek spirit. A Christ-like attitude.
I think of a “constructive observation” as following the wise man’s counsel.
“A man has joy in an apt answer, And how delightful is a timely word! (Prov 15:24)
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” (Prov 25:11)
“Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (Prov. 16;24).
Thank you, dear sister, for your “constructive observation.” I appreciate it. But I appreciated your sweet spirit, even more than the observations!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman