Rule #13: Speak the Truth Continued

As promised the resolution of yesterdays list on the meaning of speak the truth.

First lets touch on one more idea of "Do not Lie". As mentioned in several popular TV shows and in actual research [Report] the ability to lie effectively is directly linked to popularity. People want to be around someone who always says yes, who always compliments, who always flatters. So one thing is clear if you make a commitment to the truth you should not expect popular. It is possible but much more difficult. It requires you to work less on your acting skills and more on your creativity. Maybe you can't tell someone their hair looks great, but be creative, a person is more than hair. Maybe they have a fun pair of jeans on, or a maybe something specific about their personality stands out. Compliment these instead. It's a lot more work but the person you compliment will be much more encouraged when they look at themselves and can agree with your compliment.

Take responsibility for your actions. This is the old George Washington chopped down the cherry tree idiom. The story of Washington and the cherry tree has no verifiable source meaning we have no idea if it actually happened. But the principle is excellent. You are responsible for your actions. As a child I had a very unusual passion for honesty and responsibility. I remember a specific time I was play a game we called "wall ball". Rules aside we threw a racket ball repeatedly against a small wall. The target was large enough that we usually hit it but their were windows on the extreme edge of each side. Naturally one of us broke a window. I still don't actually remember who threw the ball. Probably me. But I do remember every person in the game (maybe 6 of us total) scattering like cockroaches in a light, except for me. I stood their for a moment, dumbfounded on the mistake of breaking a window, then trying to figure out what I was supposed to do next. I didn't struggle for a moment with if I should run. That was clearly the wrong thing. But I was like 14 and I wasn't sure how to fix the problem. I finally resolved that I should knock on the strangers door and explain the mistake. The stranger met me half way to his door where I confessed my part in the breakage of his window. The stranger gave me back the ball, thanked me for my honesty and went back inside. He had every right to ask me to pay for the window and I have every intention of doing it. And frankly he should have, honesty doesn't pardon crime. But I assure you of this. My parents never doubted my word. If something was broken they would ask me once if I broke it. If I said no they moved on and I never heard about it again. They trusted me. That's the real benefit of responsibility. When you are responsible, you are trusted. A little known fact about faith is it actually means the same thing as trust. And like trust faith isn't something that is inherit nor should it be. You trust someone because they have been trustworthy. I trust a stranger with nothing, I trust my wife, my best friend with my life. Because they have demonstrated repeatedly from the smallest things that they can be trusted [Matt 25:23]. Our faith in God is the same. We start with a leap of faith that Jesus is Christ, the son of God, the savior of the world. But every action from that point forward is something God fully expects us to look at and judge. When God is faithful to me in small things I trust him, have faith in him, with bigger things. It's ok to not be sure if you trust him. Just give him something small to help build your trust. We don't have faith in God because we are blind, we have faith in God because he is faithful. The Old Testament is just a child story about Gods faithfulness. God said he would redeem man, and over the span of some 4-6 thousand years (or more) he finally did [1 Cor 1:9].

A recent addition to my Speak the Truth list is "Check your facts before you share them." I had to do that while writing this post. I heard about this lying and popularity mix but I had never seen a true report on it. So before I published this idea I found a reasonable source to reference. This has two advantages. Instead of making a bold claim that may be false, I pointed out the reason I believe it to be true. No you can judge for yourself. If you don't feel the reference is reliable fine. I didn't lie to you I gave my understanding and I'm ok with being wrong. But I am not ok with sharing a story that is a known falsehood. I got an e-mail from a friend a while back about a story involving the inventor of penicillin. Supposedly his schooling was paid for by some famous general and that general was later injured in battle and nearly died of infection except that penicillin saved his life. It was a moving story in irony and the what goes around comes around idea. But it's crap. The story was circulating while both individuals involved were still alive and during an actual interview both made it clear the story was false. The two individuals had no connection to each other. I would have carried that with me for a time and used it as an illustration on kindness. But I would have been sharing a lie. Back in the early 90s a story circulated through dozens of papers and even more sermon illustration about a Russian drilling team digging deep into the earth, lowering a microphone into a mysterious cavity, and hearing the screams of hells tormented souls. I was about 10 years old at the time and I was skeptical when our childrens' paster told this story to convince us of Hells reality. I believe hell is real, but I'm not convinced it's located at the center of the earth. More so even if it is their is human technology capable of getting that deep. We still only have strong theories about the molten mantle as no one has ever been able to observe it. 15 years later I heard another rumor, which I've only dug up shaky evidence on that the entire story was a complete hoax. It was a social experiment to point out the gullibility of the evangelical church and the unusual spread of rumors. I don't know if the second part is true but I know for sure the first part is false. and thousands of pastors and newspapers printed a story of fiction as if it was fact. Making all of them liars, not because they didn't know, but because they didn't even try to check the ridiculous "facts" in the story. The church of the 90s was a laughing stock. Not as they claimed "because the gospel is foolishness to the world" but because they in fact were foolish.

This last one is a recent addition. Don't Answer a question until you are sure you understand it. I actually applied it to my life some time ago but was reminded of it when a friend kept giving me wrong information because they answered without thinking about the question. It can be extremely frustrating and more so it means inadvertently they are lying to me. My own experience in address this item was one of those seasons where everyone thought I was crazy. This time whenever someone would ask me a question I would intentionally pause for at least three second, often longer to make sure I understood what the question was and what my answer should be. This started with the simple question "how are you". I would just pause for a moment. The asker would grow uncomfortable and sometimes get clarifications like "did you hear me", "do you not know how you're doing?" I learned rather quickly that just pausing wasn't the right way to do it. So I found other ways of filling the time and setting the asker at ease. Usually with a restating of the question as if I was asking myself, sometimes with a "That's a great question." Sometimes just a look of pensiveness, sometimes an elongated "Hmmmm" and if the question is complicated, or my brain is running unusually slow at the time, "let me think about that for a moment". It gave me time to understand what was being asked, even consider the motivation behind it. It set the asker at ease as they knew that I was seriously considering their question and not just shotguning whatever idea came first. It gave me time to formulate a response, a true accurate response. And if I didn't understand the question or didn't want to answer I didn't have the knee jerk "I'm great" and move on even though the question was "Do you want ice in your coke?" Instead I could give a genuine thoughtful answer. Or a simple "I don't know". Strange the sincere "I don't know" is one of the most respected and appreciated answers. People trust someone who is willing to admit they don't know something. I'll even vocationally do a "I don't know but I would love to find out. I'll look into it sometime and if I find something out I'll let you know". I think this one is the reason people often come to me for advice. Because when they ask they don't get a cookie cutter answer, they get a few thoughts on the subject, maybe a confident opinion, or even an "I don't know" that tells them I'm just not the right person to ask. I can say when I look for advice, I would go to the salesman that knows his specialty well and tells me when he doesn't know instead of the salesman that seems to know all the answers.

P.S. It's worth noting that this rule, Rule #13: Speak the truth, is the very definition of integrity. It's late in the list as I realized at some point I didn't have an item about integrity and I wanted somethign that would encapsulate the very center of it. Well this is it. You accept christ and you are rightrous in God's eyes. But if you want to be seen by men as a person of integrity you must speak the truth.