Personal Posts

Words Can Tear Down or Built Up

A friend in a Master’s program recently took a pass/fail class designed to weed out weaker and mismatched students from the program.

After spending less than 10 minutes in one-on-one communication, the professor deemed him to be ill suited for the program and its associated profession.

He was summarily failed. Although discouraged, he repeated the class with another instructor, who declared him to be functioning at the PhD level!

Another friend was wrapping up her last semester of college, doing her student teaching. Things were going well and the mid-semester report was glowing.

Imagine her dismay when her mentor’s final assessment asserted that she was not fit to be an educator.

It took quite a while for her to rebound from the shock and disappointment; she selected a different career and never taught again.

Anytime someone has authority over another, their words carry a great deal of weight—so much so that career choices can be unnecessarily abandoned and self-esteem destroyed.

If you find that you have to deliver disheartening news, make sure the recipient knows why; explain your reasons; salt it with something positive; and never abandon them when they are at their weakest.

It is far better to use your position of authority to encourage others, to build them up, and to strengthen them.

Imagine my friend and how hard he will work and how far he will go, now that he is secure in the knowledge that he is functioning at the Ph.D. level.

With authority comes responsibility; use it well.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

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