“Wes, are you struggling with anger right now? Your reaction to him seems like you are.” No one said it to me at the time, but I wish they did. Ten years ago, it could have saved me a lot of time and pain.
One small step from wisdom to freedom is seeking out and responding well to correction.
How we respond to correction is one of the greatest single traits that distinguish the wise and foolish.
Why didn’t anyone address my anger issues at the time?
There was no one close enough, who knew enough and cared enough.
People may have said to someone else, “Have you ever noticed Wes’s anger problem?” They may have quietly judged me and/or kept their distance. Typically, when we notice a fault in someone we do one of two things…
“Flight or fight.”
When someone does correct us, we typically respond in one of two ways:
“Who is he to tell me I have an anger problem? He’s the one with problems.”
“I’m such a failure. I’ll never change. Everyone must think I’m a terrible person.”
If it goes well on both sides, the conversation could look more like this:
“Wes, are you struggling with anger right now? I noticed your reaction to him and just want to check in and see how you’re doing.”
“Really? (assuming I didn’t recognize the problem immediately) It’s certainly possible. Let me take some time to pray and consider it. Thanks for caring enough to point it out.”
For this to happen, I need to seek out wise people and invite them to speak into my life. I need to have the humility to receive correction, even when I don’t recognize it at first and seek growth more than affirmation.
My friend needs to care for me more than he dreads a difficult conversation or fears my reaction.
Before correcting me, he needs to first pray for me and search his own heart.
Then, he needs to humbly share his concern as a question or observation more than a criticism or judgment.
Take a quick inventory…
When was the last time someone corrected you and you responded gracefully?
Are you easy to correct? Ask around.
Is there a specific area of life that is off-limits to correction? (parenting style, marriage, use of money) Why?
Is there an important conversation you’ve been putting off?
After praying about it and searching your own heart, make a decision to have the tough conversation. You’re not responsible for their reaction. There’s one caveat: if there’s a chance of redemption. If you know it’s going to go poorly, keep praying, keep the relationship healthy, and wait for the right time.
Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. 8 Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. 9 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.
Psalm 141:5 says:
Let a righteous man strike me — it is a kindness; let him rebuke me — it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.