Happy New Year to all. Milan and I cannot believe another decade has passed. We had some great family time and of course the usual stressful moments that are always a part of the holiday season. One conversation really stands out in my mind. My son asked me an amazing question over the holidays. A brave question. A thought provoking question. A vulnerable question. It was an invitation to be honest. He asked, “What do you see in me that most needs to be changed?” Wow! I was honored that he gave me permission to share my perspective and impressed that he was asking for that kind of feedback.
Have you ever asked someone close to you, someone who knows you well, this kind of question? First, we must own that we have imperfections to ask such a question. Proverbs 2:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of the enemy.” In a way, my son was inviting me to wound him with the truth. It is hard to hear an honest evaluation from someone about what we do that harms our relationships. A defensive person who has to explain away every criticism and blame others for everything that goes wrong could never ask this kind of question. They are defended against seeing their faults, weakness or blind spots.
Proverbs 27:17 says “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” If we are going to see ourselves as others see us, then we have to ask for feedback about how we are perceived. We may not agree with everything we hear, but most likely there are some hard kernels of truth in the criticisms or feedback we receive from others.
Can you see your flaws? Are you aware of the ways you don’t always measure up? I’m going to spend the next few weeks challenging you in the area of “humility”. It is a very important trait because if you can acknowledge and accept your limitations and own your part of the problem, certain things will be true about how to relate to others.
How do you think I will feel if my son takes my answer to heart and really makes an effort to grow? How would it impact our relationship if I felt he really listened, owned his shortcomings and made observable changes? Of course, I would be delighted. I would believe my opinion mattered and my words were taken seriously. I would know he felt safe enough with me to ask the question in the first place. I would find joy in knowing his family relationships would grow and improve.
Wouldn’t it thrill you if your kids or spouse asked you the same question my son asked me? It would be even more heartwarming and significant if that conversation resulted in changes that deepened your bond? You can really win someone’s heart by asking the question my son asked. It’s a great test of your humility. Ask the question. Listen without being defensive. Proverbs 18:15 says, “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.”
If you hear an earful here is a good response: “Wow, that was a lot and I want you to know I’m taking you seriously so I’m going to start with one thing so I can be focused and show you I’m serious about improving our relationship. I can really agree with what you said about……….so I’m going to focus on that first. Sit down and make some concrete goals to change. Then, do it! Let me know what happens.