Choir Notes

To Tell the Truth
From Music and the Spoken Word
Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell • Program 4332

All of us need someone who cares enough to tell us the truth. Even when the truth is not what we want to hear, it can help us learn and grow and become better.

Years ago, a college student, brash and full of himself, worked as a teaching assistant for a legendary professor. One day the beloved professor invited his teaching assistant for a walk, put his arm around his shoulders, and said, "Randy, it’s such a shame that people perceive you as being so arrogant, because it’s going to limit what you’re . . . able to accomplish in life.”

"Looking back,” Randy recalled, "his wording was perfect.” This professor clearly wasn’t the only one who noticed his student’s character flaws, but somehow he was able to point them out in a way that no one else could—a way that inspired Randy to change.

Randy later observed: "There is an old expression, ‘a Dutch uncle,’ which refers to a person who gives you honest feedback. Few people bother doing that nowadays, so the expression has started to feel outdated, even obscure.”1

You don’t have to be an uncle—or a professor—to be this kind of friend, one who is both candid and caring, who is willing to say the right thing at the right time in the right way. The key is to share such constructive feedback from a foundation of genuine love and concern. Any other motive can evoke anger, defensiveness, and resistance to change.

But if our motives are good and our hearts are sincere, if we determine with great care and sensitivity what to say and how to say it, then we can inspire each other to overcome our weaknesses and become the people we were truly meant to be.

1 Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture (2008), 67–68.

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