Fr. Dale Matson
I recently offered some corrective feedback to a brother. One test of whether my feedback is authentic and not me just being a critical parent is how much it pains me to say it. If there is eagerness, then it is probably not necessary to say it. If it is not spoken in love, it probably should not be said either.
There is an additional event that will follow corrective feedback I’ve offered to others as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow. A brother will offer me feedback and that happened twice yesterday. My friend of over fifty years called to point out some things I could improve on with some Kindle Singles I had recently published. “Yes Phil, spell check does not catch the word break when I intended brake”. “Yes Phil I shouldn’t use a brand name that may be obsolete in five years which renders my example void.” Etc. Etc. Etc. He had lots of good things to say but…did I remember those things? Not so much.
Another brother of twenty years; a former colleague and I finally managed to get together after quite some time. I was quite annoyed with him since he seemed to be continually putting me off. Can’t friends find the time for one another? He told me in our two hour conversation that I had said some hurtful things to him. “You can push people Dale. Others feel that way about you too.” Ah yes, the sickening sense in the stomach signaling the truth of what he was saying. How often have I misused the gift of exhortation? “You’ve done a lot of things but we get tired of hearing about it.” Oops I guess he’s right again. I’m sorry Peter for hurting you. Please help me by telling me at the time so things don’t fester under the surface.
We all have blind spots and in the Johari Window there are things that others see in us that we are unaware of. That is why the Psalmist says, “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults.” (Psalm 19:12, KJV). The Holy Spirit does convict us from time to time also.
Many years ago I was given a job evaluation at a place where I worked at an entry level position. I walked in expecting to receive an employee of the year nomination. Instead the supervisors told me that no one wanted to work with me. I was considered by my coworkers to be a self-righteous S.O.B. I think one of my supervisors; John B. actually smiled as he delivered the bad news. I hope I have changed over the years partly in response to this. I hope being a priest doesn’t feed into that tendency and make it less visible to me.
The point of this is to say that our spouses, siblings and children, if we are fortunate enough to be blessed with them are the first in line as our consultants. After that, it is our brothers and sisters in Christ.
I was once told as I smoked a cigarette outside church, “You know Dale, Christ loves you exactly where you are at but he loves you enough not to let you remain there.” After much prayer, my will to quit emerged and about two years later, January 10th 1983, I quit smoking.
Keep those consultations coming brothers and sisters. I think at age 66 there is still room for a tad more improvement. Amen.