I was always brought up to be polite and considerate to others, although this was partly from my parents’ perspective so I didn’t embarrass them! A familiar mantra from my mother was “what will the neighbours think?” Now this was often not just in response to childish naughtiness, but simply a reaction to my asserting myself in ways she didn’t feel comfortable with. Given we had an age gap of 42 years and I grew up in the late 60s/70s it’s actually quite understandable, however I did used to wish she was more radical and feisty as my elder sister was. Just today I caught myself mirroring my parents when we took a wrong turning and had to quickly turn the car using the entry to someone’s driveway! My Dad used to ‘go mad’ (as we Northern kids of my generation would say) if anyone used our drive to turn round.
As I have moved through life forming my own opinions, beliefs and values, it’s been interesting to see how my confidence has grown and I have learnt to have courage in my own convictions, regardless of whether they may be popular with other people. Something I find hard to do in my current job is having to assess the performance of other staff, committing my views to paper so that this can/may be shared at a staff appraisal. The same system applies to me so I am on the receiving end sometimes too. This has the potential to be a blessing or a huge negative. The problem is balancing honesty with fairness when I have misgivings, and after all it is only my opinion and interpretation of what I have experienced going on at work.
However, Titus 3:2 tells us ” To slander or abuse or speak evil of no one, to avoid being contentious, to be forbearing (yielding, gentle, and conciliatory), and to show unqualified courtesy toward everybody.” (Amplified Bible)
God takes it seriously the way we relate to each other, but while we should be considerate in our treatment of others I do think we must contemplate realities and not be lazy or dismissive regarding misgivings. I hope in the coming days to be more able to speak out and say what needs saying while considering the well being of the other person, it’s really about doing to others as you would have them do to you, to quote Jesus Christ. The challenge for me is thinking outside the box and being able to contribute to conversations and situations with integrity and (hopefully) honesty. This requires courage of course, especially resisting the preoccupation with what anyone else may think of me (remembering those ‘neighbours’!)