12 February, 2014

Avoiding harm

I found this great advice from a veteran writer late last year: 
"When we tell only of our achievements, we do harm in two ways.
First, we imply we're above failure and therefore better or more mature than they are. Second, we imply that they're inferior because they struggle over issues that don't trouble us." Cec Murphey (See the whole blog post here.)
Here's a piece of honesty: this was one of our camping days
in Hokkaido last year. It was a pretty horrid day. The boys
were scared witless about the large bees that buzzed around
our tent. There were also a lot of mozzies about. Lots of anger
and shouting happened, and mostly by me!
Karen (an Aussie who works as a teacher in Cambodia, and who often reads and comments on this blog) wrote the following in response to the quote above:
I actually "hate" that some people hold missionaries up as "heroes". I know I'm not. I'm an ordinary person called to work in a different location, but I'm definitely no hero. I struggle, I fail, I shout at my kids and immediately wish I hadn't, I get tired, I get mad. I'm human. At the same time I love what God has called me to do.
It is one of the main reasons I keep this blog going, as a living testimony of how my family and I are just ordinary people, not heroes.

But Cec's words are good advice, not just for writers or missionaries, but it applies not just to professional writers, but for anyone on Facebook too! 

But as a missionary it is a good reminder that my newsletters or prayer letters should never just be about our family's or ministry's achievements. I've been accused in the past of being too open about our family's failures, but I'm not repenting of my ways! Yes, I've learned to be careful, especially about talking about other people in my family, but I will continue to be open about how human and not-perfect we are.

How about you? Has someone discouraged you by their seemingly perfect life? Has someone unexpectedly encouraged you by being honest about things in their life that aren't perfect?

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Great post, Wendy! I would rather be open and honest than discourage someone by editing out the not-so-perfect bits of my life. I agree about mentioning other people etc and I've learnt that some people I just can't share with because they ridicule me. I think people like to have 'heroes' so they don't want to hear that their heroes aren't perfect. I don't want to missionaries to feel they have to write prayer letters full of success stories. I'm not going to stop supporting them because x number of people haven't become Christians - that's God's work, and they are being faithful by serving Him as He has called them to.