March 1, 2018

Candor is Queen

People don't care how much we know, until they know how much we care.

Jared Thurmon

“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel” —Carl W. Buehner

Kindness is king. Candor is queen. Experience is everything. These three phrases changed my life. Life is made of moments: moments that make us cry; moments that make us laugh; moments that make us feel alive.

Is how we treat people more important than the truth we share with them? Before you think I’ve gone soft, take a look at how Ellen White put it:

“Those whom Christ commends in the judgment may have known little of theology, but they have cherished His principles. Through the influence of the divine Spirit they have been a blessing to those about them. Even among the heathen are those who have cherished the spirit of kindness; before the words of life had fallen upon their ears, they have befriended the missionaries, even ministering to them at the peril of their own lives. Among the heathen are those who worship God ignorantly, those to whom the light is never brought by human instrumentality, yet they will not perish. Though ignorant of the written law of God, they have heard His voice speaking to them in nature, and have done the things that the law required. Their works are evidence that the Holy Spirit has touched their hearts, and they are recognized as the children of God.”1.

People don’t care how much we know, until they know how much we care.

Or how about Paul? “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2).

People don’t care how much we know, until they know how much we care.

This was the great debate among the religious leaders in Jesus’ day; they felt candor was king: just laying out the truth, being totally honest and forthright, the most important thing.

But Jesus came along saying absolutely shocking things, such as, Love God and love your neighbor; upon these “hang all the law and the prophets” (see Matt. 22:40, NKJV; see also verses 37-39).2 In other words, these are the most important things. But Jesus didn’t stop there. It was easy to say they “loved God,” but they didn’t like that latter part. So they asked, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29).

The apostle John put out this litmus test: If you can show you love your neighbor, then you can know that you’re sincere when you say you love God (see 1 John 4:20).

Don’t get me wrong—candor is very important, very important. No kingdom is happy without a king and a queen; and without both, chaos and corruption ensue. Sometimes I’m scared at how many of our organizations and relationships lack both kindness and candor.

Isaiah 58 and Matthew 25 drive the point home. It’s thejudgment scene: God isn’t asking about how much information we shared with people, as important and life-changing as information can be. He’s clear about what He’s looking for. He’s asking, “How did you treat people?”

I love His candor!

  1. Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1898), p. 638.
  2. Bible texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Jared Thurmon is liaison for strategic partnerships for Adventist Review Ministries.