Engaging Culture

It’s Time to Point With the Sword of Truth Instead of Chopping

One of my favorite quotes is from writer Anne Lamott: “You don’t always have to chop with the sword of truth, you can point with it too.” In the age of the internet, most of us do a lot of chopping and not enough pointing. In the best instances, we’re upset and trying to right a wrong, and in the worst instances, Internet anonymity has created vicious critics and quite a few crazy loons. Either way, I think Anne is right. As a result, I’m changing the tone of this blog. Whether I’ve been right or wrong, I’ve sometimes been too critical in the past, and honestly, there’s no point to criticism if it can’t be delivered in a way that makes people want to change.

That’s why from this point on, I’m going to try to bring up media and leadership issues in a more positive way. Will it work? I don’t know so I’ll need your help. Stick with me, and let’s see if we can’t help change the culture in a way that actually makes them want to do it.

I had a high school football coach who put a quote on the wall of our locker room: “Tact is the ability to tell a man to go to hell and make him happy he’s on his way.”  Two thoughts come to mind:

First – of all the quotes for football players, why did he pick that one? And second, it makes a lot of sense (after all, I’ve never forgotten it.)

Let’s take a shot at being more civil, respectful, and still being witty enough to drive the point home.

Please let me know when I’ve failed.


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  1. I was looking for a deep meaningful quote when I ran across this one from Forbes 100 Best Quotes On Leadership and it made me laugh.

    “To have long term success as a coach or in any position of leadership, you have to be obsessed in some way.” —Pat Riley

    If you have an obsession Phil, it is for Christians to realize that just going out and blabbing Christian clichés to young Christians and non-christians, may not be the best effort when they are appearing in the media.

    Sure we need to be respectful when we criticize in order to help people improve, but sometimes we need someone pounding away at us to help us to snap out of our Christian lethargic stupor. So there is nothing wrong with daddy giving us a professional spiritual spanking once in a while. LOL

    Now, here is the real quote I was going to share also from the Forbes List:

    “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” —Lao Tzu

    This quote embodies all the elements of proper leadership of which criticism is one. If you think Tzu delivered all his criticism in a nice paddy-cake fashion then …think again. The excellent result of helping people see the professional way forward will diminish any harsh words that may have had to been said along the way.

    “Rock on” Phil, I think you are doing just fine and quite frankly I’m very tired of cleaning-up after non-professional Christians too. But “praise the Lord” for all of us in our non-perfect conditions. Somehow He finds a way to use us all, if we would just let Him.

      1. Well be careful when you use it because if you do as he says in the quote very well as a leader, then clueless upper management may think why do we need this high paid leader if the workers are doing so well? LOL Don’t ask me how I understand that. LOL

      1. Thanks Phil. That’s how I would interpret it as a coach. The original quote is attributed to Churchill: “Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.”

        By the way, I have always enjoyed your blog. You consistently provide a lot to think about.

  2. I’m glad and excited that you are trying this shift! I look forward to reading more of your articles to come and pray that it will make positive changes.

  3. Thanks for your attitude of respect. I really admire it. I learn a lot from your newsletters, not only facts but mainly godly perspective on areas of leadership and media. Great job (in my opinion), Arthur [from Poland :)]

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