Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Honesty Talk

My first year at Beaver Creek Bible Camp as an assistant director was a notable one. I was hired to be the assistant but because Larry the director only made it to camp a few days before camp, I had to do all the preparation for it! Needless to say it was quite the experience: recruiting, planning, procuring stuff, etc. We had a good summer and the next summer Larry declined to be the director. With many promises of "we'll be with you all the way" from the board I fearfully took over his position. Although I was far from the perfect director I must say off all the camp positions I've had, being a director was the one I enjoyed the most.

Back to Larry. Larry was a people oriented, charismatic, up-front kind of leader. I learned many things from him but the most useful was probably that of "the talk." I remember him gathering our leadership team together in the office late one night and telling us it was time to have an honesty talk. Instead of talking about camp business in an impersonal way, he basically challenged us to talk honestly about how we were each doing with being and serving at camp. He wanted us to share how we were being impacted by each other. I remember it being quite awkward at first and then eventually everyone got . . . vulnerable. There was much honesty shared: especially about frustrations with each other and with what was happening at camp. Tears were shed. By the end of that conversation though we all felt more understood and real with each other and we put an action plan into place to deal with some of thing things that had finally been spoken out loud. I was amazed at this process and have tried to practice it myself as a leader and teach it to other leaders. This past summer as I was doing some consulting for the camp's new leadership team I took them through an honesty talk and I could tell as fears, frustrations, etc. were spoken out loud that something special happened there. "Stuff" builds up and although on great teams honesty happens all the time, sometimes we need to go out of our way to have a time to release our pent up secret frustrations, thoughts, and feelings. It gives us a chance to work some things out as well as let people in on where we are emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. An added benefit is that in my opinion teams that choose to be consistently honest with each other are more productive, accomplish more in less time, and find their work much more fulfilling (and less stressful). That's my observation anyway.

We don't usually want or choose to be that honest with people but sometimes it is essential. And it's not just for leadership teams either. A few nights ago Jobina and I were awake late at night and there was some awkwardness that had been building for awhile. I sensed this and took a deep breath and (without calling it an honesty talk) took a risk. I started being really honest with her about some issues we were facing and how I was feeling about it. Although scary, we ended up having a really good talk (Jobina was honest about her "stuff" too) and I felt so much better after it. When two or more people choose to lovingly be vulnerable and honest, when they get things off their chest, when they expose their secret thoughts and feelings - amazing things happen. Just try it.

May Light increase!

P.S. I chose the skydiving image because to me it captures the risk and the rush involved with choosing to be honest with someone. You've got to jump out of the plane to experience the thrill!

1 comment:

Dayna said...

ah, yes... of the many things i have learned from you i think being honest, talking through things, and allowing myself to be vulnerable stand out the most. whether in the form of an official honesty talk or throughout the course of the day (and not only at camp). i alos remember you telling me that keeping quiet about issues is not necessarily showing love to the other person. that changed my life and my relationships.