When asked for your honest opinion . . !


“Do not use a hatchet to remove a fly from your friend’s forehead..” Chinese Proverb HOW often we are approached by someone who wants an honest opin ion about his short story, a poem, maybe a decision he has made or even what you think of the interior of his house: And you look at him with eyes of a quarter back out to get a goal and smash with foot, head and arms! “You asked for it!” you glibly tell yourself as you destroy the person completely. Listen to this little poem:

I watched them tearing a building down: A gang of men in a busy town. With a ho-heave-ho and lusty yell, they swung a beam and a sidewall fell. I asked the foreman, “Are these men skilled, As the men you’d hire if you had to build?” He gave me a laugh saying, “No indeed! Just common labor is all I need. I can easily wreck in a day or two, what builders take a year to do.”

I tho’t to myself as I went my way, which of these two roles have I tried to play? Am I a builder who works with care: Measuring life by the rule and square? Do I shape my deeds with a well-made plan; patiently doing the best I can? Or am I a wrecker who walks the town, Content with the labor of tearing down?

And maybe that’s a question worth asking ourselves: Are we destroyers with our blunt criticism or builders? A little boy said to his father, “Let’s play darts. I’ll throw the darts and you say, `Wonderful!’” Here was a boy who was not afraid to ask for the encouragement he needed. Most aren’t like that; they come to us hoping for such words and slink back, broken, battered!

There is this sad yet meaningful story about the devastating effects of discouragement: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the famous 19th Century poet and artist, was once approached by an elderly man who asked him to look at a few of his sketches and drawings. As gently as possible, Rossetti told the man that the sketches were of no value and showed little talent.

The visitor was disappointed but asked the artist if he could take a look at just a few more, which were all done by a young art student. Rossetti looked over the second batch of sketches and immediately became enthusiastic over the talent they revealed. “These,” he said, “oh, these are good! Very good! Who is this fine, young artist? Your son?”

“No,” replied the visitor sadly. “It is I – forty years ago. If only I had heard your praise then. For you see, I became discouraged by my master and gave up!” Mother Teresa wisely said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless…!”


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