This is the fourth in my series of modern spiritual disciplines for those intent on improving their character and, for those disciples of Jesus, being transformed into His image. The others can be found here, here, and here.
I dare say that anyone would learn a lot about themselves by trying this little practice for a day or more.
If you pay close attention to conversations, you’ll be surprised by how much time and effort we spend in correcting one another. I’m not talking about teachers correcting their students’ incorrect answers. It happens in normal discourse all the time, usually needlessly and often inappropriately.
Some of the best examples of this phenomenon are when couples try to relate some story about a shared experience. A two-minute tale can turn into twenty or more as they bicker about the exact date, time of day, make of car, distance traveled, name of relative, or other minute detail that is not even germane to the story being told. (Yes, I’m regularly guilty of this.)
The simple fact is that we like to be right. And it’s even better to be right at the expense of another. But what’s the point? Is being right, often at the cost of a peaceful relationship, what we are looking for? That’s certain not the selfless way of Jesus.
So, I humbly suggest this practice: Go an entire day without correcting anyone. In fact, since this is a far less common occurrence than the areas covered by my other disciplines, you could try it for a few days to a week.
Granted, there are times when someone has to corrected for his or her own good. (“Yum, this arsenic would go great on my ice cream sundae!”) If you are attentive to your own speech and others’, however, you’ll realize quickly that most “mistakes” can be ignored with far less damage than a correction would cause. You’ll not only spare the correctee some discomfort, you’ll spare yourself the embarrassment of having your correction corrected half the time. And you’ll avoid the argument such an exchange causes nearly all the time.
There are a lot of “one another” verses in scripture: love one another, lay down your lives for one another, bear one another’s burdens, and more. A study of these will be very enlightening. You will note, however, that nowhere does it say, “fix one another”. Leave that to the One who does it right.
Let the slips slide. Esteem people over nit-picking. Chillax. Give your editorial skills a rest. Accuracy is overrated. Relationships are undervalued.