How many weeks would it take for me to get fired?
That was the wager several of my coworkers had after a staff meeting during my first year as a teacher. What prompted this wager? When the principal asked for input on a particular topic, I raised my hand and gave my opinion.
That was almost 15 years ago. I worked in that school district for over a decade before moving on. As the years past, that principal became one of my most influential mentors and ultimately one of my close friends. I stood out from the crowd that day for speaking my mind.
If you want to be a person that stands out from the crowd, you need to think deeply about what you believe and then be willing to speak your mind in a respectful and constructive way. Your opinion is only as valuable as the thought you put into it.
Photo Credit: Matthew Henry
(Courtesy of Unsplash)
All too often, when asked for our opinion, we first gauge what we think the other person wants to hear. We are hesitant at times to truly state what we believe. We justify this to ourselves for the sake of “keep the peace” or to “not ruffle feathers.” In reality this leads to much worse problems such as lack of trust, frustration and ultimately a decrease in our value in the relationship.
The book of Daniel is a case study in the juxtaposition of people who choose to speak what they think their boss wants to hear, in comparison with how Daniel chose to respond. The cultural practice of the time was to kill advisors who offered input that contradicted the king. The expression “don’t kill the messenger“, would have literally applied.
Numerous times throughout the story the king would ask his advisors for opinions. Consistently, all but Daniel would respond with their own interests in mind. They would attempt to please the king and avoid certain death. Daniel on the other hand, would pray and ultimately offer thoughtful responses he believed to be true regardless of the consequence.
We read the first example of this in chapter 2 when Daniel interprets a dream for the king. He informs the king that the royal authority his enjoyed was merely on loan from God and that he would soon lose the kingdom (Daniel 2:37-39). Rather then being killed from sharing this ominous news Daniel was promoted.
A few chapters later the ante is raised even higher when the king had a second dream. Daniel’s interpretation was that the king would “be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox…” (Daniel 4:25). He goes on to tell the king his only hope is to stop sinning and throw himself on the mercy of God. Daniel continued to speak his mind throughout his life and career whenever asked. As a result he was consistently promoted and asked for his advise continually.
Our opinion is only good if it well thought out and if it is truly our opinion. One of the great pitfalls we make is trying to guest how those around us want us to respond.
What opinions do you have that need to be shared?