Speak truth in love and don’t be afraid

I left a bad review for the restaurant where I had dinner last night. We stayed in this really lovely hotel in Manchester, and this cute little Scottish man came and picked us up in the shuttle. And then he even helped carry our bags. Originally I had thought that we could walk somewhere and get something to eat, but the plans just didn’t work out that way. So we had to stay and eat here in the hotel instead.

No big deal, right? There’s a restaurant. Well, as we’d been checking in, they asked if we wanted to make reservations. I’d said no because I’d expected we would do something else, but our plans changed. So we went to the restaurant and sat down, and the little waiter that showed up was a complete snob about it. We apologized for not having reservations and were more than willing to go make reservations so that we could sit in the completely empty dining room, but he didn’t give us that option. And then he proceeded to be curt and distant through the whole experience. I’ve never felt so unwelcome in a restaurant in my life.

At first I thought maybe I was just misunderstanding. That it was cultural. But as dinner went on and he continued to turn up his nose at us, I had to come to the conclusion that he was just rude. I mean, you shouldn’t have to feel obligated to apologize every time someone comes to your table to take orders or deliver food.

And when the whole thing was done, another little waitress asked us to fill out a comment card. Normally I’m very glad to fill them out, but this time I felt sick about it. Because every question they asked was a No. And there’s nothing that turns my stomach upside down more than having to say bad things about someone’s service or company, even if it’s true.

And the most harrowing part? They wanted your name and your address and what room number you were staying in. And I had a moment where I thought about leaving that part blank. But that’s cowardly. If you’re going to criticize someone, be fair about it, but don’t be anonymous either. If you aren’t willing to stand up and be counted by name when you issue criticism, do you really expect anyone will take you seriously?

waiterToday’s verses are Ephesians 4:14-15.

Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.

We have to tell the truth. Period. That is something God has called us to do. But telling the truth doesn’t have to look like a sledgehammer. You can tell people the truth in a kind way.

And, being honest, telling the truth helps all of you. In the case of our very rude waiter, he needs to understand that the way he’s acting is hurting his employer’s reputation. We wouldn’t have been doing him or them any favors if we’d just acted like nothing had been wrong.

But it’s my hope and intention that the feedback I left was rational and kind. Because our food was great. And the waitress was wonderful. It was just this one person that really damaged the whole experience.

You aren’t helping anyone if you see something is wrong and you do nothing about it. Ignoring the facts or living in denial won’t make the situation go away, and it won’t help you either. But if you aren’t willing to stand behind your statements, no one is going to listen.

But if you’ve been rational, if you’ve been kind, if you’ve actually spoken the truth, you have nothing to worry about. And you shouldn’t be afraid.

So remember that the next time someone invites feedback after you’ve had a bad experience. It’s tempting to just let it go, especially if you don’t like conflict. But ignoring the issues won’t solve anything. It just puts off the inevitable.