Tip of the Week

Look for the kernel of truth and take one step forward.

Some people never take a step forward.  Why?  They are too preoccupied with changing other people.  They may be fixated on what someone else has done to them.  Yet, the truth is that I cannot change others.  Nor can I really do anything about what others have done to me.  I can address the way I respond to these circumstances.  In particular, I can address how I respond to these circumstances and people.

A number of years ago, I was part of a leadership seminar in Atlanta. Gordon MacDonald was a featured speaker.  He spoke about leaders who receive criticism and then shared some of his own experiences.  He said, "I have learned to look for the kernel of truth in the criticism I receive."  Difficult?  It sure is.  Yet, this principle has been very helpful to me.


Sometimes I find it difficult when my wife or children communicate some frustration or displeasure with something I’ve done.  I can get offended by what is said.  I may even disagree with what is said.  Yet, I need to be honest as I listen to their words.

  • Is there a kernel of truth in what they are saying? 
  • Could it be that taking one step forward means that I take a good look at that kernel of truth? 
  • What do I need to address in my life?

I remember being in an "intense" discussion with one of my daughters.  I was angry.  I didn’t like her response.  I didn’t care for her tone of voice.  However, it began to dawn on me that there was a kernel of truth in what she was saying. 

When I address my own behavior, my own attitude, and my own functioning, then I begin to move forward.  This begins with my becoming aware of what needs to be addressed — in me.  Sometimes I become aware of these things as I read Scripture, journal, and reflect on my life.  At other times, I become painfully aware of what I need to address through what others are saying to me.  Regardless, the way forward is not found in reacting.  The way forward is to look for that kernel of truth and begin to address it. 

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One thought on “Tip of the Week

  1. Important reminder.  Thanks.  I don’t think I’ve ever learned anything from praise I’ve received.  I’ve not always learned from criticism.  Sometimes I’ve just reacted.  But when I’ve listened, criticism has been a teacher.