Should Christians Be Straight Shooters?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about people who are straight shooters. Everyone knows that type of person, right? These are people who say whatever is on their mind and aren’t really too concerned about your reaction. These people can be very polarizing—you either love them or hate them. To a degree, I’ve always envied them and desired to be a little more like them.
Obviously, we shouldn’t say everything we think. Some things can be unhelpful, hurtful, and even sinful. But I do think there is something to being honest and even frank at times. In a world where people are becoming offended if you breathe in the wrong direction, maybe it’s time we become a little more brazen.
Honesty vs. Offense
I have a lot of respect for the people I know who shoot me straight. I know where I stand with them and they with me. Many of them have the boldness to say hard things at the risk of offending me, but they care more about seeing me grow and be better than they worry about losing my friendship. I believe many of their personalities lean this way, but I’m not unconvinced that this isn’t something we could all learn and become better at.
In a hyper-sensitive culture, if we adopt this strategy, we obviously run the risk of offending people. I think that’s where knowing someone and their personality can be useful before we opt to say hard things, but I also think we should weigh whether those are the types of people we need in our lives as well. Maybe at this point you’re saying, “Wait, don’t you usually write about Christian living types of things?” I’m certainly glad you asked!
The Honest Apostle
I don’t think we have to look any further than the man who wrote most of our New Testament as an example—the Apostle Paul. Paul didn’t shrink back from saying hard things to people. Whether it was in his letters or to their faces, Paul was more concerned with helping people become mature followers than he was worried about hurting their feelings. He was more interested in making disciples than making friends.
Don’t get me wrong, most of the time Paul would compliment people and make much of the things they were doing right. He didn’t just go around telling people how bad they were or point out the flaws in how they were following Christ. He did both and he genuinely loved the people he addressed and wrote to. But he was willing to say the hard thing and be a straight shooter.
Paul was even willing to say the hard thing to people that many were probably afraid to shoot straight. The instance of him confronting Peter comes to mind. Peter was eating with Gentile followers until some Jews came on the scene then he shrank back for fear of what the other Jews might think. Paul calls him out.
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” - Galatians 2:11-14
There were a group of Jews who believed to be fully Christian that circumcision was necessary. Peter knew this was wrong, but fearing them he removed himself from true Gentile believers and led others astray with him—even Barnabas. Paul knew this was bad and he couldn’t sit by and act like it wasn’t happening. He knew there were gospel issues at stake so he confronts Peter to his face.
I think we can learn from Paul. There are typically always things to be found to admire about people (unless you’re the Galatians) and we should be quick to recognize and point those out. Sometimes though, we need to be willing to lovingly say the hard thing. Lovingly is the key. We aren’t trying to be morally superior, we are trying to spur one another on towards good works (Hebrews 10:24). We aren’t trying to offend, we are trying to love someone enough to tell them the truth when maybe no one else will.
Straight shooters are polarizing, especially in our current culture. There is a certain boldness that comes with being someone who will say the hard thing—maybe even a certain quality of leadership. I think sometimes it is right for Christians to be people who will do this. What about you? Do you like straight shooters or do you think there’s a better approach?