I love this story. It’s story from long ago and it still makes laugh out loud as I think about it today.
Back when we were in our early thirties my husband made the decision to venture out and start a new business. It was kind of crazy move at the time…but we were young and crazy. He began with just a handful of clients and hoped that over time the business would grow.
One of the things he did quite regularly was to arrange golf outings with his current clients and also potential clients. It seems to be the way that some guys communicate best…talking while pushing a little white ball around a golf course.
There was one particular day when he was going golfing with 3 business clients and as I left for the day I wished him luck with my parting words, “Do something!”
And you wouldn’t believe what he did.
When I arrived home on that infamous day, I found my husband standing in the middle of the kitchen wearing green khaki pants and a light teal green golf shirt with horizontal strips. (Oh, my gosh…I am laughing all over again as I type.). There he stood in a green outfit.
Now, some of you guys might be saying, “Yeah…so what? A green outfit sounds like the perfect thing to wear on a golf course.”
Ah, no. Trust me – ask any woman and she will tell you that is not a good combo on the color wheel of fashionable outfits.
When I saw my oh-so-handsome husband standing there wearing that oh-so-awful green outfit I stopped dead in my tracks and I said to him, “Did you golf in that outfit today?” (Please, oh please tell me no.) He furrowed his brows and said very cautiously, “Yesss…..”
My son Steven was in the same room and also moved closer to the conversation. My husband then turned to my son and cried out in a voice filled will panic and angst, “Steven! I THOUGHT you looked at me funny! Whyyyy didn’t you say something?????” Steven responded by saying, “I kind of wondered if you were going to wear that golfing, Dad. I just never thought that you would…”
We have told the green outfit story over and over through the years at my husband’s expense. That day Steven and I laughed so hard we could hardly breathe. My husband is very good at laughing at himself so he hammed it up a bit – telling us how he caught his clients eyeing him a few times, and how the bag boy gave him a double take, etc. – until we were doubled over. Wish you could have seen it.
Here’s the thing about the green outfit story. My husband will tell you that when he put his outfit together on that dreaded day…he had a feeling that it wasn’t quite right. When my son looked at him in a peculiar sort of way, he had a stronger feeling that maybe he should head back to the clothes closet. But instead, he ignored the inner voice inside of him and he ignored the look on his son’s face. He simply pressed on to the golf couse telling himself that everything was fine. BIG mistake.
The green outfit story brings up all kinds of questions that I think would be fun to bring up for a table topic the next time I get together with family or friends. (This is what I do when you sit at my table, so you might want to reconsider if I offer the invitation.)
Here are the questions I would ask –
If you see someone headed down a wrong direction or doing something that could hurt them or make them look foolish – would you say something? Or would you say nothing to avoid hurting their feelings or causing a conflict?
It gets complicated. There isn’t always a black and white answer.
Let’s see what the Bible has to say about this –
”Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a transgression, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”– Galatians 6:1
”Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” – Proverbs 27:6
It’s still a bit complicated. If we go out on a limb to “warn” someone it may not be received very well. They may not look at our warning as being the loving thing to do.
Let’s head back to Galatians and see again what the Bible has to say –
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:10
And then there is the question – how do I respond when someone offers me correction?
”Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.” – Proverbs 12:1
(ok, that’s rough…) Here’s another one –
”But a wise man, when rebuked, will love you all the more.” – Proverbs 9:8
”Conceited people do not like to be corrected, they never ask for advice from those who are wiser.” – Proverbs 15:12
Okay…lots to think about!
So what’s your lean? Do you tend to offer loving correction to that person wearing the “green outfit”? Are you good at receiving correction when it comes your way? And does it make a difference as to who does the correcting?
My lean is to speak up – to take the chance of offending someone if it might help them in their life or on their faith journey. I would only speak up to those who are very, very close to me. Otherwise, I would hesitate to say anything. But is that the right thing to do?
(Wait…So it turns out I’m wrong about offering correction to only those who are closest to me. I just had my daughter proof this post and she reminded me that I have been known to offer some corrections to a stranger at Target who yelled at me about my driving and the little kid who budged in front of me at the movie theater.) Whatever…
And if someone corrects me? I don’t love that. If they are close to me, I will accept it and learn from it – after I get my feelings hurt a little bit. If they are not close to me – I don’t take it well. I guess that puts me in the “stupid” category, doesn’t it?
A friend of mine enters graciously with me using words like, “Jack, may I have permission to speak about something I see going on in your life?” She’s so smart. There is something about giving me a choice in the matter and it prepares my heart to hear what she has to say. I also know that no matter what – she wants the best for me and believes the best about me. She speaks up because she loves me. And that makes it easier.
My sons have a way of teasing me mercilessly in the areas where I need correction. Like just today my son teased me about maybe getting myself to that hearing aid store. I decided to make that appointment for January 2020…it seemed like cancer and a hearing aid are a little much for a girl to handle in one year.
It’s not an easy thing to know when God might be asking us to offer some gentle correction to someone who might benefit from it. And sometimes the right thing to do is to just sit quiet. I think it’s important to take our lead from the Lord.
It’s not always easy to piece through whether someone is offering cricticism or correction. Either way, it’s worth considering their words and asking God, along with a close friend or family member, – is this true about me?
And it’s probably best that we refrain from correcting strangers.
Ultimately, I think that we all desire to become the best version of ourselves – the person who God created us to be. And I think in order to do that we need to draw from other people’s perspectives and to ask for advice every now and then.
It might help us to avoid some of those green outfit kind of days…