You’ve heard me say it before: nobody gets too much encouragement. That’s axiomatic. Yet one of the most common ways to discourage a leader is through anonymous comments. (That’s one reason why so many blogs and news feeds turn off the comments section – people find it very easy to be rather unvirtuous when they can hide behind the anonymity of the Internet.)
It’s surprising, but even though most people know that encouragement goes a lot further than discouragement, sometimes unsigned comments still come along from time to time.
My usual response to them is to ignore them; after all, if someone isn’t willing to stand behind what she or he writes, then it obviously isn’t worth pursuing.
I want to give you an example that isn’t personal, and so isn’t discouraging – it’s just disappointing. Last Sunday, I received a connection card that didn’t have a name on it. On the back, rather than responding in some way to the message (which was on having a heart to listen like Solomon, 1 Kings 3), the individual simply printed, “The NLT sounds gosh awful”.
I started preaching from the New Living Translation about a year ago, after the editors of the New International Version made significant changes to the translation. The program we use to display the Scriptures on the screens moved to that new edition, thus rendering our pew Bibles different from what would be on the screens. (Besides, I’m not a fan of the grammatical changes that were made to the NIV.) Given all that, it seemed logical to change to reading and preaching from a translation that used good grammar and reads in contemporary language. Most folks have just gone with the flow on this.
Had my anonymous connection card submitter affixed her or his name to the card, I would have explained all this, and given more reasons for why I have opted to use this translation. But because the comment was anonymous, the individual lost the opportunity to benefit from that explanation, and any pastoral care I might have offered in the context of the conversation. And I lost out on a chance to encourage another person.
Anonymous comments don’t build up. Whether you’re saying something helpful or something that bothers you, when you deal with other people, always identify yourself. It opens doors for effective communication, and even spiritual growth!
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1.7 – yes, in the NLT!).