Telling the truth seems to be more of a challenge for leaders these days. Media spin masters have taught all of us how to shape the truth to communicate our preferred message. It’s easy to criticize others, but frankly, almost every leader – including me – shades the facts to communicate a perspective we want remembered instead of laying out the plain truth.
One national commentator was recently criticized and then defended her position by claiming “my truth” is as factual and substantial as any truth. That aptly summarizes what so many people believe today – truth is the facts as they see them. Another problem is taking one fact and extrapolating or synthesizing a conspiracy-like set of conclusions. Politicians in both parties have mastered this practice. Truth is also a casualty when facts are invented, shared through social media, and then get picked up and shared as the truth. Sadly, even formerly trusted news sources now regularly make this mistake.
What can be done? It’s simple – we have to tell the truth. We have to use facts wisely and communicate what they really mean, not want we want them to mean. We cannot allow spin masters and message massagers to influence how we communicate. Christian leaders must set the pace on this issue – speaking truth to each other, about each other, about issues in the public square, and about the churches and organizations we lead.
Political leaders, media personalities, corporate executives, and entertainers all have public relations specialists who manage their messaging. Rather than admire their cunning, let’s countermand those practice with counter-cultural communication. Let’s model transparency, honesty, and diplomacy in the face of cultural duplicity. Let’s double-down on truth telling, and in doing so, demonstrate integrity and community in contrast to the vitriol and partisanship all around us.