“If writers wrote as carelessly as some people talk, then adhasdh asdglaseuyt[bn[ pasdlgkhasdfasdf.” —Lemony Snicket
This morning, one of my co-workers came into my office where I was happily whittling away on a study guide my company is getting ready to publish. He revealed something to me that was majorly mortifying, altogether atrocious, downright disconcerting, mighty malodorous, and completely calamitous.
I, yes I, had an error on my Facebook page, a horrible (and wickedly ironic) one.
I misspelled my job title.
Not a bad thing if you’re a ornithologist, a sommelier, or a hermeneuticist. All those are incredibly difficult jobs requiring very specific (and I’m guessing non-interchangeable) skill sets. After all, you wouldn’t want a wine steward teaching you about birds, would you? How about a Bible scholar choosing the perfect Merlot to go with your Kobe beef?
I, however, do not hold one of these lofty positions. Oh no.
I’m an editor. Someone who has no excuse when it comes to being able to spell something…particularly the word “editor.” Seeing as I just added another “I” (making it “Editior”), I suppose I can blame it on the incredibly small font or the rapidity with which I double checked everything as I tried to beat the rush and swap over to the timeline format. Whatever the reason, I missed it.
But I digress. What I did isn’t as important as what my co-worker did…more specifically the manner in which he did it.
This guy, let’s call him Norbert to protect what little sliver of privacy he still possesses in this cyber crazy world of ours, who knows what I do for a living, chose not to call me out in the public sphere for my error. Never mind the fact that it was the orthographic equivalent of the Great Wall of China–one of the few man-made structures visible from outer space.
He did not gleefully point it out on my wall. Why? He said he didn’t want to embarrass me, particularly because it was late when he saw it, and he didn’t want it to sit out there all night gathering replies like random dust bunnies. Thanks to him, I didn’t wake up this morning to a self-esteem demolishing bunker buster of a post festooned with a string of LOLz. Everyone I know—all the way from my former students to the adorable granny I used to take Zumba classes with—would have dog piled on me. Why? Think about it. If there’s something more fun for people than catching a word nerd in a verbal faux pas, I don’t know of it. Except perhaps geocaching; that looks like a fabulous way to spend your spare time.
Instead, dearest Norbert came by my office, messenger bag on shoulder and coffee in hand, looking rather bashful and remonstrating himself (albeit only slightly) for the doleful news he was about to deliver. He did it tactfully in a performance worthy of a Golden Globe for “Best Actor in a Truly Awkward Situation.”
He told me, and I performed an Olympic-worthy headdesk (one that merited a 7.5 difficulty level and earned me a 9.0 from the German judge). I then fixed the error and began to ponder not only my own fallibility but also what else there was to be taken from it…spiritually speaking. Because there was a time my pride might never have recovered from such as this.
To my ultimate surprise and delight, there was a lesson for me. I began thinking about his methodology and realized that it was a perfect example of how Christians should correct one another in love.
Matthew 18:15-16 reads:
If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED.
Rather than tell two or three people (who might then tell two or three more), he came straight to me. Yes, it was in reference to an extraneous “I” in a word I should have spelled correctly, but the same principal holds true for everything from skipping church to cheating on a spouse or robbing the till. Matters only need to be escalated to those two or three witnesses–not the entire church–if (and only if) the mano-a-mano method fails to produce results.
The same thing holds for Matthew 7:1-5:
Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Believe it or not, I never castigate people for poor grammar or spelling because I have plenty of “planks” in my own eye in this regard. Likewise, none of us are without sin, and we shouldn’t be overly eager to point out the shortcomings of others because we have more than enough of our own to work through with the Lord’s help.
Remember brothers and sisters, we’re here to aid one another rather than tear each other down. Life is hard enough, and we shouldn’t be putting rocks in each other’s spiritual knapsacks as it were. Instead, as the apostle Paul said, we should “encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing” (1 Thess. 5:11).
Gold medal for you, Norbert. Gold medal all the way. 🙂