That’s Not the Way I Would Have Said It

by Doy Moyer

You just can't please everyone. Nor should you try — you'll just frustrate yourself over and over because no matter what you say or do that would appease one, you'll run against others who just know they could have said it or done it better. Perhaps they could have. But they aren't you, and they aren't in your head putting together your thoughts. If they wanted to express themselves on a topic, they are certainly free to do so. But why discourage others in the process?

If what someone says is wrong, then address the error. If what someone says is right, then saying, "I would have said it this way" or "you didn't say this" or "what about that term that you didn't use" or any other like criticism is probably going to be a discouragement. And it sounds a bit arrogant to boot.

This is different, however, from moving a conversation forward in an encouraging way. "What is said is good and right. Here's an additional thought I have," or "Here is something else along these lines I've been thinking about" are far more encouraging ways to add to a conversation than, "I wouldn't have said it that way" or "you left out this" — as if the author should have been reading your mind to know this is what you are looking for on the topic. Let's learn to be a little more generous.

No one will say everything that might need to say within the context of a brief article or statement — and no one would be so arrogant, we hope, as to think that is the case of their own work. Authors are going to have a particular chain of thoughts that they want to put together, and they will not have thought of everything. This is one reason why we should learn to be modest in conclusions.

Words that are "good for edification" (Ephesians 4:29) can be difficult to come by these days, it seems. There are subtle ways that we end up discouraging each other, and we may not even realize it.

"That's not the way I would have said it." Of course not. That's part of what makes you "you." Say it your way. Be kind to others who say it their way. Be thankful for a variety of teaching good things.

And yes, I fully see the irony of this post. "That's not the way I would have said it" is not the way I want to say it. I love irony.

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