Truth and Love

Dear Hollywood Connect,

You wrote in your last essay that, “The people who are eager to speak the truth but are lacking in love are only abrasive. The people who are full of love but never speak up with the truth are softly ineffective. Truth and love. If you would be a friend, both are required of you.” You also mentioned, “The old axiom in show biz is true: it is indeed all about who you know. The question that we each must ask ourselves, therefore, and especially as artists, is this: Are we are being friends to those who we know?”

I spoke the truth to a first-time director who repeatedly refused to give direction, and instead of listening, he fired me. Regardless of how he responded to me, was I the true friend to confront him? Should I have been gentler and more loving?

A Cinematographer

Dear Cinematographer,

Thanks for the email. Those are very good questions. I'd be happy to give a few thoughts.

We'll never be able to predict how some people will respond to the truth, even when spoken in love. In fact, the Bible tells us not to be surprised when we are mistreated for doing what is right. Unfortunately, we're dealing with (and are ourselves) broken people who carry the wounds that life in a fallen world so often inflicts. This means that speaking the truth in love isn't a formula for achieving the results we want; it is, rather, the way we are directed to live, behave, and carry ourselves. Even in response to being fired, we then are able to say, "I may not have kept the job, but I did behave in a way that pleased God." Ultimately, being able to say that is always better than any job, no matter how big, small, or important to our career that job may be.

My other thought is that an important part of the love aspect of "speaking the truth in love" is what I will call the "time, place, and manner" of truth-telling. That is to say that in speaking the truth to somebody, love requires choosing wisely when we speak the truth, where we speak the truth, and how we speak the truth (for example, our tone, our word choices, whether we insist on our own way, the degree of professionalism we display, etc.). Without knowing how your specific situation went down, I can't comment on how you approached it. But if you suspect that you should have been gentler or more loving in your exchange with the director, that may be something you can address, perhaps even in following up with the director.

That's not to say that the truth spoken in love will always be gentle. Jesus certainly spoke the truth in love as He angrily flipped the moneychangers' tables in the temple, and that doesn't appear to have been gentle. The difference between what He did there and what we too often do, is that in the midst of all the table-turning, Jesus knew He would be laying down his life in a few hours for those same moneychangers – and then He went out and did it. And that is love. In our every relationship, our every conversation, our every exchange, may we go and do likewise.

All my best,
Shun Lee
Hollywood Connect
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