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  • Writer's pictureFr. Daniel S.J. Scheid SCP

What is Father Dan Thinking? 8-6-23


“Praise in public. Correct in private.”


I learned this valuable leadership lesson as I was given supervisory responsibilities at the clothing store I worked at. I built on it as I moved up the leadership ladder and was responsible for hiring and training my own staff. I’ve tried my best to live into this terse and kind dictum in my secular life and sacred, as now I’ve been entrusted with leading God’s people in congregations for seventeen years. Of course, I don’t always succeed. It has been easy for me to let slip in a meeting or other public setting a criticism that would have been better given and received in private.


You likely know this is true. Do you recall how good you felt when someone with authority over you or influence with others told the group what a good job you did? Or how you shrank when, perhaps, that same person scolded you in front of the same group at a different time?


I recently watched two of my Flint friends on social media reap the fallout of correcting in public. J had a lousy experience at a favorite, well-regarded Flint restaurant and voiced her disappointment in a rather public Facebook post. J didn’t mean to criticize the restaurant per se – she only wondered if others recently had had a similar experience and if there was an unwelcome trend starting at this restaurant.


T took exception to J’s Facebook with an equally public reply, saying he was disappointed in J for criticizing the restaurant in a Facebook post – as the restaurant is struggling, as many are, especially in that depressed city – rather than contacting the owner of the restaurant directly. Surely the owner, who is well-regarded and fair, would have made it right for J.


Of course, both J and T corrected in public. T fell to the same temptation that J did. It would have been better for J to contact the restaurant manager with her concern. And it would have been better for T to send J a private message, rather than shaming J publicly for her thoughtless post. Neither admitted that they could have done better. I’m sad for both of them, because they are otherwise kind and thoughtful people. Self-awareness is a gift and a grace.


Alas, life is too often full of such teachable moments. But that is how we learn. We fall and we get up again. We sin and we repent and ask forgiveness and we pledge to do better next time.


If I’ve done wrong by you, please let me know directly and privately. I’ll do my best to make it right. And I’ll extend you the same courtesy.


God’s blessings and peace,


Dan+


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