11 August 2009

Triangle Rule

Not too long ago, we had a family meeting at home. A few issues needed to be settled and so Dad got his bible out, opened in prayer, and we began.

I've always been amazed at how "bible oriented" Dad is. When resolving any matter, or handling disputes, or teaching truths about both godliness and life in general, Dad always pulls his bible out and quotes from it. If we really believed 2 Timothy 3:16, we'd do the same, we'd use the bible for everything;

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

~2 Timothy 3:16

During our discussion, Dad taught us a rule that I'd like to write here for two reasons. Firstly, I never want to forget it. I've heard it said, "If you want to remember something, write it down." Secondly, its a helpful rule that I'd like to share for others to benefit too. Dad said he has kept the rule all through his pastorate and it has spared him alot of problems. The rule is simple, so simple that I couldn't help but smile when he said it:
"Never complete the triangle."
If brother B tells brother A something negative about brother C, brother A should not complete the triangle by telling brother C what brother B said.

Here's an example. Jack thinks that Fred talks too much. Jack shares this with Jill. Jill should never complete the triangle by telling Fred what Jack said.

If Jill completes the triangle, she will damage the relationship between Jack and Fred.

Many times people tell us things in confidence. Sometimes the things we hear are true, other times they are malicious. Sometimes we are told certain things in passing, needless to say half the time, its us doing the talking.

In my case, I tend to take things am told too lightly. Perhaps someone will tell me that "so and so" has a big nose (for example). When am chatting with "so and so" one day, all it would take is for him to rub his nose, or sneeze or anything to do with the nose, and I'll unwittingly giggle and say, "You know, _______ actually said you have a big nose", foolishly expecting "so and so" to join me in my amusement. Before I know it, I've tied myself in a silly knot!

That's my weakness as far as the triangle rule is concerned. Others may find what they are told to be true and in a bid to help "so and so" start dressing better or stop chewing with an open mouth or whatever, we rebuke them saying, "Even ______ was complaining about the same thing, he said actually told me that you...".

Other "Jills" may decide to share what Jack said to Fred in confidence. As a result, everyone in the triangle knows the truth, in confidence!

Whatever the case may be, its important to know and master out pitfall as far the triangle rule is concerned. Even if someone says something negative about someone very close to us, we should not complete the triangle for the sake of the relationship between them.

This begs the question, must we then keep quiet and become accomplices?

Well, it really depends on what we've been told. We must encourage each other, or to put it negatively, we must discourage each other from making hurtful comments behind peoples backs. If someone tells you that "so and so" has a big nose, rebuke that individual and tell them that you are not interested in such hurtful talk. We should discourage ill talk.

Sometimes, however, we are told negative things which make it clear, that the one being talked about needs to change (e.g. "so and so" talks too much" or "is too loud" or "dresses scantily") or that "Jack" has things he needs to workout with "Fred".

In such cases, we must insist to "Jack" that he confront "Fred". In fact, give Jack a deadline. Tell Jack, "If you don't confront Fred about the things you've told me, I will tell him what you've told me, you have one week-and counting".

This way, the person that needs to change, will begin to, at the least, see that something about them affects others negatively. If the problem was their relationship, the two people involved will be able to iron their issues out.

It may cost you your friendship with Jack for a while but one day you will be thanked for it.

He who covers over an offence promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

~Proverbs 17:9

Hatred starts quarrels but love covers all transgressions.

~Proverbs 10:12