89 – Know Your Seat

It’s overbearing for a teacher to use friendly-jousting humor against students. It’s out of place for a boss to make jokes about employees. It is equally out of place for any leader to mislabel painfully honest feedback from subordinates as “disrespect”. It’s out of place for a parent to tease children about romance.

While in the seat of the subordinate, some level of respect is in order, but there is much more freedom to be honest from the seat of the subordinate. Children should be allowed to act like they are. Employees and students should have freedom to be themselves.

Brutal honesty from a superior is threatening, but a subordinate can do little harm. When in the place of power, reprove people gently and allow them to express themselves in return. If you are the subordinate and hope to lead, practice being both candid and respectful; practice for the role by conducting yourself as if you are already there.

Don’t pretend to know something you don’t. If a matter is out of your expertise, say, “I don’t know about that. You’ll have to ask someone else.” This is difficult for everyone because we each begin with little expertise and, thus, need to say, “I don’t know,” in regard to most topics. Know that you don’t know what you don’t know and your seat will rise.

Jesus came into the world in a barn. He position himself to sit in every seat available. Being a baby was the only way for it to be appropriate for God to throw up on mortals. If he had spoken one word of rebuke on the road to Calvary it would have been overbearing. Leaders can take flack, but should never give as much flack as they are capable of. Patience is the seat of power; to gain power, first gain patience.

In the position of weakness, it might be wise to hold your tongue and live to see another day. When things got bad among the Philistines, David drooled on his beard in order to lower his seat so as to be less able to offend and thereby escape harm. Whatever seat you are in, know where you sit.