Credibility Is An Issue Today!
As I was listening to a homiletics professor preach a message in a local church setting, I was reminded again about the importance accuracy and credibility. Now we all have committed verbal gaffes, grammatical blunders, and misstatements while speaking. We are speaking about Saul, and we say, David. We make a reference to another passage and cite or quote it wrong — that reference is found in another book.
Most of the time the audience mentally “auto-corrects” and gives “rhetorical grace” to the speaker, knowing that they would be far more prone to such mistakes had they had to speak before an audience. They know what we were trying to say.
After the message, someone might even say to us, “You know you said ‘David’ when you meant Saul.” That someone might be your wife or your children.
Nevertheless, accuracy and credibility are related. When a speaker makes a comment which the audience, in general, knows to be inaccurate, the willingness to give weight to what is being “argued” has a tendency to slide south to a loss of credibility.
As I listened, I could have just mentally skipped by the accuracy or factuality of what was being said — and even thought about the fact that perhaps I am being too critical.
However, . . . .
it was not a passing statement
he stated it repeatedly
it was basic to his point
he contrasted what he saw with what the audience probably never saw
he repeated vocally emphasized the point
he emphatically framed it with words such as — for the first time — awesome — stunning
(Clip — Dr. Jeffrey Arthurs — Witnessing at Work — @10:27 mark of the orignal message)
I think the Apostle Paul may have had an echo – if he was writing this — he may have been thinking of Daniel Chapter 12
listen to the Daniel 12 verse 3
Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens — and those who lead many to righteousness like the Stars forever and ever.
have you ever seen the stars
sure you have
have you never REALLY seen the stars
have you ever seen the Milky Way — you know — that’s our that’s our galaxy
they – they – they call it the Milky Way because there’s so many stars that – that – that the sky just looks kind of milky — like you spilled milk
I don’t know if I’d ever really seen the Milky Way
Go out at night on a nice summer night
But then a few years ago I was in Hawaii — on the big island
and we went at night
up on one of the volcanoes — Mauna Kea – and there is scientific — there’s a lot that telescopes up there — because you want to get above the atmosphere and far away from light pollution — city lights and so forth
so we went up on Mauna Kea
and it’s actually a national park – Volcano National Park and a park ranger was giving a night talk
he had a laser pointer and he would point out constellations*
and I saw the Milky Way – for the first and maybe only time
it is AWESOME — in the proper use of that word
it’s like this inky — velvet — black sky — and just shining
and the Bible says — if you will shut up — you shine lights star in the midst of this – this – this crooked generation
Well, the fact is that . . . . no one and nothing has ever seen or captured a picture of the Milky Way Galaxy!**
Now perhaps many of the audience members did not know that — I understand that. I also understand what he was actually seeing and what he was inaccurately describing.
Nevertheless, as I listened, I balked at the statement because he pressed the point so long and so forcefully. He continued to press the point vocally, comparatively, and visually — and he was factually inaccurate.
Yes, I could have given him a “rhetorical pass,” but as indicated above, he went far beyond making a passing misstatement!
I would think that the typical college graduate would also have said what I said — “No, you did not see the Milky Way Galaxy. If you did, you are the first to do such.”
Too picky? Perhaps! ??
Just me? Perhaps! ??
Most would never balk? Perhaps! ??
Been “embarrassed” after being corrected about something you referenced — theologically, biblically, academically, illustratively, bookishly, etc.? — and realized that you indeed were mistaken? — and/or realized you should have done a little more homework?
Regretfully, I have!
I know that there are times when I have spoken and do speak outside of my “wheelhouse” or “paygrade,” and it has hurt and/or has the potential to hurt my credibility. That even happens when I failed to re-read a biblical account of which I am making reference and make a statement about that account which inaccurate.
I need to make sure I am accurate by . . . .
- checking out an illustration’s details
- reading up on the area of which I make reference
- pulling up “the original account/story” and reading it myself
- asking someone in the field about this-or-that
- including the words, “I have been told . . .”
- saying, “I may not say this correctly, but as best I understand it to be . . . .”
- re-reading a referenced biblical account again
- making sure I am not referencing something which has long been discredited and I am using as factual
- coming across deferential to other vantages and opinions
- showing intellectual humility when I am speaking outside of my realm of knowledge
- actual acknowledging and recognizing that there may be others in the audience who know this and could explain it far better
- making sure it is not “fake news”
- directly citing the words of another
- clearly identifying the source of your comment
There will be those who listen to us who are far more astute and knowledgeable about an area we may be referencing in a speech or a message — including theologically. Therefore, check out, re-read, or research those areas of reference a little further — unless accuracy and credibility is not a concern.
*This is a little confusing of how you use a laser pointer that works on the starry constellations of the second heavens.
**No one and/or nothing has ever ventured outside or beyond what is called the Milky Way Galaxy. There has been no spacecraft which has traveled outside of our “nine planets” solar system until “New Horizons,” which passed Pluto in 2016, after approximately 10 years, traveling at a speed of 31,000 mph. The distance from earth to Pluto does not even come close to what it would take to see the span and spread of the Milky Way Galaxy.
“Currently, we can’t take a picture of the Milky Way from above. This is due to the fact that we are inside the galactic disk, about 26,000 light years from the galactic center. It would be like trying to take a picture of your own house from the inside. This means that any of the beautiful pictures you’ve ever seen of a spiral galaxy that is supposedly the Milky Way is either a picture of another spiral galaxy, or the rendering of a talented artist.”