Sarcasm is “Scar-casm”: When jokes can be funny but bad.

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Donald Miller (a writer with whom I would love to lie and convince you that we are somehow related) has written an excellent blog on sarcasm here. And it got me thinking about how I use sarcasm. I would encourage you to read it and even take him up on the challenge he offers. It got me thinking more about how I use humor as a mask and a tool to keep people at arm’s-length.

This past weekend, Ed Dobson and his wife, Lorna, came to visit with our church for the second time and preach at our gatherings. It was wonderful. Kara and I even got spend some time taking them out for lunch. They are a wonderful, God-loving couple with warm hearts (and a great sense of humor!). If you don’t know his story, you can see him tell it here. They shared much of their lives with us, and gave us many gifts of wisdom. However, the one piece of advice that has never left me is something he told our church staff last time he was here.

“Be careful about your sarcasm. It can be one of the most damaging things to relationships.”

I remember hearing that and being at first convicted and then dismissing. I thought, “He doesn’t understand OUR type of sarcasm and joking. It’s the funny kind and everyone likes it.”

But there is another level to it. Sarcasm can be hurtful to others, but it can also be hurtful to the relationship itself. It can cause a lack of depth, and level of distrust, and even encourage one-upmanship and competition. I am now seeing it in my relationships. I desire to be the funny guy so badly sometimes that I can step on others or even stunt relationships to get there.

So even when my jokes are funny (rare occasion as it may be), they can also be bad. Bad for you and bad for me.

What do you think? Have you experienced pain because of sarcasm? Do you hide behind humor?

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