Assumptions

FruitOfTheSpirit_KindnessAbout a week ago I was having a conversation with an older gentlemen on the phone about some issues going on at his church. He said, "You know, I expected you to be arrogant, but you're not that way at all." I asked him, if he wouldn't mind sharing, why he expected that.

"Because of what I'd heard," He responded.

"From who?" I asked.

"From ___________." (name left out)

I had never heard of the person. They are not a friend, family member, or church member. They aren't even a Facebook friend, member at the gym I go to, and they don't have a child in my children's extracurriculars. It's safe to say, they don't know me. So, why would someone say something like that about someone? And, why would someone embrace such an opinion without getting to know the person first…and then deciding whether or not they agreed? I will admit I was mildly offended until I realized I've actually done the same far too often myself…though I try not to.

It takes time to get to know people. It takes effort to see for yourself who they are, and to learn to love some of those who are less easy to love. It's easier to just out-source getting to know people to the gossips if we can….because we're often too busy to do it ourselves. And, besides, it always makes me feel better about me to point out the flaws of another. It allows me to feel the sentiment inside, "Thank you God, that I am not a sinner like her/him."

All of it's just wrong…and often causes us to miss out on relationships that could have been. Most importantly, God won't honor such behavior. This is a huge problem in churches…and it really shouldn't be.

Have you ever had a particular impression of a person based either on observation from a distance or the word of another, only to discover you were way off base once you finally came to know them? Have you ever allowed another's opinion to poison you toward someone…even though you have no real knowledge of the person? Ever met someone at a gathering and thought them to be cold and withdrawn and then discovered they were either having an off night or are outrageously funny in other settings? If so, take the time to get to know them.

Several years ago, I had been warned so many times about a particular person in the church that I avoided them…only to find out, after several years…they were an outstanding person. The problem person was the one who told me about them. You may have had a similar experience. In fact, I'm sure you have. We all have. So, for the sake of loving one another, we might be better off following a few principles:

  • Assume everyone is a "good person" until we have substantive, first-hand experience to prove otherwise.
  • A negative experience with a person doesn't mean they should be "blackballed" by me. It doesn't mean much other than they are human. They need forgiveness, coaching, perhaps rebuke. Yes, there are some true snakes out there…but there aren't many.
  • When I have a problem with someone, I will talk to, not about the person.

I will remember that I'm not always the best person to be around either.

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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3 thoughts on “Assumptions

  1. Good comment Chris, agree with everything you said. I think one of the keys in all of this avoiding judgmentalism that causes us to make the snap judgments and the patterns of unhealthy speech that cause us to want to pass it on. At the same time, those of us in ministry need to be aware especially that the banner you mention is worn by us at all times and is worthy of holding up worthily at all times.

  2. Although it’s true that no one should make snap judgments without getting to know someone first, it’s also true that, especially for those of us in church leadership positions, we are ALWAYS being watched, often by those we don’t even realize are watching. Many more people know my name than I know theirs, and I am responsible for how I treat each one of them- the church member’s relative visiting one Sunday from Smalltown, USA, the janitor at my kids’ school, the babysitter, or the person who walks in off the street just as I was locking up to finally go home after a long day.
    I’m sure I have had a lot of “off nights,” but I still have to recognize that I am carrying a banner for Christ at all times. It’s unfortunate that someone who doesn’t know you incorrectly made that judgment and even went so far as to tell others about it, but if it happened to me I hope I would have the wisdom to seize the opportunity and examine how I’ve been acting around the people whose names I don’t know.
    May God continue to bless you in the work you do, you have a great family and are making a great impact on the Kingdom.