Have you ever wondered as you listen to people how they got their views? How their worldview developed, what kinds of things must they have experienced that would cause them to think, act, and say the things they do? Sometimes, I can’t help it, I wonder do they have any sense of how they’re coming across; any idea of the kind of impression they’re making as they go about their lives.
I can’t speak for them, but I can speak for myself. When I look at myself and my relationships with other people, I often wonder what kind of impression I’m making; what other people might be thinking of me. How do I come across? Do I come across as being someone who’s judgmental, arrogant, and know-it-all?
I like to think I know myself, who I am, but I know that I have blind spots, and sometimes I fail to see what others see when they look at me. I’d be less than honest, if I said I didn’t care, but when it comes right down to it, I don’t care nearly as much about what people think of me as I used to. I’ve learned over the years that trying to please everyone, trying to change to fit someone else’s idea of who I should be, just doesn’t work. The only thing trying to please everyone, and changing to be what someone else wants you to be, gets you is a lot of disappointment, anger, and heartache. It’s the surest way I know to be miserable.
Now, I’m not saying that we should just tell everybody to drop dead, and go to you know where if they don’t agree with us, or think there might be room for us to improve, but rather than just dismissing them out of hand, that we at least give a differing viewpoint an opportunity for examination and contemplation. I have a rule-of-thumb that I use when listening to criticism – especially when it’s directed at me – that I always (as much as I can) look at the person giving it. Opinions matter when they come from people who matter, and I mean people who matter to you. Now maybe that doesn’t sound very nice, but when it comes to our lives, our souls, our minds, and our hearts I don’t think just anybody’s imput should be taken as 100% fact.
Remember that motive matters, so before you take something someone says into your heart, mind, body, and soul, I believe it’s okay to ask the questions: why are they saying this, and what are they hoping to get out of it? We have to remember that not everyone we meet, not even those closest to us, always have the best intentions. It never hurts to look at who benefits from what is being said to you. Is the fact that someone loves us a good test of criticism? Not always. Just because someone loves you doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t lie to you, or mislead you; that they won’t use you to get what they want. It should, but sadly, it doesn’t always. Still, it’s a good place to start.
It really boils down to who do you trust. Trust is something we give too readily to most people, too willingly, and we do so to our peril. Your trust is the most precious gift you can give to another. Nothing, and I mean nothing, you have, will ever have, or give is more precious than trust. Nothing you ever recive in this world, no amount of money, will equal the wealth you’ll have in this one – this single one- possession you’ll own if you’re lucky enough to have it.
And this is why, I believe, that our trust is the thing that God cherishes and treasures above all else that we, as human beings, can give.
Here’s some food for further thought:
“Duties are ours, events are God’s; When our faith goes to meddle with events, and to hold account upon God’s Providence, and beginneth to say, ‘How wilt Thou do this or that?’ we lose ground; we have nothing to do there; it is our part to let the Almighty exercise His own office, and steer His own helm; there is nothing left for us, but to see how we may be approved of Him, and how we roll the weight of our weak souls upon Him who is God omnipotent, and when we thus essay miscarrieth, it shall be neither our sin nor our cross.”
Samuel Rutherford, quoted in Prodigals and Those Who Love Them, Ruth Bell Graham, 1991, Focus on the Family Publishing, p. 106.
One day, while my son Zac and I were out in the country, climbing around in some cliffs, I heard a voice from above me yell, “Hey Dad! Catch me!” I turned around to see Zac joyfully jumping off a rock straight at me. He had jumped and them yelled “Hey Dad!” I became an instant circus act, catching him. We both fell to the ground. For a moment after I caught him I could hardly talk.
When I found my voice again I gasped in exasperation: “Zac! Can you give me one good reason why you did that???”
He responded with remarkable calmness: “Sure…because you’re my Dad.” His whole assurance was based in the fact that his father was trustworthy. He could live life to the hilt because I could be trusted. Isn’t this even more true for a Christian?
Tim Hansel, Holy Sweat, 1987, Word Books Publisher, pp. 46-47.