The Cost of Perspective

12_ww_graphic_walk_with_humilityMoses sent for Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, but they said, “We will not come! Is it not enough that you brought us up from a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness? Do you also have to appoint yourself as ruler over us?” (Numbers 16:12-13)

We often refuse to submit because of our own perspective even if it skews reality. After all, we can’t understand it all. Our own perspective makes sense to us, because we’re right in the middle of it. But that’s the problem. We’re limited. There are many perspectives beyond ours. Even if we could consider them all, we might not be any closer to identifying the truth, so how can we know who and what to follow and trust?

The easy answer is “God,” but the easy answer certainly doesn’t seem so easy when we’re struggling to trust others, when we can’t possibly imagine how someone might be worthy of authority and trust.

Keep struggling. Keep asking questions. Keep moving. Keep growing.

Humility is worth the cost. It’s less about the results you’ll get and more about the faith you’ll grow.

Just Being Devil’s Advocate…

1375303I said it during a church staff meeting: “I’m going to be the devil’s advocate for a minute…” As soon as it was out of my mouth, I knew whatever followed really didn’t matter. I had just discounted myself. We didn’t need to listen to an advocate of the devil. That’s not our goal.

Sure, it’s an expression that means taking a look at another perspective, especially looking at an opposing viewpoint, considering “what if.” That’s not always a bad thing. In fact, sometimes it’s smart. Considering the possibilities can help prepare us for what’s ahead, but it can also paralyze us. We can get distracted and even enticed by a different perspective that was never intended to be our focus. We can end up advocating something contrary to God’s will.

Being the devil’s advocate is never God’s purpose for us. It’s helpful to know the ways of Satan, but that’s fairly simple: he is deceptive and manipulative. God never is. When we focus on God and know how to discern truth, deception and manipulation stands out and is easily identifiable.

Maybe it’s just an expression, but it can also put us in a position in which we don’t want to be and have no business being. I’m taking it out of my language in order to keep it out of my heart.

A Selfish Perspective

fc707aa0f4ea2a8696bb4e657ac392c2Gas prices started falling, and I was happy about it. So were most people around me. We’d have to spend less to travel and go about our daily business. We’d all have more expendable income, whether for ourselves or the community. The lower gas prices would have ripple effects that could only be good.

Or not.

I then saw a couple of my friends from the coastline who posted about the ill effects of those gas prices. Their friends and families were losing their jobs. There were ripple effects throughout the community, but they weren’t good.

My perspective changed. I could pay an extra couple dimes per gallon in order to help another. I could quit assuming my good deal was a good deal for everyone.

I hope not to purposefully take a selfish perspective. Sometimes, I simply need someone to share another perspective to pull back the curtain on my selfishness.

We all do.

Let’s consider others’ perspectives. We may not agree with everyone, but we can learn, grow, and replace our self-centeredness with humility and compassion.

Barbed-Wire Christians

12i-Barbed wireAre you a barbed-wire wrapped Christian? Even if it’s not you, I’m sure you know “that one person” who fits the description. Unless you completely agree with absolutely everything the person has to say (which I doubt is even possible), you watch them poke and wound others. Fighting takes precedent over kindness, arguing over listening, being right over engaging in a relationship to reach out to others. They are “come,” not “go” people, who focus on getting everyone to agree to and adopt their own perspectives instead of engaging people where they are and doing the messy life with them while living truth out loud.

How can you avoid being a barbed-wire Christian?

Laugh at yourself more than others. Live with high hopes and standards of civility. Instead of chronically fighting back, fight how and when God intends. Pursue and follow Jesus well, because when you do, you won’t be retaliatory. Instead, everything you do and who you are becoming will be motivated and prompted by God alone.

The Lesser of Two Evils

batmanningEspecially during elections, I often hear about choosing the lesser of two evils. However, when focusing on comparing what we consider to be two evils, we become vulnerable, negative, and defensive. We stay in the negative and choose what seems to be least negative to us. In the process, we position ourselves as somewhat helpless, a victim of being presented with poor options.

But we’re not victims. We’re not helpless. And we don’t have to be negative. Yes, there are negative aspects to our choices. There always are. Our choices are rarely perfect (and if we think they are, we’re probably looking at them unrealistically).

We can flip our choice between two evils to a comparison to find the best among two imperfect options. It’s semantics and perspective over the same choice, but it can significantly change out attitude. Sometimes the way we make our choice becomes more impactful to ourselves and others than the choice in and of itself.

 

Your View of Others Matters

imagesWhat you see in others is the foundation of what you get from them.

I’m not suggesting we are able to will what happens, that our perspective becomes reality. However, our view of others matters. Have you ever noticed that someone else “proves” themselves over and over again, whether it’s positive or negative? You can’t understand how he or she can be so consistent. In some cases, it’s frustrating, because over and over, someone disappoints you. You feel attacked or taken for granted again and again. Perhaps it’s because of his or her consistency. But perhaps you are also noticing what you most expect to see.

When I was expecting our first child, my husband often commented on how many expecting moms he seemed to see all of the sudden. We notice what we expect, both good and bad. Seeing consistencies can help us make sense of things, but in some cases, it can overshadow evidence to the contrary. If we expect to only see confrontation, obstinacy, or passive-aggressiveness, we might overlook glimpses of attempts to respond differently. If we expect to see sacrifice, generosity, and patience, we might overlook irritability, avoidance, or manipulation.

People’s behaviors certainly impact the foundation of our relationship with them, but our perspective also contributes to that foundation. What assumptions are you making about people–both groups and individuals? How does that affect the way you filter the news, conversations, social media feeds, and your thoughts?

Your view of others matters.

The Blessings You Don’t See

There is so much around us that we take for granted, neglecting to notice the blessings we have every day. We seem to notice so many blessings when something fails; instead of a blessing, we see an inconvenience. We often want God to move in our ways instead of letting us look through His perspective. We see what is broken that we want Him to fix. We see shortcomings that we want Him to stretch and increase. We see an inconvenience that we want Him to take away instead of realizing the blessing in the delay and provision through it.

We need to focus not as much on asking God to bless us but to open our eyes to see the blessings He has given us.

We’re surrounded. Yes, there are the big things like a job, family, and a place to live. But there are so many smaller things, that when we begin to notice them, they create huge piles of blessings that help us slow down and notice more and more.

Consider the ease by which you can access places, information, basic (and not so basic) needs and wants.

Consider the encouragement you can find in the people around you, including the choices you have for connections and inspiration online.

Consider colors, textures, and scents that spur good memories or give you a moment of inspiration.

Even when we pray for the rain to stop when it dampens and pools around us, we can appreciate the nourishment and wonder of it.

Even when we pray for a loved one to get better, we can be thankful for the care he has access to, as well as the people who surround him, or the impact he has had on others’ lives.

Even when something breaks at what seems to be the most inconvenient time, we can recognize how the long list of other things that we have seem to be holding together, in many cases, longer than expected.

Even when our plans get cancelled, we can appreciate the opportunity for downtime or for reaching out to someone else in need.

Even when life doesn’t go the way we planned, we can trust God is well aware and is working even if we can’t see or understand the details.

We can trust Him as more than just the “go to guy” when we’re in need. We can let Him define our needs. We can let Him work outside the box of what we want or think He can do. We can let Him be God, and let Him define blessings, and commit to giving in our perspective for His.