Thursday, April 18, 2013

Assume the Best About Others

I've noticed an interesting thing about myself. When I mess up, when I get something wrong or let someone down, I want them to assume the best possible motives for my actions. But when others mess up, I often attach the worst possible motives to their actions.

So if I'm late for a meeting I want others to assume that it was because something really important came up which delayed me, or that I got caught in traffic which I could do nothing about. In fact that's the conversation which is going on in my head as I walk into the meeting, "if you only knew what has happened to me you'd fully understand why I'm late".

Yet when someone else is late to my meeting, I often assume it's because they just couldn't be bothered, because they're a bad person, or worst of all because they've got something against me or what I'm trying to achieve, and want to make that very obvious to everyone else involved.

I do the same over loads of other things. If I tell someone I'll get back to them, but don't manage to, I hope they realise that it's because I was just so busy. But when someone else does the same to me, I assume it's because they don't like me or don't care.

I'm wondering if you're the same? And I'm wondering what life would look like if in that gap, in that space where somebody has let me down but I don't know why, I assumed the best possible thing about that person rather than the worst. If I treated them in the same way I want them to treat me. To react as though there was a very good reason for what they've just done, rather than a very bad one. I think that the conversation I have in my head about the people around me would be very different. And I suspect that even when the best I assumed about them turns out not to be true, I'd still be in a much better place to resolve the resulting conflict, having set out to think the best about them rather than the worst.

I think that was some of what Jesus was getting at when he said "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets". (Matthew 7:12 NIV)

So is there someone today you need to assume the best about. A friend, a boss, a partner, a son or daughter, a parent. Why not have a go at treating them like you'd like them to treat you, and see what God will do with your relationship.


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