Thursday, January 19, 2012

"Be Careful With First Reads" by Garris Elkins

Recently, I read a blog article written by a very respected young leader.  He is well read and well educated.  He does things with excellence.  He has become noticed for all of these attributes and rightfully so.

Because we are all in a hurry from time to time, I did a quick read on something he wrote.  I missed what he was saying and began to carry an offense based on my quick, narrow and judgmental read. I found myself wanting to correct him in a public forum.

For an entire day I carried a burr in my saddle.  I was thinking about how to correct this young man. Maybe I would Tweet a reference to what he wrote or write something on Facebook.  This went on all day until later that evening when the Lord had me reread the article.  I could hardly believe it – on the second read I realized that I was terribly wrong and misinformed. This young author was saying something that was not only accurate, but much appreciated by me for it’s content.  My hurried read was blind. I am so thankful I did not respond out of  my blindness.

I came away from this embarrassing revelation learning a few things about myself. I also came away with some things we all need to be reminded of from time to time:

1. A first read is just that – a first read.  Rarely do we ever capture a writer’s true content the first time around.  We owe it to the author, and to the Church at large, to read things again to make sure we are actually correct in our observations. And even then, we should not forget that we only see things partially.

2.  We all carry reactive baggage.  This author was touching on something dear to my heart.  I was defensive about this truth and had anointed myself as its protector. Our reactive baggage is usually packed with items from our broken history and unresolved personal issues.  Reactive baggage cannot be trusted to speak the truth – it needs to be laundered.

3.  Believe the best.  When we read what someone else has written we owe them the honor of believing the best about them and not making snap judgments. Our judgments put people in a place where we don’t have to engage them.  This results in separation.  God is not happy with separation because it breaks fellowship.

4.  My response revealed that God has more work to do inside my heart. We never arrive at a place where we can’t be corrected. I had to tell the Lord how sorry I was regarding my response and admit to Him that I needed His help.

5.  Wait before you pounce.  It only takes a little more investment of time to do something right.  A wrong response, and the resulting hurt, may never be retrievable if you let ill informed judgments lead the way in your response to what you do not understand.

6.  Let the author know how much you enjoyed their article.  You don’t have to dump all the facts about your personal struggle.  A simple affirmation about the article does two things.  First, if just feels good. And second, maybe God can open up a relational bridge with this person that would never have existed had you not walked through this correction of your wrong attitude.

Years ago, Jerry Cook wrote a book titled, “A Few Things I’ve Learned Since I Knew It All.” Jerry was transparent about how life can teach you new things when you think you know it all.  I don’t like the feeling that comes when I think I know it all and find out I didn’t know as much as I thought.  A good “God-correction” is like taking a spiritual bath.  You come out clean all over. It feels good.

1 comment:

  1. This is so good Garris. There have been so many times I've gotten all worked up about an article, usually on the web, complained to Ellen, she reads it and says, "I don't think he/she is saying what you think they are saying." I then re-read and and sheepishly admit, "Yea, I guess you're right." I know for myself, because I'm busy, I tend to skim articles and that's what often gets me in trouble.