Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Point of view

Have you ever been startled by another person's POV?

Our kids helped out at my grad reception Sunday. Everyone pitched in, set up food, parked cars, and greeted people. There was nary a ripple of the teen sulks that would have accompanied requests for help 10 years ago. Oh this season is sweet!!! (Moms of teenagers, you know what I'm talking about.)

We prepped food upstairs. One son ran food and drink down the steps to the main level of the house. "Where shall I put these?" he asked, holding out a tray of drinks.

"Put them on the island, on the left side of the sink," I replied. "And put the food on the right, with the plates in the middle."

I strolled downstairs as guests were arriving. Sure enough––my son had placed things exactly as I had asked. Good man! What surprised me was that the drinks seemed to be on the right and food was on the left. The plates were in the middle of the food.

Then it occurred to me. My son had set things down from the dining area, looking into the kitchen. My POV would have been from inside the kitchen, looking outward. I had asked him to place plates between food and drinks for a natural flow of traffic. He understood "in the middle" to mean plates would be centered in the food area.

It wasn't a big deal––a friend rearranged a few things and the buffet was served. But the little interaction between my son and me, familiar and beloved as son and mom, got me to thinking.

How many times do we hear sermons, lectures, or instructions that puzzle us? We follow the information but the person telling us what to do would be taken aback by the results. Possible reasons for a POV mixup:
  • We don't know the person giving directions so we interpret words differently than intended.
  • Our heritage or worldview inclines us to certain patterns of behavior so we make assumptions about the request.
  • The setting is uncomfortable or strange to us so we have no reference points for carrying out a task.
There are many other reasons for confusion. Let's cut each other some slack this week and assume good intentions and hard work, even when the outcome isn't exactly what we imagined it might be!

One of the dangers of reading ourselves into Scripture is assuming that we understand God and what he requires of us. We think He agrees with aspects of our culture that may be against his nature (sloth, gluttony, and greed, to name a few). Or we hope He only works in church settings where we are comfortable (rather than flinging us into the world to do His work).

During my research, I was both thrilled and dismayed by the POV that American Pentecostals read into missions work and administration. How clearly and how dimly the pioneer Pentecostals understood God's intentions for the nations! Yet their zeal and hard work brought souls into the Kingdom of God, transformed societies, and raised up national Christian leaders.

I am glad God continues to work today despite our failures at understanding Him and his interactions with others. Do you look forward to understanding his POV some day? That's when we'll know as we are known. Some glad morning ...

Read more:
*All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient. Exodus 24:7

*Christ says, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:35

*They were completely amazed. 'How can this be?' they exclaimed. 'These people are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages!' They stood there amazed and perplexed. 'What can this mean?' they asked each other." Acts 2:7–8, 12

*All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV

Moravian Prayer: Jesus, the world will know we are your disciples by the love shown in our words and by our example to others. Let the words of our mouths, the thoughts of our hearts and our actions be to your glory. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. My heartiest Congratulations on your Commencement!!!! That is exciting.... And thank you for the Point of View perspective!!!! (And I love the cartoon.... It hits pretty close to home!