We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behaviour.” - Stephen Covey.
Our society is engaged in an enhanced battle of thought, grievances, and direction. COVID has messed not only with our physical health, but with our mental health and financial stability. It has widened the gap between those who believe in independent decision making by the individual and those who believe in community decision making by government officials. It has also no doubt played havoc in the emotional soup that has fostered a hotbed of political and racial friction.
What is needed is good and effective communication to resolve legitimate issues, and to find productive paths forward. I am not going to pretend that I am a political science expert and know how to resolve all of these problems, but I do know that the Bible and years of working with people have taught me that we have to confront obstacles or barriers to understanding if we want to enhance effective communication.
I am not an avid partaker in the social media complex, but I spend a considerable amount of time on some of the platforms. What I see everyday on my screen is an obstacle to communication that is not difficult to spot, we want to always be judged by our intentions and not by our actions, but we want to judge others by their actions regardless of there intentions.
What I am pointing to is not a simple judgment that a particular statement was wrong, or an action was wrong, but that because of the said statement or action we judge a person's intention, their heart, and even their value. This is a dangerous form of judgement to partake in. This is what Jesus was warning us against when he told us, "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24 ESV). We need to slow down and not be so quick to judge a person based on the outward appearance.
What does this have to do with the communication? It has everything to do with communication. We don't always convey perfectly what we mean to say, but when there is confusion we want to be judged by what we intended not by what someone assumed from what we said that was not aligned with our intention. We need to remember that when listening to others, to extend the same space to them to clarify and build understanding.
The result of not being so quick to judge the inner person, who they are, and their value opens a world of possibilities when considering communicating even on difficult subjects. The reverse action of judging people's intentions closes down those paths of communications, adds fuel to the emotional soup we are all in the midst of, and furthers the downward spiral.
While I have used the craziness we see in our society right now to paint a picture for this idea, the concept applies to all of our communication. Our communication with our spouse, with family, neighbors, fellow church members, or people we are contact with in the world. Let us seek good communication and righteous judgments.