By Tim Lubinus
Have you ever reacted when you heard about someone who does something really foolish and later found out that when you listened to the whole story the person wasn’t so foolish after all? “The one who gives an answer before he listens — this is foolishness and disgrace for him” (Proverbs 18:13 HCSB). There is something about human nature that pushes us to respond before having the whole story, especially if our trust level is low.
A reaction is sometimes also common when we hear about the decisions of church leaders. What? They did that? Never mind that you elected the leaders, they have years of faithful service, or that you only have one side of the story. Can you believe that? Who do they think they are?
Paul in his letter to Galatians summarizes the entire law: Love your neighbor as yourself. He then gives a startling example of breaking this law in the next verse: But if bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another (Gal. 5:14-15). Ignorantly criticizing our brothers is serious business.
I’m not saying that I think we should trust any and all decisions of our leaders. Good leaders welcome challenging opinions. Effective organizations welcome healthy discussion and even disagreement. However, when we hear of a decision that doesn’t quite make sense, instead of reacting, we should give the leader the benefit of the doubt. NAMB president Kevin Ezell calls this “rounding up”. He explained that if a decision doesn’t sound right, that instead of assuming the worst and reacting to the decision, we should round up – give people the benefit of the doubt until we learn more, rather than rounding down and criticizing people before getting the facts. This will help us to avoid the foolishness and disgrace that Proverbs warns about.
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