At our men’s prayer breakfast I sat across the table from Jim, a bothersome old man who never seemed to “get it.” He was so full of himself that most conversations left me frustrated and annoyed. But, today was different. He started telling me about himself – his story – struggles, marriage problems, children, and hardships. For the first time, I felt compassion for Jim instead of falsely labeling him according to my perceptions.[featured-image single_newwindow=”false”]
Reasons To Call it Quits On Judging Others
- You do not know what is actually happening inside another person. There are dozens of issues swimming around in every person’s mind and heart. Do not presume you can label them accurately.
- More specifically, every person is in a battle, struggling inwardly with fear, doubt, passions, and difficulties. The outside may look serene but there’s always a war raging inwardly. Refrain from judging them based only on what you can see.
- Every person behaves out of past wounds, brokenness, or pain. There are foundational reasons for a person’s behavior. This is no excuse for their wrong behavior. But, since you are wounded and broken as well, don’t be quick to assume your assessment of them is right.
- You do not know their story and therefore have little understanding of them – stories wreck our ability to judge, label, or dismiss someone. When you hear someone’s story they are no longer an object or idea; they become human.
- You see as you are not as they are. Your judgments say more about you than the other person. Your judgments are clouded by your faults, prejudices, pride, false ideas, and brokenness. You shouldn’t be judging anyone. You’re not qualified.
- You do not know where God has them on their journey. It’s true, “God is not finished with me yet.” Leave room for God’s work in another’s life. You only see a minuscule, limited slice of their life. God sees the big picture for them. Trust Him.
- You do not want to put your self in the place of God – judgment is His. It is so hard not to play God, isn’t it? It’s dangerous business to size someone up thinking you really know what’s going on or who they are. Leave that to God. You are not Him.
Empathy vs Judgmentalism
Rather than be judgmental, be empathetic.
Author Stephen Covey experienced this on a subway one morning. There was a father whose kids were jumping around like maniacs. Few things drive other parents crazy as quickly as an inattentive parent and out-of-control kids. Finally, Covey pointed out that the kids were out of control. The dad, in a detached kind of way looked up and said, “Oh, you’re right, I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died an hour ago. I don’t know what to think, and I guess they don’t know how to handle it either.” Knowing that changed Covey’s ability to be empathetic and give that father what he needed in that moment: compassion. (from Do Over, Jon Acuff, p. 181)
Take time to get to know people as they really are. Your compassion will increase. Your judgmentalism will decrease.
Author Jon Acuff has a “secret” to empathy: believe that everyone is the same. The people you see everyday have the same hopes, fears, dreams, and frustrations as you do. They express them differently, but that doesn’t mean they are all that different from you.
I think that’s good advice.
Do you have a story of changing a judgment into empathy? Share below.