A former co-worker had an odd habit of verbally characterizing practically everyone in terms of abnormal psychology. The accountant who simply requested a spending report was “anal-rententive”. A staff member who forgot a meeting had “dementia”. On entering a meeting that had lost heat on a cold January day, he asked, “Why is everyone so anti-social? How can I tell? Because you have crossed your arms over your chests.” My IT colleagues and I were shy. He labelled us “autistic”. However, a tech who gave a presentation he upgraded to “passive-aggressive”. A planning session? “Exercise in paranoia.” A change in plans? Yep, “schizophrenic”.
To be fair, our parents and teachers have conditioned us—oops—to judge, identify, and categorize. Our safety and progress depend upon adequate, timely discernment. Good leadership includes the ability, given incomplete information, to decide correctly and act at the right time.
Perhaps the telling difference between psych-guy and me was that he said what he thought, or as he diagnosed himself, "sometimes I have trouble with impulse control".
Psych-guy's extreme helped me recognize that (a) too often I judged when no judgment was required, (b) too often my judgment proved to be wrong, and (c) too often I was inclined to stick with a wrong first impression.
Subsequently, by avoiding hasty conclusions I have more time to see and hear. If judgment eventually is required, I usually by then have better facts, and less bias to confirm a previous impression.
For example, there’s the matter of you. Yes, you there, reading this blog.
Probably it is safe to assume that if you have read this far that you are smarter, more spiritual, and altogether nicer than most people. Do I think you are needy, hurting, and anxious for the future? Many people are. But you might be the opposite, overconfident and presumptuous. I don't know.
By not prematurely judging, I have saved time and embarrassment. The trick is to use that time to hear, see, and serve.
“Stop judging by appearances. Judge by what is really right.” — John 7
"You will be judged in the same way that you judge others.” — Matthew 7
"Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, 'Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.' So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, 'He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.' But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, 'Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.' Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.' — Luke 19
February 29 lacks a Hallmark card, as far as I know. Still, I look forward to each February 29. It is not for me an extra day but a needed day, a day that symbolizes restoration. Rituals of the day should include organizing the sock drawer and synchronizing clocks.
Without a February 29 every four years, our local shortest day of the year would drift from December 21 into January in just 41 years, dragging winter along. No joke. At five hundred years with no February 29, we could throw snowballs on July 4 and celebrate Christmas by the pool. Despite those dire consequences, February 29 doesn't get much respect. When I am late, no one ever accepts calendar drift as an excuse.
Jonathan Larson in the musical Rent observed how inadequately clocks and calendars measure time:
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights,
In cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
How do you measure a year in the life?
Larson was not the first to notice two kinds of time. The ancients distinguished kronos time, time reckoned by the sun and moon, by hour glasses, and by marks on the wall. They made kronos into a person, the precursor of our Father Time. In their statues of him, Kronos is an aged baby-eating giant bearing a grass cutter, cold toward human concerns.
By contrast with scary old Mr. Clock Time Kronos, consider pleasant Mr. Right Time. His name is Kairos. Depictions of Kairos show him as a running youth.
I would like to hang out with kid Kairos, to prolong his visit. To do time with Mr. Right Time would be a good time. But look at the wings on his feet. The Right Time can easily zoom by! You might catch him by his forelock. But when he's gone, he's gone.
In Mark 1 Jesus announces: "The right time has come. The kingdom of God is near! Change your hearts and lives and believe the Good News!" Paul uses the term: "But when the right time came, God sent his Son who was born of a woman and lived under the law." "Be wise in the way you act with people who are not believers, making the most of every opportunity." How do we catch the right time? Paul tells the Galatian believers, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Peter says: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
I am surrounded by calendars and clocks, flawed in that they need a February 29 and other occasional corrections. These technologies rarely help me recognize the right time to speak and the right time to shut up. For discerning the right time, I need alert patience.
At The Surge we love doing things together... that includes writing a blog! Here are a few of our main contributing authors:
Our fearless leader, Dwaine is the lead pastor at The Surge. His experience in counter terrorism with the CIA prepared him for ministry and he likes dogs and babies even more than E does.
E (short for Eric Reiss) is the Wingman at The Surge and likes dogs, music, Mexican food, his wife Karen and his little girl Evangeline... not necessarily in that order.