A couple of weeks ago, I was driving our kids to one of their friends’ birthday party. We were passing by a bunch of houses that were under construction. I am used to seeing them, so I didn’t think much about it. But our first daughter, Luyah saw the houses and asked, “Mommy, why is that house broken?” And Jennifer answered, “Luyah, it is not broken. It is under-construction, and it will be a brand new house soon.” What a different perspective!
I thought about the conversation and realized how things could look so different depending on the amount of information that is in our possession. Jennifer knows a lot about construction. Luyah doesn’t. What was a clear sign of construction to Jennifer was a sign of brokenness to Luyah. The lack of information prevented Luyah from seeing things as they really were.
One pastor said, “What you criticize the most often reveals what you understand the least.” Many times, people criticize not because they are mean or overly-critical but because they don’t have all the information. For example, when someone is late for an important meeting because of an emergency, hearing the information of “why” can turn frustrated people into patient people. It is because information brings understanding, and understanding creates rapport, not criticism. This principle is why leaders need to keep on providing information about what they are thinking about, what they are planning to do, and why they have made certain decisions. That is one of the primary reasons why I write weekly pastor blog, to create rapport with church members and to avoid unnecessary criticism.
Relationships can be enriching, but at the same time, we know it can be very challenging and tough. For example, Many husbands and wives lived together for many years and yet they confess they are still getting to know each other. It is not a show of humility but reality. It is because we only see the outside, but God sees the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Without God giving us accurate information about each other, we are bound to see each other as “broken” (hopeless), not “under-construction” (hopeful).
Praying is asking God to give us information that we don’t have, which is often what is happening in other people’s heart. That is why even when we pray about our confusion, we often come out of it with different feeling or peaceful heart, though the issue at hand remains. One of the consistent testimonies of people who pray is that they miraculously feel less angry and frustrated over people. I think it is because God always gives accurate information to those who seek it. Accurate information brings understanding, and understanding creates empathy.