Vantage Point: What’s Your View?
Anyone who is familiar with me knows that I love basketball…and preaching. So, many times when I am watching a game (or any other sport or television show), illustrations seem to just jump out of the screen into my mind.
One such moment came when I ran across a recent Vine video of Jeremy Lin, one of the Houston Rockets’ point guards, playing in game four of the 2014 Western Conference playoffs against the Portland Trailblazers. The basketball was passed to him by James Harden on a fast-break. Lin caught it, drove to the basket and attempted to score via a layup. The person who uploaded the video of this moment gave her commentary, saying, in essence, that Jeremy clearly traveled. This obviously sparked an online debate, which I was inclined to weigh in on but didn’t (Yes, I love basketball, but not to the point to where I waste pixels and my time over something so trivial).
But I thought to myself, “One of the main reasons people are arguing over this moment in the game is because of their respective vantage points.” To the woman who uploaded the clip, Lin, after catching the pass and executing one dribble, took three steps to the hoop. But from a slightly different angle, I – and apparently along with some other viewers, including the referees who where there – saw Lin catch the ball, immediately go into a dribble as he drove into the lane, pick up the ball and take the two steps allowed before attempting the lay-up. We came to opposite conclusions because of our differing perspectives.
I also realized that for some their view and resulting judgments were influenced by their relationship to the teams. If you were a die-hard fan of the Rockets, Lin most definitely did NOT travel. But if you were a Trailblazers supporter, you were outraged at the refs’ no-call.
This dynamic not only happens in the game of basketball, but also in life. We judge a person, a leader, or a church/ministry/organization based on our vantage point, which often times can be biased and/or subjective, concluding that he, she, or they did or did not commit an infraction.
Misjudging a moment of competition can have some consequences, but they are minor in comparison to those that occur in the arena of life. Relationships have been severely damaged or have ended altogether. Reputations have been besmirched due to slanderous lies, false accusations, and misinformation. Reconciliation has been difficult to achieve because one person continues to believe things that simply are not true (or maybe are true but only a small part of the larger story) about another.
Is there anything that can help to prevent us from rushing to form opinions about others, causing us to misjudge their motives, actions, and life situations? I believe there is. Let me offer three suggestions.
Call a time-out. There are times when we absolutely move too quickly to speak on or judge someone or something. We need to heed James’ exhortation to “be quick to hear, slow to speak…” (James 1:19). We especially need to learn to pump the brakes when it comes to judging people’s motives. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:5, “Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart…” (emphasis mine). When intentions are not verbalized by others, we should refrain from projecting our judgments onto them as if we know for certain why they said or did something. Even if we think we know a person due to his/her checkered past, we should still be slow to assign motive because, after all, people are complex; God could be at work in that individual’s life (which in many cases we are unaware of), convicting him/her of sin and transforming him/her to Christ; and we are not God, knowing perfectly the secrets of people’s hearts.
Take a closer look. I remember when the NBA implemented Instant Replay. They did this because there were actions in real-time that occurred in such rapid succession that the refs were unable to make a call on but needed to, or made a call but needed to ensure it was the right one. So now the officials, as called for, will go over to the table, put on headphones, lean in close to a monitor and review the play before making a ruling or to announce afterwards that it stands. Similarly, you and I need to view the full footage available to us concerning a matter before we make a “ruling.” Proverbs 18:13 says, “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” Investigate before you pontificate.
Ask for another opinion. If you’ve ever seen a review in action, you know that even though the Crew Chief makes the final decision, he doesn’t do so without first consulting with the other officials. He does this for at least two reasons: 1. objectivity and 2. compliance. Subjectivism or biased officiating has no place among referees in the National Basketball Association. Their job is to make sure they comply with and execute the official policies of the NBA’s Board of Governors’ during a game, regardless of what they personally think or feel. It works the same for us in life. We should not to seek to wade through issues alone, especially when we are directly involved and emotionally invested in them. Isolation is a breeding ground for misperception. We need to confer with other Christians who will bring God’s word to bear on the situations we pose to them in consultation. Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”
Remember, in the end, God’s vantage point is the only one that really matters. So no matter what you are dealing with, seek to view (and respond to) people and situations from His perspective.