LIVING IN UNITY
One of the things I love about Connect is how united we are. The Bible calls us to be united “in thought and in purpose” (1 Corinthians 1:10) and, for the most part, we are.
Can we get better? Yes, we can!
Where there’s healthy culture and healthy soil, things grow. In the absence of healthy soil, things wither and eventually die.
One critical element of establishing a healthy culture and promoting unity within a team, a business, a marriage, a friendship, a relationship, a church and so forth is understanding the differences between TRUST and SUSPICION.
We all, on a daily basis, face the unknown of people’s actions and reactions and, often times, we commit what we call “the sin of assumption”. To assume something is not always wrong, as long as we do it the right way. When something goes down differently than what we had planned, when someone acts or reacts differently than what we expect, when the outcome of anything is different than what was agreed upon, a GAP is created. This “gap” is the unknown and, as we are rational human beings, we have the tendency to fill this gap, to find/imagine/determine/believe the missing piece on the puzzle.
How do we fill the gap?
In situations like the ones described above, we have a choice. We can fill the gap with trust or we can fill it with suspicion.
Let’s think of an example. Let’s say you agree to meet with someone at a certain place, at a certain time and for some unknown reason, the person gets there 30 minutes late. Common things that go through our minds are: did they forget? I’m wasting my time here. I could be doing this, this, and that. This person does not respect my time… All of these thoughts create divisions, walls, obstacles in our relationships that need to eventually be overcome. When we do this, we are putting the other party in a position to prove themselves to us. Why? Because, in this case, we filled the gap with suspicion. If we think the following: They probably hit traffic. Are they ok? I know I’m busy but I’m sure they have a reason to be late. I am sure they wanted to be here on time but maybe something happened at work, traffic, car, family… This way, we fill the gap with trust and it does not affect the relational equity we have with that person.
We should always fill the gaps with trust, with grace but unfortunately we normally have a tendency to gravitate towards suspicion. This is a spiritual muscle that needs to be developed. The same way our physical muscles get stronger as we use them, we will be able to more easily choose to fill the gaps with trust instead of suspicion as we exercise this muscle. We need to pray and ask God to make us aware of the opportunities to do so.
Because our minds inherently need to fill the gaps with something, we can assume the unknown in a negative or positive way. When we negatively assume something, it usually turns out to be not as bad as we thought. Something else we need to be careful with is when we validate suspicion, which leads to distrust. Even when our negative assumption is proven to be true, we still lose. Why? Because it affects culture, it feeds a negative behavior, a negative mindset.
How do we work against it?
1 – Be AWARE.
Ask God to show you opportunities where you can develop this “muscle”. Don’t limit this to the area you serve here at Connect or who you have relationships here just because you’re reading this in a church blog. This principle can and should be applied everywhere! With our spouse, our kids, with our boss, our employees, co-workers, friends, neighbors, everyone!
2 – Assume the BEST.
When you face the unknown, when someone’s actions fall short of the expected, assume the best. Fill the gap with trust.
3 – Seek to UNDERSTAND.
When someone “breaks a rule”, try to understand the reasoning before you form an opinion. If you ask me “is it right to be late?” the answer is NO. Now, should we fill the gap with trust or suspicion? Should we demand justice or extend grace? If it’s something that really bothers you, go and talk to the person. If this person’s behavior is repetitive, talk to them, not in a accusatory way but in a “I want to help you” way!
4 – Exercise GRACE.
Live in love and grace. The Bible says 1 Peter 4:8 “Love overlooks a multitude of offenses”. When do we stop exercising grace? When you think that the amount of grace you’ve given is more than the amount of grace you’ve been given. By exercising grace, we automatically promote trust, which leads to truth.
5 – OWN your faults.
To make mistakes in life is inevitable. When it happens, we should own it. Whenever we are the ones giving people the opportunity to fill the gap, we should be quick to own the gap and apologize for whatever that gap is. A trustworthy person is not a person who never fails. A trustworthy person is the one that own the gaps he/she creates.
This is a completely basic popup, no options set.