Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Snap Judgments

We just got back from vacation in the Wisconsin Dells at a great resort.  We had a fantastic time!  It was great to be all together for a few days.   The kids had an absolute blast in all the waterparks, I totally embarrassed myself on the golf course with my dad and brothers (per usual), and I ate way too much junk – just the way vacation is supposed to be.

While I was poolside and not responsible for watching Alex, I was reading the book, Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.  It’s all about how sometimes our snap judgments -- the kinds of things we can determine or ‘see’ in the blink of an eye (hence the title) – can be dead on and better than our more researched judgments or they can be totally wrong because of pre-conceived biases that we don’t even realize we have.  His research, approach, and analysis is controversial but very intriguing.  Gladwell has a way of making his readers think about everyday things in a new way that causes you to pause and think twice.

It got me thinking about the quick judgments I make, particularly about other people.  Sometimes my judgments turn out to be spot on and sometimes they turn out to be embarrassingly wrong.  When I’m wrong, I feel really bad and scold myself for getting it wrong promising myself that next time I’ll be more cautious before ‘jumping to conclusions’.  Of course, I soon forget that promise to myself and do it again only this time I happen to get it right and feel totally justified and even a little proud of myself that I ‘called it right’ this time.

Gladwell argues that we can train ourselves to make better snap judgments about people and situations.  But in order to do that we have to be willing to understand our biases and change them.  This takes hard work and practice. 

As a Christian, I believe that judging people is wrong.  And it is, if we are judging their hearts.  But I also think, there is a place for making judgments -- even in the Christian life -- when it comes to peoples attitudes and actions.  If I believe (and I do) that people will and even should be able to determine whether or not I am a Christian based on how I live and act then I need to be able to do that with others as well.

As Christians, we hope that people ‘see’ something in us that they don’t see in others – there is a judgment, a conclusion, that is reached – and that often happens in the blink of an eye.  And we hope that that judgment is good one based on the way we live. 

I hope that as I go through life people will, in fact, judge me and that I will be judged as someone who is exudes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. 

How would someone judge me in the blink of an eye?  How would they judge you?

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