Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Choosing the Starting Point

When my older son was small, he enjoyed Disney’s Winnie the Pooh cartoons. There was much to learn from the behaviors of the different characters. Pooh’s simplicity, Tigger’s energy and Piglet’s winsomeness give us a glimpse of the positivity and pitfalls of various character traits. The character whose personality seemed to me the least desirable was Eeyore, the donkey who seemed always to see doom and gloom.

How we choose to approach life says much about our discipleship. When our starting point is doom and gloom, distrust, name-calling, or other forms of negativity, we hinder, if we don’t block completely, the ability to be transformed ourselves and to be transforming agents for God’s kingdom. Like Eeyore, if our initial response is negative, we are like horses wearing blinders. We only see what we want to see, and we miss the invitation to grow.

When others around us begin with the negative, it can be a drain on community. I’ve worked with folks whose initial response is critical—of others, of the situation—or who are distrustful of others within their community—be it work, or church or neighborhood. There are times when criticism is warranted, and where discernment leads us to be wary or distrustful of others, but that should only come after a process, not a knee-jerk reaction.

It’s better to choose gratitude, hospitality and openness as one’s initial response. The damage done by leading with a negative, critical, distrustful attitude can be difficult to repair. It certainly affects our ability to be effective representatives for the faith we profess. When we label, exclude, name-call and denigrate others, we hurt ourselves, we hurt others, and we break God’s heart.

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