“Be Careful With First Reads” by Garris Elkins

by | Jan 19, 2012 | Church, Leadership, Prayer, Repentance, Transition | 1 comment

Recently, I read a blog article written by a very respected
young leader. He is well read and well
educated. He does things with
excellence. He has become noticed for
all of these attributes and rightfully so.

Because we are all in a hurry from time to time, I did a
quick read on something he wrote. I
missed what he was saying and began to carry an offense based on my quick,
narrow and judgmental read. I found myself wanting to correct him in a public
forum.

For an entire day I carried a burr in my saddle. I was thinking about how to correct this
young man. Maybe I would Tweet a reference to what he wrote or write something on
Facebook. This went on all day until
later that evening when the Lord had me reread the article. I could hardly believe it – on the second
read I realized that I was terribly wrong and misinformed. This young author
was saying something that was not only accurate, but much appreciated by me for
it’s content. My hurried read was blind.
I am so thankful I did not respond out of  my blindness.

I came away from this embarrassing revelation learning a few
things about myself. I also came away with some things we all need to be
reminded of from time to time:

1. A first read is just that – a first read. Rarely do we ever capture a writer’s true
content the first time around. We owe it
to the author, and to the Church at large, to read things again to make sure we
are actually correct in our observations. And even then, we should not forget
that we only see things partially.

2. We all carry
reactive baggage. This author was
touching on something dear to my heart. I was defensive about this truth and had anointed myself as its
protector. Our reactive baggage is usually packed with items from our broken
history and unresolved personal issues. Reactive baggage cannot be trusted to speak the truth – it needs to be
laundered.

3. Believe the
best. When we read what someone else has
written we owe them the honor of believing the best about them and not making
snap judgments. Our judgments put people in a place where we don’t have to
engage them. This results in
separation. God is not happy with
separation because it breaks fellowship.

4. My response
revealed that God has more work to do inside my heart. We never arrive at a
place where we can’t be corrected. I had to tell the Lord how sorry I was
regarding my response and admit to Him that I needed His help.

5. Wait before you
pounce. It only takes a little more
investment of time to do something right. A wrong response, and the resulting hurt, may never be retrievable if
you let ill informed judgments lead the way in your response to what you do not
understand.

6. Let the author
know how much you enjoyed their article. You don’t have to dump all the facts about your personal struggle. A simple affirmation about the article does
two things. First, if just feels good.
And second, maybe God can open up a relational bridge with this person that
would never have existed had you not walked through this correction of your
wrong attitude.

Years ago, Jerry Cook wrote a book titled, “A Few Things
I’ve Learned Since I Knew It All.” Jerry was transparent about how life can
teach you new things when you think you know it all. I don’t like the feeling that comes when I
think I know it all and find out I didn’t know as much as I thought. A good “God-correction” is like taking a
spiritual bath. You come out clean all
over. It feels good.

1 Comment

  1. Dave Jacobs

    This is so good Garris. There have been so many times I've gotten all worked up about an article, usually on the web, complained to Ellen, she reads it and says, "I don't think he/she is saying what you think they are saying." I then re-read and and sheepishly admit, "Yea, I guess you're right." I know for myself, because I'm busy, I tend to skim articles and that's what often gets me in trouble.

    Reply

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