Perspective Matters

September 15, 2017

Have you ever considered that the way we view ourselves impacts how we use the gifts we have received?  Secondly, have you ever considered that the way we view other people would impact how we serve them—or how we ignore or use them?

If we are truly seeking to love God with our whole being and to love others like ourselves, we need to wrestle with these two questions.

Copyright: Mattz90 DepositPhoto ID: 50713175

I have to admit; I wasn’t planning to write a post here today.  But, after reading two allegedly unrelated blog posts from friends in a Facebook group, the wheels started turning.  I knew I just had to share something here.

I have always been amazed at the power of self-deception.  So when I saw the title of K L Greenwalt ‘s article, I couldn’t help but click to read “Why You Can’t Trust How You See Yourself.”  She shared a personal story with a big lesson.

A Lesson In Perspective

One day we were sitting together, and she broke the silence with an observation about me. She said, “K, you have such long, slender fingers.” Now grandma was a wise woman and rarely wrong, but as I looked down at my hand, I thought to myself how wrong she was about this.

When I looked at my hand, all I saw were short stubby fingers. As time passed, she made the same comment several more times, and each time I thought the same thing. Then one day I  realized Grandma wasn’t looking at the palm of my hand, she was looking at the back of my hand. So, I looked at the back of my hand and guess what I saw? Yep, long slender fingers. If I looked at my palm, I still saw short stubby fingers.

What? I flipped my hand over several times with the same result. Back of hand, long slender fingers – palm of hand short stubby fingers. It turns out both of us were correct.

I learned a valuable lesson that day, perspective matters.

Why Does It Matter

What does that have to do with discovering who we are created to be? Simple, we tend to look at ourselves from our perspective, but we can’t trust that we see is true.

“Your perspective will influence how you invest your time, spend your money, use your talents, and value your relationships.” Rick Warren – Purpose Driven Life.

The key is seeing ourselves from God’s point of view.

You can read the full post at http://www.klgreenwalt.com/cant-trust-see/        

Consider the last line in the excerpt above, “The key is seeing ourselves from God’s point of view.”  That is a very powerful statement.  But to understand the immense power therein, we must have a healthy and accurate understanding of who God is.

Perspective On God

A.W. Tozer has wisely said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

In the book, Time with God: Develop Confidence & Consistency In Your Personal Prayer Life, I try to lead us to a balanced view of God.  I wrote:

We can come to God as beloved children. Sometimes, I need to remind myself that even though he invites us to call him Father, he is also still Almighty God. We are planning to spend some time with the God of the universe, so it can be helpful to be still for a few minutes (or at least a few seconds) to prepare our hearts and minds. Briefly meditating on Deuteronomy 4:39 has often helped me reorient my focus.

Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. (Deuteronomy 4:39 NIV)

He’s the same God who told Moses, “Take your sandals off of your feet, for the place you are standing on is holy ground.” (Genesis 3:5 WEB)

A steady diet of Bible reading will be a great help as we seek to understand how God’s various attributes can live together in perfect harmony.  Amazingly, as we seek to forget about ourselves and focus on God, we learn more about ourselves than we ever thought possible.  As Jesus said to his disciples,

“If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps he must give up all right to himself, take up his cross and follow me. For the man who wants to save his life will lose it; but the man who loses his life for my sake will find it. For what good is it for a man to gain the whole world at the price of his own soul? What could a man offer to buy back his soul once he had lost it?

Matthew 16:24-26 (PHILLIPS)

Perspective on Self

As I mentioned earlier, I have always been amazed at the power of self-deception.  As I understand, as children, we naturally develop our concept of self based on how others perceive us.  We reason, my (mommy/daddy/teacher, etc) says I’m ____, so I must be.  As we grow, we develop our own thoughts and add our perspective too.

As we get even older, we realize that people will often perceive us in different ways.  Even if you are relatively stable, you play different roles in different situations thereby revealing different aspects of your personality at each encounter.  Eventually, we have to make up our own mind about who we are—accepting and rejecting elements of what other people think about us.

If you can please everyone around you, your circle is way too small!

As a radio and nightclub entertainer, I learned early on there was no way I could ever make everyone happy at the same time.  As a husband, dad, employee, and employer, I learned whenever I said “Yes” to one thing, by default, I said “No” to something (and someone) else.

Ultimately, there’s one perception that rises above all the others—or at least, should.  Who we are in God’s eyes will impact our lives and the lives of those around us.  That was a life-changer for me.

So, I learned to try to make choices with the knowledge and wisdom available.

We’ll explore this more in future posts but for now, how we view God and ourselves is critically important.  Then, how we view others will govern all our relationships.

Perspective on Others

The second blog post that triggered my thinking this morning spoke to the reconciliation of a mother and adult daughter.  In How Our Relationship Got RepairedDanielle Bernock wrote,

Growing up I had many issues with my mother. One was, I was an unplanned pregnancy and never felt the love I craved so deeply.  This all changed through something my mother did and we began to build a bridge between the chasm that kept us emotionally and relationally apart.

and later

Our relationship was broken for many reasons but we learned there was really only one at the core. Our perception of each other was skewed by lies caused by misunderstanding.

(You can read the original aritcle at https://possibilitychange.com/relationship-repair/)

As I study the Scriptures, I repeatedly learn two seemingly conflicting truths.  Humans are uncontrollably sinful AND God loves us beyond belief and understanding.

We need to learn to love other people the way that God loves us—or at least come as close as we can.  Knowing our past, God sees us moving toward the future he has prepared for us.

As we fallen creatures interact with other fallen creatures, the results can be comical, bewildering, painful, and sometimes even devastating.  But God commands us to love one another.  People will make us love/laugh/cry/hurt, but God commands us to love them.  That may not sound reasonable or fair, but that is the reality of following God.  We only have to look at our own disobedience to God’s commands to realize that God has already modeled the very same patience, love, and forgiveness that he calls us to pass on to others.

Why This Matters So Much

How we view God will impact how we interpret everything around us.  That alone will impact our view of ourselves and the people around us.

How we view ourselves will impact how we live out our calling.  If we are sidetracked by a false humility, we will be too self-absorbed to serve, lead, or impact others in the ways that God has prepared for us to walk.  If we think of ourselves more highly than we should, we will short-circuit our future potential.

If we focus on the faults of others, we limit their potential growth.  Everyone is good at some things and bad at others.  I learned a long time ago that great singers know what not to sing.  They have learned to emphasize the positive.  As leaders, parents, and even peers and friends, we need to choose to focus on and bring out the best in ourselves and those around us.

 

Kevin Cunningham

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