Friday, April 1, 2011

From my perspective

Anyone who knows me well knows that possibly my favorite place in all the world is the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The Parkway that meanders along the peaks gives views of the Shenandoah Valley to the west and the Piedmont to the east that are at times breathtaking. I love it. From high on the mountain you can see for miles and miles. At the same time you can see what's right in front of you.

But I've also been down in the Valley - a beautiful place as well. Yet at the lower elevation my vision doesn't allow me to see as much or things as distant as when I'm higher up. And if I'm in the forest, surrounded by trees, or in the fog my vision only allows me to see feet away.

Perspective makes all the difference in the world. Our opinions, judgments and conclusions are shaped by our view. And our view is shaped by our life experiences and that which has influence over me. That would include books I read, sermons I hear, internet blogs and sites I visit, conversations, and just plain things that happen in life.

God, we're told, has ways that are "higher" than our own. I take that to mean those ways are clearly seen by Him, but because of my perspective they may be mysterious or oblivious to me. I don't have and will never have His vantage point. So I accept Him and His ways by faith - the evidence of things hoped for and the substance of things unseen. That I can (usually) handle. I'm not God.

But what about my fellow humans? Could it be that there are some, who because of their perspective and position - higher than mine - see far more than I? We sometimes refer to being able to see the "Big Picture", referring to vision that requires a higher elevation. The CEO of a corporation sees more and what is farther away business-wise than the entry level employee.

This is true in every area of life, not just business. It's true spiritually, relationally, corporately, morally. Some, because of their relative immaturity, like the entry-level mail clerk can only see the mail room. The chairman of the board sits on the top floor in a corner office with windows looking out. Someone who has walked with God for years or decades can "see" a bigger picture than a new believer or one whose life is cluttered with "fog" or "trees", which can be other people, emotions, schedule, "baggage" and so on.

I have leaders in my life that I should respect because they have proven character and a greater perspective than me. If their character is questionable they shouldn't qualify to be my leaders. Maybe I don't understand why they do what they do, but that they occupy a "higher" place should cause me to consider their perspective before questioning their judgment or decisions.

What's the old proverb about not criticizing someone until I've walked in his shoes?

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