A while back, I received an email from a church member. He had returned from a long trip abroad and had not yet recovered from jet lag. When he found himself awake in the middle of the night, he decided to attend an early morning prayer meeting at a nearby Korean-American church instead of trying to go back to sleep.
During the sermon, the pastor of the church said in passing how a member of a growing church in the area asked a member of his church: “Why are you still attending a spiritually dead church?” Our member surmised that the pastor was talking about our church and sent me an email suggesting that our church members should be more careful in what they say when they are with members of other churches.
I know the other pastor personally and felt he deserved an apology. So I sent him an email. He responded immediately, saying that he remembered making that remark, but was not referring to Seoul Baptist and apologized for saying something that could be misinterpreted. It turned out that it was just a misunderstanding.
Misunderstandings arise very easily in relationships. It’s especially easy to occur when you hear criticism about someone. When I was younger, I tended to have a negative opinion of people whom others criticized. But I have become wiser, and am not as influenced by people’s opinions about someone; I contact the person being criticized and listen to his side of story before I form an opinion about him.
Nowadays, when I hear criticism about someone I pay more attention to the person doing the criticizing than the content of the criticism before I make a judgment.
When two people have contradictory opinions about someone, I see which one has a closer relationship and generally favor the opinion of the one who knows the person more intimately. For example, if one person says someone has a warm personality and another says he is cold, I choose the opinion of the person who is closer to him and knows him better.
When a person criticizes someone else, I compare the lives of the one criticizing and the one being criticized. If the person who criticizes is a person of integrity, I take his criticism seriously. Otherwise, not only do I disregard his criticism, but I also assume that the person being criticized is a good man. Good and bad people have opposite values, so they tend to criticize each other. When someone becomes the target of criticism by bad people, he must be good.
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