All day long on most days we are in a constant state of relationship with other people. We see people we know and like, we see people we know and don’t like, we see people we barely know, and we see people we’ve never laid eyes on before. Some of the people who move into our line of sight we ignore, others we greet politely, with others we enter into a friendly discussion, and then some we hug. But with all of them our eyes do a check-up or more like a checkout, we do a mental evaluation of the person and come to a conclusion very quickly about their character, their appearance, their chance for success, whether they are going to heaven or hell, whether they are a Duck or Beaver fan, and at least a dozen other criteria. We will notice what we believe are flaws and defects quickly, and in a matter of seconds they will be ranked amongst all the other people we know. Most of this “checkout” will be subconscious with a few details floating up into the realm of our conscious thinking.
Each of us will have an emphasis in our mental checkouts that we do all day long, with every person we see, it will be either primarily positive, primarily negative and critical, or a mixture of both somewhere on a scale, of let’s say from one up to one-hundred, with one being super critical and judgmental. Our personal pride level will be a huge factor in our number being high or low, as well as our self-worth and fear of rejection. Our relationship with God and the level of true intimacy we have with our Creator and Savior will also play a key role in how we see people.
The higher we are on the scale, the more positive we are, that is, we tend to see the good things in others before or more than the bad, the healthier our relationships will be, whether we know them well or are just an acquaintance, people pick up on our mental opinion of them and it then influences their opinion and mental check out of us. We all are somewhat locked into our positive/negative scale, but very few things would increase the quality of our relationships including our marriage and with other family members as much as if we could raise where we are on the positive/negative scale in our judgment of others.
When I started Pastoring my biggest problem was I didn’t like most people. I was pretty low on the “judgments scale” and saw way more negative things in most people than positive. I was greatly influenced by my very strong introvert temperament that bordered on being anti-social. I went into ministry not because I liked people and wanted to help them, but because I felt strongly that God had called me into ministry and I was simply obeying Him.
I started a discipline a number of year’s ago that made a huge difference in my attitude towards others, I started praying for them. I made a goal to pray for everyone in our church by name once each week. I developed a very sophisticated system of keeping track of needs, problems, and blessings in their lives to pray for. Another discipline that I started was to say a quick prayer in my head for anyone I talked to, while I was talking to them. It took some time and work to get that second one down, but I now do it almost automatically.
It is so much more enjoyable living life seeing mostly good stuff in people.