Expectations and Perspectives

Expectations and Perspectives

I have been reading Steven Covey's book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I highly recommend it for it will challenge your thinking and how you approach life.

One of the early topics he discusses is our perspective, how we view things. Our perspective on a situation determines our expectations and our assumptions. With only one perspective, we can only see things one way.

Over the past several years I have begun to try to see other perspectives. These perspectives don't necessarily have to be a correct one, but I wanted to see the "other side" so to speak.

What I have found is that my eyes have been greatly opened to see situations in a different light. It has given me understanding, wisdom and the ability to deal or cope with bigger problems and life issues.

What had the greatest impact on causing me to realize that my perspective was not the only perspective and that my perspective was not always right, was that I began working with inner city kids at a local inner city school. Their stories and individual situations caused me to look at my own assumptions, prejudices and perspectives.

Having a perspective from the suburbs and not growing up in a rough, impoverished environment, I had little understanding of all the dynamics that entail the inner city poor. It was only by spending time with these kids did I begin to understand their challenges, their perspectives, whether right or wrong.

From our own perspective, we create expectations. Those expectations will determine how we interact or judge others. If our perspectives are wrong or just incomplete, we have the tendency to quickly judge, write off or justify our actions.

Our expectations show up in how we treat our spouse, children, co-workers, friends, neighbors, the poor, immigrants, etc.

What I am still learning is to try to see the other perspective by listening more and asking questions. I am learning to listen for relationship's sake. I am learning to ask questions to go beyond the obvious or surface issue.
Taking this approach requires discipline and patience. It requires a person to value the other person and value true wisdom above being "right." It may require being inconvenienced in the process. It will require being humble.

By truly learning another's perspective, you grow and you build relationship. If the other person's perspective is incorrect, building relationship will give you the opportunity to show them the correct perspective. Rarely is someone willing to listen to another perspective without a trusting relationship.

Today a person shared with me 4 ways to approach a situation before we place priority on an expectation. These 4 concepts focus on relationship over just being right.

1) Have compassion on the person regardless of the cause of the situation (it could be totally their fault and they deserve what they are getting.)
2) Trust the person to the best of your ability and what wisdom allows - trust that what they see and say is THEIR perspective
3) Be vulnerable - be open to learning and not just proving your point. Be vulnerable to hear how you may have the wrong perspective or just incomplete information.
4) Proper communication and boundaries are key. Respectful communication and honoring the other person as a person is important. Belittling someone goes far to damage a relationship and closes doors. Listening is more important than talking in communication.

By building relationships, we can value another and also see their point of view. We don't have to accept their point of view as truth but can acknowledge their perspective. This shows that you value the other person.

The proper tone of voice goes a long way in building and maintaining relationships. A disrespectful tone does more damage than words. Be calm and respectful. If you fear the other person's perspective, first examine why you fear it before you cast judgment or withdraw. Many times our fears are based upon false perspectives or assumptions.


James 1:19-20 "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."

Leviticus 19:15 "Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly."

Please remember my family in your prayers this week. We are going to Yakama, Washington to the Yakama Indian reservation to work repairing houses, working with very impoverished children and supporting the family that runs Sacred Road Ministries. www.sacredroadministries.com

The reading I have been doing on the Yakama people has truly given me a new perspective on native American poverty and the plight that these people face: no jobs, poverty, little to no education, drug abuse, alcoholism, child abuse,suicide, loss of culture and a defeated mindset. I know my perspective will be changed. I pray that their perspective of a white person will also be changed.


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