I have been working on a personal goal this school year to be less judgmental. I have Matthew 7: 1-7 posted in my office to read every day. If you are not familiar with the verse, here it is:
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
The more I have tried to pay attention to situations where I feel I am being judgmental, I have come back to one concept that seems to ring true in all these situations.
We judge others by their actions and we judge ourselves by our intentions.
When someone makes a mistake or transgression that affects us, it is harder to get over what has happened, than it is to look at the intentions behind the actions. Whereas, for ourselves, it is easy to understand why we made certain decisions and can justify the outcomes, good or bad, with our intentions.
This does not mean that we make excuses for behavior because of intentions, but it does mean that we need a little more understanding at time to get to root of the problem. Often what we see as a problem, others see as a solution to a problem. For example, let’s say during a classroom project a student shuts down and becomes combative about completing the work. Many times we react to the action, take disciplinary action for insubordination or laziness, or even worse, just ignore the situation believing the student just does not care. We address what we see as a problem, but from the student’s perspective this is a reaction to not looking dumb in front of peers, seeking attention due to a struggle at home, or lack of understanding where it is easier to not try than it is to try and fail. We see and react to actions, rather than getting to the intentions behind actions. Perhaps we can also apply this idea to modern politics as well.
In the coming days, pay more attention to how you judge and what you judge. The verse I have been reading and focusing on makes it clear for us to ensure that the same measure we use in our own judgements of others, should be the same measures we use on ourselves as well. Try to make sure that you are holding yourself as accountable as you hold others. There is nothing wrong with holding others to high expectations, but if you do, you need to make sure you have those same expectations of yourself. The same expectations in intentions and actions…and if you do not understand someone else’s intentions, maybe it is time we start asking.