I mentioned yesterday about the time Dallas Willard visited my church and talked to the audience. Though the most important lesson I learned from him that day was by his example, he also gave me some life-changing leadership advice that I’ll never forget. He believes that strong leaders don’t assume, pretend, or push. Today, I’d like to look at the first of those exhortations, and see what it means to lead without presumption. We typically interpret Jesus’ warning not to judge lest we be judged to mean that we should not pass judgment on others because God will pass judgment on us if we do. What if, on the other hand, the Lord’s words have a different meaning? Perhaps our Father was attempting to protect us from being judged by our friends and neighbors by teaching us not to pass judgment. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: Wisdom dictates that if I judge someone harshly without first learning their tale, they will retaliate harshly. This, I feel, is why there is so much strife and division in the world today. People are eager to speak and make snap judgments, while those who are being criticized are quick to defend themselves. When a presupposition is made about them, I don’t know many people who answer with, “You’re right.” I’m a terrible person. “How can I improve?” Rather, they react angrily and pass judgment on the person who leveled the accusation against them. This is the cycle that Dallas Willard was referring to when he said that leaders don’t make assumptions.
Friend, judgment comes from a place of ego and pride, and it’s terrible to people when you pass judgment without first hearing their narrative or understanding what they’ve gone through. This is why I encourage you to follow in Jesus’ footsteps by listening first and speaking later. Allow the Holy Spirit to convict and alter people’s hearts by giving them the benefit of the doubt. Your role is to surrender to Jesus’ authority and be His voice, hands, and feet to those you come into contact with, never forgetting that their story counts!