I shared yesterday about the time when Dallas Willard came and spoke to the congregation of my church. Though the greatest lesson I learned from him that day was by his example, he also gave some transformational advice on leadership that I’ve never forgotten. He said that good leaders don’t presume, don’t pretend, and don’t push. Today, I want to explore the first of those exhortations and look at what it means to not presume when we lead.
When Jesus taught us not to judge lest we be judged, we often interpret it to mean that we shouldn’t make judgments about others, because if we do, God will make a judgment about us. But what if the Lord’s words actually mean something different? Perhaps in teaching us not to judge, our Father was trying to spare us the pain of being judged by our friends and neighbors in return. Here’s what I mean. Wisdom says that if I come down hard on someone without knowing their story and they get wind of it, they are going to come down hard on me. I believe this is why we are seeing so much dissension and discord in the world today. People are quick to speak and quick to jump to conclusions, while those being judged are quick to respond in defense. I don’t know of too many people who, when a presumption is made about them, respond by saying, “You’re right. I am a bad person. How can I be better?” Instead, they lash out and judge the person who made the accusation about them. This is the cycle Dallas Willard was speaking about when he asserted that leaders don’t presume.
Friend, judgment comes from a place of ego and pride, and it’s hurtful to others when you cast a verdict without hearing their story or knowing what they’ve gone through. This is why I encourage you to lead in the same manner as Jesus by being quick to listen and slow to speak. Give people the benefit of a doubt, go easy on them, and allow the Holy Spirit to convict and change their hearts. Your job is to yield to the power of Jesus and be His voice, hands, and feet to those you encounter, always remembering that their story matters!