eyesight

How is Your Vision?

Leadership //

The tag read “3 for 3.79” – an incredible sale. Needless to say I grabbed a container of those lemon, poppy seed muffins and cheerfully headed to the checkout.  When the price for the muffins rang up as $3.29, I nicely informed the checkout lady that the price was wrong – I was confident that I was right.   I was making a sound argument and she had begun to read the receipt to look for the error, when the young man bagging my groceries pulled the muffins back out, read the label, and said, “Mam, that’s the expiration date not the price.”

Dreaded bad eyesight!  My readers were on my head, holding back my hair, rather than on my eyes, and I completely misread the expiration tag, making the assumption it was a sale tag.  I jokingly told the young bagger that they shouldn’t use such small print on middle-aged women’s groceries, paid the full price, and headed home.

There are times when my spiritual eyes aren’t a whole lot better than my physical ones.  How about you?  Are there times when you too rely on your own imperfect vision? We make assumptions about what we see and mistake an expiration date for a sale tag, hurting people for hurtful people, and people in need for needy people.  We are confident we see the truth clearly but have forgotten our “readers” on top of our heads.

Donovan Graham in his book, Teaching Redemptively, suggests we must see those whom we have an opportunity to lead and serve as God’s image bearers, and we in turn should reflect the nature and character of God in our responses.[1] What difference would it make in our behavior if, when we come across someone who is rude, hard to get along with, self-obsessed, or has the nerve to disagree with us, we saw them as God’s image bearer?  They may be in need of reconciliation, restoration, or healing, but they bear His image – Imago Dei – nonetheless.

How would we behave if we saw clearly?  What does it look like to reflect God’s nature and character in our responses?

  • We would extend grace over judgment. (Ephesians 2)
  • We would be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19)
  • We would offer a hand of help rather than words of advice (Matthew 25:34-36)
  • We would share a message of hope instead of shame (Hebrews 6:18-19, Romans 8:1 & Romans 15:13)
  • And we would remember what we were before He saved us (Titus 3:3-7)

Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” (Titus 3:3-7, NLT)

In the moment-by-moment everydayness of life and ministry we each have an opportunity to see, and what we see impacts our attitude and behavior.  Every once in awhile we need reminded to take our readers off of our heads so that we can see clearly.

How well can you see? How is your vision?

[1] Graham, D. (2009). Teaching redemptively: Bringing grace and truth into your classroom(2nd edition). Colorado Springs, CO: Purposeful Design.

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About the Author

Colleen Derr serves as Professor of Christian Ministry and Congregational Formation at Wesley Seminary. She provides oversight to the M.Div. spiritual formation courses and the MA in Child, Youth and Family Ministry program. Prior to joining Wesley Seminary Dr. Derr has served as Director of Children’s Ministry for The Wesleyan Church and as Assistant Pastor of Fall Creek Wesleyan Church in Fishers, Indiana. She has been involved in local church Christian education for over 30 years. Colleen developed a children’s catechism program for The Wesleyan Church, Building Faith Kids, and a preteen discipleship tool, Explore. In addition, she developed a host of training materials for local church ministry leaders and has provided training and consultation for local churches across the country.