The Power of Perspective
Aren’t you glad…
· you woke up today?
· the sun was shining?
· the birds were singing?
· your energy prevailed?
· students were cooperative (mostly)?
· colleagues were friendly?
· you made a difference?
· God sent his Son, Jesus?
Aren’t you glad?
Each one of these statements has a flip side. It is all about perspective. Instead of being glad about waking up today, we could be mad we had to get up so early. Instead of being happy some of our students were cooperative, we could be annoyed that a couple were defiant. Instead of being glad our colleagues were friendly, we could be offended at the one who didn’t bother to say, “Hello.” It’s all about perspective.
Albert Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” When you think about it, perspective matters. How we look at situations will dictate our thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions. Perspective is powerful.
I’m reminded of an incident that happened with children in Matthew 19. The perspective of Jesus and the perspective of his disciples were vastly different. Jesus was teaching to large crowds in the region of Judea. The people (probably parents) brought the infants to Him so that He could pray for them and lay His hands on them. In those times the laying on of hands was seen as a blessing. The disciples saw the children as a nuisance and actually reprimanded the people. Jesus, on the other hand, did not perceive the situation this way. He saw parents who trusted Him. He saw children who were helpless. He saw a need for compassion. The disciples’ perspective was alienation. Jesus’ perspective was acceptance.
Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away. Matthew 19:13-15
Another example of how Jesus’ perspective differed from His disciples is the feeding of the five thousand in Matthew 14. It was getting late in the day. The disciples approached Jesus and asked Him to send the crowds home so they could eat. They saw no other option. Jesus, on the other hand, saw the opportunity for divine intervention. We all know what happens. Thousands were fed from minimal resources. The disciples’ perspective was impossible. Jesus’ perspective was possible.
But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. Matthew 14:16-21
Perspective is powerful. Perception can drive us forward or hold us back. I find it fascinating how two people can look at the same situation and have two completely different perspectives. Most perspectives are shaped by family values, experiences, and culture. It makes sense then that perspectives differ. However, as Christians, there is another factor that should impact our perspective—Jesus Christ.
So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. Colossians 3:1-2 (The Message)
When I think about our work as educators, I am convinced our success is totally dependent on having a Biblical perspective. Let’s look at what the Bible says about those who are most impacted by our work.
God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
When working with our students, we can never forget they are created in God’s image. No matter how difficult a student may be, there is always hope. God’s love for them is just as great as His love for us. If we keep this perspective, we can persevere despite the difficult circumstances.
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12
While there may be rare exceptions to the rule, parents love and care for their children. When we perceive parents as difficult, we can become defensive and frustrated. However, when we perceive them as loving, we will seek to understand them better and offer our support.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
Some colleagues and supervisors can be a challenge. They may be angry, rude, or unfair. We can choose to perceive their behavior as “who they are,” or we can change our perception to one of examination. Why are they behaving this way? Many people are hurting, and their behavior is simply a symptom of a spiritual void. This change in our perspective could yield an opportunity to share Jesus with them.
A final area we should address has to do with our perception of work. It is relatively easy to differentiate between those who perceive work as a “job” versus those who perceive work as a “mission.” As Christian educators, we must understand our calling is ordained by God. In Ephesians 2:10, Paul reminds us, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
I realize this isn’t always easy. On this side of Heaven we will constantly be tempted to see life from an earthly perspective. In 2 Corinthians 4:18 Paul encourages us keep an eternal perspective by looking not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.
If you are like me, you would benefit from a regular perspective check. I find I must regularly ask God to help me see things from His perspective. There is so much going on around us, and so many voices tell us what we should think and feel. However, there is peace for those who see life from God’s perspective.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:5-6
Never underestimate the power of perspective.