What's Your Perspective?
As a building principal for many years, I had the opportunity to witness how different perspectives can drastically alter the decisions we make and the actions we take. Consider the example below.
A young girl with Downs Syndrome is included in the regular classroom for part of the day. She is well-received by the students and seems to be flourishing. The classroom has a reading corner in the room with a bathtub. It is super comfy, and students love to read in the bathtub, especially this young girl. In fact, she loves it so much, she sometimes gets in and stays, refusing to leave.
Perspective #1: The Teacher
The classroom teacher worries about upsetting the young girl, so she allows the behavior to continue. After all, the child has a disability, so she can’t be expected to fix the behavior. That is her perspective.
Perspective #2: The Mother
The young girl’s mother, on the other hand, has a much different viewpoint. When told about the concern, the mother simply says, “Tell her to get out of the bathtub.” After all, her daughter should be expected to abide by the same guidelines in the classroom as the other children, and she is fully capable of doing so. That is her perspective.
Let’s consider another scenario.
The principal approaches a teacher late on a Friday afternoon to talk. The principal wants to give the teacher a heads up that there may need to be changes in teaching assignments next year, and those changes could potentially impact him/her. Before much else can be said, the principal gets a phone call which requires a sudden departure. The principal quickly leaves saying, “We’ll talk more next week.”
Perspective #1: The Teacher
The teacher is left feeling worried and deflated. The teacher thinks, I must not be doing well in my current position, so my principal wants to move me.
Perspective #2: The Principal
The principal’s perspective, however, is totally different. He thinks, I need a strong teacher to move to one of my testing grades, and this is one of the strongest teachers I have on staff.
Sometimes we are not even aware of our perspective. When unexpected situations arise we may respond emotionally or act impulsively without considering the possibility of different perspectives. The outlook that is often ignored is a kingdom perspective. Contrasts between a worldly, human perspective and a kingdom perspective are recorded throughout Scripture.
One vivid example for me is the Feeding of the 5000. In John 6 we read about the huge crowds following Jesus and the disciples. When Jesus asked Philip where they could buy bread for all of the people, Philip’s limited perspective caused him to respond in the following manner: “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them.” While Peter did identify what was available, his narrow perspective was evidenced in his question, “What good is that with this huge crowd?”
In contrast, Jesus saw an opportunity to demonstrate God’s power. He had a kingdom perspective. “Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.”
Perspective makes a huge difference. Our perspective impacts our behaviors, especially when we are faced with difficult times in life. So how do we make sure our perspective is kingdom focused when challenging situations face us? Let me suggest a strategy we teach children when our clothing catches on fire: STOP, DROP, and ROLL.
STOP! Don’t respond immediately to the situation. Don’t react. Stop and remember that God is sovereign. Nothing surprises Him. Everything that happens to us in this life passes through His fingers. He may cause events to happen, or He may allow events to occur. Regardless, He is in control. Stopping to remind ourselves of this truth puts things in perspective and prevents us from responding inappropriately.
He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17
But He is unchangeable; who can oppose Him? He does what He desires. Job 23:13
A person’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9
DROP! Drop to your knees in prayer. Talk to God. He is your father. He never gets tired of talking to you. He loves you. Ask God to help you see things as He does. Ask for a kingdom perspective.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139: 23-24
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6
ROLL! Roll yourself in God’s Word. The purpose of rolling when it comes to a fire is to put the flames out! God’s Word is our way of extinguishing thoughts that create a flawed, worldly perspective. Facing difficulties in our own strength can result in worry, anxiety, fear, and even depression. Our perspective should be focused on what God is capable of accomplishing, not on our own capabilities. How do we know what God can do? Read the Bible. God’s Word can change our perspective from one of defeat to one of victory.
The Lord is my strength and my song; He has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him— my father’s God, and I will exalt him! Exodus 15:2
But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. I John 4:4
You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great. Psalm 18:35
A secular worldview or a Biblical worldview; those are our two choices. They are exactly that—choices. If we see the world like the lost world does, we will think and act exactly like them. However, when we embrace a kingdom perspective, we respond in a distinctive manner, and we bring glory to God. What will be your perspective—worldly or kingdom focused? Choose.