Life gets crazy and busy. We get tired and frustrated, disappointed and upended. In the midst of all that and more, we intend to do and be so many things…often very good things…but that does not always occur. Life is like that. Things happen that we do not intend.
We hear that when Galadriel speaks a prologue in The Lord of the Rings about the famous ring of power that had upended so many and turned the world back into darkness. She tells the audience:
“But then something happened that the Ring did not intend. It was picked up by the most unlikely creature imaginable. A Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, of the Shire. For the time will soon come when Hobbits will shape the fortunes of all…”
And so it is that things happen in life that we may not intend. How often any one of us can be heard commenting, “But I didn’t intend to…” (Fill in the blank). Many times it is true because we did not intend or plan to hurt, harm, or disappoint someone, but in our hurried thoughtlessness we did. Sometimes that comment is also a “too ready” excuse that slips from our mouths without much thought to what our words or actions were or the consequences of them.
The truth is that no matter what our intent may be or may have been, we judge others by their actions and they judge us by ours.
No matter what we may wish to be or say, our behaviors and our words come out of the store of what is inside of us.
Yes, we all have bad moments in time, but each of us also needs to consider how we move, live, and speak with a greater intentionality.
Intentionality reflects being deliberate and purposeful in how we represent ourselves, our Lord, and any and all associated with us. It also takes into account that with the best of intentions, not everyone will hear what it is we have said as we meant it to be communicated.
Trey Gowdy speaks with a great deal of insight on this topic in Unified. Here is a part of his thoughts:
“When I speak, the intention behind my words is important; but what the other person hears is even more important. The quality of my communication is always determined by the listener. Unless the other person understands and receives what we mean to say, we haven’t communicated effectively. We must speak the same language, define our terms, pursue a common understanding, and be bold and honest enough to speak up with one another…It doesn’t have to be confrontational – in fact, it’s better if it’s not – but it must be candid, truthful, and to the point. And we must be willing to listen and seek to understand the other side’s perspective.”
Few of us can claim not to have been exposed to enough truth to be clear on this. It speaks to congruency and integrity, consistency and intentionality and a clear understanding that our words matter, our actions matter, and both have consequences in this life and the next.
Each of us has the opportunity to make a difference in standing in the gap and reducing the division where we are planted and placed.
As Tim Scott notes:
“The truth is, we all need someone to model the expectation and show us the way. Leadership is caught, not taught.”
Courses on leadership abound along with more leadership training seminars than anyone can imagine and yet in every sphere and area, it is harder and harder to find true and effective leadership.
It begins with “cleaning the slate inside.” Listen to Tim Scott’s powerful truth on this subject:
“The honest truth is that the slate that most needs cleaning is the one inside each of us – the one that has all our preconceptions, prejudices, and poisonous attitudes written on it. The one where we have recorded our pain. When I look in the mirror and see someone who has been forgiven, it’s easier for me to clean the slate with others and start fresh.”
Adding to that:
“If we want to establish friendships with people who are different from us, we simply cannot blame them for the things that others have said or done to us in the past. We cannot afford to blur the lines of responsibility. We must believe the best about each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt. In a sense, we are all living with the consequences of what others have done or not done, but let’s not attribute those things to one another. Let’s make an intentional decision to start fresh.” Trey Gowdy
If we truly desire a better home, better neighborhood, better church, better workplace, or better nation, what is each of us demonstrating in our words and actions that show that intentionality?
I pray it will not be said of us what Ezekiel writes in Ezekiel 22:30 (NASB):
“I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.”
The wall was to keep out every ungodly thing raised up against what God had ordained and set forward.
Will each of us have the courage and intentionality to stand in the growing gap created by focusing on our differences, attributing things to one another without even knowing each other?