In the summer of 1998, all of America was stricken with baseball fever. America’s favorite pastime was being ushered back into the forefront of the nation’s consciousness by two gargantuan sluggers – Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. As they neared closer and closer to Roger Maris’ 1961 single season home run record, we gathered around our TV sets as nearly every channel on the lineup would break from their regularly scheduled programming to see if Big Mac or Slammin’ Sammy would hit it out!
That was before we received new info.
In the years to come, we’d learn that these gargantuans were that way because they were juiced up on P.E.D.’s, which only paved the road for an inflated Barry Bonds to break McGwire’s record a mere three years later.
In hindsight, the fandemonium of that “Summer of the Slugger” was all absolutely meaningless. At the time, it seemed like we were witnessing history, but now, it’s all forgettable – even regrettable for some.
This all reminds me of a question my dad often asks: What do you do when you receive new information? Especially if it’s news that might derail your previously held convictions.
One example is a hypothetical neighbor. He seems like a nice, friendly, genuine guy. But then you find out that the guy is on his seventh wife with no relationship whatsoever with any of his six kids. The guy has been a complete selfish jerk for most of his life.
But he seemed so cool from three doors down.
So, what do you do with this new info?
We live in a culture that puts a lot of value on second, even third and fourth, chances. But as protectors of our families, does this new info add a new dimension to our interactions?
My dad reflects on a guy he knew who, through his own horrible decisions and actions, wreaked havoc in his family. But then he turned his life around, completely repented and amazingly, he and his family now have a great story to tell of grace and mercy.
Unfortunately, not everyone chooses repentance. They hurt people and continue to hurt people as they roll along.
I’ve known a pair of leaders who took two opposing perspectives on this.
One would assess someone, and if he felt they deserved it, he would figuratively put them into his “Idiot Box”. Now, he wouldn’t seal the box shut, thinking that he was giving them an opportunity to rise out of that box, but nonetheless, into the box they went. This almost always influenced their relationship and the “idiots” potential from there on.
The other leader insisted on always viewing people based on their potential as individuals created in God’s image and innately needing to feel valued as such. It’s important for this leader to never burden someone with the mantle of an “Idiot Label” because he’ll always be identified as such and never feel free to reach his potential.
According to my dad, they both have merits and they both have pitfalls to their perspectives. The better solution would probably be to take the stance of the second leader, but institute some accountability structures to keep the guy in check but not hamper his growth.
The key then would be to see how responsive the person is to having a helpful partner. This would be pivotal in assessing where he stands in regards to his own self-awareness or even repentance.
But what about this scenario:
You see someone placed into a position of responsibility – maybe even responsible for children (a youth pastor or coach, for example) and you have new information that the senior pastor or league official obviously isn’t privy to.
Do you rat the guy out? Do you stir up a pot that you don’t have any business stirring? Do you keep it to yourself because it’s none of your business?
What would you do?
My dad says that it all comes back to relationships. We need to exercise caution, but accountability and partnership must always be a priority.
In other words, stir the pot – but stir it gently with respect – and as the Bible says, “speak truth in love.”
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