Misunderstandings. Ambiguity. Well intended comments that go awry. When these things happen our personal experiences and expectations tend to fillin theuncertain blanks.
When there is a potential for misunderstanding, it can be helpful to offer the benefit of the doubt. Offering the benefit of the doubt can build and strengthen relationships. So, the question is –how do you know when or if you should offer the benefit of the doubt? Today, I will sharea few secrets that I’ve learned in the studio.
Secret #1 Decide in Advance
We can’t control when uncertainty comes our way, but we can decide in advance to live with a renewed mind. When someone says something that you’re not certain about you may want to start with the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say you have a new friend that cancels at the last minute citing a family situation. Then later you hear from a third person, that the family situation was fabricated. You might not want to rush to judgment. There may be a valid explanation. If later you discover with certainty, that the excuse was fabricated it might be time to put on the brakes. When extending the benefit of the doubt is your first response, you avoid filling in uncertain blanks with suspicion and negativity.
Secret #2 Trust Your Gut
As believers we know it’s the Holy Spirit that gives us that cautionary red flag, or allis well green light. I remember talking with a Bridges guest whose math didn’t add up. She said that in 1978 she couldn’t feed her 4 children on $100,000 a year. That math didn’t add up for me. She seemed sincere, so I listened and asked more questions. What she meant to say was that in 1978 she was earning $10,000 per year. With 4 children and looming debt she had trouble making ends meet. She was nervous and mis-spoke. Nit-picking this conversation would have been easy to do. But offering the benefit of the doubt gave room to strengthen the relationship, and offer Bridges viewers a hope filled story.
Secret #3 Holding On & Letting Go
Knowing when to hold on and when to let go is a complex task. Scripture encourages us to hold on to what is good –to think on all things good and noble. Scripture also instructs us to let go of the cares of this world and the weight of things that hold us down. It’s a heavy load to carry suspicion and pick apart conversations with the hopes of finding a flaw. Of course, we don’t want to live as the naïve or gullible, but with Christ’s helpwe can look for the positive and give the benefit of the doubt unless we see that it is no longer a healthy option.
Today’s Secret from the Studio: Offer the Benefit of the Doubt unless you’re certain it’s not a healthy option.
Monica Schmelter, host of Bridges on Christian Television Network, is a recovered fixer and people pleaser. Now, chocolate and grace fill her happy space. Watch Bridges on demand at monicaschmelter.com