Living Grace: The Self-Assessment Process Part 3 of 4 | Lifestyles

We explored the power of self-assessment. There are crucial questions to ask ourselves as we consider our choices. For a full list of questions, feel free to email me at [email protected] Here, in part 3, we will consider the following question.

But what did you have in mind? Several people I’ve worked with have told me when they’ve asked this question, “I didn’t think so.” I’m still amazed by this answer.

The Gospel Rescue Mission campus is a non-smoking campus. Early one afternoon I noticed a gentleman smoking at the picnic table and sat down next to him. As I approached him, I noticed that he was carefully trying to conceal his cigarette. With a big smile, I introduced myself to him and started out assuming he just didn’t know politics. After chatting for a bit, I told him about the policy and asked him to go smoke somewhere else or put out his cigarette.

He started insulting me and telling me I was an idiot among other chosen words. Caught off guard, I calmly told him that he shouldn’t talk to people like that when they’re politely trying to help. He continued his tirade but put out the cigarette and told me to go away.

About thirty minutes later he was in our new admissions orientation and I introduced myself to him as a staff member. Suddenly, he was very remorseful and apologized profusely, visibly afraid that I would tell him that he could not stay at the mission. Many who have gotten into the habit of throwing temper tantrums will say they just weren’t thinking. However, this gentleman showed me his thoughts. He thought I was just a stranger he could put down at any time. When he realized that I had power over his shelter for the night, he realized his mistake.

Often the way we think is determined by our beliefs. As a general rule, my wife does not like spiders. Her directive to me when she spots one is to kill it without mercy. She also takes the opportunity to crush the spider if she has a shoe handy. His belief is that spiders are bad. Some believe spiders are all deadly and live in constant fear. If this is your belief, you will feel a sense of anxiety when you see one and think you need to gain power and control over the vermin.

Many years ago my daughter went to Cambodia. There she met 10 or 11 year old boys who had different beliefs about spiders. They believed that spiders made a great snack. They intentionally went out to find the biggest spiders they could find and roasted them over the fire. When they saw a spider, their thoughts were more along the lines of can I get this one on a stick and over a fire.

You don’t have the power to close your mind. But it’s the truth that you often run on autopilot and make our choices without conscious thought. That’s what you’re doing with this question, which is to examine your thinking. Maybe my thinking is wrong. I’m probably too wrapped up in my own bubble and not considering other options. This can be a powerful question to make your thinking more solid or to come to a more honest understanding.

What were the results of your choice?

Our next question is about taking a moment and noticing that your choice, each of your choices has an outcome. Most people I know go through life pretty oblivious to the impact they have on others. When we choose to smile, what is the result? When we choose to walk around with our heads down, what is the result? Take the time to notice. A lot of our non-verbal language sounds a bit like yawning and is very contagious.

As you review the results, think about relevance. Think about the impact you would like to have, did your choice put that front and center? If you really want to make this a powerful question in your self-assessment process, consider long-term results. Yes, maybe your choice to confront someone’s hurtful behavior was initially painful. Talk about it, but also talk about this person’s promising outcome, at least knowing that hurting people is not acceptable. As with all the choices we evaluate if you want to learn and grow, don’t call this question. Take time to think about how your choice might have been perceived.

Rich Schaus is the executive director of the Gospel Rescue Mission in Muskogee.

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