Your perception is your reality. That’s what I’ve always heard, and I believe it to be true. How important is it, then, that we strive to have a right, truthful perception of a situation and more importantly, a person? When we form a perception about a person based on what someone has told us and not what we have witnessed ourselves, this is an untrue and unfair perception which is hurtful to everyone involved.
We form our perceptions from what we see, what we hear, and what we experience. My husband perceived he had a dislike for Chinese food. For years he wouldn’t eat it because he didn’t like it. Then one day he tasted it. His perception changed, and now he enjoys eating Chinese food.
As a teacher, I often heard negative reports from other teachers about students coming my way. I learned that the teacher may have had a bad experience with the student, but I may not have the same experience with that child. Often it had more to do with personality or other factors that were different for me. I learned to judge the child according to the fruits I witnessed myself, not according to what I had heard. I want to form fair perceptions of my students.
This same thing happens in churches with pastors and leaders. Conflict is two-sided. When church conflict happens, some people freely talk about it to others, causing others to form warped perceptions of the people involved. When those who hear one side of the story never hear the opposing side, the perceptions are skewed like a mirror that distorts the image. This often causes church leaders or members to dislike someone simply because of things they heard about that person. They judge a person based on another person’s opinion instead of on the fruit that person bears. This kind of judging is hurtful to all concerned.
Since our perceptions are our reality, we should take measures to have valid perceptions. This takes prayer, forgiveness, and love. An accurate perception of others is a win for everyone.