We have all experienced it or perhaps we have all engaged in it. There are some people who have the ability to expertly shoot holes in what other people are doing and how things are being run. Sometimes this can be a genuine talent which helps address problems and aids leaders in seeking solutions. More often than not, it can be veiled pride and ego-centrism which implicitly argues that I know what’s best and I know how to run the world.
It is no coincidence that arm-chair quaterbacks always throw perfect passes. It is always easier to stand back a distance and critique people who are in the middle of the situation. Anyone who has been thrown into the stress and complexities that are a natural part of any job soon realize that problems often have a variety of diagnoses and weighing solutions is not as simple as it sounds.
Although as a Catholic I believe in an objective reality which is known through the mediation of the senses, I also believe that the limitation of human perspective is a very real thing. When Jesus calls us not to judge and to focus on our own problems, he is implicitly calling us to recognize the limitations of our personal perspective. It takes a real spiritual maturity to recognize that I might not be seeing every aspect of a situation. I need such spiritual maturity as much as the next person.
What I have learned is that we cannot have such a perspective by a simple act of the will. My judgments and the strong emotions which reinforce them are strongly disordered by sin. Thus overcoming such limitations is really a gift of grace more than my efforts alone. It requires the healing and inner harmony which comes from intimacy with Jesus Christ.
However, I can prepare myself to receive this grace by taking concrete steps. First, I must develop a nonjudgmental awareness of what my judgments are and what the emotions that are fueling. The old adage of knowing yourself is the place we all must start. Second, I can make a deliberate effort to try and imagine the perspectives of others. This is not an exact science, but the more we make explicit the unconscious attitudes which influence our behavior, the more we learned not to be ruled by them. Finally, we must constantly bring Jesus into our lives. We have to invite his loving presence into our interior dialogue and let his Word stir our hearts.