Saturday, June 20, 2009

What is Loving?

Parents have a certain view of what is the best thing to do for their children’s well being. As the children grow up, the parents try to direct the children and help them make good decisions. When does the parent begin to let the child mess up. When is it more loving to allow a child to make mistakes and face the full consequences of those mistakes rather than trying to direct the child to make good decisions. What is the loving thing to do?

When we are managers and we are trying to direct the staff of our department, what is the best way to act towards the staff. Sure we do not use the phrase “what is the most loving thing to do”, but we are still trying to figure out the “best” way to act. Do I allow my staff the latitude to mess up, and face the full consequences of it, which may include them getting fired? Or do I correct their mistakes and keep on correcting their mistakes, sort of like the image of coming along behind them sweeping up after their mess. What is the best thing to do?

When we are teachers and we watch students that seem to be trying to surf the bell curve, students that are not really putting in the effort – just hoping they can scam their way through. What do we do? Do we fail them just to teach them a lesson? Do we pass them so we do not have to make a big stink about the issues – let someone else worry about the problem. Do we try to meet with the student personally and try get them interested in putting the effort into passing? What is the best for the long-term future of that student and the reputation of the school?

What is the right thing to do has so much to do with the perspective from which it is viewed. Looking back at the parent/child issues: the parent is concerned about the child messing up and the consequences of that mess up. The parent may be thinking about a baby that may be born to a 14 year old child that makes a bad decision, or a 17 year old child getting killed in a car accident because they were street racing or driving drunk. So from the parent’s perspective, they see that it is urgent to be directing the decisions of their children because so much can go wrong.

However, that same situation from a child’s perspective is a child yearning for independence and trying to prove that they have the ability to “make it” in the world. They see the constant corrections and restrictions from their parents as suffocating them. What is the loving thing to do?

Perspective: when you see it from the different perspectives, the best thing to do looks quite different. I have often heard it said from evangelical Christians that the most loving thing to do is to care for the soul of a person and ensure that soul is going to heaven. However, I have also heard from other people’s perspective that the most loving thing to do is to accept people, embrace people for who they are and not and not try to “ram religion down their throats”. Which perspective do you look from? Do you care about the eternal destiny of a person or encourage their freedom of though and individuality?

It seems odd that most of us go through life thinking that what we are doing is the best thing. Most of us do not purposely set out to harm people or take advantage of people. Rather, we like to think that we are helping the world. It just seems so weird that we can set out and do what we think is the best thing to do, while other people will look at what we are doing and think it is disastrous. What is the most loving thing to do?

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