This is one of those hard commands of Jesus. Stop Judging! Simple. Direct. It can stop you in mid-sentence if you let it…and it can save you a lot of pain if you heed it.
It is sooooooooo easy to slip into judging another, especially impugning their motives. We move to “you irritate me, to you shouldn’t have done that, to you are an evil person” way too quickly.
As I noted elsewhere, there is a big difference however between naively believing all is well with everyone’s actions and the penchant for judging in a condemning way. We should ALWAYS be cultivating a desire to better understand and even foster opinions about events–what makes this good or bad for me, the person “running” it and for others. We should think about the effects of actions–ours and others–on the well-being of those around us? Some people and leaders make really bad decisions that hurt people. We can even evaluate a person. Should I trust this business person? Is there action towards me acceptable or not? There are millions who can’t be trusted with your emotions, money, moral sensibilities and your time. They repeatedly make decisions that hurt and avoiding them is appropriate. On this last point I highly recommend two books by Cloud and Townsend: Safe People and Boundaries.
Evaluating and judging are cousins, but they come from two different families. Evaluating continues to grow our desire to learn, while judging shuts down our continued learning and pushes us to make a final decision. It makes us unreceptive for more information. Evaluating keeps asking in order to better understand and decide, but judging just bangs the gavel with a final view that may not have thoroughly heard all sides of an issue. Evaluating is part of our own need to make better decisions, not only about our own actions but those of others and even rather we should ever deal with those individuals again. When that person did this, what happened? Do I want to do what that person just did? Do I want to work with that person again?
We should keep evaluating but avoid condemning…let God or life do that. We can never fully understand the experience of another. We don’t know the factors influencing their decisions and the evidence they had to make those decisions.
We can and should evaluate what we have to make decisions about actions, events, and people for our own choices. But we can never know all the factors and that is why the ultimate decisions are left to God.
We may however, part ways with people we evaluate as hurting us, as unreliable, or as detrimental to those we love.
This is where Henry Cloud’s book Necessary Endings can also be helpful. This is where we gather our data–our events and witnesses–and we make a choice on how that person or event is influencing us and make a decision–often painful–that we can’t trust that person. “I was hurt by this….. and…..” “Your actions continue to be unpredictable and have been costing our company and the welfare of others…..therefore…”
This is a leaders role. This is a followers role. This is a humans role.
Standing up to bad situations and people is different then judging. It is an evaluation of situations and a decisions to respond.
We leaving the judging to God, but we are called to evaluate and make choices.