I really hate those “Duh!” moments in life, like the times when I spend hours staring at a problem, examining it in great detail from all sides, and trying to devise a fix. Then, some snot-nosed kid strolls by, takes one look over my shoulder, and points out something that I’ve missed. Sometimes, these kids make me feel really old and stupid—and it really toasts my grits.
It’s really not that the young kid knows more than I do, or that he or she is smarter than me. They’re just seeing the problem from a different perspective. Sometimes, if I have the luxury of time, I will set the problem aside and come back to it later, after my mind has had a chance to regenerate. Often, the problem I was trying to find and fix will then jump out, slap me in the face, and say “Helllloooo!” Again, it’s not that I’ve finally gotten smarter—I’m just seeing things from a different perspective.
Sometimes it’s because we’re too close, and can’t see the whole project and how it all works together. Sometimes we’re too distant, and can’t see little things like equipment that’s not plugged in. Sometimes we’ve made incorrect assumptions—like the assumption that it’s already plugged in. More often than not, we struggle longer than we need to—we’re just too proud to ask for help from a second pair of eyes.
One of my coworkers was having a problem at a radio transmitter site. He was pulling his hair out over it, and since his hair had become an endangered species, he asked me to give him a hand. Since I’ve had more experience with the kind of system he was trying to fix—not to mention my “Mighty Mouse” complex—I was glad to roll up my sleeves and give him a hand.
The problem was in what we call a “directional array.” I won’t start showering you with techno babble, but you need to know that this means that there are multiple radio towers, arranged in a certain, precise pattern on a large piece of land. The towers work together to put the signal where the FCC says it is supposed to be, and to keep it away from where they say it should not be.
As is normal procedure, I started by doing a visual inspection of the equipment that is located at the bottom of each tower. My coworker assured me that he had conducted a thorough examination already, but I insisted on a repeat performance. One by one, we walked the distance between the tall, steel towers. When we reached the last one, we opened the door and I began looking inside, being careful to keep my hands a respectful distance from the potentially lethal voltages that were exposed. My eye caught a connection that was discolored, and a little wiggle with a well-insulated tool confirmed my suspicion—there was a loose connection that was causing the problem. I have no doubt that my coworker had done a visual inspection, but unfortunately, he overlooked the problem. We shut down briefly, fixed the problem, and everything was back to normal again.
It’s not that I’m smarter or better than him—he just needed an extra set of eyes to catch what he had missed. It could have just as easily been my oversight that needed his insight. It’s been known to happen.
This is one reason why God calls believers to function together in a spiritual “community of Faith.” It’s not necessarily a bad thing when we don’t all agree, or see things in the same way. While we must be in agreement about the basic essentials of the faith, we can learn a lot from each other by sharing our diverse points of view on non-essential issues. It’s good for us to have our assumptions challenged. Sometimes, it leads us to the place where we know not just what we believe, but why we believe it—and sometimes, we can even find out that our assumptions are wrong.
Everyone in the Body of Christ doesn’t have to look exactly like me, or think exactly like me. If they did, it would limit our ability to grow and mature—not to mention limiting the scope of our outreach. The rich tapestry of tradition, practice, and interpretation allows us to grow in strength through our diversity—and, to reach out into all corners of our world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
There’s a lot of spiritual blindness out there. We need all the eyes we can get!