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Paul Hayden

Same Event, Different Perspectives

February 7, 2022

Have you ever noticed that two people can look at the same event and both see something completely different? Let me illustrate this idea with the diary of the wife and her husband about the same event.

Wife’s Dairy. “Tonight, I thought my husband was acting weird. We had made plans to meet at a nice restaurant for dinner. I was shopping with my friends all day long, so I thought he was upset that I was a bit late, but he made no comment about it. The conversation wasn't flowing, so I suggested that we go somewhere quiet to talk. 

I asked him what was wrong, and he said nothing. I asked him if it was my fault that he was upset. He said he wasn't upset and that it had nothing to do with me and not worry about it. On the way home, I told him that I loved him. He smiled slightly and kept driving. I can't explain his behavior. I don't know why he didn't say, ‘I love you, too.’

When we arrived home, I felt I had lost him completely. He just sat there quietly and watched TV. Finally, with silence all around us, I decided to go to bed. About 15 minutes later, he came to bed. But I still felt that he was distracted, and his thoughts were somewhere else. He fell asleep. I cried. I didn’t know what to do. My life is a disaster.”

Husband’s diary: “A two-foot putt! Who the H—E—double hockey sticks misses a two-foot putt?" 

I thought this story would be appropriate for Phoenicians for this week’s Phoenix Open Golf Tournament. Can you imagine what a professional golfer’s spouse goes through?   

Here is a story that Carl George told many years ago at a conference I attended. It takes us beyond the tyranny of the urgent or the tyranny of raw emotions into real, tangible, and lasting solutions. So often, jumping into feelings and conclusions without logic is like jumping off a cliff. The outcome for you and others can be devastating.

“Go with me to a country just hit by a devastating earthquake, where 45,000 people are injured or dead. Two medical teams, each headed by a doctor, are being airlifted to the heart of the disaster area. 

The physician leading the first crew steps out of the helicopter and is immediately overwhelmed by all the carnage he sees. There, barely ten paces away, workers pull a mangled living body from under the rubble. Moved by compassion, the doctor rushes over and calculates the personnel, equipment, and facilities needed to help this victim. He assigns half his medical team and half their supplies to work on this one person.

A handful of survivors, sensing the availability to help, bring the physician another case. This victim is in even worse condition. The doctor assigns the rest of his medical team and resources to care for this person. 

Now the doctor faces a worse dilemma than when his helicopter touched down. He would like to treat 44,998 more people but has already expended all his resources on the first two bodies presented to him. He decides that the only solution is to make himself even more available. He resolves that he and his staff will push themselves harder. They will be on call twenty hours a day, seven days a week, to treat as many individuals as possible.

Unfortunately, this well-intentioned medic returned home a few weeks later. His body has not kept pace with his desire to help. With his resistance lowered, he caught one of the diseases rampant in the disaster area. The care he and his exhausted team provided came to a standstill until replacements arrived. 

Meanwhile, what is the second medical team doing? Their preliminary assessment, likewise, takes only a matter of moments. They also are deeply shocked and moved with compassion toward the massive death and pain evident in every direction. 

The second team's head physician quickly concludes that her small group by itself is inadequate. So, instead of scooping up the first person in sight and immediately beginning treatment, this doctor opts for a different plan. She calculates a strategy that will touch a maximum number of people in the least amount of time, using the scarce resources available. 

The doctor announces to her team, 'Let's train some people as life-support engineers. One group will make sure safe drinking water is available; another will deal with shelter issues and food. Yet another group will work on waste control and public health by repairing the city-wide sewer system to take the fecal matter off the street before it mixes into the water supply or spreads into homes.

This relief and preventative care multiplied throughout the disaster area, retarded the growth of the infection, and allowed the medical intervention to have a significant impact. The team acknowledged the reality but saw the best remedy for the situation.

Which of the medical teams was more caring? Both teams had equally strong feelings of love and compassion. However, they differed on how they showed their concern. The initial response of most people is to plunge into immediate action focusing on the immediate needs."

What struck me most about this illustration is Jesus did the same thing the second doctor did most of the time. He was led by the Holy Spirit, not fleshly impulses or the tyranny of the urgent. His leadership impacted twelve leaders who paved the way to a higher level of long-range care and living. Jesus was sent to save the whole world. He did it efficiently and effectively.

Our panic attack or plan of attack takeaway for today is, “When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what happening. That’s where true power is.” (Karen Salmansohn) In other words, when problems then assumptions come, please don't go with them.   

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Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com