Nov 182014 2 Responses

You Don’t Know Me

I pastor in my hometown. Before a new subdivision was built beside our church, I could look out my office window during the winter and see the elementary school and junior high I attended as a kid. Out the back field of our property is the house my best friend grew up in.

It’s an odd scenario to pastor in your hometown. My second-grade teacher attends the church. Many of the adults knew me when I was five or six or sixteen. Jesus said that a prophet is without honor in his hometown. I’m not a prophet, but there is a reason most pastors lead churches far from their homes. Who wants to remember their pastor playing Little League or struggling to get a date (hypothetical of course) or learning to drive? (See: The First Time I Cussed)

Yet here I am, and in this place there are many perks. I love being a pastor in my hometown and struggle to consider doing this job in any other location. But there is one major drawback—people assume they know me. And they do, in part. They probably know my basic personality. They know if I’m trustworthy or kind. They know many of my likes and dislikes. But they don’t really know me.

They know who I was, but they don’t necessarily know who I am. Like everyone, I’ve changed. I’ve grown up. I’ve gone places, had experiences, and learned things which have changed who I am. Marriage, parenting, and maturity have changed my mind on many aspects of life.

While some things haven’t changed, many have. To assume you know me is to make a bold assumption.

But that’s true with everybody.

One of the worst assumptions we make is when we assume to know someone. It’s fair to form opinions, have assumptions, and to think we know what a person may think, believe, or do, but it is not fair to think we know someone and never given them a chance to reveal their true selves. (See: It’s Not My Job to Read Your Mind)

We hate it when others do this do us. So why do we do this to others?

One of the great aspects of maturity is understanding that people change. Who I am today is not who I will be tomorrow. Hopefully I will improve. Today’s lessons, achievements, setbacks, and experiences will change me into a better person tomorrow. It’s not guaranteed, but it is mostly under my control.

The change means someone could know me today, but not truly know me tomorrow. Unless they do the work to continue to know me, I will change and they will never know it. They will always assume I’m the same person I’ve always been. (See: Five Ways Hunting Can Make You a Better Husband)

This assumption is dangerous. While it may be true, it likely isn’t. I know aspects about people around me, but I do not fully know them. For me to know them, I have to continue to give them the time and opportunity to reveal themselves to me.

Do you know your spouse? You knew her/him yesterday, but have you taken the time to see how yesterday has changed them?

Do you know your co-workers? Hopefully they are growing and advancing. The person you worked with last week is not necessarily the person beside you today.

Do you know your parents or children? Both are changing and while we might know them better than anyone else, do we truly know them?

If you want to kill your marriage, assume you know your spouse. Never listen. Never explore. Never allow them time to fully express themselves. Your assumptions will prevent you from truly knowing them. (See: The Most Important Marriage Advice I Could Give)

If you want to be a bad boss, assume you know your employees. Never give them a chance to prove themselves. Never provide chances for growth. Never forgive a past mistake.

If you want to be a bad parent, assume you know your kids. Always treat them as though they are a child. Always assume you know them better than anyone. Never ask what they think, believe, or desire. (See: What I Prayed the Night Ella Was Born)

A funny thing about living in my hometown is that I regularly run into old friends. Some still live in the same neighborhood, some have moved a thousand miles away. Whenever I see them, it’s tempting to think, “I know them,” but I’m quickly reminded, they have no idea how I’ve changed over the past year, five years, or decade. They don’t know me, and I don’t know them.

I’ve known a lot of people in my life, but I don’t really know very many today. Thankfully, that is what makes today fun—every person I meet today will be a new person because they have changed since yesterday. If I give them the chance, we can reveal ourselves to one another.

You might have known me in the past, but I’m not fully who I once was. Time has changed me and hopefully for the better. And I can only assume it has done the same to you.

2 Responses to You Don’t Know Me
  1. […] While some friendships endure the changes and become life-long relationships, most do not. And that ... kevinathompson.com/accept-temporary-nature-friendships
  2. […] 1. “I know how you feel…” Maybe you know some of what they feel, but you do not know what they... kevinathompson.com/never-say-grieving

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