Sizing Up Others

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ ‘Well,’ they replied, ‘some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.’ Then he asked them, ‘But who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’” Matthew 16:12-16

Research has demonstrated that there are common attributes evident in people who are effective and successful in the workplace. These “success factors” are demonstrated by believers and nonbelievers alike. And while these characteristics on their own may be of some value, as believers we need to take into account the very clear words of Jesus when he said, “without me, you can do nothing.” A success factor may be great characteristic to have but, like everything, if not used in line with God’s direction, it may work against us. So, let’s consider what it might be like to work from the heart of God

Take Sizing Up Others, for example. Do you get the sense that there may be two ways of “seeing” people and sizing them up?  The Bible is filled with stories about times when God showed up and described people in ways that definitely did not fit the behaviors or character they were demonstrating at the time.  Gideon was not acting like a mighty man of valor as he threshed wheat under-cover in a winepress. Imagine God choosing Moses, a stuttering murderer, to liberate millions of slaves and lead them to a promised land. And who can overlook the guys chosen by Jesus himself to be His closest friends—fishermen, tax collector… Can you honestly say that His selection criteria makes any sense to you?

God doesn’t see people the way the world views them and His way of sizing people up is radically different as well. As followers of Christ, imitators of His nature, we need to learn to see through His eyes as we size up others too.  It takes some skill to accurately assess candidates for an employment assignment and work task. Best practice in the workplace is to rely only on past performance and behavior as the best predictor of future performance. Using that measuring stick we might miss some excellent candidates and leadership potential. We need insight from God when we make these decisions.

Obviously, the world is also quick to judge, to rule out and to condemn when people mess up or fail to live up to expectations. Unfortunately, many believers cannot be distinguished from the world when it comes to rendering judgment and speaking disrespectfully about others. But what are we supposed to do when we find ourselves with these broken and sometimes toxic people? As imitators of Christ, how are we called to respond when we see people behaving badly and falling short of their potential? 

The Bible is clear on this.  We are to love others and to believe the best about them.  We are called to encourage and to give hope. We are to follow the example of Jesus, no matter what it costs us.  He led with love and mercy; He freely forgave; He spoke to people as if they were already healed; and, He blessed them every time.  Jesus met people right where they were, in sin and failure, but saw in them the potential for wholeness and destiny.  That’s our calling as well. In 2 Corinthians 5:16 (NIV) we are given clear instructions: “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.” But, how do we do that?

Jesus continued to love and fellowship with Peter and the other disciples even after they betrayed Him and ran for cover at the crucifixion. So, no circumstance makes it okay for us to treat others with anything less than love, acceptance and encouragement. Of course, this is only possible when we abide in Christ and allow His love and grace to pour through us. We can’t do this on our own. Only when we seek Jesus and open ourselves to all the peace, joy and love He has for us, will we be blessed beyond measure and able to give away what we have received. So, the next time you see people messing up badly, ask for the eyes of Christ to accurately “size them up.”  Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom to interact with them as Jesus would. Get ready to be a blessing and to see lives transformed by the powerful, limitless love of God!

How will you know if you are demonstrating this success factor? You will be someone who:

  • Judges talent by discovering the design of God in that other;
  • Sees others through the eyes of Christ, seeing what is Truth not just what may be true about them;
  • After reasonable exposure, can articulate the strengths of people and leverage them;
  • Declares the present/future to people, declaring who they are becoming, not who they are today.

The Secret: Look for the treasure hidden in each person.  Never forget that you are always going to be looking at someone God considers priceless. So, ask God how He sees the person and what He intends for their life and for your interactions.  And remember, “…that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-27