Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. – 1 Corinthians 13:12
Lack of empathy for others’ perception turns out to be a huge inhibiter of truth.
Looking back over the “body of work” that is the archival record of this blog, it is interesting to see how often I refer to “truth.” Another oft-recurring subject matter is “leadership,” along with “men’s ministry,” and “faith.”
Wednesday evening, following the conversation in my men’s Bible-study group, it occurred to me that what I am doing – have been doing – in that context, is leadership designed to help men both discover and engage truth in a way that is transformational in terms of understanding their faith, and living their faith.
Having just said that out loud I like it as a definition of small group facilitation:
I believe what is key here is that I facilitate. I do not instruct so much as learn alongside. Facilitation is really about listening, and about asking good questions; and there is always so much to learn, and from so many sources.
Which brings me to the idea of “naïve realism.” This is something I have understood intuitively for a long time, but only recently learned formally.
Naïve realism, paraphrased in my words, is “My belief that the way I see/hear/feel/taste/experience things is in fact the way they really are.” This becomes problematic, of course, when I fail to acknowledge or understand that anyone else could experience things any differently.
There is a lot of naïve realism, it seems to me, in the current epidemic of polarization in conversations around religion, in politics, and in culture. This becomes especially exacerbated when encouraged by leaders who benefit from the unquestioning narrowness of their followers.
This is problematic because lack of empathy for others’ perception turns out to be a huge inhibiter of truth. If we are to grow, to learn, and to move closer to truth, then we must be willing to move beyond the extremely limited parameters of our own perception.
We’re all a little bit wrong:
Listening, therefore, is one of the most important tools we have at our disposal as people who want to understand truth. It is not that the we are necessarily wrong and others are right so much as we are all a little bit wrong and together we are probably closer to right.
If only we learn to listen to one another with the understanding that the variations between how we see things are not measurements of how wrong they are so much as indications that we all perceive truth “as in a glass, darkly,” then we can be on the journey together.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. – 1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV
When we fight one another to protect “our” truth then none of us get any closer to what we all need.
This is why “digging in” is antithetical to Reformed Faith, deadly to effective democratic government, and diametrically opposed to intellectual enlightenment.
But I ramble too much…
Keep questioning, keep talking, and – most importantly – keep listening – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.