Well, it's official.
Yesterday 140 Freshmen moved into Lincoln Residence Hall to begin the new year at the University of Illinois at Springfield! We had a great group of students who volunteered to help them move in - - carrying stuff, pushing carts, lofting beds, explaining laundry and i-card mysteries. I was so proud of our group - thanks guys!!
I notice when we start the school year and meet lots of new people and see old ones, I often have this sort of primal defense-mechanism I'd like to call my "negative default". I make all kinds of judgments about the students I meet and the students who are returning. And often, those judgments are negative. Now, I'm a pretty positive person, but for some reason, I assume that people aren't interested in spiritual things, or that they have a negative opinion of Christians on campus....it's this default in me that tries to keep me from being disappointed. I assume the worst, instead of the best.
So I move a student in and they don't at all respond to my witty comments or questions about their hometowns and interests.....instead of assuming that they're feeling a little overwhelmed and exhausted from moving, my default tells me that they don't like me, personally, or that they're at UIS to party...
When we meet students at move-in or club day and they express and interest but never come to a CSF event....instead of thinking about how intimidating it must be to be new, or how busy students are with school and work, my default tells me that they were turned off by something, or they were never really interested in the first place.
Jesus never looked at people like that. He always gave them the benefit of the doubt. He always expected the best, not the worst, from people.
My mom used to put it this way, "Always make excuses for people and their behavior. One day you may do something and wish someone would make an excuse for you". The point is this.....we all have bad days, external pressures, internal issues....make excuses for people and assume the best. It's part of being generous. It's being gracious .