I overheard the conversation of two men standing behind me, but near my seat at a high school baseball game. I don’t know their names, but they were discussing and praising the efforts displayed by a young man on the field. Then the younger of the two men (who had played professional baseball at some level) said, “When I was in high school, I was being scouted for the pros. When I grounded into what would become an easy out, I was mad and I didn’t run to first base, I jogged. My coach told me after the game there were probably 20 scouts in the stands that day, and when I didn’t run the play out, half of them left. That was a hard lesson for me.”  The lack of effort in that moment had consequences for him because others formed an opinion about him.

Matt was back for a final interview with the organization and was feeling extremely confident. The first round of interviews went very well, his past experiences made him well suited for this job. He was one of two finalists being interviewed that day. As he rode home, he thought to himself, “it’s mine.” The debate about the candidates was split on which one should be hired. Then someone said, “what does the receptionist think?” So, they asked her. “The first candidate was polite, respectful, and asked me a lot of questions about both me and my family. I liked him. The other candidate (Matt) seemed overconfident, wasn’t very friendly and was kind of condescending toward me. To him I was just the person at the desk.” Guess who did not get the job, Matt.

These two stories are similar, but different.

Both are about how we make judgments and form opinions regarding people every day, usually based on a very limited exposure to them. Our efforts and behavior each day have consequences in how others see us. Once formed, opinions and judgements are slow to change, even in the face of contrary evidence. We can argue that it isn’t fair, but it happens.

At the same time, we don’t want to be judged by others on just a glimpse of time when someone sees us, unless of course it’s good.

What can we learn from this?

All the time – Life is short, it’s a gift. We owe it to ourselves and others to do our best every day. Your employer deserves your best efforts every day, so does your spouse, your children, and your friends. Don’t shortchange them. Every day others are watching you. Do you want them to see you at your best or do you care if they see you at your worst? You’ll also encounter many people each day and you have no idea what impact you will have on their lives. Give them your best.

Facts should form opinions – Resist forming opinions about others without facts. If someone tells you their opinion about another person, receive what they have to say, but don’t adopt that as your opinion without personal experience. Fight the urge to form opinions and seek out facts that support your opinions. You’ll always be able to do that, but it doesn’t mean it’s the truth about someone.

God wants your best, give it to him today and every day.

Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (NLT)

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