After my last article, Tim Fall emailed me and was all, “Hey, I can’t help but notice that you seem to be feeling ‘behind’ on your blog…so how about I write a guest post?” And then I was like, “YES! THANK YOU! My kids seem to think that I should, like, be a mom or something these days. It’s weird.”* And then like magic, I had a post in my inbox to share with you guys. Wonderful.
I hope to get back to writing regularly soon, mainly because I have approximately 1,214 blog posts in my head, and when I get to 1,300, my brain explodes. Hopefully that won’t happen, but in the meantime, enjoy this great piece from my friend, Tim.
*Disclaimer: That might not have been exactly how the conversation went.
A Call from the Principal
Years ago I got an unexpected call at work from my son’s Junior High principal. Not a good thing under most circumstance: this was no exception to the rule. She wanted to tell me that my son might be upset, and she called to let me know immediately rather than learn about it when I came home from work.
It turns out she had called him to her office to reprimand him. She said he was circulating an inappropriate petition concerning one of his teachers. I started to get an idea of the problem. He’d told us a few days before that some of the students were concerned with how this teacher was handling the class, and we had talked about it a bit in the days leading up to this phone call.
His idea of how best to handle it was to put the problem in writing and see if enough kids agreed so that he could then talk to her about it. He didn’t want to bother bringing it up with her if not many kids were bothered by it. I didn’t know the details of his plan, but the general topic of a petition came up.
I listened incredulously as the principal told me that once she found out about it, she called him out of class and into her office. I listened in sorrow as she described him getting upset and teary at being reprimanded (he’d never been called to the Principal’s office for anything!). I listened in disbelief as she told me her main concern was for the teacher – the TEACHER – as she might get her feelings hurt at the petition being circulated. I did not hear her say anything about students handling concerns in a creative and constructive manner. I did not hear her say she’d spent time listening to my son explain his intentions, or an explanation of the root of the concern itself. Nothing. The way she explained it to me, this conversation in her office was pretty one-sided. She spoke. My son got choked up.
I said thanks, ended the conversation as quickly as I could, and prayed for my son.
The Bike Ride to Suspension
It’s been a while since I thought of that phone call. Then I read this article today. A group of High School Seniors in Michigan decided to stage a massive bike ride to school as their Senior prank on the last day of classes. Sounds innocent enough, constructive and creative even, right? Not to the principal. She told all sixty-four participants it was a dangerous stunt: traffic could have snarled and they might have been injured – “your brains could have ended up splattered,” she told them. She would not countenance it! They were prohibited from Senior activities for the rest of the day and sent home. Some even missed a final exam.
Turns out, the Seniors had more on the ball than she gave them credit for. They had contacted the authorities ahead of time to take care of safety concerns and rode with a police escort. Not only that, the Mayor even accompanied the students on their route to school that morning. The only ones not in the know were the school officials, but letting them in on it would have defeated the purpose of a rather benign Senior prank, of course.
Cooler heads eventually prevailed. The suspension was lifted, teachers offered make-up tests, and the school district issued an apology complete with a statement from the Principal.
Waiting for All the Evidence to Come In
Jumping to conclusions is rarely a good practice – even if it is out of concern for the feelings of a Junior High School teacher or the safety of a few dozen graduating Seniors. It really doesn’t work at my job.
One thing I tell jurors repeatedly throughout trial is not to form their final opinions or conclusions, but to wait until all the evidence is in and then deliberate with all the other jurors in order to reach a verdict. In fact, this admonition has been adopted into a formal written jury instruction that applies in all trials in my state. The wisdom underlying it goes back thousands of years.
Through presumption comes nothing but strife, but with those who receive counsel is wisdom. (Proverbs 13:12.)
Don’t presume. Talk things over with others. Then come to a reasoned conclusion. It’s so simple, right?
I don’t know about you, but I see people around me and jump to conclusions all the time, thinking I know what’s going on in their lives. But I don’t. That might hurt only me except there are times when I act on this utter lack of knowledge, this lack of reasoned consideration. That can lead to mistakes, big mistakes. So what should I do?
God’s wisdom still applies: don’t presume; get the facts; find someone to talk things over with. It’s simple, right?
And share your experiences here in the comments. None of us want to presume we have all the answers!
[Biography: Tim is a California native who changed his major three times, colleges four times, and took six years to get a Bachelor’s degree in a subject he’s never been called on to use professionally. Married for over 24 years with two kids (one in college; one just graduated, woo-hoo!) his family is constant evidence of God’s abundant blessings in his life. He and his wife live in Northern California.]