I got a text from Colleen last Friday at 4:00 that she’d be home from work at 5:30 and would bring appetizers for dinner. Perfect timing, I thought, I was hungry already. She showed up at 7:10 after texting she was on her way at 6:03, and it was a 25-minute drive, with an empty Chick-fil-A bag that once held her dinner she picked up in the drive-through. I didn’t respond. Nor did I say much of anything when she got home. I chose the silent treatment for a few minutes until I decided to proclaim that I took her at her word that she’d be bringing appetizers. I told her I was getting a frozen hot dog out to eat.
I was not happy.
By now, most of you have taken sides on this one way or the other. Naturally, my displeasure is warranted, and most of you agree, right?
Well, now wait a minute. In principle, I was right since communication is always the best resolution around uncertainty. I did go to bed without saying another word about it after watching some movie while eating a hot dog for dinner.
The next morning, I got up telling myself that a true leader would not let this offense go unaddressed. When it was all resolved, like these things always are, I found out how horrendous Colleen’s day was. She had meeting after meeting dealing with several crises that could not be averted and was completely absorbed in solutions. So much so that she forgot what she texted and knew she needed to grab dinner, at least for herself, assuming I ate on my own. She apologized with tears in her eyes, and all came back to equilibrium. She even brought me one of CFA’s Chocolate Chunk Cookies. That helped a lot.
What’s my point?
It goes back to Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood. Oops.
There are many reasons to be self-absorbed and want it our way but only one habit reflects who Jesus calls us to be. It’s part of the Love Your Neighbor clause. My wife is more than just a neighbor. For better or worse, I know she’d never purposely do something to hurt or offend me.
Don’t pout, be like Jesus. Forgive and move on. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger or angst. Love first.
And that’s the memo.
By Steve Adams