Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Intention Is Only One Thing . . .

Have you ever seen someone respond badly to a medicine?  Allergic reactions can be dangerous, even deadly, and if nothing else can cause the adult or child to be miserable.  But here's the odd part.  The doctor or parent who gave the medicine meant no harm. Their plan and goal was to help the person to actually feel better and to be healed from their ailment.

Unfortunately, the same scenario can occur in family relationships. Our intention was good but the result was disastrous or at best problematic.  What happened?  As a husband we thought we were just trying to give our wife some help and she took it as a put down. Or as a wife you were simply telling your husband about how he could have responded differently and he thought you were berating him.

Intention is one thing, perception is everything.  

Or your teenager came home feeling pretty defeated after not making the team or getting a part in the play and you tried to build them up by suggesting they didn't need to feel that way.  However, they just felt worse and walked out of the room. Most of us can come up with hundred of other examples, can't we, where our good intentions weren't well received or turned out badly.

Let me say it again.  Intention is one thing, perception is everything.

This important maxim also impacts the things we do as a family that we intend to be good but in the long run can be detrimental to the health of our home.  For example, the parents who want their kids to be involved in everything to develop their minds, improve their skills and help them feel better about themselves may one day regret their choices.

They can discover that much of that money, time and energy could have been better used to be together, slow down and focus on some other more important priorities.

So how do you decide what is really effective and what might have been or will be received poorly or have a negative result?

First of all, listen. Yes, listen to what your spouse, your kids and others in your world are saying about your actions and choices. That means asking them good questions and not being afraid to hear something negative. Listen as well to those who have gone before you - wise friends, parents and counselors.
Second, continually re-evaluate your priorities.  Think through what your choices as a parent or spouse are doing to enhance or hurt the most important things you want to develop in your home.  And if some activities or commitments are getting in the way, make some changes.  Have the guts to say, "No, we're just not going to do that any more. It's not worth it."

Third, pray.  Ask God to reveal to you where your words, actions, comments, habits, etc. are getting in the way of what He knows is best for you and your family.  Sometimes we have blind spots that God can reveal to us.

Finally, have someone who you're accountable to for what you say, commit or respond to.  Make sure they're honest with you and know your weaknesses.

Remember that even with the best of intentions, the results can be disastrous. Intention is one thing, perception is everything.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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