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Cast a Vision, not a Complaint

A couple I know likes to play Guess the Restaurant. Perhaps you’ve played. You know how it goes. You’re going out to eat and he asks, “Where would you like to go?”

She replies, “Wherever you want is fine.”

So he naively names a restaurant. “No, not that one,” she whines. “I just ate there yesterday.”

“Okay,” he says, “how about” and then he names another favorite restaurant.

“No, I’m not really in the mood for that,” she insists.

See how it’s played? It must be great fun because many couples play it often. And there are countless variations. Managers play it at work where it’s called Guess How I Want This Done. When parents play it with their children, it’s called You Should Know What “Be Good” Means.

Criticism is necessary. Mistakes are made. Some behavior needs to be corrected. God says we are “competent to instruct one another” (Romans 1514), but what if we found a better way to play the game? Why not cast a vision instead of a complaint? Instead of rejecting each suggestion, just say, “It would be better if we went to ________ Restaurant.” That way, the other person knows what is expected.

Same thing at work or home. Instead of complaining about things we don’t like, let’s cast a vision of what we do like. Instead of “I hate how you leave your socks on the floor,” how about “It would make our home life more pleasant if you would put your dirty socks in the hamper.” The two statements make the same point, but the latter casts a vision; the former is just a complaint.

The Bible provides a model and instruction for casting vision when correcting. Ephesians 6:4, for example, tells parents what not to do, but also casts a vision of what to do. Interestingly, that’s also what it teaches parents to do: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” In other words, don’t just tell them “don’t,” but tell them what to do. Cast a vision of desired behavior.

Guessing is fun occasionally, but constantly getting slapped for guessing wrongly about what your spouse, your boss, or your friends want from you – that’s no fun. It’s not for other people either. Let’s replace complaining with casting a vision of something better.

Now, where should we go for lunch?


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