It is the Season of Christ’s birth and the end of the year, which means it is a season of checklists. Dad has one, the kids have their list, Mom has at least four lists covering everybody from her own family to teachers to the tutor to the person delivering the mail. Adults are making end-of-year commitments for the new year and even Santa checking his naughty and nice list. I am introducing a list this year called the Faith Checklist.
Lists can be good, but the Faith Checklist addresses the word Judgment! The word alone evokes stiffness and arrogance. As human beings we are wired to judge others. Two areas in particular where we are brutal judges: how someone looks and their religion of choice. Many other factors come into play when judging people. After we sift through these, we choose our friends. I have found that using a personal Faith checklist helps me properly gauge those I want around me.
A Faith checklist is more than judging someone based on a set of religious questions. My questions help me look at a person holistically. The checklist incorporates two values that I believe are critical to us are Catholics, as Christians, as human beings: acceptance and humility.
Jesus shows us we need to reflect on these attributes when living our life and interacting with others. Reading passages from the Bible, we see that He encounters all types of people. Whether they believe in Him or not, He accepts who they are always showing a path to the Father. When He picked the twelve apostles He surrounded Himself with men who were not perfect people.
To be around people, to trust people, some will believe what you believe and many will not. None will be perfect. One of my best friends does not believe in Jesus Christ at all. He doesn’t even believe in God. The question is: how can he be one of my very best friends?
I have thought about this question for a long time. At no point have I ever struggled with this question. Never. I have always accepted him. Even better, he accepts me. Without acceptance and humility we never could have fostered our 30-year friendship.
This is my personal belief: Jesus shows himself to us in many ways. The key is: are we open enough to believe what we see and humble to know He is speaking to us and accept? I see Jesus in my friend. I have told him this. Of course he does not believe it but neither does he mock me.
As I matured and have gotten older I turned the question around and thought about how can I be one of his best friends. What does he see in me? Why am I worthy of his trust and friendship? When I flipped it on its side the pieces started to come into place as a list of questions.
This checklist is tied to the very foundations of my Catholic faith. I was not cognizant of this at first but as I reflected and prayed the questions I ask came into focus. As I looked at my long term friendships I realized I gravitate towards people who have faith. Faith not classically as I define it as a Catholic, but Faith as a compass. Faith as an unselfish characteristic. Faith being bigger than self. People of substance, people who process information, people who have strong beliefs but are willing to listen to others in order to grow.
Here is my Faith checklist:
- What is the mindset and view of other people and cultures?
- Do they mock others?
- Do they feel superior to others, especially those who are less fortunate?
- Do they look to solve problems constructively?
- Are they critical without offering any type of solution?
- Are they building up others?
- Can they express gratitude?
- Do they have an inner Faith and belief in something?
- Do they believe in a higher power?
- Do they practice their Faith?
- Do they seek to poison others and their choices (religion or otherwise)?
- Are they continuously trying to be better?
- Are they consistent?
- Do they work for the good of people?
- Do they look at the good in people?
- How do they handle their lifetime relationships?
- Are they focused?
- How are they with their family?
- In what terms do they refer to their wife or husband or friends?
Think about how you evaluate your relationships in this Christmas season. The motivational speaker Jim Rohn said that we are the average of the five people with whom we spend the most time. As a parent who has said the following and you may have also or heard it as a young person: you are and will become who you surround yourself with outside of home.
As I said earlier, it is human nature to judge others. Do it with the checklist as your filter. Create your own questions. In today’s world of social media it is too easy to share your thoughts (judgments) without thinking about the consequences. Take time and ask yourself your questions before judging.
I can’t say it any better than Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Merry Christmas to all of you!
Copyright 2016 Peter Serzo