The Benefit of Doubt

“Humility is needed to understand ourselves, all the more so to understand God.”

Pope Francis

I was only called to the principal’s office one time in my entire journey through school. Though I was guilty as sin, I thought for sure when I got home my mother would be shocked and appalled at the principal for having even suggested her angelic Danny could’ve ever been involved in anything less than admirable (even though I definitely was).

As I was doing my homework, the phone rang, the call came in, and the only thing I could hear my mother say was that she “would be sure to speak with him about it.” As my mother replayed what had been described by the principal, I was ready with my retort. The only problem was I never got to take the stand. “Don’t you want to hear my side?” I pleaded. “Nope,” my mother answered swiftly. “You’re a great kid, but you’re not perfect. Don’t do it again.”

As I drove to a meeting with my own child’s principal, I thought back to that experience and about my mother’s wisdom that seems to be increasingly hard to find in today’s parents, myself especially, as we give our kids the benefit of the doubt without always having a broader perspective about the situation.

Whether it’s with our children, our friends or, most importantly, ourselves, can we receive feedback with a healthy dose of doubt in our own sometimes limited perspective? Can we listen for understanding and explore what someone else might be offering to us even if it conflicts with our overall perception? Can we hold the tension that the truth of someone’s experience isn’t necessarily at odds with our experience but rather complementary, recognizing that sometimes another’s point of view just fills out our shared reality as fallible human beings? In life and leadership, where could the benefit of doubt actually give me more confidence in my direction or approach? In my discipleship, would some more doubt in myself help me trust more deeply in the Lord?

After listening to the elementary school shenanigans involving my own child, I left without a doubt regarding two things: First, there is no way I could teach children of any age, and second, we don’t pay these leaders nearly enough! Let’s pray for the humility to see ourselves as part of the problem and remember God always calls us to also be part of the solution.

by Daniel Cellucci

November 04, 2022

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