How To Avoid Judging Others

How To Avoid Judging Others

No one wants to be that judgmental person. But we all find ourselves doing it. Admit it. We are very observant people who look at the way people behave and form opinions about them based on the things we would or would not do. Before we can deal with our own issues of being judgmental, we need to come to grips with the reality that we have this struggle inside of us.

The Bible teaches us that we are to be discerning and make good decisions which requires us to make judgements, but that is different than being judgmental. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured on you. ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your bother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?’” (Matthew 7:1-4 NIV). Jesus knew the hearts of men everywhere that can point out the errors of others but find it difficult to see our own faults. Relationships are hindered when we have a judgmental spirit.

One of the reasons a judgmental spirit is so toxic to relationships is that we not only judge someone’s behavior, but we assume we know their motive behind the behavior. When we attribute evil motives to someone’s behavior, we have judged them to be guilty. The Apostle Paul instructs us to judge nothing before the appointed time, but to wait until the Lord returns. He will bring to light what is hidden in the darkness and will expose the motives of the heart (1 Cor 4:5). Paul goes on to say that he doesn’t even know the motives of his own heart! Knowing what is going on inside our own hearts is so difficult. How can we judge other’s hearts?

Recently I was speaking with a person who was having a difficult time relating to someone that they work with often. He wished he didn’t have to interact with him because he is so arrogant. He went on to describe this person as a know-it-all and having a big ego. He then went on to speculate that this person probably has a problem with self-worth from something that might have happened in their childhood. The opportunity for this relationship to grow and be productive is not very high because of how he is approaching the problem. There is another way to relate, even if the person is a genuine ego maniac!

If someone has ever called you a know-it-all or accused you of having a big ego, it’s a sign that your self-confidence is getting overdone. Your self-assurance, conviction, sense of certainty, and reliance on your own inner voice can cause you to appear self-absorbed.

If your confidence runs unchecked, you can dismiss conflicting ideas or ignore other people’s input. At its worst, you may see other people as incompetent, which leads you to dismiss them entirely, rather just dismissing their ideas.

Your well-placed self-confidence inspires confidence in others. To avoid the downside, focus your conversations on what is right, rather than who is right. Remember that a challenge to your ideas is not a threat to you personally. Show that you are confident enough to allow challenges.

If you find yourself trying to relate to someone whose confidence is overdone and appears to be acting in arrogance, remember that arrogance is confidence overdone. Rather than attaching motives to the behavior (judging), see the behavior as an attempt at confidence. Don’t allow their behavior to shut down the interaction or dismiss them entirely. Your own personality may actually influence your own perception of the other person. If you are a person who doesn’t exude confidence, you may be easily intimidated by such a person. You may conclude the person is arrogant, because you would never behave that confidently. Perceptions often color our view of other people.

Some of our greatest temptations to judge other people are when people overdo their strengths. This is especially true when those exact strengths are ones we would never use or find uncomfortable (i.e. you have risk very low as a strength, but someone overdoes risk and it appears to be reckless to you). How can they act that way? When we can’t understand their behavior, we then proceed to assign an evil motive.

Here are some steps to avoid judging other people:

• Become aware of when we are judging other people. We can’t change something that we are unaware is happening. Ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware when we are tempted.
• Know what kind of behavior triggers a judgmental spirit in you. Perceptions are influenced by our own personalities (Motivational Value System).
• Don’t look at the overdone strength you have identified but label the strength that may be underlying the behavior (instead of arrogance, see confidence).
• Be careful about assigning motive to behaviors. Only God knows the motive of the heart.

If you find someone’s behavior so offensive that you are hindered in your relationship, rather than judging them and writing them off, the Bible teaches us that we should lovingly approach them and address the offense. These same steps above will help us do this well. We shouldn’t come judging motives, but with an understanding that our own “speck” in our own eye may be contributing to the problem. Go in humility and in love. Seek restoration and understanding.

Bruce Terpstra

Our President, Dr. Bruce Terpstra, has 36 years of pastoral ministry experience. He is a veteran of 17 years in denominational leadership and developed more than 70 new churches in the New York metro area and has given oversight to almost 400 pastors. He holds a doctorate in Leadership Development and is also the founder of 3KeyCoaching and the author of Three Passions of the Soul.