Proverbs 18:17 says, “The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him” (New American Standard Bible). This proverb is very good advice for us. What it teaches us is to withhold judgment and opinions until we’ve heard both sides to any story. We shouldn’t be gullible, and we shouldn’t jump to conclusions.
This is a particularly difficult area for me, for I am very impulsive and very much an over-reactor. Every time I do that, I regret it. I am, by God’s grace, focusing prayer and attention in my life on learning to wait until I hear both sides of any story, to make sure I’ve got my facts straight, and to remember that there may be something I just don’t know yet.
I remember coming into the office on a very busy day to find a message that irritated me at once. With only partial information, I thought this other person was doing something way out of line. I overreacted: I went to the phone and called her to get things straightened out. Thankfully, she was not in and I didn’t get to speak with her at that time.
When she did return my call and explained the situation, I realized that the message had not been complete. If I had talked with her earlier, I would have overreacted and probably hurt her feelings. God protected me that time, and reminded me how much I need to learn not to overreact.
Wise Solomon warned us that the first person to present his case can sound very convincing because we haven’t heard the other side of the story. We need to listen to people, but not be too quick to agree or disagree with them until we’ve sorted through the facts and know what we’re dealing with. This is good advice for managers and employees alike.
I want to encourage you to go to the Proverbs daily for guidance. There are 31 chapters, so you can read the one that corresponds to the day of the month. I’ve been doing that for several years. Many times God has used the Proverbs to give me clear guidance, especially on job-related issues.