Years ago while working at a comedy theater in Chicago, I was activated as an understudy for a children’s theater performance the next day. This sounded exciting until I realized it involved dressing up as a pirate and I needed to provide my own pantyhose.
After working the late shift at the theater, I clumsily fumbled through the pantyhose aisle of a Walgreens at 3 am. I think my Man Card was suspended for the night.
Luckily, two coworkers from the theater walked into Walgreens and came to my aid: Rachel Dratch and Tina Fey. I wish I could say it was one of my finer moments in life but there’s no way to spin it: I was a twentysomething dude looking pathetic buying women’s pantyhose.
Tina and Rachel must have thought I was nuts and easily could have assumed the worst about me and walked away. Instead they walked toward me. Instead of talking about me, they chose to talk with me. They recognized me from the comedy theater and came over to ask what I was up to.
After I explained, Tina took a few minutes to choose just the right color and size of pantyhose for me to dress up in as a pirate the next day. Yes, it’s true: Tina Fey helped me pick out pantyhose.
Actually purchasing the pantyhose was embarrassing. The cashier stared at me in judgment. He jumped to conclusions and assumed the worst about me.
Isn’t that how we all react sometimes when we encounter something out of the ordinary without all the information? What if we chose to believe the best about the things we hear? What if we eclipsed our inner judge with a presumption of compassion?
Whether it’s on Facebook or ministry blogs, I often see critical comments left by church folk who are assuming the worst instead of believing the best. Online comment sections make me feel like a hemophiliac in a razor factory. Throwing rocks online is silly and can lead to unnecessary blackeyes within the Body of Christ.
Friendlyfire is preventable. God gave us one mouth and two ears for a reason. It is always wiser to listen more than we speak. If we are unable to gather all the facts, then our default as Christ followers needs to be believing the best about people, not assuming the worst.
Believing the best can be a game changer in your life and your leadership. When we talk to people instead of talking about them, the world takes notice. Jumping to positive conclusions creates energy, trust, and forward movement in any organization. Believing the best helps eliminate gossip and unnecessary drama. And believing the best is how Tina Fey helped me pick out pantyhose.
Jonathan Herron studied comedy under Tina Fey (SNL, 30 Rock) before entering ministry. An experienced church startup strategist, Jonathan is now the founding pastor of Life Church Michigan and author of the just-released book, ComedyDriven Leadership.