Our Perspective vs. God's Perspective
Do you ever feel that it’s a challenge to keep the proper perspective? Maybe you’re too focused on the present. Or too focused on the future. If we’re not careful, we can lose sight of what God wants us to see. OMF (U.S.) Co-National Director, Lisa Dougherty, shares three thoughts to help us expand our perspective.
5 Minute Read
(Listen to the audio version of this article:)
By Lisa Dougherty
Keeping perspective is hard for me. I don’t know if it’s because of my personality (great at concrete details and living in the present moment but challenged by keeping the future big picture in mind!), environmental factors in my upbringing, or a good combination of both.
It’s like my seeing a small part of an animal through the microscope and fixating on what I can see through the eyepiece when I need to make the time to look up and see the big animal that is standing in front of me.
My personal challenge for 2022 was to practice expanding my perspective. I love the definition from Webster Dictionary. Perspective is “the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance.” Keeping my eye on the eyepiece of the microscope has many disadvantages. If I see a problem in view, I immediately sound the alarm bell and run full-force into problem-solving mode.
But if I just looked up, then I could see – is this problem small and not affecting the animal at all (and therefore, not needing my attention) or is there maybe an even bigger problem that I can’t see through the microscope? How can I view things in their true relationships or relative importance?
Three things have helped me with perspective this past year.
1. God is big. God’s plan for the world is big.
Looking up from the to-do lists, the emails piled in my inbox, and the Zoom meetings stacked in my calendar, I remember that the things God has called me to be part of today are important, but in the wider scope of eternity, they are not as important as I make them out to be.
Practically, this means listening to worship music, especially in the morning, which helps remind me of the eternal perspective. I meditate on scripture and remember God’s plan for the world. I read liturgies to recall God’s call on me each day (Every Moment Holy has been especially helpful.). I try to do all these things daily to remember the vastness and greatness of God and my very small part to play.
2. Remembering a future goal.
This is especially important when I come across a problem that needs to be solved. Now when a problem comes up and I sense my natural urge to jump in and start giving life-support, I try to stop myself. I ask the question, “Is this a problem that I should try to solve now, or will there be a more important problem to solve in the future?”
There are many times I can apply a Band-Aid and move on with my day, but I’ve missed the opportunity to go deeper and find out whether there is something bigger that is going on. It’s like fixing what I can see in my microscope and not noticing the animal is bleeding elsewhere. Fortunately, God has given me a husband and co-leader who is gifted in being able to see the future clearly and can analyze problems through that larger lens. James helps me to see the whole animal.
3. Slowing down to stop and ask questions.
I have a tendency to triage – quickly see what I can and jump in to do whatever I can do. This can be useful at times, but I need to recognize when I should stop and ask some background questions.
Is what I’m seeing actually what is happening? What is the missing context? Again, I’m grateful God has given me a partner in James who is gifted in seeing the big picture and helps me to gain perspective. I’m trying to stop, ask more questions, and understand the context.
As we begin 2023 I will still be working to grow and steady my perspective. As part of the OMF community, we have been called to be part of God’s work to share the good news about Jesus. I wake up each day with the conviction that God’s glory and fame are not yet known or acknowledged among so many of East Asia’s peoples.
I need to remember that fact as I start the year with new challenges, new opportunities, new disappointments, and new fears. I also need to remind myself to solve the long-term, future-forward problem and to stop and figure out the context. I want to continue to practice seeing things in their true relation and relative importance.
Whether you struggle with a short-sided perspective, or you wrestle with the opposite problem of fixating on the future and not being able to have the proper perspective of the present, we all need help expanding our perspective. Our God is a big God who knows what He is doing. He is sovereign, and we sometimes have the privilege of seeing how He uses us to share His love with others, near and far.
Author Bio: Lisa, a third culture kid who moved to Indonesia when she was only six months old, has had a heart for Asia since she was young. Since 2006, she has spent most of her time in Asia serving together with the Asian church alongside her husband James. She moved back to Denver and began serving as Co-National Director for OMF (U.S.) in 2019.