Friday, February 12, 2010

Assisted Observation

In my Hermeneutics class at Moody yesterday we began talking about OBSERVATIONS when it comes to Bible study.  This was my lead in video:

We watched the video three times up to the point where the question comes up, "Did you notice the 21 changes?"  The first time we watched it they barely caught anything, by the third time they saw much more.  Each new viewing brought a few more details out into the open and a few more changes were identified.

After the video I gave the class Philippians 2:1-4 and told them to take 30 minutes to observe the text.  "What can you find in the next half hour?  Dive deep and see the details."  Just a note: doing a group exercise like this is indeed legitimate classroom work, and is not just a means to keep the students busy so that the prof can get caught up on email or something of the sort (though that did happen).

Everyone did dive right in.  Working in groups of 2 or 3, they were looking for anything and everything: grammatical details, repetitions, comparisons & contrasts, purpose statements, conditional statements, etc.

I originally told everyone they had 30 minutes for the exercise, but I stopped them at 20 minutes.

"Everyone stand up.  Now...switch to a new partner.  For the last ten minutes you have to work with someone completely different."  The technical teaching term for this is: "throwing them for a loop"; from the Latin, "throwing them a curve."

After the ten minutes was up I asked, "How many of you observed more things because you had a new partner?"  Of the 30 people in the room, almost every hand went up.

"How many of you observed new things you hadn't seen before - information and details you would have missed if you didn't have a new partner?"  Every hand in the room went up (well, one hand per person).

Isn't it interesting how we try to do so much alone - when working in community and relationships is so much more effective.  The lesson was true for my students - when they sought out more input they could see more things, could see new things.  But that lesson isn't solely for Bible study - it's for everything.  When I get more input on my life I can see more things, I can see new things.

How often do you seek out assistance in observation?

How often do you ask people for input on things you're going through in life?
How often do you ask people for their ideas on work or projects you are doing?
How often do you ask people for their insights in regards to the current path you are on?

For most of us - we rarely do this.  We go it alone.  It could be pride, maybe laziness, it could even be that we don't know that "asking others" is even an option.  For whatever reason - more often than not - we don't seek out any other input for our lives beyond what we think about our lives.

And because we don't seek out assistance in observation - we miss out on information that could really help.

What would it be like if one spouse asked the other, "Honey - how I'm I doing?"
What would it be like if one friend asked another friend, "What do you see as my strengths? What do I need to work on?" 
What would it be like if a pastor asked his congregation, "What insights do you have on the path we're currently on?"

Each of these scenarios is potentially a scary one, and I'm sure anyone could make excuses as to why the question wouldn't need to be asked.  But scariness and excuses do not change the reality that when we don't get input from others then the only information we are going on is our own.

And we can't see everything.
We can't know everything.
We can't be right about everything.
We aren't perfect.

So maybe the best things for us, or for our relationships, or for our churches would be to trust those around us to give us input, assist us in observation, and help us to see more things - new things: new things that we can take action on and become better because we are aware.

And...sadly, but truly, 9 out of 10 people who read this won't ask anyone anything.

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