As we sat over lunch our conversation drifted to the challenges and fun of communicating across cultures. We represented four plus cultures. Each had the country of the parents as well as where we had spent much of our lives. As we explored the specifics, stories began to emerge.
“Did you know that I banned the printing of all reports?”
“You did? How did you accomplish that?” Communication often has unintended consequences. It is useful to look backwards and see how one accomplishes a goal, even if it was a destination you never intended visiting.
“We were in a review meeting with our notebooks. We were all looking at a particular report when one of the assistants brought in eight printed copies. I said that we did not need to print the reports since we could already see and access them. Evidently, this was some in the room, a new policy statement. The word went out. Now I cannot even see a customer confirmation because we are not allowed to print reports.”
“Did you ask who implemented the policy?”
“Yes. I was told it was my own policy.”
Extrapolating may be logical however it does not mean that it is accurate. Regardless of the source, from wisdom fathers to scriptural references to street gossip, one should avoid presuming the accurate or wisdom.
Paul clarified himself in a letter written centuries ago. “I’m not, understand, commanding these periods of abstinence—only providing my best counsel if you should choose them.” (1 Corinthians 7.6) He was only partially successful. There are those that still champion a view he never had along with those that are not printing reports.
I find myself acting before reflecting and asking. When something is inconsistent or new, it is good to investigate and consider. My problem lies in my reaction. Do I carefully examine the foundation or rely on others? Going back to the source, examining the specifics, and in context asking is always a good idea. Tradition is one factor but not the only one. We are responsible for what we do.