Growing up in church I heard that judging people was wrong (and, ironically, heard an awful lot of judging). I think the problem is that most people don’t understand what judgement is, where it comes from, and the dangers it brings. We’ll cover all that, but let’s start with the basics: you should never judge someone.
What Judgement Is
Over the years I’ve heard a lot of confusion about what judgement is. Growing up in church, we knew that we shouldn’t judge, but there were all kinds of loopholes.
I’d hear “this person isn’t a Christian”, or “judgement doesn’t count when you’re sinning”, or any other made up argument. There were tons. A lot of them centered around the fact that people didn’t realize that it all boiled down to how we treat others.
The reason we never judge someone is because we never know where that person is coming from. When we pre-define people, we are coming from a place of ignorance and acting as if it’s a place of enlightenment.
Sure that new person in book club doesn’t like to share their life, but it’s not because they’re rude, but because they’ve been in an abusive relationship; they are embarrassed, scared, and found too many people who they couldn’t rely on. Yes, the person you’ve been asking to join friends for a night out keeps declining, but it’s not because they aren’t friendly, but because they’re struggling financially and are embarrassed about it.
We know certain actions are bad, but when we start labeling people as bad, we make assumptions instead of understanding. That’s why we need to understand where judgement comes from. The most accurate explanation I heard was from a fictitious soccer coach.
Where Judgement Comes From
If you’ve never watched Ted Lasso, you should. It’s incredible. When I first heard about it – an American football coach who goes to the UK to coach soccer (or as they call it, football) – you would be hard pressed to measure my interest. When I saw the trailer, that didn’t change.
It wasn’t until I started hearing from others on social media who absolutely raved about it that I became interested. I finally broke down and gave it a try. 10 minutes in I was hooked. (I guess I judged too soon).
Despite the setup, there is very little about the show that has to deal with the sport. It’s really about the effect of someone who really cares about people on the lives of those around him. It’s an incredible show that I don’t have enough thumbs to accurately rate.
Toward the end of the first season, Ted drops some wisdom. It’s about the difference between curiosity and judgement. It’s a truth that explains why we should never judge someone.
As he says “be curious, not judgmental.”
The Danger of Judgement
The problem with judgement is that it labels and predefines people. It takes their actions and forms them into an identity.
When you look at people like Nicky Cruz who went from a violent gang member to someone who has helped millions of people live a better life, you can see that our potential for both bad and good is wide open. Yet instead of trying to understand people and see their potential, we judge them and pigeonhole them into something predefined.
Living with a prejudged mistake is challenging, and the more we are judged and defined, the more we are stuck with lesser possibilities.
But judgement not only limits others, it tells on ourselves. When we are curious as to why someone does what they do, we learn. We grow. We connect. After all, asking is better than knowing.
When we judge we show that we have a very limited view of possibilities. We show that we have a very limited view of ourselves. Judging is the best way to highlight a flaw, but, unfortunately, it’s with ourselves. We highlight our own insecurities instead of embracing the parts of us that can encourage, inspire, and change the world.
Be Curious, Not Judgmental
Never judge someone. Get to know them. Learn what makes them tick. Understand them. Judgement is what limits the world and stifles joy. Curiosity is what makes the world better.
Actions are actions and people are people. The less we judge people, the more we can inspire them to choose better actions.
Change the world. Start with yourself. Be curious, not judgmental.