Observation, Interpretation, Application - Not Just for the Bible

My husband has been teaching a class on Prof Hendricks Bible Study Methods at our church.  Last week he commented, "I get so frustrated when people start interpreting when we're just supposed to be observing!"  They obviously have not understood Cardinal Rule #1 of Bible Study Methods, "Don't begin interpretation until you've completed observation."

My comment to him, (besides noting that we all break this rule consistently with Scripture), was that isn't it amazing how we break this rule in real life?  Not only do we jump to interpretation when we're reading the Bible, but we do it with people in everyday life.  We watch someone walking across the street and we interpret their attitude or actions.  We sit across the living room from a family member and interpret their actions and sometimes their words before getting the full picture.  We are hurt by or judge a co-worker, friend, boss, teacher, our parents because we interpret a situation before making all the necessary observations.  After our "oh so astute" (note sarcasm) observations and interpretation we jump to applying whatever interpretation we came up with to that person.  They never had a chance.

I'm not a natural question asker, I'm a story teller, so I struggle with question asking.  I'm not talking about rote, interview, small talk questions, I'm talking about getting to know you, get to the heart of matters type questions.  Too many times I have made inappropriate, incorrect interpretations of a person, judging them (or putting them on too high of a pedastal) before I ask as much as I can.

As human beings we have a natural curiosity and a natural bent to want to have meaning, to understand something.  Unfortunately our desire to understand overrides our curiosity as we interpret things before they are ready to be interpreted and we do not stay curious for long enough.

So, here's to curiosity, to observation before interpretation and to giving people a chance to be known for who they are rather than who we think they are.


Blog Category: