Assume Positive Intent (Joshua 22)

This post could probably also be called three keys to positive communication. In the twenty second chapter of Joshua, we find a wonderful reminder for healthy relationships. The 10 tribes of Israel come to confront the two and a half tribes on the other side of the Jordan. Gratefully because of the humble way the smaller group responded (which admittedly may have been done because they were seriously outnumbered), crisis was averted. But the fact remains that if they’d operated using a couple simple principles, the whole situation would have been smoother: assuming positive intent and assuming that they were missing information. 

Let’s start by recapping the story I reference in Joshua 22. 

  • v9 – the 2.5 tribes are heading home
  • v10 – they build an alter on their side of the Jordan
  • v11-15 – the rest of Israel find out about the altar, freak out, and go to confront the 2.5 tribes
  • v16-20 – Phinehas (priest/spokesperson) confronts the 2.5 tribes and basically tell them off for building the altar
  • v21-29 – the 2.5 tribes defend themselves and explain they made the altar as a reminder to the rest of Israel that they were part of them and worshipped the same God
  • v30-33 – Phinehas and the Israelites are “satisfied” with the explanation and decide not to go to war with the 2.5 tribes
  • v34 – the 2.5 tribes name the altar “witness”

There are a bunch of issues with the way this went down, and I have to say that this is a topic near and dear to my heart, in large part because it was hard-learned for me, it is learning to bear with one another in love, learning to seek first to understand (to quote one of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People), allowing our differences to grow and stretch us rather than frustrate us, and learning to extend grace. These things take humility and maturity to do. 

We all struggle with judging one another, especially when it comes to motivations. And rather than extending the grace we ourselves would like to receive, we have a tendency to jump to conclusions, which are rarely good. My sister likes to say “what story are you telling yourself?” This is a great reminder to be conscious about whether you are telling yourself the negative version of every situation or if you are extending the grace you yourself would like to receive.

To recap these three key principles behind positive communication:

  • Bear with one another in love
  • Assume positive intent
  • Assume you’re missing information

When you start from this place, you give room for clarification without drama. You also leave room for the other person to repent if they’ve done wrong. By coming from this viewpoint, you give space for their to be understanding and harmony, rather than judgment and offense. And most importantly, when we come from this viewpoint, we are reflecting Father’s heart.

I shared more on this during a Lunchtime Live on our Dyed4you Ministries Facebook page, which was then shared with our Harvest of Love Prophetic Nugget. 🙂

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