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Many people down through the years have recommended that I read a book called, ‘How to win friends and influence people’.

The title never really appealed to me.

Recently, I received a voucher for a bookstore, which happened to be doing a promotion on the book, so I bought it. As it turned out; it was not what I expected at all. As the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover.

The first thing I found very surprising was the fact that it was written in 1937. Secondly, that it contained some principles that were just as relevant in human relations.  One chapter stood out above all others, which I will focus on today.

The chapter was called, ‘If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive.’ It talked about the fact you should never criticise someone, as you never know what they have
been through.

The author used many stories to demonstrate this point, but the ones that had the deepest impact on me involved Abraham Lincoln.

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When Mrs Lincoln and others spoke harshly about southern people. Lincoln replied, “Don’t criticise them, they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.

A very inspirational view.

Another example.

During the American civil war in fighting the Battle of Gettysburg. The enemy got cornered by a swollen river. They were trapped, surrounded on all sides.

Hearing this, Lincoln telegraphed his orders to his General, ‘Attack immediately,’ and not wait to have a council of war.

What did the General do?

He did the exact opposite of what he was told. He hesitated. He procrastinated. He called a council of war. He refused point blank to attack. Within a week, the waters receded, and the enemy escaped.

Lincoln was furious. They had the enemy at their weakest point. The war could have been over in a matter of days, but the general called up all his troops for a meeting.

In bitter disappointment at his general, Lincoln sat down and wrote a letter, and at this time a letter coming from Lincoln was the severest rebuke.

What do you think the general did when he read the letter?

The general never seen the letter. Lincoln never mailed it. It was found among his papers when he died.

It was said, that Lincoln never mailed the letter because he saw it from the Generals perspective. If he had seen as much blood, if he had listened to the screams and shrieks of the wounded and dying for weeks; maybe he would not have been so anxious to attack.

Rather than criticise, he put himself in the general’s boots.

It reminded me of how quickly we often jump to a conclusion and judge or criticise without much thought where the other person is coming from.

How To Apply

When we find ourselves annoyed of upset at what someone said or done, it is important to rather than take offence to take a step back and look at the situation.

This is easier said than done.

This requires a strength of character as it is human nature to defend what we think is correct. It’s in these moments that our faith is tested.

Do we show love and understanding, or not. It’s in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped. Be shaped by Love.

Enjoy your weekend.
Rev J Martin

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