What Do You See?

John D. Rockefeller


It’s always easy to see what is wrong rather than what is right in situations. John D. Rockefeller was head of Standard Oil Company. A man high in his organization made a bad decision that cost the company $2 million. When people in the company heard about it, they were afraid to be in Rockefeller’s presence because they knew he was trying to figure out what to do to the man who was responsible for the loss.

Ed Redford had an appointment with Rockefeller. He entered his office and saw Rockefeller sitting behind his desk working feverishly, so he figured he had better be quiet. He just stood there.

Mr. Rockefeller looked up and saw him and said, “Ed, how are you doing? Have you heard what so-and-so did to our company—lost $2 million?”

Redford indicated that he knew. Rockefeller then said, “Would you come and give me a little help for a moment? I’m trying to decide what to do about that situation. Before I make a decision, I am just going through an exercise.”

Rockefeller invited Redford to come see what he was doing. Redford went behind Rockefeller’s desk and saw a white sheet of paper and the responsible man’s name written across the top of it. There was a line drawn down the center of the paper, and on the left side it said, “good things done for the company.” On the other side it said, “bad things done to the company.”

Mr. Rockefeller said, “Ed, do you know what’s amazed me? I’m looking here and see over ten things that he has done that has made this company money. In fact, he has made ten times as much money for this company as he lost. The only bad thing I can find is just that one mistake. I was ready to fire him, but you know, he’s probably one of our best people.”

Ed Redford said that he learned the biggest lesson that day. Whenever he started to deal with a situation, he wanted the wisdom to see the whole situation and not just an isolated incident.

When you see something, ask God to help you see the whole situation—not just isolated parts. When you look at your kids, you can find something wrong with every child you have, but for every one thing you find wrong with them, I expect you will find ten things right. When you look at the church, you can find some things wrong, but I think you will find ten times as many things that are right. Wouldn’t we be better off if we could see people and things as God sees them?

An old Chinese proverb says, “One-third of what we see is in front of our eyes, but two-thirds is behind our eyes.”

Paul wrote, “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into His most excellent harmonies.” (Philippians 4:8)

When Jesus looked at Peter, He didn’t see an aggressive, loud, impulsive, selfish fisherman, but Jesus saw a missionary to the Gentiles. When Jesus looked at Paul, He didn’t see a self-righteous, Pharisaical, violent bully, but Jesus saw the leader of His cause for the future.

Two questions. When Jesus looks at you, what does He see? When you look at other people, what do you see?

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