Why do we point our fingers at other people?
When you were a child, did you ever tell anyone “Whenever you point one finger at me; there are four pointing back at you!” Never mind that this little statement doesn’t account for the thumb, it always seemed like a good way to keep people from pointing their fingers at you.
No one likes to get blamed for stuff. We really don’t like getting blamed for things we didn’t do (on Sunday I talked about one of many cases in which a person was falsely accused and convicted). But the truth is, we also don’t like getting blamed for things of which we are guilty. Have you ever tried to deflect or avoid the blame for something you know you did?
Interestingly, Jesus was willing to not only be accused, but to accept conviction and crucifixion for something He didn’t do. Not only that, He accepted the conviction and judgment for all the wrong everyone ever did! He became sin. He took on himself the punishment for us all. Perhaps, that’s something to think about next time you are falsely accused; you’re in good company!
So… if we so dislike having fingers pointed at us, why do we ever point fingers at others? Undoubtedly, many reasons exist why we are inclined to blame, judge and defame others. Here are just a few:
- We point our fingers at others because we feel badly about ourselves. If I have to be miserable, I want to have as many others as possible joining me in my misery. If I feel guilty, I want to have as many others as possible joining me in my guilt.
- We point our fingers at others because we don’t think we measure up. The more I compare myself to others, the more I see the areas in which I fall short. I can always find someone who does something better than me. The more I focus on my shortcomings, the more I need to find someone who I find inferior to me. When I can point out other’s shortcomings, I find myself on the long end of the measuring stick.
- We point our fingers at others because we feel threatened. I want to hold on to the things I think I’ve earned. I certainly don’t want to be replaced or passed over. When I see someone who may someday exceed my ability our take my place; I need to put them back in theirs. Pointing my finger at them, pointing out their flaws allows me to more tightly hold my own self-esteem.
- We point our fingers at others because we don’t trust God. If I trust God, I’m willing to allow Him to be in control. Attacking others is my effort to control them and control what is happening around me. People and circumstances are two things none of us can ever control. We can only control how we act and react to the people and situations in our lives. Trusting God means I do the best and most right thing within my control while allowing Him to control everything else.
Recently I’ve been reading Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Baban. They are former navy seals who led men through some of the most intense combat operations of the last 30 years. Foundational to their understanding of leadership is the importance of seizing control of yourself. They write:
“Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame.”
This is not only true of leaders, it is true of everyone. You must own everything which is under your control. Pointing your finger at others is an abdication of responsibility.
Willink and Baban later say:
“Implementing Extreme Ownership requires checking your ego and operating with a high degree of humility. Admitting mistakes, taking ownership, and developing a plan to overcome challenges are integral to any successful team.”
Within this quote is a five step plan to help you avoid pointing fingers at others:
1) Check your ego
2) Operate with humility
3) Admit your mistakes
4) Take ownership
5) Develop a plan to overcome challengesStop pointing fingers. Don’t let the situations or people you cannot control gain control over you.