Growing Kingdom People – How to Set Others Up For Failure

Growing Kingdom People – How to Set Others Up For Failure

Most of us do well on tests if we know the questions in advance.

I had a professor in college who always told us what he was going to ask on his tests, and he never asked us anything without advanced notice. I always aced his tests.

Another professor didn’t give us the questions, but he gave us a general idea of the “kinds” of questions he would ask on his tests. I usually aced those tests as well (if I studied).

But there was this one professor…

I still get angry!

It was terrible!

He would ask us questions we hadn’t covered in class or in our readings. One semester I was so frustrated I confronted him in his office and he chased me down the stairs with a broom.


Then his wife died and he married my cousin.


Didn’t see that one coming.

Anyway, it still isn’t fair to expect someone to know the answers when they don’t know the questions, or when they haven’t covered the material.

So why do we test people without giving them the information they need to be successful? Why do we wait for them to pass a test they didn’t even know they were taking?

I see it all the time.

Wives and husbands argue: “You should have known!”


Good friends feel let down: “You should have known!”


“What I really needed…”

“But I didn’t know.”

“Well, you should have!”


Could it be when we set up tests for people without letting them know the questions, we are practicing a form of legalism? Legalism is hypersensitivity to rules that are used to judge others.  When we create a test and judge others based on their performance, isn’t that the same thing?

Then we post the test results by sharing them with others.  Yup.  We set up tests for the people who love us, judge them based on their response, then share the results with others.

Yes, I do it too.

I have discovered I have a lot more grace in my life when I remember people can’t read my mind, see my feelings or know the details of my day. On the other hand, when I have unrealistic expectations, bitterness and resentment start to take root in my heart.

And guess who is waiting to exploit the condition of my heart by destroying my relationships with the people who love me?  The same one who has been setting people up for failure since the beginning of time.

Stop testing people and you will rediscover God’s grace. You will nip bitterness and resentment in the bud.  And if there are others in your life who keep sliding you more tests and fueling your bitterness and resentment, withdraw from the class immediately!  You may not know it, but they are actually testing you.

My old professor wasn’t such a bad guy (God bless his departed soul). And I didn’t fail his class.  He gave me a “B.”

I earned an “A”.

But I’m not bitter.

About LJones

Minister and story teller.
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