Column: Perspective


It’s the lens through which each of us views both the big picture and the small details of life. It can turn a rainy Monday into the best day of your semester, or a phone call from home into a life-changing event. It’s called perspective.

No two people have the exact same perspective, however. One of the many reasons I am thankful to be able to attend a liberal arts university such as BJU is to be able to interact with an incredibly diverse array of perspectives. Because I grew up for 14 years on the mission field in Venezuela and Uruguay, I own a distinct perspective that uniquely influences all of my decisions.

Being a missionary kid has given me too many unusual experiences to count, but one event in particular—which I’m certain I never would have experienced here in the U.S.—is firmly etched in my memory and has had lasting impact on the widening of my own perspective.

It was in the city of Guarenas, Venezuela, a relatively small, poor city, characterized by many slums and high crime. My dad was delivering the Sunday morning sermon to our recent church plant. As it was the middle of summer and especially hot outside, we had the doors to the building open and were essentially having an open-air service.

Suddenly, we began to hear sharp, loud sounds coming from the street outside the church building.  It took a few seconds for most of the 30 members in attendance to realize that a gunfight was actually happening in the street outside, and gunshots were beginning to ricochet off our church building. The whole church scrambled to the rooms at the back of the church as the gunshots went on for almost five minutes.

After about half an hour we finally emerged to see no one on the street, but there was graphic evidence everywhere to show how close we had come to being seriously injured. Several gunshots were sprayed across the front of the church, with some mere inches from the doorway.

I know I’m not the only one who has come that close to a scary, violent experience or, sadly, watched and listened as other people became victims. What I do know is that this hot, sticky Sunday morning changed my life.

Now, thinking about details like how my Monday morning is going, or the important tests I have this week or even what I’m going to do in life has been shifted into focus by that morning. From the small, mundane things in life to the big, important life decisions, I realize just how fragile time is, and that makes it easier to focus on what’s truly necessary.

Those stray bullets that morning permanently broadened my life perspective.

Do you need to broaden your own perspective? What we all need to realize is that while each perspective is indeed unique, it may not be wide enough. Don’t limit yourself to the same perspective you’ve always believed, such as your career or friendship choices, but instead challenge yourself to question why you actually believe it. Biblically examining why you think what you think is the best way to enhance your own worldview. You don’t need to see a violent shoot-out to realize that your perspective on life should be biblically based and God-focused.