The other day I received the key to a local church where The Special Gathering main office is located. Because the sanctuary has been recently remodeled, new keys had to be made. The key was labeled “The sacristy.” I thought the person who labeled the key had misspelled the word sanctuary.
Later, I looked up the word and found that a sacristy is a small room usually off the sanctuary where vestments, church records and sacred vessels are kept. The Special Gathering office is located immediately off the sanctuary in this church. Our office would be considered part of the sacristy by someone who is not familiar with the inner workings of this local congregation.
I laughed at myself that I was stumped by this word that was new to me. However, the situation introduces a common problem for most of us–communication. I won’t try in this limited space to deal with a subject about which there has been a voluminous amount of teaching. But there is one part that I do think applied directly to my sacristy problem.
It is the problem with assumptions. My assumption was that some poor ignorant contractor who didn’t know how to spell that written the label and that his spelling was horrible because he also didn’t know who to correctly pronounce sanctuary. Of course, my assumption was incorrect. The reality was that this contractor knew exactly what he was doing and I was the poor ignorant director of ministry who was being arrogant.
Too often in my life, I’ve made decisions and walked though situation with a hardened mindset that isn’t open to correction or change. My good friend, Wylene, often told me, “It never hurts to give people the benefit of the doubt.” In the past, her wisdom saved me a good deal of grief after I found out that my orginal, damaging accessment of a situation was completely wrong.
I’ve kept the sacristy label for the key on my key ring because I thought it was funny that someone can be so ignorant. Now, I’m keep it on my keyring to remind me that many of my assumptions are incorrect and the least I can do before labeling another person ignorant for misspellilng and word is to go to dictionary to find the correct information.