Sep 29, 2020 08:00am
Being Certain and Being Right Are Two Different Things

My objective that day was to get to the hospital in downtown Chicago before the surgery to have prayer with the family, something I have done many times as a church pastor. The trip into the city went well and a parking spot was available. The lady at the front desk was friendly and I gave her the name of the teenager who was having a very serious procedure that day.  She could not find the young lady’s name but assured me we would find her. She thought I should go up to same day surgery and see if she checked in there. Maybe she was not in the system yet?  

My determination to find her led me up the elevator and I approached another very nice worker who began the process again.  Once again I was informed they had no record of my member being there.

Now I was becoming frustrated with their apparent ineptness in the simple procedure of finding one of their patients. Back at the front desk I kindly shared again how I needed to find this family and would she please check again?  Nothing! 

She asked me a crazy question: “Sir, are you certain the young lady is in our hospital?”  I replied, “I am certain that she is here!”  She then said I should go to the heart section of the hospital and see if they had any information.  

Back on the elevator my anxiety level began to rise and was not helped when I was informed again that there was no record of the lady I was looking for. As I began my descent on the elevator, again I felt that I must be even more assertive than before, which is not a good thing for me.

     As I approached the front desk again I will never forget the smile I was greeted with and once again I was asked if I was “certain” she was in that hospital. Oh, trust me, I was certain!  She then said something I will never forget: “Pastor, I know you are certain, but are you right?”  Wow, could I be at the wrong hospital? Being pre-cell phone days I found a pay phone and called one of the young lady’s family members. 

I was in the wrong hospital!  

My temptation was to slide out a side door or find the back entrance so I would not have to see the lady at the front desk, but there was no alternative route available (pre-GPS days also). As I left I thanked the lady for her kindness and patience but I also left with a great life lesson: 

You can be certain and still be wrong!

Unfortunately, all of us can be certain about something but we must be willing to ask ourselves if we are right. We all make certain assumptions about the way things are and the way certain people will react if we share the gospel with them. 

Here are a few examples “Oh, they don’t want to hear about what Jesus has done in my life” or “I would love to help them out but they don’t want me to get involved” or “That’s not my responsibility. Am I my brother’s keeper?” or “I’m just one person and I don’t think my involvement will make any difference. Listen to what Dave DeVries shared about assumptions in one of his recent blogs:

“My friend and colleague Kevin Stebbings recently shared this insight with me. Kevin explains, ‘If someone is only working on their actions or only working on their attitudes, they will see some change. But they won’t see the long-term change they want unless they are working on their assumptions.’ I often find that many people are focused on their action steps and want my help in determining what steps to take next. However, it is necessary to explore the awareness of their assumptions before concentrating on what they need to do next.” 

An assumption is something that is accepted as true or certain without proof.  Consider these assumptions: 

Being friends with non-Christians can hinder your spiritual growth.  

Disciplemaking starts after a person becomes a Christian.  

God will love me more if I do more for him.  

This city is too hard to reach with the gospel.  

What are your assumptions regarding God? Regarding the church? Are your assumptions true or false? How will you become more aware of the validity of your assumptions?

Copyright © 2020 by Larry Barker @ Used with permission. No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from