The Proofreading Problem

I had read and reread the document over and over. I knew every word backward and forwards. I knew exactly what I was thinking in every word. I thought my words were clear and my presentation almost flawless.

Then I turned it for a grade.

Man, was I wrong. My professor found typos. He found problems with sentence structure. One of my ideas was missing an essential word.

In my mind, it was an A+ paper. In reality, I received a B+, and that was probably generous.

That was 21 years ago, and it was my final paper as a senior in college. It was a 25-page magnum opus on the cross of Christ. It represented a semester of detailed work and five years of general study.

To my credit, at the time I was using a word processor to type the paper, and there were no computers with excellent proofreading programs like I have now. Honestly, not that much has changed. I was reading back through my blog and found numerous mistakes of all kinds in my previous work.

The real problem is not the computer program I use as much as it the fact that I proofread most of my own work. Proofreading your work is hard to do because you are too familiar with it. You read words into sentences that are not there. You mentally add the needed punctuation. You are so close to the work that you cannot see its flaws. Your mind tricks you into thinking your work is flawless when it is only a B+ at best.

Why do I tell you this? Because each one of us is proofreading our own life. We are judging the work we do each day. A problem can arise because we fill in the missing spaces in our head. We think we are a great spouse, a wonderful child, a terrific parent even a fully committed follower of Jesus when in reality we are making huge mistakes.

One reason God made us a part of the body of Christ is to help us proofread our lives. We need someone to speak truth into our lives about the mistakes we are making each day. Each one of us needs 1-3 close Christian friends to tell us what they see in our lives. We need someone who cares about us but is detached enough to tell us the hard things.
I know it is frightening. Handing my work to someone else is terrifying. They may rip it apart. I may have to make changes. I may have to cut out parts and rethink my overall structure. But if my goal is to do my best work, to live the best life I can for Jesus, it has to be done.

Who is helping you see the mistakes in your life? Do you have anyone? If not, you might be living a B+ life when you could be living a solid A.

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One thought on “The Proofreading Problem

  1. Loved this post! Such truth. Reminds me too of how it can sometimes be hard to be the proofreader for others but how important it is to speak honestly, with much truth and grace, into the lives of those we are close to. I think about how easy it seems in this season to ‘proofread’ for my young kids. I love them so much and want the best for them that I’m willing to drop my people pleasing mask and say what might not be popular in their eyes. It’s harder with others. I fear their response and if I’m honest, I have too often let my selfish fear win at the end of the day. Lord may my love for others be greater than my fears. Thank you Matt.

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