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Good Intentions With Bad Results

September 5, 2014

When I was about 5 years old, we went on a family vacation. We stayed in a 2-story condo that had a large balcony where people could sit and visit in the evening. I was on that balcony, but decided I wanted to go down to the ground. I climbed through the rails that were there to protect people from falling. My plan was to grab onto one of the square columns that held up the balcony and slide down it. A family friend who was watching us told me to stop but I didn’t listen. I had a plan! As you have guessed, I fell from the balcony and hit the ground. My memory of that event is fuzzy, but I believe I broke a tooth on the curb that bordered the driveway below. I had intended to go down to the driveway. There was nothing wrong with my intent, but the results were not what I expected and I got hurt.  Where did I go wrong?

Some time after that, my brother and I were outside. He was up the tree but he was ready to come down. I was on the ground but I wanted to get up in the tree. We had plan! We got a rope and draped it over a big branch. He held onto one end and I held onto the other. The idea was simple. He would jump out of the tree and on his way down, he would pull me up. We did not consider the fact that he was twice my size and there was no way I was strong enough to hold on to that rope with our combined weight. He fell from that tree and hit the ground. When he passed out, I thought I had killed him! We had intended to get my brother out of the tree and to get me in it. There was nothing wrong with our intent, but again the results were not what we expected and someone got hurt. Where did we go wrong?

When I was third grade, we were playing kickball at school. The play was over and I had the ball somewhere close to home plate. My teacher, Mrs. Fulton, told me to throw the ball to the pitcher. I had a plan! Instead of throwing the ball, I decided to kick it to the pitcher. After all, this was a game of kickball, not throwball! So I dropped the ball and punted it as hard as I could. Instead of sailing out to the pitcher’s mound as expected, the ball went straight for Mrs. Fulton and hit her in the face causing her glasses to cut her nose. When I saw her bleeding, I immediately felt awful for hurting her and then I was terrified about what the school might do to a kid who actually made his teacher bleed! I had intended to get the ball back to the pitcher. There was nothing wrong with my intent, but again the results were not what I expected and someone got hurt. Where did I go wrong?

I could go on telling story after story of good intentions gone wrong. I have suffered, and caused others to suffer many times when the results of a plan did not match the good intentions that hatched that plan. When I start with good intentions, but the results are not what I expected and people get hurt, I have to ask, “What went wrong?” After many years of asking that question, I think I have discovered an answer.

When your intentions are good, but the results are not, it could be because you chose the wrong methods to accomplish your goal. There was nothing wrong with me wanting to go down to the ground when I was 5, but I should have taken the stairs. There was nothing wrong with me wanting to be in the tree at the same time my brother wanted out of it, but he should climbed down and I should have climbed up. There was nothing wrong with getting the ball to the pitcher, but I should have thrown it like I was told. In every case (and so many others since then), good intentions led to bad results because of my methods!

For example, feeling strongly about a cause does not automatically justify any actions I choose to take for that cause. If my cause is just, but I use unfair methods to support it, I will most likely end up hurting people and having results that I did not expect. Simply put, when the end results don’t match my original good intentions, I have to admit that it was most likely my methods that caused the problem. This is one of those life-lessons that I have to keep learning. How about you? Do you have to keep learning this one too, or do you have it down by now?

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  1. Lisa Crowder permalink

    Love it! Good job!


  2. Woody permalink

    John……I’ve always known that you were a terrific preacher and a downright good person. Now, I am a firm believer that you are a keen story teller. I think that you should start writing stories, books or anything. You’re good at it
    young man. I enjoy what you have to say……and I understand and believe it.


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