My wife, Sue, recently retired from her job as the Business Manager at Lincoln Christian School. We decided to celebrate with a road trip to four National Parks. Our research said if we drove 14 hours from our house, we could visit Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zion National, and the Grand Canyon’s North Rim with just an easy seven additional hours of driving over four days.

We packed our hiking gear, a portable fridge full of four days’ worth of food, and headed out.

Two parks, Capitol Reef and the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, were selected because of their remoteness. So, we didn’t run into very many people at those parks. (Plus, we typically started our days at sunrise).

The other two parks were packed, especially Zion.

At the parks, we saw people of every shape and size. We ran into people from every corner of the earth. I was amazed at the number of people who came to our country to enjoy the natural beauty of our great land. We heard people speaking at least six different languages.

It led me to be tempted to start judging the people I saw. Some of the critical judgments I made are listed below.

On one hike, we saw a family that appeared to cover several generations and had what appeared to be an approximately one-month-old baby they were holding.

It was over 100 degrees, and we saw people in blue jeans. At one point, I passed her on the trail because I “could not” walk behind with being hot.  (It is likely the temperature and not her pant choice making me sweat).

People with sweatshirts.

I thought people were too out of shape to hike this hiking trail.

A guy with a dog sitting on his shoulders. Also, in his group was a teenage girl carrying a dog.

The teenage kid in pajama pants on the hike is lazy. The hikers in Crocs are stupid.

I wasn’t just negative when I looked at people or their actions and made judgments. I also made some favorable judgments.

We waited at the entrance of one park behind a U-Haul and were impressed that these people were slowing down their lives enough to take in a National Park on their move.

Several large families going around to these parks had to be homeschool families. A large family doing educational things has to be a homeschool family.

I realize one list is longer than the other. But let’s face it. Our judgments tend to be critical, not positive. Or maybe I’m the only person who looks at somebody else and makes judgments? Not likely.  I hear people project judgments all the time. If they get cut off in traffic, they claim the other driver thinks they are better than us because they have a fancy car, despite knowing nothing about them except they just cut us off in traffic.

These snap judgments are why we start every meeting with a code of conduct at Willmar Electric. The last line in our meeting code of conduct is “assume positive intent.” When we say it, we tell everybody in the meeting instead of attaching a negative reason or judgment to another’s actions; you should assume they have a positive reason for saying or doing something.


When I see a grandma holding a baby, I think she is too young to hike and wonder what she thinks. For some reason, this was the only chance they had to make this trip; to make it, they had to bring the baby.

When I see a person in blue jeans hiking on a 100-degree day, I should consider the are thinking, “I’m not going to let the fact I only have blue jeans to wear I’m not going to let it stop me from seeing this part of God’s beautiful creation.”

When I see a guy with a dog on his shoulders, I should consider that he might be moving across the county in a U-Haul and decide to stop and see a national park. And he couldn’t leave the dog in the car while it was 100 degrees out.

It can be very convicting.