There are two ways we can frame our expectations within our relationships, families and communities. Language is a subtle and powerful tool in the shaping of our relationships. It can promote growth and engagement or restrict it. In all relationships there are expectations and boundaries. There are times where simple, clear statements of what we should or should not do are important and provide safety. We can quickly come up with a list of these. Generally, they relate to matters of safety or good order for others and ourselves. At others times, we could choose to frame our expectations in a broader, growth-oriented way that grows the capacity to develop discernment and an inner moral compass. The framing of the College’s guidelines for our interactions with each other involves both simple, clear directions and broader statements such as ‘respect others’. Instead of an extended list of required behaviours in a variety of contexts, there is an expectation of personal decision-making and growth of discernment as to what this statement means in action.
In the Bible we find both types of statements as important guides for our lives. The Ten Commandments provide clear statements of what we should and should not do. We also see broader statements such as Jesus’ reflections of the two great commandments as being “love your God with all your heart” and “love your neighbour as yourself”, which challenge us to think about what living these commands might look like in our daily life. There is the expectation of discernment and personal responsibility and action. As we use our words to guide others, it is important that we are mindful of times where clear direction is required and those times where broader statements may provide greater space for growth.