My two boys are most certainly in conspiracy to ensure that I am booted into the 21st century. I am, unfortunately, resistant at every step, therefore you can imagine my skepticism when my younger son gave me a Google Home Mini as an early Mother's Day present. I'm already incensed by the fact that you can never talk to a human anymore on the phone. Why would I want an electronic talking object on my counter?

I am not completely unfamiliar with this piece of artificial intelligence, however. My 82 year-old mother has one and loves it, and I have observed my younger son using his to control his lights, clocks and furnace. Figuring the sky was the limit, I took the thing out of the box and immediately dove "head first" into the 21st century by asking my little machine to do dozens of things. Imagine my disappointment when the more common answer I received was: I'm sorry. I can't help you with that, but I'm still learning.

What on earth am I supposed to do with a device that can't even generate an efficient shopping list?

But I'm not telling you the full story. As time goes by, I am beginning to find things the machine IS capable of doing. For example, it can tell me the current temperature and the weather prediction for any place in the world; it can set multiple timers and record a basic shopping list; it can find recipes, tell me jokes, give world news, play music and manage my calendar. And perhaps its most redeeming feature--and the one I seem to need the most--is that it can find my phone...

Who knows? Maybe it truly is still learning and one day it will be able to efficiently manage my multiple shopping lists!

It makes me think. When I was writing off my son's gift as useless, it was simply because my expectations for the little device were much bigger than what it is capable of. But had I dismissed it altogether, I would never have learned that there are many things it can do that do make my life easier.

Does this sound familiar to anyone?

I expect that most of you, technologically speaking anyway, do not find yourselves as far in the dark ages as I do. Nonetheless, people disappoint us, as they do so on a daily basis...

The TA doesn't have the knowledge to help you with your calculus.

The pastor is too inexperienced with death, and his "counsel" is only making your grief journey so much harder.

When you asked your manager for more manpower, she just shrugged it off by saying there was no money for extra staff.

Why have a TA? Of what use is a pastor? Why waste time on your manager? Wouldn't we be just as well off without them?

But wait. Are we simply writing these people off as "useless" because of their limitations? Are we judging them solely because they are of no use to us personally? Shouldn't we make the effort to learn what they truly can do?

I mean, the TA is assigned to your English class, not your Calculus class, and he really can help you understand grammar and write better papers. And even if you don't need help with grammar, your classmates might!

And that pastor? He is experienced in church growth and outreach, and he has a wonderful heart for evangelism.

Oh, and your boss can provide suggestions for better workload management, and she is willing to pitch in and help out where she can, and she's ready to approve overtime.

The list of examples could go on, but suffice is to say, our tendency is to judge people as useless based on their inabilities to make our own lives easier. Just like the Google Home Mini is not programmed to do much of what I was asking it to do, people do not always have the basic skillsets/knowledge/capability to do what we want them to do. But just like the Home Mini is actually quite good at what it can do, the people we tend to judge are also experts in their own way. Our job is to overlook their limitations and their inability to help us personally, and appreciate them for their true value and for what they contribute to society at large.

Is this, perhaps, the reason we are admonished to: "Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." (Eph. 4:8 NLT)? We can find something undesirable in anyone and anything, but this doesn't make them any less useful and worthy of love and forgiveness than anyone else. Instead, let's seek the good in people--and things!--and let's resolve to "think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise" rather than being critical.

"Hey Google, give me a Bible text on acceptance!"

"Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory." (Rom. 15:7 NLT)

"Hey Google, thanks!"

No problem. Glad I could help!

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.

(To access the entire "The Home-Mini" mini-series, please click here.)