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Your Belief System and Your Church (23): Responding vs. Reacting

Responding versus reacting involves emotions, and to be a successful responder, you must accept your emotions as valid. When you became saved, I hope you did not check your emotions at the door because we are all made in the image of God, who is first and foremost emotional in His expressions and attributes. In the shortest verse in the entire Bible, He describes Himself in emotional terms, “God is love.” He said His whole mission on earth was based on emotion, “For the joy set before Him…” Back in the beginning He took one look at everything He had made, and He said, “It is good!” I have come to realize that everything God has said or done is solidly based in His emotions for and His desire to be relational with His highest creation—us humans.

EMOTIONS ARE POWERFUL. If you do not validate your emotions and learn to recognize whatever ones you are experiencing at any given time, then without doubt, you are out of control with them controlling you. There is no middle ground. You are either recognizing them which gives you control, or they are controlling you. You must be in control because teaching or preaching always has emotional content in it and possible conflict. In emotional terms, successful leaders need to know how “to go in and out among the people” (Solomon’s prayer).

FOUR BASIC EMOTIONS. Psychologists say all emotions originate from four basic ones—glad, mad, sad, and fear. For rhyming purposes, we will turn fear into “egad.” So whenever you are bent out of shape in any way, it is because you are experiencing a negative one—either mad, sad, or egad. I do not know why there are three negatives and only one positive—glad. A positive emotion gives us no trouble, but negative ones surely do. What can we do about negative emotions?

RESPONDING VS. REACTING. Responding or reacting are two emotional events that occur in any emotionally charged situation. We naturally react without thinking, while we consciously have to learn to respond. A reaction is a natural, immediate recoil from being offended and wounded, and an immediate desire to return the same back to the giver. Reacting inflames the situation and looses negative feelings like the bursting of a huge dam, resulting in a loss of control in the situation. Responding, however, pauses for a moment to recognize the emotion and gives back objective Truth and honesty in a spirit of understanding and forgiveness. Responding maintains amazing control of the situation. Every teacher must learn responding in order to be successful with fostering positives in students and eliminating negatives.

SPIRITUAL PERSPECTIVES. Reacting and responding have spiritual perspectives. A reaction originates from a momentary point of view, while a response comes from an eternal point of view. When we react, we usually first provide a verbal retort a few levels greater than the hurt received, after which we become silent and withdrawn because of being wounded and rejected. We have allowed our adversary to silence Truth. A response is one in which we are not silenced and speak the Truth back with courage and boldness even while being wounded. A large lesson is learned in every Christian’s life when we become Christ-like and unoffendable in all situations.

AS A TEACHER. As a teacher, the Lord taught me many King Solomon responses. Here are some examples of teacher responses:
(1) “Ouch, that really hurt. If you meant to wipe me out, you hit the bullseye right on. Was that your intention?” This is quite the opposite of the reactive lie that says, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!”
(2) “Please, take my keys. Here’s the car, my house, the mortgage, and everything. I’ll save you the court costs of suing me. I’ll gladly give them to you if it will make you happy. But please know that suing me won’t change me at all or stop me from doing what I know to be the truth.” I said this to a threat from a parent because I had stood up for the truth of his son’s errant behavior in my classroom.
(3) The whole conversation with George in the section Not Perfect, But Honest is an example of another King Solomon response.

AS A STUDENT. Being both a college student for many years and now being a college professor, I have some advice for students. What about the situation when a Christian shares his/her beliefs, and the teacher or leader in control or another student expresses outrage toward your Christian beliefs and your person? Respond rather than react.

Here are some examples of student responses:
(1) Right after a teacher makes a public negative retort about your testimony, you can say, “I respect your opinion and your feelings that you have just now shared with me regarding my beliefs. And even though I obviously disagree, are you able to respect mine in the same way?”
(2) At the end of an answer to a test question that is obviously anti-Christian, human secularism, or post-modernistic, you can write, “I trust this is the correct answer you were looking for on this question. May I ask a question in return? Did you want me to believe it as well?” Who knows, perhaps your response, instead of reaction, will intrigue your antagonistic teacher honestly to explore the Truth.

SEARCHING FOR TRUTH. In all cases of antagonism, we need to look past the feelings involved and present Truth. In most cases, the world is genuinely looking for Truth, but they do not know how to deal with negative feelings associated with what happens when Truth sinks into their hearts and understanding. Nor do many Christians know how to deal with negative emotions of confrontations.

Pastor, inside the church is where the most heated battles of all ages have taken place and still are happening. How “wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove” are you (Matthew 10:16)? Inside the church, if you have experienced offenses among members or a church split of any sort, how might responding rather than reacting have avoided this? Outside the church, do you and your church members know how to respond to the world instead of react?

Your Belief System and Your Church: (1) Introduction

Your Belief System and Your Church: (2) Your Paradigms

Your Belief System and Your Church: (3) Bondage or Freedom

Your Belief System and Your Church: (4) Gateway Skills

Your Belief System and Your Church: (5) Teacher Accountability

Your Belief System and Your Church: (6) Talking About vs. Doing

Your Belief System and Your Church: (7) Student Accountability

Your Belief System and Your Church: (8) Assessment

Your Belief System and Your Church: (9) Bury Dead Tradition

Your Belief System and Your Church: (10) Teaching vs. Learning

Your Belief System and Your Church: (11) Teachers' Three Phases

Your Belief System and Your Church: (12) Excellence is NOT a Goal

Your Belief System and Your Church: (13) My Teaching Limits Were Their Learning Limits

Your Belief System and Your Church: (14) Unlearning Creates Success

Your Belief System and Your Church: (15) Pioneers vs. Settlers

Your Belief System and Your Church: (16) Real and Lasting Learning

Your Belief System and Your Church: (17) Problems With Memory

Your Belief System and Your Church: (18) Ownership Creates Success

Your Belief System and Your Church: (19) Not Perfect, But Honest

Your Belief System and Your Church: (20) Take Risks and Give Away Control

Your Belief System and Your Church: (21) Out of a Job

Your Belief System and Your Church: (22) KCAASE and Proverbs 24

Your Belief System and Your Church: (23) Responding vs. Reacting

Your Belief System and Your Church: (24) Only When Performed

Your Belief System and Your Church: (25) A Supervisor's Vision

Your Belief System and Your Church: (26) Glimpses Into the Spiritual

Your Belief System and Your Church: (27) One Reason Alone

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Wow! you ask some serious questions at the end of this one.
Sometimes I stay silent until I've thought the thing out. Sometimes I look for the absolutely most unexpected response that will still keep me safe, protect my position, whatever. An example would be to remain accepting of and respectful to someone who repeatedly rejects me. Easier said than done. Has the added advantage of messing with their heads in a good way.
Now that's a cool observation "messing with their heads in a good way." I happen to like reverse psychology. Worked it all the time on the students to great success.
Reverse psychology has the added advantage of satisfying that urge to be unkind while keeping me out of trouble. Hey who said my motives were always all they should be... It's rather like the way our western culture interprets heaping burning coals on thier head. In their time it was a blessing and that's apparently how Christ meant it. Our western view finds a certain unkind satisfaction in the idea that is completely contrary to the Lords intent. Then again my motive usaully does come around to where it ought to be. Sometimes the whole thing works a little better than one hoped leading to a new quandry... Arghh! No one ever said Christ like was easy.
Pastor provided the cap to my comments on Sunday. Reverse psychology working better than I thought I wanted... of course it does when done His way. We are called to bless those who curse us, those whom we hate and who hate us. Mathew 5:45 In Numbers 6:24-26 there is a blessing that Aaron is to speak over the Isrealites. In verse 27 It says that they shall bless the children of Isreal and I will bless them. In the break down of word meanings (shem) we see that blessing someone is to put a mark on them. (my notes are sketchy here, check it for yourself.) Thus they are marked for the workings of the Lord. Gen. 4:15 shows that the Lord does mark and individual...He marked Cain so that none would kill him. Of course it works when we respond instead of react and bless someone rather than cursing them. When our response is to bless another they are marked for the Lord to work on them. A good response puts the problem back on the other person and forces them to look at themselves rather than dwelling on our angry reaction. Change has got to come eventually. We all get blessed when a difficult situation ends peacefully.
Whoa, cool thoughts. I'll have fun checking out these references. Maybe even pick up a CD copy of his sermon.
Dave

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