Do you react or respond to unexpected and difficult situations? A response is a thought-out action that allows you to address an uncomfortable situation with grace.
However, a reaction is usually the first action you express when confronted with an uncomfortable situation.
You know what I mean, that initial, negative action that gets you in trouble.
We want to avoid reacting. The results aren’t fun.
When you live in reaction, you give your power away. Then you get to experience what you gave your power to. -N. Smith
Over the years I’ve given power to a lot of people I shouldn’t have. This kept my mental energies focused on their drama instead of the things in my life that needed my attention.
So I’ve practiced responding. It doesn’t come naturally. Over time, though, I’ve learned a few tips that have helped.
Tips for responding well
1. Think before you speak. Give yourself some time and/or distance to cool down and get God’s perspective on the situation.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:18).
2. Ask yourself if the situation is really your business, someone else’s business, or God’s business. If it is outside of your control, it is not your business, so don’t meddle in another’s business—even in your head. Let the situation go.
3. If it is your business, think about ways to discuss the problem with the people involved using compassion, grace, and understanding.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs 15:1).
4. If needed, set new boundaries for yourself in your relationship with others. Communicate those boundaries graciously and firmly.
Simple tips, but it takes time to practice them until they become your first action. Believe me. I know. *sigh*
Do You React or Respond Quiz
OK, application time . . .
- What are your common reactions to difficult people or situations?
- What have been the consequences to your reactions?
- What responses would have been more beneficial to everyone involved?
- Has any of this drawn you closer to Jesus?
So . . . how did you do? Care to share what you learned? Or not. But comments and insights are always welcome—see below.
Growing with you, Susan
“Jesus likes it when we share.” -Adelaide, age 3: Pass this along to everybody and their brother. OK, maybe not everybody’s brother, but you know . . . all of your friends would be nice.
6 Responses That Help Defuse a Tense Situation
The Christian’s Secret to Dealing With Offensive People
The Christian Working Woman has an article titled Do You React or Respond, which offers some great advice on this topic.