About two weeks ago someone in our neighborhood called the police on us because our four year old son was riding his bike on the road without a helmet and our two year old daughter was playing in the front yard “unsupervised”(I was watching out the window). When the officer came to talk to me about it words like “neglect” and “social services” were used so it didn’t take me long to get defensive. The fact that I got defensive just put the officer more on edge and it was a bit of a tense conversation. Since then I’ve had the time to think and pray about it and the LORD has used it to show me what my natural reaction is to confrontation; it’s to get defensive and look for something to attack in the opposition. So how do you respond when things get tense? Here are some of the common ways we respond.
1. Mr. Loud and Obnoxious – This guy tries to be as loud and as obnoxious as possible in order to get his own way in a tense situation. He figures that no one else around is willing to go toe-to-toe with him so he will get what he wants and usually he’s right. The only problem is that since omnipotence is just out of reach for him, he is always unhappy about something.
2. Mr. Everything is OK – This guy would rather be banished to Siberia than to have anyone around him unhappy. As soon as a tense situation arises he does everything in his power to make things better. He is exactly the kind of guy that Mr. Loud and Obnoxious needs to have around in order to assure a pleasant flight.
3. Mr. I’ll Let Someone Else Handle It – This guy has learned that anyone who deals with a difficult situation head on tends to get shot at so he lets someone else handle it, usually his wife. There are times when he would like to speak up; but he has learned by experience that if he waits long enough, someone else will take the bullet.
4. Mr. Defensive/I’m Right and You’re Wrong (That’s Me) – This guy takes himself too seriously and starts digging in for trench warfare as soon as he’s attacked. Watch out if you try to constructively criticize his parenting ability, political views, or theological positions. He has the ability to unload on you like an Apache helicopter without ever raising his voice.
So which one are you, or is there a cliche that I missed somewhere? Let me know if you have anything to add, but here’s the assignment: What should the gospel have to do with the way we handle confrontation? How can we abide in Christ in such a way that our natural response to a tense situation isn’t the way we go; but instead we become ministers of reconciliation?