Thursday, November 13, 2014

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. I Corinthians 13:11

This passage calls on us to put away three childish behaviors: talking like a child, thinking like a child, and reasoning like a child. In our relationships do we fall back into childish habits of speaking, thinking, and reasoning?

How does a child speak? A child speaks to ask for things. A child speaks about wanting and wishing.  A child whines, pouts, and shouts.

Strategies for Mature Speaking
1.     Set a guard over your mouth –
Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3 (NIV)
Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips. Psalm 141:3 (NLT)
2.     Mind the gap – Use the time between the stimulus and your response to consider your words.
3.     Don’t engage in verbal battle
“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something” (Plato).
4.     Lower the volume: You can’t carry on an argument in a whisper.
5.     Visualize your response before you respond. Picture it in action and then in the aftermath, ask, “Is this the response I want?” and “Is this the response Christ wants?”
6.    Engage in effective communication - Communicate exactly what you are feeling: “Please listen to me. Please understand why I’m feeling this way. Can you do me the favor of being patient?”
7.    Take a break -  If you need to cool off before attempting a conversation, give yourself a time out. Temporarily disengage. Be sure to re-engage and communicate in a considerate, positive, assertive tone..


How does a child think?
The child thinks:
·         It’s not my problem.
·         I want that—give it to me.
·         I’m right.
·         That’s not fair.
·         If I cry, I’ll get my way.
·         If I wait long enough, someone else will do it.
·         Rules apply to everyone but me.

In The Child’s Conception of the World (1965) Jean Piaget described how children think.  Children often jump to conclusions and over generalize because they have limited information.  They play the blame game. They focus on self. They make mountains out of molehills. They live so much in the moment that they block out past positive experiences when they are in a bad situation. Many adults never grow out of this childish mindset.

Strategies for Mature Thinking
Think Intentionally –Deliberately choose to think positively and assertively. This is a pro-active approach. 
  • Ugly thoughts = ugly action
  • Positive thoughts = positive actions
  • Intentional thoughts=intentional actions
When the bad thought enters your mind, replace it by following these steps.
1.    Rename it – Tell yourself this thought is a negative, bad, ungodly, unkind, etc. thought
2.    Re-frame it – Focus on a positive or distracting thought
3.    Redirect your actions to something uplifting, fun, or engaging.

Finally Paul urges us to get rid of childish reasoning. How does a child reason? It may sound like this: “I’ve done something I was not supposed to do. But, if Mom and Dad don’t find out, I can get away with it.  So…I don’t feel bad about it. I can pull off a fast one!” 

What is reasoning? -  the process of thinking about something in a logical way in order to form a conclusion or judgment. The child reasons based on his perception at the moment.  Children don’t reason well because their brain is not even fully formed. The pre-fontal cortex where judgment and self-control are located is not fully formed until the mid-20s.

Strategies for Mature Reasoning
·         Avoid rushing to a decision.
·         Establish and verify facts of the situation/relationship/arrangement
·         Consider the consequences of actions.
·         Determine a logical response

Speaking, Thinking, Reasoning Like an Adult
As a child grows, his egocentric circle changes. He becomes less self-absorbed and more other absorbed. The more mature we become in our faith, the less self absorbed we become. The passage in I Corinthians is a good reminder to put away childish things in our relationships.

To hear my audio recording “Responding to a Biblical Fool,” click below.

Responding to a Biblical Fool

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