A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
Responding to someone in the heat of the moment usually leads to defensive responses. A number of years ago when I was employed by a Bible College, I had to confront a student for being disrruptive and disrespectful during a group meeting. I could have disciplined him in front of his peers which might have embarassed him and most likely caused him to become angry and defensive. I chose, instead, to put a note in his mailbox asking him to make an appointment with me.
When he arrived for the appointment, I gently explained to him how disrespectful and disrruptive he had been in the meeting. Since he was soon graduating and would be going into ministry, he would want others to respect him if he were conducting a meeting or leading a group. I asked him how he would feel if he were in the same situation that I had been, leading that group meeting. It was a risky move on my part because he could have become defensive and walked out of my office.
Instead, his response was to thank me for taking the time to sit down with him to let him know how offensive he had been during the group meeting. He said that in the four years he had been a student at the college, no one had ever pulled him aside to speak truth into his life.
I share that story with you because it is something that I have had to learn and continue to learn as I interact with others.
What are some ways we can respond gently to those around us?
- Ask God to guide our conversations with others
- Think about not only what we are going to say but how we are going to say it
- Practice, practice, and did I say, practice responding with gentle words
- Realize that you will mess up from time to time and there will be times when you need to ask for forgiveness
- Demonstrate respect for the other person in regard to the context of the conversation
- Extend God's grace as He has extended it to us