I am the mother of all chickens. I guess maybe it is because I am the oldest of seven kids I’m not sure. But I have an unnaturally strong pull to help people when I can see that they are wandering from what is best for them. I prefer to look at as gently and lovingly guiding them back into the fold of safety. They may call it hen-pecking or perhaps, on occasion, even nagging. But they are dumb. It’s helping. (See how gentle and compassionate I am?)
When I start pecking and clucking at someone (in love), trying to get them to come back under my wing and they either 1. Don’t seem to be comprehending my gentle nudgings or 2. Outright refuse what I am saying to be valid, it stresses me out. Big time. As a matter of fact, as far as stress and worry go in my life, this is el numero uno by a landslide. So unlike the idea of money, which I feel like I have gotten a pretty good grasp on in the worry department, this one I am writing to myself as much as I am writing it to anyone else.
So how do you handle the stress of watching people you love make decisions that you think are bad?
1. Be clear in your communication. Too often I will be passive aggressive or vague in my advice to others. Instead of coming out and saying that I think someone is making a bad choice, I will use sarcasm or innuendo. That doesn’t work - it usually just ticks the other person off. So before you say anything, get to the root of the issue that you want to address and make one very directed, very clearly worded statement - almost like a thesis statement. And then drop it.
2. Remember that they heard you the first time. If you are like me, when you tell someone something and they refuse to accept it or refuse to act on it, you just assume that they must not have understood you. I mean, they wouldn’t possibly reject your sage advice, right? Well, unless they were wearing headphones or something, they heard you. If they aren’t reacting then they either disagree with you or just need time to process things before acting on them. Either way, don’t feel pressed to keep telling them over and over. Again, once you say it, just drop it.
3. Entertain the idea that yours may not be the only right way. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying that you aren’t right. Because as we know…us wise people are always right. We have full disclosure when it comes to right and wrong, God’s will and providence, and anything and everything else. (Oh, am I using sarcasm again? I told you I am bad at this).
I recently heard a teacher say, “the longer people are Christians, the more they begin to think that their opinions are God’s opinions.” Yikes. That one hit home for me. I need to remember that while certain things are matters of right and wrong, others are simply matters of opinion. If sin isn’t a factor, try to keep things in perspective.
4. Know that it’s not your sole responsibility to change people. We can (and should) provide needed counsel to people who are making bad choices. But remember that even Jesus didn’t chase people down once they heard the truth. He told the rich young ruler what he needed to do in order to be saved. When the ruler went away without obeying, Jesus was sad but notice that he didn’t run after him trying to persuade him. He let him go.
We should be speak the truth in love and let others make the next move. If they want your help, they will respond and you can move forward accordingly. If they are not in a place where they are willing to listen, pray for them and wait. If that time never comes when they are receptive, it’s not your fault.
I’ve got a lot of baby chicks that I want to gather. Today I am going to work on trying not to peck them to death in the process.