- An Occasion to Slip (Romans 14:13)
- Get Behind Me, Satan!
- Two Relationship Rules
- Pesternators & Procrastinators – Understanding Personalities (Slip-Proofing Tip #1)
- F.A.N.O.S. (Slip-Proofing Tip #2)
- Relationships Besides Marriage (Slip-Proofing Tip #3)
- Nobody Likes Being Misunderstood
- Book, Blog & Podcast Recommendations
It’s been so much fun working on this relation “slips” series with my wife, the amazing Taylor. For those who prefer to listen, you can listen to Episode 64 right now. Also, you can read the poem for JJ featured on the episode here. If you’re new to the series, Taylor and I are wading into the murky waters of relationship difficulties because relationship troubles account for most of our daily frustration, strife, and anxiety. It might be between spouses, friends, coworkers, fellow saints, peers, parents, in-laws, children, or siblings. Regardless, slips in those relationships can be really difficult. However, navigating relationships with wisdom goes a long way in producing peace and joy in our daily lives. It also promotes unity (which promotes revival) in our churches.
Navigating relationships with wisdom goes a long way in producing peace and joy in our daily lives. It also promotes unity (which promotes revival) in our churches.Tweet
An Occasion to Slip (Romans 14:13)
The Amplified version of Romans 14:13 says this: “…let us no more criticize and blame one another but rather decide and endeavor never to put a stumbling block or an obstacle or a hindrance or an occasion to slip in the way of a brother.” It’s extremely rare for me to criticize the King James Version. However, the KJV translation falls short of the intended meaning in this instance. It renders the beginning of the verse this way: “Let us not, therefore, judge one another anymore…”. Yet, the context of the verse and the intended meaning of the Greek word krinō is more in line with our understanding of the word “criticize” or “disapproval.”
Having a critical spirit rather than a graceful spirit ultimately becomes a slipping hazard to the people around us. Heaping blame and nitpicking endanger the people nearest to us. So, we must make a deliberate effort in all our actions not to create an occasion to slip in the way of others. For a Christian, this should become a daily mindset and priority. This is a crucial aspect of demonstrating the love of Christ.
Get Behind Me, Satan!
But Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block [offense, hindrance, snare, obstacle] to Me; for you are not setting your mind on things of God, but on things of man (Matthew 16:23, Amplified Version).”
The context of Jesus’ forceful rebuke against Peter is simple. Jesus had just revealed to his disciples that he would have to suffer and die – something they remained stubbornly unwilling to comprehend – but Peter wouldn’t accept it as true. He argued and tried to convince Jesus otherwise. Which, by the way, likely appealed to Jesus’ humanity. I mean, who wants to suffer and die? We know Jesus wrestled with this because of his prayers in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-56). Peter’s words were becoming a stumbling block, or we might say creating an occasion to slip in Jesus’ path.
I think it’s important to observe that this wasn’t an explosion of temper on Jesus’ part. It was an intentional rebuke designed as an example for everyone. Jesus realized the conversation was becoming dangerous, so he dealt with it immediately. It’s also worth noting that Peter’s intentions weren’t evil. He wasn’t trying to slip Jesus up like the Pharisees or the Sadducees. Peter loved Jesus and wanted what was best for him. Jesus knew that. But he still needed to demonstrate, for everyone’s sake, that you can’t be casual around slipping hazards. Especially spiritual slipping hazards.
Two Relationship Rules
I hate to use the word “rules” because I know it will rub some folks wrong. But rules they are, and they are simple (at least conceptually) yet vital. Christians must follow two rules regarding every relationship: 1) Make every effort not to be a source of slipping or tripping for others. 2) Make every effort not to let others become a source of slipping or tripping for you. These two rules should inform our actions, reactions, conversations, silences, decisions, and indecisions with others. Again, the Christian life is filled with intentionality and deliberation. But every relationship is fraught with intentional and unintentional relationslips that cause painful falls resulting in countless emotional and spiritual bruises. My wife and I have worked together to offer a few slip-proofing tips that are both biblically sound and practical.
Christians must follow two rules regarding every relationship: 1) Make every effort not to be a source of slipping or tripping for others. 2) Make every effort not to let others become a source of slipping or tripping for you.Tweet
Pesternators & Procrastinators – Understanding Personalities (Slip-Proofing Tip #1)
On the outside, at least, Taylor and I are complete opposites, and we are proof positive that opposites do attract. But, to be clear, we aren’t opposites regarding the big things like serving God, dedication to ministry, work ethic, love for our kids, and loyalty. Also, we both share quality time as our primary love language (if you haven’t read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, we highly recommend that you do). However, that’s where our similarities end. Taylor’s a major extrovert, and I’m a lifelong introvert. She enjoys talking all day, and I’m quiet and inward. She loves being on the phone, and I have an ongoing fantasy that my phone is lost forever and no replacements are available. She wakes up happy and smiling, and I wake up with all the charm and energy of a tortoise. I can’t imagine wearing a brown belt with black shoes, and I have a lifelong obsession with making sure colors and patterns match. But on the other hand, Taylor believes that all colors and patterns match, and the more, the merrier.
I love our differences. I’m incredibly thankful we’re not the same. Life would be very dull if we were exactly alike. And, for the most part, our differences balance us out. However, at times, our differences create slipping hazards in our relationship. For example, I’m a lifelong procrastinator, and Taylor is a chronic pesternator. You’re probably familiar with a procrastinator. So let me explain a pesternator (our made-up word) first. Put simply. A pesternator is someone who wants things done immediately. It makes them highly effective and immensely productive people. However, one of their predominant weaknesses is impatience. They’re also highly communicative. They resort to pestering if things aren’t getting done as quickly as they’d like. But, of course, they’d be more likely to call it frequent urgent reminders of great importance.
Procrastinators are not necessarily lazy, although pesternators often mistake their delays for laziness. My fellow procrastinators and I simply don’t feel the inner urgency to complete every big and minor task immediately. Instead, we prioritize tasks based on their perceived importance, and we rarely feel the need to finish something that isn’t due for another six months. Pesternators do feel that urgency (almost impulsively). One trait I’ve noticed in procrastinators like myself, we are also perfectionists. Therefore, we don’t like just getting things done in a hurry just to mark them off the list. We want to do it, take our time, think everything through, and do it right. This can be a huge weakness. We often don’t do things we should be doing because we don’t feel we can do them perfectly (like podcasts and blogs).
Procrastinators and pesternators clash daily in homes, workplaces, churches, and schools. Siblings, parents, coworkers, spouses, extended families, students, and colleagues slip one another up because they are wired differently. For example, in our home, we have two procrastinators and two pesternators. My daughter, Julia, and I are procrastinators. And, as you already know, Taylor is a pesternator. Our son, Talmadge, is with Taylor in the pesternator department. So, as you can imagine, the potential for frustration and conflict lurks in the shadows and on To-Do lists. Thankfully Taylor and I entered marriage with another important similarity that I haven’t mentioned yet. We are both fascinated with the study of personalities. And we believe that fascination has helped to slip-proof our relationship. It’s not full-proof, and we’re not perfect, but we believe understanding and appreciating personalities can dramatically help you.
These days, there’s no shortage of free and paid online personality tests you can take. Some aren’t great, but many are very good (we’ve linked several tests and book recommendations at the end of this article). Take several of them for yourself because the first leg in the journey to understanding others is learning about yourself. Be brave enough to face your weaknesses and wise enough to exploit your strengths. Learn what pushes your buttons and why. Before we can interact wisely with others, we must honestly know ourselves. Once you get a grip on your personality, you can determine what makes other personalities tick.
Be brave enough to face your weaknesses and wise enough to exploit your strengths. Learn what pushes your buttons and why. Before we can interact wisely with others, we must honestly know ourselves.Tweet
You might think, that’s great, but how does this help my “fill in the blank” relationship? For one thing, you begin to realize that certain people who do certain things that grate on your nerves aren’t purposefully trying to make you go crazy. And, just as significantly, they probably aren’t trying to disrespect or demean you either. So, it’s just two personalities clashing. So, for example, very early in our marriage, Taylor would ask me to do such and such or so and so, and I would absolutely plan to do it, but according to my rambling time frame. Because I hadn’t fully comprehended her personality, I didn’t realize she had an unspoken expectation that I should fulfill that request within 24 hours. To make matters worse, when I didn’t meet that silent expectation, she felt disrespected and unloved. Neither of us wanted to hurt the other, but a lack of understanding created tension. And that lack of understanding stemmed directly from a lack of communication.
F.A.N.O.S. (Slip-Proofing Tip #2)
That’s just one personal example representative of hundreds of relationslips that happen between people all the time. Thankfully, in our case, we were given a tremendous marriage tip that has drastically improved our relationship. The acronym is F.A.N.O.S., which stands for feelings, acknowledgment, needs, ownership, and struggles. So, here’s how it works, you and your spouse agree to talk through F.A.N.O.S. once a day. Pick a time of day that works best for your schedule and stick to it. Make sure to do it daily. It might take you longer to get through it in the beginning, but as time goes by, it won’t take you as long to finish. Take turns expressing the five topics (without interrupting each other).
Begin with “feelings”; this is a general opportunity to communicate how you are feeling right now, about the past 24 hours, and the future. Move to “acknowledgment”; here, you verbalize that you acknowledge (and hopefully appreciate) everything your spouse has done for you, your family, your friends, etc. Remember to acknowledge everything you can think of, even if you don’t feel particularly grateful. And here’s why, as you recognize those things out loud, your appreciation for everything your spouse does will blossom. Remember to take turns and reflect precisely on the past day’s events.
The third topic is “needs,” I’m pausing here to insert that this part of F.A.N.O.S. became the primary solution for our procrastinator vs. pesternator problems I mentioned earlier. The needs category allows you both to communicate… well, your needs for the upcoming day (or further out, depending on the circumstances). Taylor and I realized that this was the best moment for her to tell me precisely what she wants from me (emotionally, spiritually, and physically). Knowing she will have the chance to do the “needs” category of F.A.N.O.S. every day alleviates her impulse to send reminders and requests to me while I’m working, resting, and… well, you get the idea. But that only works when I do my part, pay attention, and set reminders for myself. Also, part of that communication process is learning to set realistic expectations. If, for example, I can’t do something within her desired 24-hour window, I must express that to her. However, I must force the procrastinator in me to commit to a reasonable timeframe (He’s still working on me).
After “needs,” take “ownership” for any failures, wrongdoings, and bad attitudes you might have had since the last F.A.N.O.S. Be sure to apologize and be careful not to pass the blame or make trite excuses. Finally, close out by verbalizing any “struggles” you might be facing, feeling, or anticipating. Full disclosure: Taylor and I have typically already expressed our struggles in the first four categories. But sometimes, that category is extra essential to talk through. I know that F.A.N.O.S. sounds overwhelming if you’re an introvert like myself. And all the mega communicators reading this think it sounds magnificent. But I promise, it helps, and it works. And it doesn’t take very long once you get the hang of it, especially if you do it daily.
Relationships Besides Marriage (Slip-Proofing Tip #3)
Obviously, you can’t do F.A.N.O.S. with your colleagues, bosses, in-laws, friends, or parents. Although, it might be great to do with your kids (at least occasionally). But the principle of learning to communicate your needs, show appreciation, and set expectations while genuinely understanding another person applies to all your ongoing relationships. It’s a fact that most relationslips result from misunderstandings, poor communication, and perceived disrespect. Before jumping to conclusions and getting offended, take some time to try and figure out if the issue is just two distinctive personalities approaching the same situation with vastly different perceptions. Of course, sometimes conflicts are deeper and drastic interventions are required. But you’d be surprised how simply understanding and learning to respect and work intelligently with other people’s differing personalities will slip-proof relationships.
Most relationslips result from misunderstandings, poor communication, and perceived disrespect.Tweet
Nobody Likes Being Misunderstood
Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them… (Matthew 7:12).
Jesus’ infamous challenge to treat others how you want to be treated was then, and for many, still is, a revolutionary concept. This commandment seems pretty uncomplicated. And, mostly, it is. However, what are you supposed to do when treating someone how you would like to be treated isn’t how they want to be treated? Perhaps you’re a hugger. Giving and receiving hugs makes you feel loved and appreciated. But someone in your circle of relationships doesn’t like being hugged or even touched, for that matter. You’re showing love the way you want to be loved, but they’re left feeling awkward and uncomfortable. Maybe they will start avoiding you. Not because they don’t like you but because they don’t want a bear hug.
In that kind of situation, the key to obeying Matthew 7:12 is learning to understand other people’s personalities. Nobody likes being misunderstood. You don’t like it when people don’t try to know your likes and dislikes. We all want others to read our body language, pay attention to our signals, and listen to us. And when we’re misread, misunderstood, or ignored, we feel devalued and unimportant. Learning to do what makes others feel valued is the ultimate version of following Matthew 7:12 because that is precisely what we wish others would do for us. When you learn to live this way, the relationship bonus is that as you adjust for others, they will do the same for you. They may never want that bear hug, but they might grow comfortable with a simple, quick hug.
Learning to do what makes others feel valued is the ultimate version of following Matthew 7:12 because that is precisely what we wish others would do for us.Tweet
Book, Blog & Podcast Recommendations
If you’re interested in growing and learning how you and those around you tick, this list is a great resource to get you started. Before you browse over them, please don’t feel overwhelmed. You absolutely don’t have to read or listen to all this information to grow in this area. If you’re like me, you’ll want all the info you can possibly study. But if you’re like Taylor, you’re probably thinking, give me one or two good resources I can dig into. And that’s ok. One book, blog, or podcast can make a huge impact. So don’t let the length of this list overwhelm you. With that said, I’ll start this list with the first personality-type book I read as a teenager. It’s still my favorite.