Responding in Relationship

29861An angry king can put someone to death, so a wise person will try to make him happy. A smiling king can give people life; his kindness is like a spring shower. It is better to get wisdom than gold, and to choose understanding rather than silver! Proverbs 16:14-16

Proverbs can sometimes seem like riddles, but let’s not make today’s lesson more difficult than it has to be.

When have you tried to influence someone you know would be making a decision directly impacting you?

The writer of Proverbs is not suggesting anything illegal or unethical. He’s not saying you should bribe people or build unauthentic relationships simply to reap benefits of the connections you have. Let’s simply use some wisdom in our relationships. There are better times than others to approach someone and request something or share news. What is a good time for one person differs for another. It’s wise to be familiar with people in order to benefit, not yourself, but the relationship itself.

A relationship is never just about you. It involves (at least) two people. Be aware of the person with whom you’re interacting. While you don’t need to yield to every whim and wish of someone (after all, the relationship goes both ways, and you should both be fostering an atmosphere of respect), you need to be aware of habits, personality, and baggage so that you can communicate and grow in healthy ways.

Moving on in these verses of Proverbs, when have you responded to someone based on your mood rather than the reality of the situation?

When have you responded in anger to someone when it’s actually another person or situation with which you’re angry or frustrated? When have you let someone’s behavior or comment slide past you because you were in too good of a mood or too tired to deal with it even though you actually needed to confront the situation because it was going to get worse after receiving a stamp of approval?

The king in Proverbs is – like most of us – characterized by responding out of moods instead of reality. I struggle with this one. I certainly hope I’m getting better, but I have a long way to go. Many years ago, my daughters pointed out some inconsistencies in how I was responding to them and others in a variety of situations. I struggled with the reality of what they brought to my attention. I wanted to rationalize their points away, justifying my behavior, but the truth was, I needed to be more mindful of how and why I was responding to people.

It sometimes takes time to work through something, so after a frustrating day, it’s difficult not to let it overflow onto the evening. Words are powerful, though, and just acknowledging your feelings of anger and frustration and asking for those around you to call you out if you start displacing it onto them can help immensely. There’s nothing like some accountability to keep you in check and on track.

Kindness is paralleled to a spring rain, emphasizing its refreshment and nourishment. Keep in mind a spring rain is not always convenient. Even when we appreciate it, we don’t always welcome its timing, length, or strength. Kindness is not always welcome either.

When have you extended kindness with no return of appreciation? When have you received kindness but not responded with appreciation?

We cannot control someone else’s response, but we can certainly control our own. Commit to extending appreciation, kindness, influence, and investment in your relationships today. Seek and respond in wisdom and understanding.

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