Thursday, March 8, 2012

Respond or React?

Reaction or Response?

Your answer to the above tells a lot about you. Let me explain.

All of us, at one time or another, have been on the receiving end of someone wanting to elicit a reaction. I specifically remember wanting a reaction from my daughter when I was doling out punishment. She was the queen of not letting things bother her. I would tell her she couldn’t play with her Barbie dolls until she had her room clean. That punishment didn’t seem to affect her so I would tack on punishment after punishment until finally something upset her. I’m so glad I have grown up! You know how it goes. Perhaps you remember doing this yourself?

Recently my husband was verbally attacked. The attacker wanted my husband to react. So, in an effort to elicit reaction, he went on and on and on…finding or creating more verbal ammunition. When he did not get the response he wanted from my husband, he literally began to shake.

I couldn’t be more proud of my husband. A long time ago he read a book that literally changed his life. The book? The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. In this book Mr. Covey talks about this very subject and it made a lasting impression on my husband. I’m so glad he did.

Quick side note…if you are an adult and you are still trying to elicit a reaction from people, grow up. Matthew 5:37 reads “But let your yes be yes and your no be no. For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” Say what you mean and mean what you say. Basically this verse is saying be a person of your word. Make your words count and make them worth listening to. Whether or not the person receiving the information reacts, matters not.

Back to the meat of this blog post.

What do you do when someone intentionally provokes you? Angers you? Entices you? Speaks to you in any manner that is indicative of someone who has maturing to do? Do you maintain your own integrity even if the other party has shown none? Or do you react?

A response considers the proposed information, carefully and deliberately ponders it and then forms a well thought out response. A reaction takes no time to consider, no time to deliberate and no time to think. Reaction is simply the first thing (usually in defense and ignorance) to come to mind. The former, a responder, is considered wise while the latter is foolish.

Consider Proverbs 29:11 “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” Or how about this one: Proverbs 18:6 “A fools lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.” Yikes, I don’t want to be lumped into the “fool” category, do you?

So, are you a responder or a reactor? The decision is yours.


  1. I sure don't want to be classified as a fool. Thanks for sharing this powerful reminder to hold our tongues and respond to people in a Christ-like manner.

  2. Well said, very helpful advice. I think people who react have a lot of pain in their life. It is like having someone bump into a sore place on your body. You react out of pain.