Lesson Learned #3: Do Not Take Offense
Being an educator is often like being on the front line of a battlefield. No matter how hard we work or how hard we fight to do what we feel is best for our staff and students, someone inevitably disagrees with our decisions and makes it known to others. This doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, our tendency is to take offense. It is, after all, hurtful and unfair. Most of us are just doing the best we can.
I first heard the phrase “Do not take offense” in an unlikely place—the beautician’s chair. Last week’s blog was entitled “Little Things Matter”. This certainly applies in this instance. During a casual dialogue, my God-fearing hairstylist shared about a book she was reading. We only discussed the phrase “Do not take offense” briefly, but since that time, God has brought our conversation to mind many times. I am so grateful she shared this with me. She probably has no idea the impact this one phrase has had on my life.
When others say or do something that is hurtful to us, our human nature is to take offense. It is not uncommon for us to conjure up all kinds of scenarios that can feel overwhelming. If we are not careful, we can create an alternate reality that is, more often than not, inaccurate. Believe me, I have done this more times than I can count. How we respond in these situations has the potential to positively or negatively impact us and those around us.
At our core we all want to be loved and accepted. When we feel attacked (especially unfairly attacked), one response may be to retreat. Inwardly, we begin to question ourselves, our worth, and our decisions. Pretty soon we feel defeated. It is at these times we have to remember and believe the Word of God. Our identity is in Christ, not in other’s accusations.
But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. I Peter 2:9
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. Romans 5:1-2
If you are the type of person that internalizes attacks and criticism, be on guard, and do not take offense. Recognize that this is Satan’s attempt to derail you. Satan uses these moments to sow seeds of self-doubt and anger. If he can get us to take offense, then he can begin to steal our joy and damage our witness for Christ. Meditate on these verses and remember who you are.
At our core we also want to be right. Another potential reaction to attacks and criticism is an outward response. Too often such responses are accompanied by anger, which is almost always counterproductive. To make matters worse, we have a tendency to talk to others about the situation which can stir up dissension and turmoil. If that occurs Satan has accomplished his goal—hurting our witness. If you are one who is prone to act first and think later, be on guard. Do not take offense. Remember what the Bible says.
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:1
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; James 1:19
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9
Ultimately, we are told in I Peter 2 that Christ is our example, and we are to do everything we can to emulate him.
“He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. I Peter 2: 22-23
It is human nature to take offense when we are hurt. The ONLY way to fight this tendency is to allow God’s Word to guide us and His Holy Spirit to empower us.
Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s Word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. Philippians 4:8
Don’t let Satan steal your joy. Don’t let Satan hurt your witness. You are empowered for so much more. Do not take offense.