Principle #8- Who gets to choose?

This entry concludes the Being in Conflict series.  At least for now.  While there is much for a Christian leader to learn when in conflict — if you choose to apply it — today’s principle will keep you from falling into conflict, a great deal of the time.

So, if you’d prefer to minimize your participation in conflicts from now on, listen up!

As with each of the articles in this Leadership Skills Series, this principle will make a lot of sense to you… and I bet you rarely apply it.  And this you do to your own relational and leadership peril.

Here it is: Principle #8- Who gets to choose?

Who chooses your choices?

Who decides your decisions?

Who determines your attitudes, whether and when you forgive, when and why you finally get off some offense or other?

The answer is ridiculously apparent: You do.

Simple.

Obvious.

“So what?” you say.

Here’s what: most of your conflicts erupt when you forget this simple, obvious reality:  You don’t get to choose anybody else’s choices.

Now now.

Not ever.

You never have and you never will.

And yet, in your most challenging relationships, you behave as if you do. Don’t you?

Think about it.

You imagine that you choose how much your daughter is online.  How much your wife spends on shoes.  How and when your son does his homework.  Right?  You say: “We have strict guidelines in our home about how much time Sophia gets to be online.  Susan has a strict budget—including shoes.  Bert knows he has to do all his homework before TV.”  And, you think that because these things are true, that Sophia, and Susan, and Bert are not deciding every single day whether and to what extent they live within these carefully-defined parameters?

I assert that they choose.  Every time. Just like you did when you were a kid.

Their choice is always theirs—just as your choices are yours.

Most of your conflicts erupt when you forget that you only get to choose your choices.  An autonomous human being does what every single human being does every single moment of every single day: she chooses. And you go berserk because you think somehow you’re entitled to choose other people’s choices. Don’t you?

Think about it.

Small things.

Dumb things.

Big things.

Important things.

Eternal things.

God, who is omnipotent, knows everything, is eternal and sovereign set it up that we get to choose all our choices. And, sometimes (maybe much of the time) God weeps over the choices we make.

I invite you to consider just how different your life could be if you lived as if everyone around you makes their own decisions—every time.  Imagine a life when you’re not manipulating, pressing, challenging, shaming, guilting, or being “so disappointed” in the decisions of those around you.

Imagine the impact on those you say you love. Consider their lives when out from under the weight of your expectations, disappointments, and judgments.

Freedom?

What if you trusted people to make their own decisions and to live into the reality that those decisions open and close for them? You could sorrow with them, without being ashamed of them.  The confidence you display in those near you might invite them to make great choices—surprising both you and them!