Big brown bear pacing in the sunlight at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

People who trust don’t throw tantrums

Why do people get so upset at each other? Have you noticed that happens a lot? More and more frequently it seems. A part of me understands it. Sometimes it takes harsh words to spur the indolent into action. Sometimes it takes threats to accomplish things when people just don’t care.

But are harsh words and threats really necessary?

I overheard someone losing their temper on the phone (yes, I guess this is the week for me listening into other people’s conversations), but I didn’t have to jump to any conclusions about what was happening. This was just out-and-out temper tantrum. Complete with cursing and whining and guilt trips and accusations.

And all I could think about as I listened to it was, “Thank God I don’t work with the public anymore.” I had more than my fair share of customers like that, the ones who blow up when they don’t get their way, the ones who throw a fit because their unrealistic expectations aren’t met.

In those situations, I’d bust my butt to make them happy. I’d go over and above and beyond and lots of other prepositional superlatives to help them have a pleasant experience. And most of the time, after they got their way, they’d admit to not being upset about it but that they were just playing the role so they wouldn’t have to face consequences for their actions.

And that’s not always the case. From the sounds of this conversation today, it was an unfortunate situation. The person on the phone screaming profanity every other word was the victim in the situation, but let me be the first to tell you from a customer service perspective, it doesn’t matter if you’re the victim or not. You come at me screaming profanity, and I just want you to stop talking.

But it got her what she wanted.

And what’s really sad? I know Christians who behave like this. People who claim to believe in Jesus, who follow Him, who love Him, act like children having a tantrum when they don’t think they’re being treated right.

Big brown bear pacing in the sunlight at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Big brown bear pacing in the sunlight at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Ephesians 4:29.

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

I’ve gotten direct with people on the phone before. But I didn’t shout and scream. I didn’t curse and rant.

There’s something about screaming and carrying on that just wears people down. Getting loud with people just makes them want to give you what you want, so I think many people have gotten into the habit of getting loud when they don’t get their way or when they get their feelings hurt.

Just like a child in a toy aisle who doesn’t get what he wants.

But what does that do to you as a person? What kind of person does that turn you into? What kind of message does it send to the people around you? The ones who are unwittingly stuck next to you while you have your screaming, cussing conversation.

I guarantee, if you turn around and start trying to tell me about what church you go to, I’m not going to be interested. If you turn around and start telling me about how you love Jesus, I won’t believe you.

Now am I saying that we should let people walk all over us? No. There’s a time to stand up and be firm. There’s a time to put your foot down and demand justice, what’s fair. But just because you demand it—even if you legally demand it—that doesn’t guarantee you’ll get it. So what do you do when you don’t get your way? Do you throw a fit? Do you scream and shout until somebody gives you what you want?

Or do you sit back and let God keep His promises?

Maybe it’s God’s way of reminding you who’s in control. Maybe it’s God’s method of teaching you that your material things don’t matter. Maybe it’s God trying to help you understand that your way isn’t the best way.

If you really trust God, you won’t throw a tantrum. You may not be happy about it, but if you honestly trust Him, your world won’t come crashing down just because you didn’t get your way.

Think about it and consider that the next time things don’t go as planned. Believe me, you might not get your way, but you might change someone’s life.

And you’ll certainly be a more pleasant person to stand next to at the grocery store….