By Dan Hall
Navigating Life in an “I’m Offended” Society
I watched with a mix of fascination and irritation the news reporting the Congressional discussions on DACA, the immigration policy addressing the place of undocumented minors in the U.S. President Trump reportedly used strong vulgarity to describe certain nations.
For many reasons, I hoped the president wasn’t guilty; if he was, I hoped wiser and more righteous voices addressed the multiple issues such a comment represents.
What frustrated me the most, however, was how quickly our leaders derailed from the greater issue they had gathered to discuss. Suddenly Congressional hearings on the “vulgarity” ensued and negotiations collapsed.
I was both angry and unfortunately resigned to our national status quo.
Stay with me here. This is not a political discussion. It is one man’s observation of the high cost in our society of how quickly we derail because we are offended.
Whether I’m coaching a CEO, an executive team, a church, a family or my own children, one uncompromising principle is, “Don’t lose sideways energy on being offended.” Far too often we allow offense to guide important aspects of their lives.
Proverbs 17:9 expands on the cost of offense: “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends”
When we are offended, it’s common to gather a coalition of cheerleaders around us by explaining, extrapolating, and even exaggerating our side of the story, often pitting our friends against each other.
When we are offended, we also lose the opportunity to forgive others as Christ forgave us. But if we cover over an offense, we bring love into the equation, redeeming both the encounter that created the offense and the relationship.
Proverbs 19:11 tells us “… it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” When we refuse to allow someone’s words, tone, or even actions to offend us, it strengthens our character, increases our authority and brightens our countenance.
The core principle of this whole challenge is to love one another as Christ loves us. To be honest, embarrassingly that’s a challenge I too often struggle with. But I do know this. When I do it, I am not only being faithful to God and showing Christ’s heart but selfishly I experience the joy that comes with that faithfulness.
Maybe that’s why Peter challenges us in 1 Peter 4:8: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
Dan Hall is an executive and strategic coach to leaders and executive teams. He also works with organizations on Teambuilding, Conflict Resolution and Communication Skills. He and his wife Hazel have six children and four grandchildren. You can reach him at Dan@OnCourseSolutions.com.