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© 2019 by Shane Hansen, Christian Life Coach, LLC

 

7 Biblical Principles for a Reflective Response

January 25, 2019

I have made A LOT of mistakes in my life. As I look back over my life I would like to be able to say that I made more impulsive, “heat of the moment”, type of mistakes at a younger age, but I also know that that is not entirely the case. In fact, I’ve made several mistakes already this morning. I am not proud of that, but I have come to grips with the realization that I am a sinner, that I have an endless sinful nature, and that I live in a fallen world where things are not (and will not be) perfect. That worldview doesn’t make my sins any less egregious, but it does help me to understand that when I fail to see eye-to-eye with others that we may both be partially at fault. 

 

 (Photo from CNN.com -- all rights reserved)

 

Even with this understanding I find it can be challenging to avoid jumping to conclusions, rather than trying to take a more measured response. And, in the heat of the moment, I am not surprised that over and over again I, and we (yes “we”, as a collective human race), seem to indulge our default response (our sinful, hateful, self-centered natures) rather than striving to approach tense situations from more of a Christ-filled mindset/perspective. 

 

Through this journey of life I have come to peace in forgiving myself, and others, based 100% on the forgiveness extended to me (and to all who believe in/follow Jesus) through the blood of Christ, and by the grace of God. In Christ I know that my sins are washed clean, and I am given new life, a second chance (and third, fourth, fifth, etc.), and an eternal home in heaven. Thank you God for all of your blessings!

 

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

 

It is from that perspective, the long view, that I have been thinking about current events being discussed in the United States. This blog is not designed to break down the event, and to determine who was “right” and who was “wrong”, or to cast any judgement. What I do want to do is to take a look at a current event while viewing it through the lens of seven principles that are taught in the Bible.

 

7 Biblical Principles to use for a Reflective Response

1.) ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39)

 

2.) “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)

 

3.) “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone” (John 8:7)

 

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Luke 6:41-42)

 

4.) “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19)

 

5.) “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

 

6.) “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:39)

 

7.) “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

 

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)

 

Summarized Principles

1.) Love your neighbor as yourself

2.) Treat others the way that you would like to be treated

3.) Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes

4.) Listen quickly, do everything else slowly

5.) Love is the answer

6.) Turn the other cheek

7.) Forgive as we are forgiven

 

Current Event

Encounter between a Native American elder and 16 year old high school student, within the context of a larger situation where a third group of adults had been screaming extremely vulgar and hurtful things (from video of the incident the insults are seemingly directed at a group of high school students that the 16 year old was a part of).

 

I was not there. My generalized comments are based solely on the reports/videos that I have seen over the last several days. With that understanding, let’s take a look…

 

Love your neighbor as yourself

How would the encounter have differed if both people involved had demonstrated love, rather than decided to engage in a standoff/stare-down? What if they would have said “hello”, introduced themselves, and then joined in prayer? What if they had looked for an avenue to understand, and then love, the other person?

 

There are so many moving parts to this situation, and there are always two sides to every story. Well, it is also said that in life there are actually three parts to stories; your side, the other person’s side, and the truth.

 

What did the ultimate “neighbor”, Mr. Rogers, say about loving your neighbor? The lyrics to the introductory song on his television show are as follows:

 

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,

A beautiful day for a neighbor.

Would you be mine?

Could you be mine?

 

It's a neighborly day in this beauty wood,

A neighborly day for a beauty,

Would you be mine?

Could you be mine?

 

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you!

I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

So let's make the most of this beautiful day,

Since we're together we might as well say,

Would you be mine?

Could you be mine?

Won't you be my neighbor?

Won't you please,

Won't you please?

Please won't you be my neighbor?

 

Imagine the change in energy and release of tension that would have taken place if the parties involved in this encounter had all stopped and sung this song together. Sure, that sounds pretty far fetched, but we can imagine how embracing those type of lyrics would have changed the feel of the situation.

 

When we approach life looking for ways to love our neighbor as ourself, many potentially stressful situations can be pacified before they escalate towards hate, anger, aggression and misunderstanding. 

 

Treat others how you would like to be treated

Let’s be real about what happened:

 

*A mature adult who is engaging in a prayer and who (from his own retelling of the incident) was trying to defuse a tense situation, generally would not appreciate a teenager smiling/smirking in their face while simultaneously refusing to budge. How would this adult have liked to have been treated? Possibly he would have liked to have seen the teenager back down, defer to his age/wisdom and walk away.

 

*A teenager who is not directly interacting with an adult generally would not appreciate having a stranger come approach him, get within close proximity to him, and repeatedly beat a drum in his face. How would the teenager have liked to have been treated? From my experience working with teens I have found that by-and-large they are not the most socially interactive with adults, or with direct face-to-face communication overall. That being the case, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that this teenager found it startling (possibly even threatening) that he found a stranger beating a drum in his face.

 

We can see where both individuals feel they may have been disrespected. I believe we can also see where there may have been room for both parties to more thoughtfully consider how the other would have liked to have been treated.

 

Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes

He who is without sin, cast the first stone. First remove the plank from your own eye before the speck of dust from your brother’s eye. These statements offer strong convicting rhetoric, but they also help us to hit the pause button and to examine our quickly formed viewpoints.  

 

What does it mean to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes? Simply put, it is an illustration used to help us to imagine what it would be like to be the other person. Through this mental exercise we hope to gain clarity, appreciation, and empathy. It is a lot easier to paint a general picture or form a quick assumption — or even to stereotype someone based on appearance, surroundings, etc. — if we only look at the world through our own eyes. 

 

But, when we pause and take a minute to try to think/feel what the other person may be thinking/feeling, then we can start to understand/appreciate where someone else may be coming from. It doesn’t mean that we will instantly agree with each other, or by any means fully understand one another, but we can at least try to avoid making a snap judgement of the other person/situation.

 

In this case, the Native American elder may be from a tradition, and remember a time, where younger people respected their elders without question. There certainly is value (and Biblical reference) to that. By news accounts, this man served in the armed forces, and was in Washington to take part in an Indigenous Peoples March. We are all precious children of God, and if this man was taking part in a peaceful march then there is every reason to believe that he should receive respect. 

 

As we continue to walk in this Native American elder’s shoes, we should also consider that he saw a white person wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. How did race/culture, and that hat, potentially play into the Native American elder’s mindset/expectation of what was taking place (and what would take place once he approached)? How familiar was the Native American elder with the personal and ancestral history, and current reality, of the teenager that he approached? And with those who support the pro-life movement (that the teenager was reportedly in Washington for) overall? 

 

This man has stated that he heard the group of students chanting something along the lines of, “build the wall”, but none of the videos that have surfaced thus far have captured those comments. I am not saying that this gentleman did not hear those words, I have no idea, but without the video backing up his claim then we at least need to wonder if his worldview of white people wearing MAGA hats may have had him on edge anticipating that he would hear those kinds of comments. How often in life do we realize that the fear of something is worse than the actual experience? From walking in this Native American elder’s shoes we may learn that he has heard those comments, “build the wall”, many times from white people wearing MAGA hats. That may be a part of his worldview, and help us understand the fear/anger/anxiety that he may have been feeling as he approached that group. 

 

 (Everyone's life has a story to tell...Everyone is dealing with something...)

 

From the other perspective, many of us are familiar with the current state of respect (or lack thereof)  for elders/authority in our country. The pulse seems to be more focused on what each individual thinks is “right”, or what they want the situation to be, rather than based on hierarchy, age, tradition or position. In speaking with friends/colleagues who teach teenagers in middle schools and high schools, I am far too often hearing horrendous stories of teens blatantly disrespecting, cussing at, and ignoring adult teachers and other school officials. That is certainly not right. But, it is part of the world/society that we live in. And so, from that perspective, when the teenager involved in this encounter stood face to face with an adult stranger who approached him, and who wasn’t his supervisor or someone who had assigned authority over the situation (such as a Police Officer), and he then “only” smiled/smirked, that reaction would be considered a pretty mild one in some circles. 

 

As we continue to walk in the teenager’s shoes, we should also ask if a white, 16 year old, catholic high school student from Kentucky would know that the man approaching him was (as the man has stated) praying? How did race/culture potentially play into the teenager’s mindset/expectation of what was taking place (and what would take place once this approaching person reached him)? How familiar was the teenager with the personal and ancestral history, and current reality, of the Native American elder who approached him? And with Indigenous People overall?

 

Respected critical thinker and motivational speaker Tony Robbins has observed that every problem/disagreement that we have with other people stems from us playing by different rules. These rules are not things that are consistent from person to person, and they aren’t something that we are able to learn about another person as we first encounter someone who we have never met before. Learning one another's "rules" takes a good amount of time and study. One person’s rules may operate with the belief that age should automatically be respected, and as such the high school student in this incident should have backed down and moved out of the way. Another person’s rules may run more along the lines of when someone is not my assigned supervisor or a governing authority (such as a Police Officer), then I do not need to adhere to their agenda and to their rules. I am not saying either is/was right or wrong, but it is interesting to consider what Mr. Robbins has observed about disagreements stemming from different unwritten rules that we live by, and how that dynamic could have played into this encounter. 


Certainly there is so much more to this incident than what we are able to consider in this short blog. But, it is important to think through some of the different angles as we consider what the situation was like from someone else’s shoes.

 

Listen quickly, do everything else slowly

This Biblical concept teaches us that we would be wise to listen quickly, but then to resist the urge to act/react on impulse. This goes against our current societal trend. EVERYONE is asked to comment right away on news stories posted online or on television. We have social media platforms that are used as a place for instant reactions/comments to events taking place in real time. Case in point: as I will be posting this blog several days after the incident took place some will see it as “old news”. 

 

And yet, the Bible tells us to be slow to speak. I believe that in being quick to listen, and slow to speak, we are then positioning ourselves to live out the final part of the verse: “slow to become angry.”

 

In a society that pushes (almost demands) us to give an instant reaction, and to choose a side immediately (you are on one of two sides — no middle ground, no third option, and no time to listen to those with an opposing view, it’s best if we just try to shout louder than them), we are losing the benefit of the concept of thought and perspective cultivated over time. Unfortunately, the “NOW NOW NOW” narrative doesn’t provide for that healthy approach.

 

How would the, “listen quickly, do everything else slowly”, approach have potentially impacted the encounter we are reviewing? Perhaps, after listening to what was going on at that place, and in that moment (including hearing the hatful things being screamed by the third group involved in the incident), the wise decision would have been for either/both the Native American elder and/or the teenager to have removed themselves from the situation by simply walking away.

 

Love is the answer

When we seek love above all else, the space for hate, anger and misunderstanding seems to shrink away. Love covers a multitude of sins. If I were asked to summarize the Bible in one word, I would most definitely use “LOVE”.

 

How would applying love to this situation have impacted things? Well, what if as the Native American elder had reached the teenager they had shaken hands, had a heart-to-heart conversation, said a prayer together, and then parted with a hug? Imagine the sort of message that an exchange along those lines would have sent.

 

Unfortunately, there is so much hate in humans’ hearts, and it has been that way throughout time. But what if we strived to embrace love over hate/sin? Imagine the world we would live in. It wouldn’t be perfect, but it sure would be a lot better off.  

 

Turn the other cheek

This is a particularly difficult one for me. To have the faith, courage and strength to turn the other cheek when another person attacks us (both literally in a physical manner and figuratively in more of a verbal manner) is a skill that I still struggle with.

 

What’s the overarching message? Do not fight back. 

 

I am not an expert on this, but what I think the lesson is teaching is that usually a more powerful response to hate is to not respond at all (ideally we would want to respond with love, but that would require taking an even further step beyond a non-violent response -- something that is quite the challenge indeed).

 

We see an example of this play out before us all of the time as we look to the world of politics. How many times have we seen on television, or even experienced in our own conversations, two sides responding to one another with yelling, attacks, and ever building hate? It seems to be all around us. And what is the end result? More hate, moving further away from love, and a continual separation of our country.

 

What non-violent leaders from history stand out to us? Jesus, Martin Luther King Jr, Mahatma Gandhi. Some really big names and causes. Turning the other cheek is so very difficult, but it seems to be a powerful way to lead change.

 

(Photo from mlkjrparade.com -- all rights reserved)

 

Talking louder, trying to catch the other person in the wrong, and fueling hate does not convince other people to join our side. However, through turning the other cheek, through not fighting back (or fighting hate with love) we may start to see a softening. Softening doesn’t necessarily mean that we will see eye-to-eye with one another, and it doesn’t mean that we will be best friends with everyone. But, in turning the other cheek, we are at least allowing for that door to be opened, for that bridge to be crossed, and for that olive branch to be extended. We are at least creating an environment for hate to cease and for the dawn to bring a new day.

 

It can be painful to turn the other cheek, but it can also be the way to change/growth.

 

How could turning the other cheek have been applied to the situation we are examining? Again, I am not sure, and examining something after the fact is so much different than living it in the moment. With that said, what if any/all of the groups involved had refrained from responding to any attacks that they felt were directed towards them? What if the students hadn’t started engaging in group cheers? What if the Native American elder hadn’t approached a group he felt was involved in a hostile situation. What if…

 

I am not sure how turning the other cheek could have applied to this situation, or what that would have looked like, but I am sure that if used in the correct mindset the concept would have helped to de-escalate what seemed to be an ever growing volatile situation. 

 

Forgive as we are forgiven

Ultimately, when someone does do something wrong, or something that offends us, we would be better off if we could find a way to forgive them. Holding on to anger over something that happened in the past only provides a method for that hurt to continue to haunt us, to continue to grow within us, and to eventually overwhelm us. Forgiveness, on the other hand, allows us to let go of something that we cannot go back and change. Forgiveness allows us to move forward having learned something, and hopefully from a better position than we started from before. Forgiveness allows for healing, for hope, for new friendship, and ultimately for the potential for love. Love is the answer. Love and forgiveness is found in/through Christ. And the forgiveness of our own sins are orchestrated by God through Christ. This is called grace. If God has extended us this undeserved grace, then it is our responsibility to strive to pass that same concept of grace/forgiveness to others in our own lives. We need to do as it has been done to/for us. Forgive, as we have been forgiven. 

 

Where could forgiveness have played a part in the encounter? I think that in order to be of a forgiving mindset we need to have a certain amount of humility, grace, kindness, and faith. Forgiveness is not an easy concept to grasp/embrace. But it is freeing to be able to live with a heart prepared to forgive. 

 

As with so many of the elements of this situation, I simply do not know enough of the extenuating circumstances to speak intelligently about how/where forgiveness could have been applied here. But as with the other principles we have examined, I am confident that forgiveness can play a part in helping to turn a media driven storm into some sort of a positive final outcome. 

 

Closing

I am looking at this event from an outside perspective, and in hindsight. I think it is important that we remember that the people living these events (and other events that we have been a part of, or will be a part of in the future) in the actual moment that they are taking place are not always thinking as fully/clearly as we can from the outside, and after we have had the time to think through/review them from the comfort of our own 30,000 foot view.

 

1.) Love your neighbor as yourself

2.) Treat others the way that you would like to be treated

3.) Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes

4.) Listen quickly, do everything else slowly

5.) Love is the answer

6.) Turn the other cheek

7.) Forgive as we are forgiven

 

The Bible is full of life changing advice, stories and concepts that can guide our journey through this challenging world. Ultimately, we can take great comfort in what Jesus told us about this world and the troubles we will face;

 

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

 

Let us “take heart”, and sincerely work towards learning/growing from this incident and from other situations that we find ourselves in, or that we hear about through reports. Let us strive to be a part of the solution, and to do our best each day in helping to make our community, country and world a better place.

 

God bless,

 

Coach Shane

 

*******

 

Coach Shane is a disciple of Jesus Christ, a husband, a father, and an entrepreneur. He is an International Coach Federation (ICF) trained life coach and graduate of the Certified Professional Life Coach (CPLC) program through the Christian Coach Institute. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree (BA) and Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA). 

 

Coach Shane has a heart for helping men, families, professionals, leaders and young adults in their earthly walks as they continue to grow and develop into the family, church, business, and community leaders that God is calling them to become. He does not teach about the Bible or religion as a trained Pastor or Theologian would, but rather relates Christian principles to the everyday walk of earthly life, doing so from a layman’s perspective. Applying a Christian perspective to real life. For more information visit Shane Hansen, Christian Life Coach, LLC.

 

WEB: ShaneHansenCLC.com

PHONE: (920) 428-1564 

EMAIL: ShaneHansenCLC@gmail.com 

FACEBOOK: Shane Hansen, Christian Life Coach, LLC

 

 

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