When’s the last time someone said to you, “Easy. Don’t be so defensive.” Typically, when we are accused of adopting a defense, we take one of three approaches…
Deflection is putting blame back to the other person or pointing out something he/she does. Attack is continuing the defensiveness in some manner, particularly escalating it. Retreat is getting quiet, pouting and sulking.
When defensive, some folks are very obvious, while others can be subtle. We feel an offense is brought toward us on some level, so this enacts our flesh because we feel threatened, then we put self first, and adopt one of the approaches above.
As long as we are on this planet and operating in our sin nature, we will all act defensive at times, but here are 3 steps to make progress in this area…
1—Watch for and write down your own triggers.
What causes you to feel threatened? What situations? What persons? At your work? At home? Church? Friends?
2—Ask yourself why each person or situation creates a defense in you.
#1 was about the “what.” This is about the “why.” You can’t stop or change anything if you can’t identify its source.
3—Identify a fruit of the Spirit or quality of Christ that could replace the defense.
Defensiveness always comes out of insecurity. We feel exposed, so we attack or hide or both. Ironically, being defensive is offensive to people. Deciding to show love (putting the other person and his/her needs first) or patience (I’m letting that one go) or even joy (laughing at ourselves) can defuse our defense. And, of course, the end-all biggie of practicing self-control.
The good news about walking through steps 1, 2, and 3 is we can actually begin to allow Christ to secure us in our insecurities. Then we can love God and ourselves more, leading us to love our neighbors better, because we aren’t as easily offended…to get defensive.
Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak, and don’t get worked up into a rage so easily, my brothers and sisters. Human anger is a futile exercise that will never produce God’s kind of justice in this world. —James 1:19-20 (Voice)