Editor's Note: This is Part 9 of Reverend Lacy's ongoing series of Godly relationships and you can find the entire series under his page here.
Proverbs 23:7a teaches:
“For as he (Hebrew: a primary word, 3rd person pronoun, singular, he (she or it) thinketh in his heart, so is he:….”
A psychology professor expressed it this way: “Words set in motion those things which are spoken.” My forty years of teaching/counseling has proven this to be true whether we think this “in our heart” about our selves and others or express it verbally.
What is on the inside of you makes a difference in what you hear. What you just read you are processing through what you know regarding this statement.
As you read what I have written you will evaluate my knowledge on this subject. As you continue to read you will ultimately decide whether or not you can believe me, or more especially, whether or not you can trust me.
There is nothing wrong with doing so. In fact, this is what should do.
During thirty plus years of Bible-based counseling many have asked what have been my most difficult cases? My answer is simple: Teaching biblical truth to those who have been indoctrinated with biblical untruth.
This tool, coupled with the two preceding tools: Anger Wants Someone Else to Pay; and The Bowl that Holds the Acid (Anger) is Eaten by the Acid (Anger) creates a tremendous trio for those intent on solving problems and conquering anger.
We must understand how blame keeps wounds open. Blame, like anger, operates on a continuum. Anger wants someone to pay. Blame is the continuation of extracting payments by playing the blame-game.
It is said the oldest form of problem solving is blame shifting. Follow this account from Genesis 3:11-13:
It has long been stated opposites attract. The Number One reason for divorce is incompatibility. The Number One reason people come to New Hope Counseling Service, simply stated, is: We have a breakdown in communication.
These scattered letters I, L, E, N, T, S are emblematic of two aspects of conversation. Unscrambled they spell Silent and Listen. In the realm of verbal communication what is said often comes across garbled. Hence we hear such responses as: “What did you say?” “What do you mean?” “Why are you saying that that way?”
In an automobile sales training class I learned a valuable lesson applicable and beneficial in all areas of life – personal, social and professional.
In the context of selling the lesson was: If you listen carefully the prospect will tell you how to sell them an automobile.
We can change our actions faster than we can change our feelings. Love is not just feelings it is also actions. John 3:16 does not say, For God so loved the world that He felt good about us. God so loved the world He went into action regarding our need by giving.
John 3:17, perhaps not as well known as 3:16 supports this problem-solving tool. “For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
The following scenario illustrates changing actions faster than feelings and may have been experienced by some reading the following illustration:
Feuding, fussing and verbally fighting
Counselees, former and current, say this is the most valuable problem-solving tool in my problem-solving-tool-kit. And I agree. This tool is built on the time tested proven axiom: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If we prevent problems from developing we do not need to seek a cure. This tool is easiest taught in the context of husbands and wives. From these illustrations the tool can be adapted to fit many other areas where problems occur.
As previously stated, every impact statement is a tool. This tool, however, is the first of three primary tools in this overall study on problem solving. It is built on the age-old premise: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
The best way to solve a problem is to prevent it from occurring. This approach is best applied when we understand the four primary sources of problems.
Author’s Note: In Bible research I developed a tracking method I call The Rule of Proportion, i.e. how many times does a particular incident occur in Scripture. The Rule of Proportion gives an idea of the probability of similar events re-occuring. This is vital to understand in counseling as many often ask, “God, why did you let this happen to me?”
In the problem solving process a person’s objectivity is often based on their most recent experience. Don’t disregard all past experiences, for in doing so, we put an axe to the axiom experience is the best teacher. However, what worked in the past might not be workable for the present or the future. Past experiences could be elements of current problems.
The three levels of a problem are the Presentation, Performance and Preconditioning. Knowing these predictable stages expedites problem solving. Remember, we will never be without problems yet we need never be without a solution.
Problems come from many sources that initially we process internally. We acknowledge them first by giving them thought then by giving them a name or assigning them to someone or something. As the thought germinates we state it verbally to someone. That someone could be the person we believe to be directly involved in the problem as we see it or someone selected to be a sounding board.
This may seem an over simplification of all you have struggled with for perhaps too long – but it is not. For every problem God has a solution. The first step in solving problems is giving the problem the correct name.
As a Bible-based teacher/counselor it is not my calling to name people’s problems. It is up to them to tell me what they are experiencing. From their descriptions the problems will actually name themselves.
Earlier I stated every tool in this series is based on a verse, passage or biblical principle. When teaching this tool in a counseling setting many say upon seeing the flash card, “I’m not an expert on the Bible, but I have never read that verse in my King James Version.”
It is in the Bible, but stated differently; and just as succinctly. It is found in Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and He will steer your car. (Actually) and he shall direct thy paths.”
The following plan is simple to state. Like anything worthwhile it takes personal discipline; but half the battle is won if we have confidence in the plan. Here it is: Find a plan that works. Employ it as your plan. As you exercise the plan modify it to fit you. You then have your personal plan of problem solving that will lead to victory. This leads us to the third level of change.
Tool One: Up Until Now Everything You've Done Has Not Worked
"Tom, where do you start when people come to you for counseling? What is the first thing you say to them?"
My answer seems evasive, but it is not.
"I start at the beginning."