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Friday, January 24, 2014

Assertively Passive

Passive, Aggressive, Passive Aggressive…terms I’m getting to know a lot about in my ministry training.  We’re reading a book about Assertiveness and how to be an assertive Christian.  It seemed a strange combination at first.  To me, aside from the wackos, Christians appear to be pretty passive folks.  Not rocking the boat.  Minding their own business and living fairly undramatic lives.

Yet, I am reminded that the Bible calls us to be bold.  A bold witness to Jesus Christ.  The books of Acts and Romans are full of examples of Peter and Paul bolding taking the message to the Jews and Gentiles.  I suppose it is difficult to be effectively bold without being assertive.

This reminded me of a conversation our family had over the holidays.  We were all discussing how my dad, brother and I all married fairly dominant women.  My son humbly acknowledged that he too was likely to marry a dominant gal as well.  The ladies call a lot of the shots, there is no denying that.  But is dominant the right work.  Maybe they are just assertive.  Or maybe those words generally mean the same thing.

What does that make us men?  Passive?  My trusty thesaurus gives such synonyms as submissive, unassertive, docile, tractable or pliable.  I can’t say those words don’t describe me…because generally they do.  The class material considers these poor qualities.  This offended me at first, but I think they are simply trying to get people to stand up for what they believe and what is right.  Forget the biblical applications, they are talking about something as simple as speaking up when someone is being cheated or mistreated.  That we shouldn’t crawl in a hole and mind our own business all the time.

Therefore, I think we are really talking about very different things.  I’d like to believe that my pliable nature, and that of the men in our family, stems from a desire to please others.  Yet, it may also be because we don’t give a crap about a lot of stuff.  I mean, I don’t really care where we go for dinner.  Seriously, I just don’t.  Sometimes yes, but if I’m not rendering an opinion, maybe it is because I don’t have one.

Of course, some of this is learned behavior.  I’ve become more passive with age.  After years of having ideas dismissed like they were not even uttered changes a person.  So much so that I may have become incapable of even having preferences.

I’m not looking for sympathy….because the book had one final chapter that made everything right.  It said that you might get in a situation where being assertive is inappropriate, unproductive or harmful.  Basically, choosing not be assertive.  They labeled this behavior as Assertively Passive.  Brilliant.  Actively choosing to be passive.  Yeah, that’s what I do.  If I really care or need to express myself, I’ll let you know about it.  Otherwise, I am choosing to be docile.  This might be lazy or come across as uncaring, but It just seems easier that way.

So I raise a glass to the Assertively Passive in the audience.  Maybe we’re the ones who have things figured out after all.

Run in Peace, Rest in Grace