The following guest sermon was submitted by Minister Horace Troutman. All ULC Ministers are invited to contribute their own sermons for consideration/publication. To submit a sermon, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In life there will be times that try our patience, I know there are in mine! There will be that person that cuts you off in traffic. There will be that person that takes 87,000 items into the “express” lane at the market when the sign clearly says 15 items or less. There will be that co-worker that just continually gets on your last nerve. In life there will always be something. What do we do when situations like this occur? How are we supposed to act? I am in a hurry too! I have to take the kids to practice. I have to get dinner started. I have to get homework done. I have to get a presentation done for work. I have to pick up and get to where I am going quick, fast, and in a hurry! I can’t be late! Yes, this happens to us all at some point in life. We try to squeeze 30 hours into a 24-hour day. And while we may have become experts at going, going, going, we have to learn how to just stop.
When all of those distractions occur, and they will at some point, it is how we respond to them, not how we react to them that makes us stand apart. We oftentimes react to a situation from our gut and that can oftentimes result in a physical or emotional outburst that not only helps the situation at all, but can likely make the situation much worse. It is easy to react because it is an automatic recourse to a given situation. A response takes thought and care, and an appraisal of the situation and all of its facets that are not immediately noticed.
Maybe the cashier told them to come on through the express line to help her out. Maybe that co-worker is going through some difficult times in their personal life that is spilling over into their professional life, an emotional response they cannot get hold of. Maybe the person that cut you off in traffic is going to the hospital to see their loved one who may not be around much longer. Granted, not all of these scenarios might seem noteworthy, but to some these are the most serious things they have ever gone through and they simply are reacting themselves and not responding. When our child is running through the house and bumps a shelf which in turns cause a glass to spill and break, do we react with yelling at the child telling them to stop running in the house? Sometimes, yes. Would a more thoughtful response be to make sure the child is not hurt, clean up the glass and discuss what happened? Absolutely.
Stopping and thinking is not always the easy thing to do. At times, it is frankly damned difficult. These are the times that will define us. These are the times that sets us apart from the rest. The difference between a reaction and a response? You react from the gut; you respond from the mind. Train the mind and practice taking a few seconds and think about what happened before you say a word. Try to see things from others’ point of view. It will not always be easy; it will oftentimes be extremely difficult. But worthwhile things are rarely easy. It takes time, hard work, and effort to achieve results.