Lawyer vs Teacher

Lawyer Orig (300x300)I’m not a fun person to argue with. When my pride kicks in, I find it all too easy to use my legal training to cross examine others and back them into a corner with leading questions.

As you can imagine, Corlette hates it when I go into attorney mode.

But God gave her a weapon as powerful as my adversarial skills. She was a second grade teacher, so she could control twenty-five students with the tone of her voice.

We never yell, but when it’s lawyer vs teacher, our conversations can get quite intense.

One morning we had a disagreement over some trivial matter. After we each made our opening arguments, she retreated to the bathroom to stoke up “the voice” while I stood in the bedroom planning further prosecution.

I was just about to walk into the bathroom to lay out my case against her when the GPS acrostic came to mind.

  • Grade your values: Evaluate your current values
  • Pursue worthy values: Family, heroes, role models, employer
  • Serve others: It will make you happier!

As I searched my heart, I instantly realized that my motives and plans were 100% inconsistent with several of the key values I want to live out with other people, especially my wife, such as humility, love, gentleness, patience and forgiveness.

I also remembered a quote from a man I deeply respect: “Deliver me from this lust of always vindicating myself.” Ouch!! It was obvious that I struggled with the same reflex reaction to criticism.

And then I remembered some of the men I looked to as role models. I recalled specific examples of their gentleness and kindness to me and other people in our church, and sometimes to their own wives.

As I reflected on these examples, all of the angry wind went out of my sails. My consuming desire to prosecute my wife and vindicate myself totally evaporated.

Within moments I could feel my muscles relax and my pulse slow down as the adrenaline stopped flowing.

A few seconds later I walked into the bathroom and said, “Corlette, I’m sorry, I was wrong.”

She had been expecting a cross-examination, so my words caught her completely off guard. But her face quickly softened, and she said, “No, it was really my fault. I shouldn’t have approached you like that.”

Needless to say, the conversation only got better from there, as each of us got back on track with the values we want to live out in our marriage.

The next time you’re faced with an emotional encounter or a difficult relational decision, I encourage to use the GPS acrostic to make sure that your words and actions line up with the values you want to characterize your life.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many wrong turns (and regrettable words) you can avoid and how quickly you will find your feet back on the path of peace.

– Ken Sande

Reflection Questions

  • What is your reflex reaction when someone challenges, criticizes or blames you? Is it to live out the values you aspire to follow? If not, what is your instinctive goal?
  • How do these types of conversations go when you give into your reflex reactions?
  • Can you think of a time when you (or someone you know) changed the course of a difficult conversation by consciously seeking to values like humility, love, gentleness, patience and forgiveness?
  • Is there a situation in your life right now where you could apply this concept? How do you think it might change the course of that situation?

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