Tuesday, September 01, 2009

“You Just Don’t Understand”

One of the common responses that a counselor hears, whether explicit or more subtle, is the response, “You just don’t understand.”

What they mean is that they believe there are circumstances that make their present course of action acceptable. If you could see things from their perspective, surely you would agree with them, they think.

We must remember that it is a belief, not necessarily a fact, and that it comes from their perspective, which is affected deeply by their personal involvement in the situation. In other words, it is not necessarily objective fact.

One of the responses we can use is simply to say, “Help me understand why you think your present course of action is pleasing to God and consistent with the gospel?” Or “What do I need to know to understand how your present course of action testifies that Jesus died for sin and rose again to give you a new way of life?”

There may be things we don’t understand. They may be rationalizing sinful attitudes and actions.

But we never know until we ask.

And until we ask, we may be answering questions that they are not asking. And that may help us feel better, but it won’t help them to see Jesus more clearly, and it certainly won’t help them to preach Jesus more clearly by the way that they live.

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