“God is great. Beer is good. And people are crazy.” So sings Billy Currington.
I have to disagree about the beer, but it’s true that God is great, and people are certainly crazy. They do things that are really off-the-chart off-the-wall that tick the rest of us off.
Consider the rock band Imperial Stars and their impromptu concert a few years ago. The crazy part was that they performed on top of their van which they had parked across an L.A. freeway, blocking three lanes and causing a mile-long traffic jam. The three were arrested. It may have been for protective custody!
Yes, people are crazy. And, you’ve met them. They do little annoying things like leaving clothes on the floor at your house or interrupting while you’re talking. Sometimes they do big destructive things like coming home drunk, stealing from your business, or spreading malicious gossip.
When people are crazy, don’t be one of them. Our response may be worse than what prompted it. So, how do we respond when people are crazy without being one of the crazies? What do we do when others are inconsiderate, dishonest, or just plain mean? Sometimes, wanting to avoid confrontation, we just turn away and pretend it didn’t happen. Often, we turn on the offender to unleash our anger. A third, more productive option is to turn it into a growth experience for both parties involved.
How? It requires criticism to be given carefully. As we noted before, we should first check ourselves and then ensure that our motive is compassion and caring. Let’s add another step this week: Calm down before confronting.
Few people enjoy being criticized and they may respond with anger. If we start with anger, we just ignite an already volatile situation as our anger fuels theirs.
If we must criticize, let’s do it calmly. That’s not always easy, but it’s always wise. God’s guidance for us is to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). He also cautions, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control” (Proverbs 29:11). As the famous philosopher Someone said, "Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret."
To avoid an angry outburst, one step that may help us is to take many steps before responding. “The best remedy for a short temper is a long walk,” Jacqueline Schiff suggests. Put some time between the offense and the response.
Cool off. Calm down. That may prevent you from being one of the crazy ones.