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Donít beat the Donkey

Posted 05-28-2015 at 09:50 PM by Epiphany

Perhaps youíre familiar with the story of Saul and his pursuit of Peter in the book of Acts. On the road to Damascus Saul encounters Christ, but itís his donkey that senses His presence first and stops in the road. Saul, committed to his agenda and his perceived need to reach Damascus, fails to see what is impeding his progress, Christ standing in front of the donkey. In frustration, Saul repeatedly beats his donkey, yet he remains unmoved given the barrier. How often has your reaction to a situation kept you from seeing clearly?

Situations that create stress or anxiety often are further exacerbated by the behaviors that we employ to manage the anxiety. We may engage behaviors that enable us to manage the anxiety created by the stress, yet run the risk of limiting our effectiveness in navigating the situation. Some assert or agitate in response to a perceived threat by exerting excessive self confidence, breaking rules or testing limits as in the case of Saul. Others may distance themselves, pulling away, disengaging from the situation creating the stress. And still others will acquiesce, attempting to build relationships that will mitigate the stress through pandering, extreme compliance, not taking any unauthorized chances. What behaviors do you exhibit in times of stress that potentially limit your effectiveness?

In spite of the behavior, itís your awareness of it and your ability to mitigate its impact that will determine how effectively youíre able to navigate stressful situations. If youíre aware of the behavior, identify those situations that trigger the behavior and how youíre interpreting the perceived threat causing the stress. Is it a challenge to ďwhoĒ you are? Are they threatening your sense of self? Do you believe that you have all the answers? The ability to distance yourself from negative interpretations and remain open to possible alternatives will allow you to remain present and intellectually engaged, better navigating any situation that had the possibility of creating stress.

Once Saul allowed himself to consider that something other than a stubborn donkey might be impeding his progress and open himself to the possibility that there was something more to the situation, he was able to see Christ changing his mission and ministry entirely. Donít let your derailing behaviors keep you from seeing clearly in those critical moments of leadership.
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