You can try all you want but you will fail at this

file9101267653593This was so long ago, it almost seems like it happened to someone else. But no, I was there.

Some friends and I were invited to a coworker’s 4th of July picnic, where we were surrounded by several members of her extended family who could barely stand each other.

Her brother was there with his common law wife, there was another  brother who had just been released from prison, and the oldest brother, who didn’t approve of either one and made no secret of it. The dad, a self-important control freak, was going to see to it that things were done a certain way (his way) and on his very precise schedule, while the rest of the family and friends held their breath for the blowup.

Oh, and it was about 100 degrees and humid.

People were just starting to relax and cool off in the shade. To everyone’s relief, it seemed a bit of a “cease fire” had taken hold. That’s when BD (Blowhard Dad) decided it was time to fire up the grill. He completely ignored his wife’s suggestion that, Everyone is comfortable right now, dear. Maybe we could wait awhile to eat?

No. He overcooked all the hamburgers, charred the hot dogs, and then announced to everyone that the food was ready, come get it.

When Elder Son (who did not approve of his father, either) announced to BD that no one wanted a burger; no one was hungry yet, BD blew up. “You’ll all eat now and enjoy it.” The air was instantly sucked right out of that backyard.

Yep, he got everyone to eat, but for all his bluster and bullying, BD could not make anyone enjoy that meal and it infuriated him.

All these years later, I remember thinking to myself, “I don’t care who you are, you can’t legislate my good time.”

And that got me thinking. You know what else you can’t do?

  • You can’t mandate my loyalty through sensitivity training or demands for political correctness.
  • You can’t win my admiration and respect by being outrageous and opinionated.
  • Your social standing – past or present – will not guarantee my deference.
  • Your positional authority falls short, too. Your rank might force my compliance but it won’t move my heart.
  • And you for sure can’t threaten me into sharing your world view.

Go ahead, call me stubborn (it wouldn’t be the first time). But really, who among us doesn’t rankle at being told how to feel or think or believe?

There is something that does work, though. Leading with love. By that I mean starting from a place of compassion and acceptance, then being generous instead of assuming all of life is a zero sum game where if I win, you lose . . . and vice versa.

Jesus knew this and He practiced it perfectly during His time on earth. He was sad when the rich young ruler couldn’t bring himself to give up control of his life and walked away (Mark 10). But the Bible says Jesus “looked at him and loved him”.

No parting shots, no threats of eternal damnation. He loved him.

Even Peter, who had denied Jesus three times before He was crucified, was restored, not condemned, and given an important mission in Christ’s kingdom. (John 21).

Jesus never worried about giving away too much love. He knew His supply would never run short; He was secure in the Father’s love, no matter what.

He never powered up on people to force their allegiance. He didn’t lay guilt trips, condescend, or play the superiority card. He humbly cultivated relationships, invested precious time, and was intentional about really seeing those around Him.

And He tells us, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)

Nope, you can’t legislate my respect, require I have a good time, or force my heart-felt allegiance, nor I yours. But we can give value to one another by following Christ’s example and starting from a place of generous love.

Whether it’s reciprocated or not, we won’t run short. We, too, are secure in the Father’s love.


Would you like to receive an email when I publish new posts? Just click the “sign up” button in the right sidebar above (or if you’re on a mobile device, you’ll find it below under “visit full site”.) I’d be honored. And I’ll send you a link to my free (really short) eBook, Harmony Is Hard: Humans Are Involved just for signing up.

About Diane Rivers

Diane is a native Floridian whose career as an FBI Agent got her transferred to the North. She's retired from that gig now and "repurposed" as a freelance writer, author, and sometimes poet who blogs about the bumpy, bone-jostling ride of her “workaround” life. She loves Jesus, her family, black coffee, kayaking, biking, and hiking, and she looks forward to eternity with the One who will make all things beautiful. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

5 thoughts on “You can try all you want but you will fail at this”

  1. I like that line: “you can’t legislate my good time.” I’ve never quite understood people who want to control other people, but there are plenty of them. Faith, hope and love are exactly the resources that help us navigate the land mines they set around us!

  2. I love how you have initials for nicknames. My bf and I used to do that… brings back funny memories. As for BD isn’t it just grand how his ripple effect not only touched his own family but marked you, too? I grew up with one of those too.

Your feedback is welcome!