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Loving Us Into Being, Even When We Act Out:

Tools that work on people of all ages when conflict feels unmanageable



My first vocation was teaching. Middle School. It prepared me well for working with congregational leaders. I’m not being cheeky. As a teacher I compassionately assessed where students were, and loved into their becoming. This can be very messy business, because people often act out when we’re stressed and tired.

What I found is that a lot of the tools I used on children and youth also work on adults. I want to share two of those with you. These come from Positive Discipline: The Mistaken Goal Chart – exchange “adult” for “child” and “I” for “parent/teacher.” It works the same. We all have an inner child who will make an appearance if under duress. Jane Nelson also offers Empowering Responses for when conflict feels stuck and unmanageable. Now for some folks this may feel like manipulation. I’m open to that. My former staff called me “The Queen of Behavior Modification.” But honestly, my goal was to bring out the best in others so we could be the best learning community. And religious community is similar – what if we acted to bring out the best in each other (even when we feel the least lovable) and therefore ourselves? To me, that is love. Plain and simple. My prayer is that we love each other well and then go love the hell out of the world.


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This post first appeared in the Pacifc Western Region's newsletter where Tandi serves on the Congregational Life staff team.

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