The Detached Role

Steve Arterburn

Tom’s a clerk in a hectic government office.  In the midst of all the daily pressures, he’s regarded as one of the most even-tempered workers in the department.  He’s quiet and efficient, and he never seems to get riled at anything.

Tom spends his energy herding his emotions because he feels they’re his enemy.  Deep inside he believes that his father didn’t like him as a boy because he was too much of a crybaby and a ‘fraidy-cat.’ Since he perceives that he lost his father by being too much of a sissy, Tom isn’t about to expose his emotions as an adult. His controlled emotional detachment also keeps him distant from his wife.  In the past, whenever Tom showed any signs of being troubled, angry, or fearful, she’d ask him what was wrong.  His usual response was a curt, ‘Nothing!’  So she’s learned not to ask.

Detached men like Tom find it difficult to live out the values they profess because they ignore their heart, which is the center from which values come.  Often detached men will become addicted to work, money, football, alcohol, or drugs.

Are you like Tom?  Do you stuff your sense of defeat inside, thinking you should be able to ‘take it?’  Are you emotionally frozen?  Perhaps you’re so dead inside you have little to give a relationship.  Is your spouse enduring a frustrating relationship because you insist on suffering your losses alone?

You can change. Start by connecting with others. Find a safe person that you can talk to. We were meant for connection, not detachment.

Honesty and Forgiveness

Steve Arterburn

Emotions are a funny thing. We all know what they are, but where do they come from? They seem to flow from the core of your being, from deep down inside. And if you’ve developed the pattern of denying or hiding your feelings, you’ll lose the very sense of who you really are—who God created you to be.  Don’t believe me?  Consider the prophet Jeremiah.

When you read the Old Testament book of Lamentations, which Jeremiah wrote, you’ll see that you have nothing to fear about bringing even your most raw or maybe what you think are embarrassing emotions to God.

Jeremiah was intensely honest in sharing his broken heart with God.  But what follows his grief?  When Jeremiah finished his grieving, he turned to God to seek forgiveness.  The book ends with a question of remorse: ‘Are you angry with us still?’ the prophet asks.  Have you ever asked that question?  Behind this question is Jeremiah’s humility, coupled with his hope that God will start the process toward reconciliation and forgiveness.  Jeremiah knew God’s heart, so he knew that God would forgive.  If you truly repent of your sin, you can be sure that God will forgive you too—no matter how great your sins and failures.  You need to come humbly before him and place your life in his strong, gentle hands.

Proverbs

Steve Arterburn

Common sense’the idea sounds so folksy and simple.  Oddly enough, however, we seem to have less and less of it.  Perhaps it’s because we’re too busy or distant to learn from our parents and grandparents.  And just as common sense is rare, godly wisdom is also hard to find.  

We all have priorities, whether we’re aware of them or not.  So it’s never a question of having priorities, but rather of straightening them out.  A big part of your spiritual renewal involves sorting out your priorities in accordance with God’s will.  Need help?

The book of Proverbs is all about establishing priorities that please God.  As your priorities become a reflection of God’s will, your spiritual growth will progress.

Another aspect of wisdom is setting personal boundaries regarding how and when to say no.  In Proverbs, you’ll discover a large number of situations where saying no is the wisest option’in family situations, sexual situations, monetary situations, and business situations.

In addition, this invaluable book will provide sound advice for building healthy relationships with friends, family, and co-workers. Here you’re called to be consistent, tactful, and to use discipline.  

Wisdom is a rare commodity these days.  But as God’s man, you cannot live well without it.  I’ll leave you with the key verse of Proverbs, and I hope you will search out the other treasures that can be found in this great book.

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  Only fools despise wisdom and discipline (1:7).