Helping Gomer and Goldilocks Out of Mamby Phamby Land

Sometimes I feel like I’m stuck in the fairy tale about Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Goldilocks was trying things out and some things were too hard, some too soft, some too hot, some too cold and some were just right.

Americans seem to have embraced a Goldilocks mentality and there are days when I want to give Goldilocks her space, nurture her experimental nature and allow her to explore.

Other days I want to slap Goldilocks upside her head and scold her for being picky, self-centered and hard to please – take the chair you’re given, eat what you’re served and what makes you think you have time for a nap!

I spend considerable time in three arenas of life where smart people wrestle with which approach is best for helping people change. I’m an educator. I’m a wellness coach. And a follower of Jesus Christ.

In all three areas, there is relentless debate about what delivery method is most effective when trying to motivate people to achieve their best. Drill sergeant or Zen master? Gracious and welcoming or fire and brimstone?

I’ll admit that sometimes I experience muscle strain from trying to tuck my comfy, Mr. Roger’s sweater into my camo khaki’s and heavy boots.

What does the world need now? A big hug and a cup of chicken soup from a kindly nurturing God or a ginormous kick in the pants from a take no prisoners drill Sergeant God?

I can go either way on this one.

I think most of us can. That’s why this Geico commercial has become so popular.

The dichotomy between support and challenge, acceptance and uncompromising standards, love and strength – this dichotomy is a purely human struggle. That’s important to understand.

God is completely integrated in His nature. For Him, there is no debate.

Psalm 62: 11-12a says this: “One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving.”

No debate. No struggle. He is strong and He is loving. He is merciful and He is just. He is forgiving and He is holy. Part of being God is knowing – always knowing – the perfect integration of these characteristics and the perfect application of them in our lives.

I believe we all need both approaches and sometimes we need them both at the same time.

This is exactly why we need to be in constant touch with the heart and mind of God. This is precisely why what you hear over and over again is true. We need a day-by-day, moment-by-moment relationship with God because reaching out to other humans is not a one size fits all endeavor.

Building the kingdom of God is not a process we can buy in a box or a fifteen disc video series we slip into our DVD player or a twelve step plan we can laminate and keep in our wallets.

Building the kingdom of God is as global as the span of known and unknown time and as personal as the man, woman or child standing in front of you with a good question or a bad behavior.

It’s impossible to build the kingdom of God without – well – God.

It’s frightening for me to watch people try to help others without consulting God. It’s well-intended. It comes from a place of love and an honest desire to make the world a better place. Often it works but just as often it ends up looking like that Geico commercial.

Humans are precious and infinitely valuable. They deserve the best. I believe the best comes when those of us who try to help others have first sought help from God who is much smarter than any one of us.

He can be a bit irritating about it. There are certainly Biblical principles that hold true for every person in every situation but how it plays out with each individual on any given day in the context of their time, culture and circumstance can look really different.

The whole venture is like living on manna. God doesn’t give us the answer for everyone for all time. But He does give us the answer for right now – what approach does this person need now?

What approach do I need to receive right now because I have my share of Gomer and Goldilocks moments every day?

So, were you thinking you could handle your interaction with the other humans in your life without prayer, without Scripture, without obedience today?

Think again. Maybe you ought to watch that commercial one more time.

And stop sniveling! Or I’ll show up at your house a throw a box of tissues at you!

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    The Conversation

  1. Carmen says:

    LOL! No thanks on the tissue.
    Love the fact that you keep reminding us of the importance of prayer and obedience…cos it’s something that’s so easy to…ahem…overlook.

  2. Oh wow, I SO needed to read this, and I need to apply it…DESPERATELY! I grew up as a “tough love” kind of person, and my kids complain that sometimes they feel it’s the only kind of love I give them. I tend to be afraid of coddling them. But sometimes I’ve actually listened to the Spirit and have given them tenderness when they needed it, and lo and behold, it’s been a good thing!

  3. KB Cook says:

    It’s nice to know that I’m not the only “conflicted” body-part of Christ when it comes to how-to-handle needs (mine – yours – ours). Not being a mercy-motivated folk, I’m naturally inclined to use the DI approach — “suck it up, Marine!” would be my 1st response. May God continue to rework & rewire me to best suit Himself!