As a part of our pre-field training, Kristin and I are reading through Inside Out by Larry Crabb. After reading each chapter, we meet with mentors to discuss the material and work towards application. It has been a very fruitful experience. Recently, we’ve been discussing the relationship between “styles of relating” and self-protection. Whether we’re shy, tough, critical, intellectual, sensitive, or quiet, we often use these styles of relating at some point to help make our world work for us… as a means of getting people to like us, respect us, or simply do what we want. It is not that these ways of relating are wrong, in and of themselves, but that we use them to protect ourselves from being vulnerable.
Here is an example that is given: “Perhaps in your home as a child you found great rewards (verbal and/or material) when you cared for siblings or elderly relatives. Thus, you found that a way to be appreciated was to do caring acts. Now, while others continue to appreciate your kindness, you are becoming aware that you do not really have pure motives when you do many of your caring acts. Actually, you are more in the center of your acts than the recipients. In this case, your style of relating, ‘caring,’ looks very good on the outside but on the inside is (in part) a self-centered focus on yourself – not an other-centered focus on God or others.”
What do you think? This has been a very insightful exercise for us, as we try to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy patterns in our lives.
(Also, if you’re bored today and need some interesting reading, this article from the BBC reports that, in an attempt to make the government more efficient, the Greek Interior Minister has said that during the hot summer months at least 2 out of every 3 government employees must be on the job. This runs counter to the Greek tradition of regular siestas, during which much of the government and business worlds shut down. I predict that there will be some strikes this summer!)