Respond vs. React.
Is there really a difference?
A reaction is based only on current circumstances, a response is based on knowing who we are and what we will do if this moment ever comes up. When we react we let our current emotions become the driving force to our next decision. When we respond we actually pause first. We think it through. We reflect on who we are and why we exist. We call to the front of our mind what we believe and begin to process how we do what we do. And then...we act.
Reactions are knee-jerk and not thought through. Sometimes we can get those right, but most times they are packed with regret. Words spoken that we can't take back. Actions taken that multiply that negative effect.
A response is the opportunity to walk out our convictions. To remain in control of our emotions, and make a choice that won't derail us from arriving at our desired destination.
I've seen it on the field as a coach, in the classroom as an educator, and in the community as a parent. Kids make choices in the heat of a moment they weren't prepared for, and hadn't thought through ahead of time. When the winds of peer pressure whip around them, they react. Only to realize later, through unwanted consequences, that the choice they just made isn't at the core of who they really are. Sometimes, and thankfully, they are small mis-steps that we can help them work through. And yet, more often now than ever (with the permanent nature of a digital world), it becomes a choice that has a far deeper impact.
So how do we help the next generation to stop reacting, and start responding?
If we want to see the needle move on our kids making great choices in every area of their life it starts with us having intentional conversations with them.
Relational roots create missional movements.
If we are willing to put in the time now, it will help them respond later.
And let me be clear...this isn't about cornering our kids and lecturing their faces off.
It's asking them questions. It's helping them discover WHO they are, so they will know WHAT to do. See...here's the thing. Whether we want to admit it or not, the moments they will face their greatest challenges we won't be able to stand next to them. We won't be able to whisper prompts, catch their eye across the table, or gently squeeze their hand to help them choose well.
The foundation we lay in their lives happens over time. It's never too late, and it's always the most important. Talk about core values. Ask your kids, players, and team what matters most to them today. Then teach them that those core values need to be their compass when the winds whip. Teach them to respond to their internal compass, not react to their external distractions. Teach them to value WHO they are more than who someone else says they need to be.
Our kids will never have a shortage of doubters, haters, and general societal de-railers. It's our job to pour into them now so when that time comes they respond, instead of react.
Remind them that their life is their story to write.
Every time our kids make a poor choice, they hand the pen to anyone and everyone who would love nothing more than to change their story...forever.
It's not dramatic, it's truth.
When we teach our kids to know WHO they are, they will know WHAT to do.
They will stop reacting, and start responding.
They will hold tight to their pen.
They will write their story.
And at the end of time, they will be so very proud of their legacy.
That's the difference between reacting and responding.
When push comes to shove, and life gets hard, have them say this to themselves:
That will help them to respond, instead of react.