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May 17, 2021 18:00pm
Gentleness: Fight Fire with Water
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There are three segments to our Legacy Lesson: 

1. Icebreaker 

2. Legacy Lesson–Bible point: Deal with anger by responding gently. 

3. Wrap-up: Apply the message to our own lives; work on memory verse 

I. Icebreaker: 

It’s all about being GENTLE this month!! Being gentle means you have a “kind and mild nature”; it’s being kind in a quiet and calm manner. As good as that sounds, it’s quite a hard feat for some of us! We talked about James 1:19 being an example of how to treat others 

GENTLY ↓

This verse can be easy to memorize but  MUCH HARDER to live out! The following 3 parts to being gentle can be a real struggle for those of us, ahem, talkers. 

▸Quick to listen ▸Slow to speak ▸Slow to become angry 

If your family is like mine, you will hear us using these catch phrases to call each other out by saying “Be quick to listen, Mom!” or “Be slow to speak, Dad!” (My kiddos love to hold us adults responsible as we hold them)

Ask your people how this past week of being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry has been. What has been nice? What has been a struggle? 

Discussion Questions to get your people thinking about today’s topic: 

●Can you think of someone who always responds in a kind, calm manner? (This person would be called GENTLE!) 

●Can you think of someone who loses their temper often? What about someone who is unkind? (This person would be the opposite of GENTLE.) 

●Whose response do you want when you are in trouble? (I know this is a no-brainer, but that is the focus today of our lesson—reacting in a gentle manner!) 

2. Transition over to Legacy Lesson: 

You will need a Bible to read our focus story. Feel free to modify for your sphere of influence. Add, revise, or delete sections that would help keep attention for 30 minutes or less. (For younger audiences, I would aim for 10-15 minutes!) 

This lesson will be a little different. You and your people will brainstorm situations in which you can respond GENTLY or rudely. I also want to address anger….because we lose all gentleness when we give away to anger. 

My purpose with this lesson is two-fold:

Purpose #1

We teach our people strategies to help them cope with their own anger, and we practice ways to react gently to others’ anger. 

Purpose #2: 

We mamas learn how to respond to our people when they are angry, and we learn how to respond GENTLY to their anger. ( I don’t know about you, but I need this one. My reactions are not always gentle.) 

This lesson is broken down into 3 parts: 

#1: Reacting to our people when they are angry 

#2: Responding gently to situations of anger 

#3: Avoiding the urge to fight back with angry people 

Let’s begin!

Part #1: Responding to anger 

Last week, James 1:19 instructed us to be SLOW to get angry. We brainstormed ideas on how to react when our tempers begin to flare. 

👉 What are the strategies we used? 

👉 Have they helped? 

👉 Do any need to be revised? 

Here are some I suggested: 

As great as it is to have a few strategies to help you or your child deal with anger, I want to take it a step further. After your child has followed through with a strategy (or two), I am encouraging you to sit down for a few minutes and have a heart-to-heart with him/ her and get down to the root of what is causing his/her frustration by asking them the following questions: 

  • What is the real reason you are upset? 
  • Has something happened today? this week? 
  • What’s bothering you deep down? 

I listened to a podcast by Mark Gregston (a podcast from Heartlight Ministries called Parenting Today’s Teens). In a podcast specifically about anger, he made a few points that I wanted to share with you: 

1—There’s a reason why our kiddo is angry. 

2—Take the time to listen to our child to discover what is really bothering them. 

Did something happen at school? with a friend? or a teacher? 

Sometimes, they get angry out of selfish urges. (“I want it MY way!!) Sometimes, it’s a problem at school. Sometimes, it’s a deeper issue at hand. 

Whatever the root is, take the time to listen to your child. Take time to understand life from their perspective may be the most valuable, meaningful time you spend with him/her. Coming from a teaching standpoint, our kids face an onslaught of junk each day: bullying, social media, peer pressures, demanding schoolwork, competitive sports, etc. Perhaps something happened here that you are not aware of that’s causing them to act out in different ways. 

I know it sounds simple, but I would gently urge you to take a few minutes, distraction free, to LISTEN to your kiddo. Take it from this mama—I know from experience. My son and I were arguing often last summer. It had been going on for a couple of weeks when I found myself driving home alone with him. That is when I started to talk with him about what was causing so much friction between us. Bit by bit, he revealed what was causing him MUCH stress, fear, and anxiety. I cannot tell you how I was blown away by his revelations. It pained this mama’s heart so much. This sweet child of mine had held in 2 weeks’ worth of fears and pain. As a result, he acted out. I failed to see that his anger was a sign of deeper issues going on in his life. It was the perfect amount of time for him to break down that wall and reveal his heart. 

When I have a tough day teaching, I sometimes lash out at my kiddos. When they have a tough day at school, they sometimes lash out at each other at home. There’s a reason we are quick to get angry. I challenge you this week to take the time to LISTEN to your child and have a heart-to-heart to see if there are any deeper issues going on. I am so thankful God arranged for those precious few minutes I listened to my child. It changed our whole relationship for the better. 

It might just be the most important conversation you have with them, like it was for me. 

2. A gentle answer will calm a person’s anger. 

Our memory verse this week is pretty simple, yet so important: 

Our goal this week is to work on having GENTLE responses, especially in the face of anger. We are so prone to react to anger with anger (I am pointing the finger at me right now), but this verse is telling us to act opposite: respond gently. 

I have several close relationships with my students at my school. Many times, they will share struggles they are going through, especially struggles with peers. Anytime there is drama afoot, I respond the same way: Fight fire with WATER. It may sound goofy, but most of the time, angry people want others to get angry and engage with them, like fighting fire with fire. But if you respond gently, you are becoming the water to that fire. 

Is it hard? YEP. 

Is it possible? Well, Jesus promises us that all things are possible with him! (Philippians 4:13, Matthew 19:26) 

So, let’s teach our kiddos and OURSELVES this approach when engaging with our people. 

How?? 

BEFORE WE RESPOND TO OTHERS’ ANGER, we need to ask ourselves this question: 

Will my response HELP, HEAL, OR HURT??? 

Are my words in this situation going to help this angry person? 

Will my words help heal this person? 

Or will my words cause more hurt to this person? 

A few pieces of advice about arguing with our kiddos that Mark Gregston talks about in his podcast: 

⭐ We don’t need to correct every single time. Learn to fight the battles that need to be fought. We don’t want to win the battle, but lose the war (relationship with your kiddo). 

⭐ It’s better to listen to our kiddo to understand them vs. listening to our kiddos in order to respond to them. Listening, without comment, may be exactly what the doctor has ordered when treating your kiddos’ anger. 

⭐ Speak with compassion (gentleness) and truth….but wait till the end of the conversation. 

⭐ Arguments expose things going on in our kiddos’ lives—see these moments as opportunities to listen to our kids’ hearts and see what the root of the problem is. 

Working on GENTLE responses: 

Brainstorm situations that would cause anger in your family: talking back, not listening to a parent, lying, being mean to a sibling, etc. Then, stop and ask your people how you, the parent, could respond GENTLY. What would that look like? 

Then, turn the tables on your people. Brainstorm situations that would cause them to get irritated with each other. Interrupt with this question: How could you respond GENTLY to this situation? 

Have fun with this, but hold them accountable this week to respond GENTLY to people/ situations that cause them to get crabby or angry! 

Biblical Connection: 

There’s a story in the Bible that shows a gentle response perfectly. 

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. But early in the morning he went back to the Temple. All the people came to Jesus, and he sat and taught them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought a woman there. She had been caught in adultery. (Depending on their age, I stop and explain this. You can say it meant that she gave her heart away to another man even though she was married to her husband. If your kids are older, then you can go into more detail.) They forced the woman to stand before the people. They said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught having physical relations with a man who is not her husband. The law of Moses commands that we kill with stones every woman who does this. What do you say we should do?” They were asking this to trick Jesus so that they could have some charge against him. 

But Jesus knelt down and started writing on the ground with his finger. They continued to ask Jesus their question. So he stood up and said, “Is there anyone here who has never sinned? The person without sin can throw the first stone at this woman.” Then Jesus knelt down again and wrote on the ground. 

Those who heard Jesus began to leave one by one. The older men left first, and then the others. Jesus was left there alone with the woman. She was standing before him. Jesus stood up again and asked her, “Woman, all of those people have gone. Has no one judged you guilty?” 

She answered, “No one has judged me, sir.” 

Then Jesus said, “So I also don’t judge you. You may go now, but don’t sin again.” 

Discussion Questions: 

Who was angry? The Pharisees 

What did they want Jesus to do with the woman? Stone her 

What was Jesus’ GENTLE response to the Pharisees? “Is there anyone here who has never sinned? The person without sin can throw the first stone at this woman.” Talk about this wise advice with your people. Good conversations can be had here! 

What was Jesus’ GENTLE response to the woman? “So I also don’t judge you. You may go now, but don’t sin again.” Make no mistake that the woman was guilty…but in the midst of her guilt, Jesus didn’t judge her. He didn’t get angry with her. He simply told her to sin no more. Had he yelled at her, she may not have listened to him. Had he been mean to her, she may not have listened. But because of his GENTLE manner, I am willing to bet she turned away from her sin and became a new woman. 

The Pharisees wanted Jesus to fight fire with fire. They wanted him to feed off of their anger and join in on being angry at the woman. Instead, he fought the fire with WATER, a gentle response—a response no one could refute. 

That is how we are to respond as well. It’s tough to argue with someone who isn’t willing to argue back, isn’t it? Especially someone being GENTLE with you when you’re being angry. 

3. But an unkind answer will cause more anger. 

The last section of this verse gives us a good picture of how NOT to respond. According to this verse, fighting fire with fire will ONLY cause MORE anger. 

Let’s revisit those scenarios you and your people created above for GENTLE responses…but this time, reverse the situation: respond UNKINDLY. Have your people come up with a rude, unkind, or mean response. (Not gonna lie…your kids may have fun with this!) What would that look like? 

What would happen if mom or dad or ____ responded to them rudely? How would they react? 

Likewise, if they are rude to others, what kind of reaction would others have? (Think people at school or other family members.) 

The Point? 

Rude breeds rude, fire wants more fire, angry people feed off of conflict. 

There is NO GOOD in responding rudely to others’ anger. It just causes more anger. 

3. Wrapping-Up: Applying it to our lives 

Well, I bet you have already guessed our Scripture to memorize this week! 

Lioness, you have 4 goals this week: 

1—Get to the root of your child’s anger by listening to him/her. 

2—Challenge everyone in the house to respond GENTLY to irritations and anger. Brainstorm ways you or your people can do this. 

3—Point out any unkind responses that only cause more anger. Redirect them: “That was unkind…how can you respond GENTLY?” 

4—Be willing to admit when you fail in this area. We are fallible mamas, we make mistakes, it’s going to happen. Be strong enough to admit when you do, but humble enough to ask for your people’s forgiveness. If we want to be authentic, our people need to see us admitting when we mess up, leaning on Jesus for help, and being real about our struggles as well. 

Lioness, gentleness can be TOUGH…but with practice, we all can get better! Just think of it as a week/month of gentleness TRAINING. Practice makes BETTER! You are the coach, your people are your team, and you are chiseling their character to become more GENTLE. 

Be gentle in correcting them on gentleness! But choose your battles, dear sister. We don’t want to win the battle, but lose the war. We want relationships with our kiddos. Let your words HELP and HEAL….NOT HURT. Words are powerful…help your people to use their words GENTLY this week! 

Copyright © 2021 by Amber Spencer @lionesslegacymama. No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from Lifeword.org.