Defensiveness is an issue that causes a lot of harm in mentoring relationships – or any relationship for that matter. When we are challenged, confronted, or questioned as Kidmin leaders – sadly we often respond with a knee-jerk, reflex response that does more harm than good.
For years, my insecurity caused me to struggle with being defensive. Under the hurt feelings and protests is a deep sense that I’m not adequate, personally or professionally—or both. No one is above correction, and we can all learn to handle it with grace. Sometimes, I do a pretty good job of controlling my outward appearance when someone criticizes me, but I’m dying inside. When this happens with my pastor, his perception kicks in. He tells me, “You’re doing a great job in controlling the tone of your voice and looking relaxed while you’re still being defensive.”
He nailed me. When I bristle from correction, I need to look into my heart to see what I’m trusting in. I can then choose to thank God for his love and grace, and I can accept the correction as a gift instead of a threat.
Here’s the principle: When your actions are corrected, it doesn’t mean your character is being questioned. Chill out and learn from the challenge instead of defending yourself to the death!