Wednesday, June 3, 2015

OnFire #330 Reducing Drama

OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #330 Reducing Drama

None of us needs more emotional stuff to deal with, and yet all of us have experienced the splatter of life’s drama. Many of us would like to have a little less dramatic content in our non-reality-TV lives, so I’ve put together some comments which I hope will help.

Don’t assume the worst about a situation.  When we first get a piece of bad news, our minds often race ahead to all the worst possible outcomes, and before we know it we’ve gotten ourselves into a full-blown anxiety event.  Things are rarely as bad as they first seem, however. We need to take a deep breath and pray for wisdom and peace (James 1:5; Philippians 4:6-7).

Don’t assume the worst about a person. You know the saying: “Where there’s smoke there’s fire.” Sometimes that is true, but most often it is just the smell of someone’s reputation getting torched. It is interesting that when we make a mistake, we can think of lots of reasons why our gaffe was reasonable, unavoidable really, but when someone else makes the same blunder, it is must be the result of a deep character flaw. Jesus said something about specks and beams to drive this point home (Matthew 7:3-5).

Be careful with assumptions. Our minds like to fill in missing pieces when we don’t have all the information. Sometimes we can’t know all the facts, and so we shouldn’t try to guess. Resist filling in these missing pieces. Let me say it again, for emphasis. Let’s resist filling in the missing pieces when we don't know something. Let’s remember that another word for made-up facts is “gossip.”

Let’s avoid histrionics. This is when we increase the drama of the story by 1) accentuating our good and positive actions, and 2) exaggerating the negative actions of someone else. Such story telling is really hagiography, events told to make ourselves look better.

Let’s not play out disputes on social media. It seems the first thing we want to do when we’re hurt, offended, or morally outraged is to recruit people to our side of an issue. Social media is an excellent tool to get attention and has done wonders to raise awareness of a number of needed issues, but gossip and personality disputes are not among its redeeming purposes.

Let’s use discretion. We don’t need to tell everyone everything. Some people don’t need to know, while others can’t keep a secret. Unfortunately, we often discover this the hard way.

These are tips I have discovered while in the middle of some blow-up or another. Some were my own, while some belonged to others. Nothing lately, but in general. I say this to protect myself from someone who might try to read into the situation – that would be a wrong assumption, by the way. Perhaps you have some other tips. I've love to hear them.

I hope this helps. Be on fire.


OnFire is a letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis.  Married  to Jan, Troy is a chaplain in the Canadian Armed Forces, and has more than 20 years of pastoral experience. This letter published June 3, 2015. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or reply, email Blog located at

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