February 17, 2017

You've Got To Choose To Be Unoffendable

The title caught my eye—Unoffendable. I laughed at the thought that some people might be offended by the mere suggestion of being unoffendable.

Is unoffendable even a word? I have to wonder because every time I type it a red line pops up under it suggesting it is either a “made up” word or misspelled. 

Type in unoffendable at dictionary.com and it retrieves offend, offendable, offendedly, offender and even half-offended. Obviously half-offended is standing on the fifty yard line looking at offended on one goal line and unoffended (again I get the red line) on the other.

I turn to the first page. The page is filled by a single quote by Dallas Willard. “Anger is the most fundamental problem in human life.” Now I am more than a little curious. It seems like everywhere I turn these days someone is angry.

I laughed again. “Can you imagine telling an angry person that anger was their fundamental problem?” In moments and fits of anger no one wants to be told anger is their problem even when it is true.

Goodness, who is interested in the truth if it means we have to give up being right? The mere suggestion that we would hold onto our belief about what we think is right in lieu of the truth is sure to incite anger and offense.

The author of Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better, Brant Hansen, sums it up well in one single line,

“Everybody’s an idiot but me. I’m awesome.”

That is exactly what I thought last Sunday when I was driving home.

An idiot driver cut me off nearly clipping my car in the process. The driver (gender neutral—I do not want to offend anyone) made seven lane changes, in heavy traffic, before I stopped counting. Awesome me and the idiot driver then arrived at a three-way stop at precisely the same moment.

Unoffendable means “we should forfeit our right to be offended. That means forfeiting our right to hold on to anger…It strikes at our very pride. It forces us not only to think about humility, but to actually be humble.”

I had never really thought about the juxtaposition of impact and anger until I read Unoffendable. Thinking about times and circumstances that I was most angered and offended I came to a not so surprising conclusion. These were also the times I was least effective as a husband, father, and leader.

Being angry and offended clouds our vision and perspective. It gives rise to self-righteous pride that squelches our teachable spirit. A study by Dan Kahan, a Yale law profession, found that our passions and biases undermined even basic reasoning. “Instead of changing our beliefs to match reality, we often rearrange reality, in our heads, to match what we want.”

Unoffendable Highlights

  • “Your life will become less stressful when you give up your right to anger and offense.”
  • “War is not exceptional; peace is. Worry is not exceptional; trust is. Decay is not exceptional; restoration is. Anger is not exceptional; gratitude is. Selfishness is not exceptional; sacrifice is. Defensiveness is not exceptional; love is. And judgmentalism is not exceptional . . . But grace is.”
  • “We’re absolute masters at changing reality to fit our narrative.”
  • "When we recognize our unsurprising fallenness and keep our eyes joyfully open for the glorious exceptions, we’re much less offendable. Why? Because that’s the thing about gratitude and anger: they can’t coexist."
  • “People who are often the most indignant voices in protest of injustice are the least likely to part with their own resources to do anything about it.”

Choose well

The greatest of all human freedoms is the freedom to choose our attitude in any circumstance or condition. Choosing to be unoffendable is powerful because it positions you to use your time, talent and resources on creating impact.

“If you find your value—your “glory,” as Scripture refers to your self-worth—in anything besides your identity as someone loved by God, you are never going to be truly content. That means ever-present threat, which makes being offended a way of life.”

We are a sum of our choices. Choosing to be unoffenable and relinquish our right to be angry will add up to creating and sustaining positive change in our lives and the lives of the people around us.

While choosing to be unoffendable may not be easy it is simply a choice that leads to greater impact and influence.

Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better by Brant Hansen

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