Taming the Spirit of Offense and Coaching Around It
Today's topic is offense and what we as coaches can do to help our clients overcome it. First, let’s take a close look at what it is and where it comes from. Then we'll address coaching and how to avoid offense even before it begins.
Offense may be popular in our society today, but it's not cool, chic or glamorous as some portray it. Offense is an abomination of God's will for us and those we coach.
Naturally there may be times when others say or do hurtful things, but taking offense goes beyond simply getting your feelings hurt. Offense starts as a seed, and if it’s watered, can grow into a really dangerous, mass phenomenon, even to the point of riots, causing physical harm to people and property.
Offense can be accompanied by a variety of emotions including hurt, anger, rejection, abandonment, fear, or any combination of these and other emotions. Typically, offense also includes an attitude of righteous indignation that can accelerate to plans for retribution.
What are thoughts that go through our mind when we feel offended? "That's not fair!" "How could you do that?" "That was so wrong." "Ouch."
Doesn’t it seem as though too many people are just looking for the occasion to tell you they were wronged by something or someone, or maybe even by you? Many families experience this as well as work environments. There is judgement and shaming around sometimes very innocent words and actions.
Back in the day when the term “PC” or “politically correct” became popular, I knew we were in for trouble. We now had organized opportunities to take offense. With PC you are expected to be hyper-sensitive and even join in with others who are offended by certain behavior(s).
Here's something to ponder: Did implementing political correctness along with designated consequences create a gentler, kinder world? Why or why not?
God calls us to live in peace. Mandating conformity, then looking for offense to wage war against those who violate our often unwritten rules is inviting divisiveness at best and disaster at worst. None of this is in alignment with God’s desire for our lives.
God’s view of offense
I did some research for scriptures that tell us what God has in mind for us and how we should deal with offense. This theme repeats over and over in the scriptures but here are 10 you may recognize. None say that taking offense is a good or wise thing to do.
I am providing these as a resource for you. To be clear, we're seeking God's opinion about a matter, not man's. If anyone disagrees, it won't be with you, rather with God. (The following scriptures are adapted from Openbible.info, from the ESV translation.)
(1) “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”
(2) “A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.” Proverbs 18:19
(3) “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector."
(4) “Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.”
(5) “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
(6) “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”
(7) “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
(8) “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
(9) “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” (Taking offense and carrying a grudge can sow as much or even more discord as the original discord.)
"If you don't surrender to Christ, you surrender to chaos!"
~ E. Stanley Jones
(10) “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; ...”
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
There are many more but I think you get what God wants to impress on us. We won’t be in God’s will and aligned with Him, if we don’t have the kind of love for others that forgives their shortcomings.
Satan’s view of offense
“Where does offense come from? It comes from Satan, says Kenneth W. Hagin. “Ephesians 6:12 says, "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
He continues, “Offense is the enemy's strategy to keep us from fulfilling God's will and ultimately destroy us. Certainly, people can yield to Satan and cause problems. But the root of our problems in life is the devil, not people.”
When we acknowledge this truth, we see that Satan uses people, often without their even realizing what is happening. This is why we need to exercise patience and treat people with the love of Christ. What they did (the offending deed) should matter far less than the peace of our Holy Spirit who dwells inside each believer.
The Temptation To Take offense
Offense is learned. None of us are born being offended. As we grow up, we see others around us taking offense and if there is a reward for the offense such as pity, attention or getting their own way, we can see it as a positive behavior and repeat it ourselves.
In effect, the mirror neurons we were born with in our brains will cause us to take on the actions and disposition of those around us. It will happen without plan or forethought. In fact, it’s almost impossible to avoid. We are genetically prewired to replicate the behaviors of others around us, to create a closer knit community.
But when those behaviors are negative, we can make a choice not to behave in those ways. That can be difficult because it's very tempting to return to habitual behaviors. And if others around us are still doing it, we can easily fall back into that pattern. It’s most effective to select our companions carefully and plan ahead for an alternative reaction so that we don’t fall into a routine of this type of negative behavior.
I created a short list of offense categories. The list is certainly not exhaustive but we can look at various reactions to feelings of offense. These feelings can move from category to category unpredictably. They can begin in or escalate to any of these categories rapidly. None of these are Godly or positive and it makes it ever more clear why we should reject taking offense in the first place.
Cat 1 - internal disagreement
Cat 2 - feelings of shame, insult and consequential identity examination
Cat 3 - distancing and/or creating boundaries
Cat 4 - verbal expression claiming offense and/or body language
Cat 5 - heated verbal exchange
Cat 6 - physical altercation
Can you think of examples from your own life where the feelings from offense have led to greater expression, either verbally or physically? What were the consequences?
Is offense coachable?
Yes and no. It depends on your client. Here’s why:
Typically those holding on to an offense or grudge are stubbornly doing so. There is any number of reasons for this. Some are:
- The client may see the results as a self-fulfilling prophesy.
- They may be looking for proof that the offender really is a bad person.
- They may be using the painful emotions to justify their own lack of progress or accountability.
- They may be falsely adopting these feelings as part of their own identity.
- They may be stuck thinking this way because they truly don’t know that they can control their own thoughts or understand how to do so. (If this is the case, our trained coaches can teach them.)
For coaching to be effective, the person being coached must be in agreement to making a change. This is one of three criteria for successful coaching that I teach in our Christian Professional Life Coach certification program.
That said, until the person being coached sees the benefit of making a change and wants to rid themselves of the negative thoughts and accompanying feelings as well as lackluster results, coaching will likely not be too effective.
Here are three questions the coach can ask their client in this case:
- What are the benefits of holding on to those thoughts?
- How are those thoughts leading to your personal growth?
- What has to happen for you to entertain a different way of thinking about it?
Spirits of offense and unforgiveness
Deborah Luchie writes, ‘Yes, people "hurt our feelings". Things they say and do bring feelings of sadness, hurt and anger. They prick our deep scars of rejection and insecurity. We feel disrespected, treated unfairly, made fun of. Often the hurt gives way to anger, because we don't mind showing anger but not our hurt because that "feels weak".’
“Those feelings aren't sins,” she explains, “But almost immediately the spirit of offense comes and you will choose to either embrace or reject that spirit. That is when sin enters in.
Offense is one of Satan's most effective "tools" against believers. The companion spirit of offense is unforgiveness.”
“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.”~ Ephesians 4:26-27 NKJV
The emotion will come, you will experience it, but you must not embrace the spirits that come right behind those emotions to tempt you into sin.”
To read the entire post by Deborah Luchie of www.kingdomcitizens.org, visit
Taking control of your thoughts
If you don’t control your thoughts, they’ll control you.
“Offense and unforgiveness are very unhealthy. They stunt our spiritual growth and keep us from moving forward. They endanger our salvation, create hindrances and destroy relationships. They’re among Satan’s most powerful weapons that he uses to steal, kill, and destroy,” says Angeline Williams.
She concludes her article with this wonderful prayer. It is just too good not to include here.
“Heavenly Father, I repent of not forgiving, of holding bitterness in my heart and being upset with them, You, the situation and even myself. Father as you so willingly forgive, I too choose to forgive (name the people involved) completely. I ask you to forgive me for releasing any hurt or anger toward them.
Forgive me for judgmental and condemning thoughts and words I have spoken to them, into them and over them. In the name of Jesus I speak death to those destructive seeds that I have planted and death to the harvest released. I ask you to forgive them and release them and let them not be guilty any longer of doing me any harm. I place them in your hands Lord Jesus that you may heal them, deliver them and set them free and use them for your glory.
Father God I know that you do not make mistakes and that You are perfect in all your ways. I ask you to forgive me for holding bitterness and anger in my heart towards You because of this situation. I forgive myself for letting this hurt control me and for hurting others out of my hurt. I repent of this behavior and my attitude.
Now Father God Your word says in Hebrews 9:14 that the Blood of Jesus Christ would purge my conscious, which is my heart. I cover this area with the Blood of Jesus Christ that it may purge me from all unforgiveness.
In the name of Jesus Christ I renounce the spirits of anger, bitterness, resentment, murder, hatred, violence, rejection, retaliation and memory recall. I command these unclean spirits to leave me now in the mighty name of Jesus Christ.
In the name of Jesus I command rejection, anger, bitterness, resentment, murder, hatred, violence and memory recall to get out of me now. Father God I ask that you fill those voided spaces with more of Your Love. Whatever I owe to anyone in your strength and provision help me to restore. Whatever is owed to me by any human I forgive and I release it in the name of Jesus Christ.
Father in the name of Jesus Christ I receive healing in my physical body. I command every spirit of infirmity and every disease to leave me now. You unclean spirits have no ground to stay here. Get out now in the name of Jesus Christ. Now Lord Jesus I ask you to pour the balm of healing into my wounded spirit. I receive now in the name of Jesus Christ healing for a broken heart that has come because of hurt, disappointment and abuse.
Thank you for giving me beauty for ashes of failure, replacing mourning and grief with the oil of joy and giving me a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair in Jesus name. Thank You for forgiving me and setting me free. I bind forgiveness in my heart so that when offense comes I can forgive quickly. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.”
Practical tips to avoid offense before it begins
- Focus on forgiveness. You will move toward your focus every time.
- What else can this mean? Remain curious and patient. Allow for other perspectives even if you disagree.
- Remember, there is no offense until you have a thought about what happened. You can choose your thoughts and avoid offense deliberately.
In a society that encourages offense, we need to know what it is and make a quality decision that we will not become part of it.
What can you do today, to be more patient and loving toward others? What more can you do to stop the seeds of offense from spreading?
I’d love to read your comments on this topic. You may post them near the bottom of this page.
© 2020 Leelo Bush PhD, All rights reserved.
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