Developing a Proactive vs Reactive Mindset

Proverbs 14:22-24 (NIV)

Do not those who plot evil go astray?
But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.

All hard work brings a profit,
but mere talk leads only to poverty.

The wealth of the wise is their crown,
but the folly of fools yields folly.

Our already busy lives have been complicated by the Covid pandemic which increased either our frustration or fear. As we live with uncertainty, worry, fear and frustration move us toward a more reactive mindset. This could explain why people are less friendly and more easily agitated which has led to the increase in suicide, divorce and domestic violence that we are experiencing in our society today.

Sometimes I find families where the parents have dealt with similar worries and fears with their kids as they grow older and begin to enter what we see as more uncertain dangerous times. In addition, our busy lives almost require us to function with a fast paced routine which increases the likelihood of miscommunication and reactions in us and our kids.  As a result we can find ourselves with concerns, worry and if our kids make mistakes, fear.

Add the common communication challenges families encounter with their kids and it becomes easy to see how parents may end up not knowing what to do or say, simply waiting for things to happen.  This reactive position means we attempt to address things after they have happened. Often the result is conflict because kids attempt to avoid negative interactions which to us look like defensiveness, denial or lying only making things worse.

We can find ourselves in a trap when our kids push back against our reactive approach.  The worst time to attempt healthy communication that leads to understanding and growth is when either we or our kids are in a heightened emotional state.

In biblical times the book of Proverbs and its wisdom was proactively taught to preteens because they were seen as close to adulthood, capable and able to receive the wisdom and avoid making destructive decisions with their lives.

Whether it is for our lives in these challenging times or for our kids, developing a proactive mindset makes an incredible difference. Recently I talked with a business leader who instead of waiting to see what would happen and how the government would react to Covid, dug into the data and research related to less serious corona viruses and the flu.  This helped him build an understanding of the infection cycles and infection rates that enabled him to project the timing of the increase and spikes in cases.  He was able to build plans and alternate delivery options that helped his business successfully adjust to the changes in capacity. His proactive mindset allowed him to remain positive when many waited and were forced to react to changes rather than plan for them.

We serve a Lord who modeled a proactive form of leadership with His disciples; He showed them and taught them proactively and it worked.  They did not fall even when in tempting situations.  They were empowered by their early training in proverbs and the experiences Jesus gave them in the real world. They saw that following the Lord was beneficial and led to a better more fulfilling life rather than adhering to a bunch of rules that felt negative and controlling to them.  Their eyes were opened to see the brokenness of the woman at the well, the leper and the adulterous woman. They saw the love of Jesus in action and how much better it is to be positive and proactive.

If we adopt a proactive approach to life and parenting it will keeps us from feeling helpless. We will be moved to tap into God through prayer and we will seek the Spirit’s proactive guidance and conviction. Our kids desperately need to see this at work in our homes and lives in order to believe in themselves and their ability to succeed in life and experience faith in a way that will motivate rather than discourage them.

Let’s begin to pray and work to be proactive in our lives and our relationship with our kids.  The benefits will keep us from being trapped in a circle of concern, worry, lack of communication and conflict.

A proactive discipleship mindset enabled the disciples to avoid the pitfalls of the Roman Empire and make a genuine difference in peoples’ lives that has carried forward to this very day.

In these current dark days we, more than ever, need to adopt a proactive mindset that depends on the Lord, rather than our own understanding, to develop kids who can and will make a difference in these chaotic times.


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