Redirection Produces Greater Fruit Than A Harsh Rebuke

Helping them to develop a better approach to have their need recognized while respecting the needs of everyone else in the group takes a lot of positive reinforcement and intentional redirection, but it's worth the effort.
Many years ago, I supervised a pre-school in a refugee camp where many kids had behavioural issues due to trauma. I knew that punishing a child for inappropriate behaviour wasn’t as helpful as guiding them to find a resolution. By helping them navigate through conflict, I was contributing to their self-awareness and problem-solving skills. After all, punitive reactions to wrong behaviour only gave the punisher a sense of control and did little to bring long-term change. A large part of my job as supervisor was convincing my classroom teachers that a heavy-handed approach to discipline was less effective than gentle redirection.
Today, when I realize I must confront inappropriate behaviour in those I lead, I am reminded of the truths I learned in that preschool. Viewing a person who consistently disrupts a group as a problem is easy. However, there are more sustainable solutions than attempting to silence them through constant reprimands and disapproving looks. Helping them develop a better approach to have their need recognized while respecting everyone else’s needs in the group takes a lot of positive reinforcement and intentional redirection, but it’s worth the effort. By doing so, you create a space to help them become more self-aware and improve their self-esteem. By holding them accountable for managing their behaviour, you acknowledge their individuality and worth as a person.
Consider the interactions Jesus had with His disciples. Jesus rarely openly rebuked His disciples for their incorrect beliefs or attitudes. Instead, He often asked leading questions and spoke in parables, allowing His audience to reach their conclusion.
John 9:46-48 – An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the great one.” John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”
Contrary to popular belief, Jesus wasn’t just rebuking His disciples for being ambitious. He had something more profound to say. Rabbi Jesus drew His follower’s attention to the most vulnerable one in their midst – a trusting child. The visual picture He painted taught them that no matter how powerful their ministry might be in the future, it was the posture of their heart that He considered to be most important.
When John missed his Master’s point, Jesus didn’t rebuke him for testosterone-driven posturing. No, the Lord’s gentle yet direct response to John spoke to probable internal insecurities John was struggling with. “The one who is not against you is for you.” If Jesus spoke today, He might have phrased it this way. “It’s okay, John; just because someone isn’t working with you, it doesn’t mean they aren’t doing my work, and it doesn’t mean they are your enemy.”
It is easy to see the lasting results of Jesus’ methodology in John’s early life. Jesus’ affectionate nickname for young John and His brother Andrew – The Sons of Thunder – no longer fit the aged pastor who wrote his love letters to his flock. Jesus would have never entrusted the Book of Revelation to a self-promoting, vindictive man. No, John had changed. He embraced his true identity. He was ‘the one Jesus loved’—the one Jesus loved enough to speak the truth in love long ago.


Until next week,

©2024 Katherine Walden