One of the necessary qualities of a good relationship (or just plain getting along with people in general) is the ability to be flexible. Relationships thrive when there is an attitude of openness, not just toward decisions, but also in ideas and perspective.
Rigidity kills dialog, and dialog is necessary for mutual respect. And mutual respect is necessary for a close relationship. This does not mean you have to agree with the other person’s conclusions. It means that you are open to hearing them and giving weight to them and be willing to compromise when an action step is required.
I am not advocating chaos, which is the polar opposite of rigidity. Life needs order and structure – just not too much or too little. In Christ’s time the Pharisees were the picture of rigidity – rules and regulations to be followed without compromise. But Jesus was all about love. He put people first – over schedules and the material aspects of life. He, however, was not without structure – he always kept his mission and purpose in mind.
The lack of flexibility can come from what might be called ‘truth owning’. This is the belief that ‘I am right and you are wrong’ – and so you must conform to my ways.
People that hold this belief too tightly are relational hazards.
They can become angry, sometimes very angry, when others do not recognize and surrender to their ‘truth’. They can become dictators in their own family or work place, and people will tend to avoid them or ‘walk on eggshells’ around them. When out of control this behavior is emotionally abusive and a disaster waiting to happen. How do you know if you are out of control? Observe your behavior.
- Do you lecture, berate, accuse, or label others?
- Do you corner them and expect them to listen even when you are raging?
- Do people appear afraid or very uncomfortable when you talk to them?
- Do people HAVE to agree with you or face your wrath?
If you are one of these truth owners, you have some work to do. You must make modifications to your belief system. Only God is the source or owner of ultimate Truth. Our truth is our perspective and opinion.
Sometimes rigidity may come from an obsessive-compulsive nature that needs to be brought under control. If you are unable to do that on your own then you may need help. When your belief is that it does not need to be brought under control (because I am right, and if everyone was like me the world would be a better place) then you may be dealing with a personality issue that needs even deeper help.
Proverbs 16:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.
So, where are you on the flexibility scale?