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Psychology: Decision Boundaries of Saying “Yes” Report

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Updated: Feb 23rd, 2021

During my ministry experience, one of the key insights that I have derived from the book is that it is not necessary to seek the approval of everyone that you encounter or to seek to be well-liked at the expense of your values or your time. Such a realization has impacted my ministry experience by enabling me to realize that it is more important to focus on being a true minister by spreading and teaching the word of God rather than be embroiled in being “accepted” or petty local politics. Being a minister involves spreading the word of God, guiding people towards ethical and moral actions as well as being an embodiment of the values and dedication that people must express to both God and their loved ones. It is at times tempting to say “yes” to various obligations or to agree with certain points of view; however, continuously doing such actions compromises the objectiveness that is necessary for being a minister.

To continuously say “yes” to the demands of your congregation or the views of a particularly adamant individual creates a situation where you lose your sense of “self”. To agree with what everyone demands of you, to focus on what they want instead of being objective, and to appease rather than to guide is not the work of God, rather, it is similar to what a politician does to keep the peace within his/her respective district (Kalish and Kruschke, 1997). A minister is not a politician, he is a shepherd of the flock of God and, as such, he must focus on doing what is right based on God’s eyes and not the eyes of man. While any minister needs to listen to what his congregation is telling him, sometimes such views are in direct conflict with what theological text and the word of God has deemed as ethical and moral. Examples of this range from the rampant sexual themes in modern-day society that are deemed as “normal” as well as the increasing acceptance of gay marriage among many nations (Kalish and Kruschke, 1997).

As representatives of the living church of God, ministers often attempt to “go with the flow” of modernity by accepting new views and technologies. However, ministers should not be accepting of all changes in society since we are responsible for guiding people towards actions that would result in a better society, not one that has developed along a line of liberal thinking that is downright immoral. For example, one of the current fashion trends at the present has been the increasing sexualization of the outfits worn by children. Bare midriffs, spaghetti strap shirts as well as an assortment of increasingly sexualized clothing has become a norm in present-day society and their use has not been questioned due to their popularization through pop culture. However, from the objective standpoint of a minister, it becomes questionable as to why children of all people must wear sexualized clothing. It is fine and acceptable among teenagers and young adults but children should not be considered as sexual objects.

The sheer fact that such a manner of dressing children has become acceptable in present-day society is indicative of the need for ministers to stand for something rather than accept and fall for anything. What you must understand is that to say “yes”, to accept views for how they are, and to refuse to act is in a way a form of acquiescence. By not acting, by not saying no, ministers, in turn, become liable for the promotion of actions with may not be right in the eyes of God. Ministers are more than just teachers; we are representatives of what it means to live a life close to God. The actions of ministers are subject to scrutiny, evaluation, and above all emulation. By saying “yes”, by accepting views for the sake of accepting them, to be liked, or to avoid conflict, we, in turn, tell other people that such actions are perfectly fine. This becomes a slippery slope resulting in continuing to say “yes”, as seen in the book, to continue to be liked but in the end, we are not performing what is right. To be effective, a minister must set certain personal and religious boundaries between himself and his congregation. While some acceptance of views is permissible, a vast majority should be scrutinized before saying “yes”. Boundaries are an essential aspect of any ministry since they enable a minister to think objectively, act accordingly, and focus on doing things based on the way of Christ rather than merely trying to appease the masses.

From my understanding of Cloud and Townsend’s work in this book, I have concluded that it is the intense desire to belong to some form of group affiliation that is at the core of why people develop the habit of saying “yes” when they should say “no”. One way of understanding this is through social control theory developed by Travis Hirschi which specifically states that all individuals have the potential to become criminals however it is the “bond” they share with society whether in the form of friendships, recognition of societal rules and norms of conduct, parental influences, etc. that prevent them from actually committing a crime. Hirschi goes on further to explain that it is quite normal for an individual to desire to commit a crime or even think about it such as desiring to steal and object, injure a person, or other forms of criminal activity however they are prevented from doing so because of a distinct fear of the impact of this type of activity on their position in society.

The concept of fear in this particular case comes in the form of the loss of societal bonds, careers, social relationships, and other connections that individuals have come to rely on due to a person’s inherent nature to rely on social connections to retain a stable psychological state. In other words, people are normally so dependent on social bonds and maintaining them that the thought of losing them after committing a particular action is sufficient enough to deter them from criminal behavior or from the act of saying “no”. Combining social bond theory with the work of Cloud and Townsend’s creates the notion that people desire psychological stability through social bonds by saying “yes”. It is the fear of being alone, not being part of a group, and of the unknown that causes people and even ministers to say “yes” when they should be saying “no”.

Reference List

Kalish, Michael L., and John K. Kruschke. 1997. “Decision boundaries in one dimensional categorization.” Journal Of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory & Cognition 23, no. 6: 1362. Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost (2013).

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