LESSON FOUR - Neither Offend Nor Take Offense
To strengthen understanding of the power of Christ-like communication and empower students to resolve concerns without giving or taking offense.
- This lesson is designed to be approximately 20 minutes unless more time is available.
- Seek the spirit in deciding which sections to emphasize. It is not critical that you cover all the material provided.
- Prayerfully study "And Nothing Shall Offend Them," David A. Bednar, Ensign, November 2006, 89.
- Consider the needs of the participants and prepare additional questions that promote discussion and connect the principles to apartment and family life.
- Be prepared to bear your testimony throughout the lesson at any time the spirit prompts.
- It is fundamentally impossible for another person to offend you or me.
- To be offended is a choice we make.
- Love and pray for them who despitefully use you (see 3 Nephi 12:38-44).
- "Of you it is required to forgive all men" (D&C 64:10).
Neither Offend Nor Take Offense
"It is ultimately impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else" (David A. Bednar, "And Nothing Shall Offend Them," Ensign, Nov. 2006, 89).
Frank and Alyssa are engaged with a wedding date just three weeks away. As the time of their marriage draws near, they spend as much time together as they can-at one another's apartments, on campus, and at church. One day, Frank and Alyssa come to Frank 's apartment to hang out and find all his roommates in the living room watching a movie. Frank decides to take Alyssa back to his room where they can talk and be alone. Frank 's roommates freeze as they watch him and Alyssa go down the hall to his bedroom. To their knowledge, Frank had never done anything like that before. While they didn't say anything to him, they did do something. Two of Frank 's roommates, Brian and Jordan, made a sign that read "No Girls Allowed" and put it on Frank 's door. When Frank and Alyssa came out of the bedroom and found the sign, Frank tore it off the door and threw it into the living room at his roommates. He and Alyssa stormed out of the apartment. Frank didn't come home that night until an hour past curfew. Frank and Alyssa's behavior didn't seem to change as they continued to go back into Frank 's bedroom over the next few days to avoid any contention with Frank 's roommates. Zach, who had been out of town over the weekend the night Frank stormed out, returned to the apartment and was immediately debriefed of the situation. Zach decided to approach Frank.
Questions for discussion
- How can you avoid giving offense?
- What can we do to avoid pride and justification when addressing a concern?
- What can we do to not take offense, even if the offense was intentional?
- When we find ourselves taking offense, what can we do to adjust our attitude?
Seek to Understand
"Although we sometimes don't like to admit it, the intent of someone's criticism may be to help us. We should be gracious enough to receive the criticism, understanding that the person may be trying to help. When you feel you have been improperly judged, falsely accused, or offended."
Address an Issue Directly
"The strategies of the Enemy to deceive, attack, and distract are made even more effective if he can divide us from one another. Division comes in many forms - contention, disunity, gossip, back-biting. But perhaps the most insidious is silence" (Kim B. Clark, "The Power of the Holy Temple," BYU-Idaho Devotional, Jan. 15, 2008, see p. 29 in the Student Living Guidebook).
"And if thy brother or sister offend thee, thou shalt take him or her between him or her and thee alone; and if he or she confess thou shalt be reconciled' (D&C 42:88). We need to take the initiative by seeking reconciliation with the person who offended us. The best way to do so is to quietly take the person aside and openly discuss the situation" (Perry M. Christensen, "That Ye Not Be Offended," Ensign, March 1991, 16).
"May we be found communicating with each other in a manner in which the Savior would communicate. Christ- like communications are expressed in tones of love rather than loudness. They are intended to be helpful rather than hurtful. They tend to bind us together rather than to drive us apart. They tend to build rather than to belittle. Christ-like communications are expressions of affection and not anger, truth and not fabrication, compassion and not contention, respect and not ridicule, counsel and not criticism, correction and not condemnation. They are spoken with clarity and not with confusion. They may be tender or they may be tough, but they must always be tempered. The real challenge that we face in our communications with others is to condition our hearts to have Christ-like feelings for all of Heavenly Father's children. When we develop this concern for the condition of others, we then will communicate with them as the Savior would" (L. Lionel Kendrick, "Christ-like Communications," Ensign, Nov. 1998, 23).
"He is driving me crazy!" Marianne blurted. "Who is?" Stephanie asked. "Lisa's boyfriend. He's always over here-eating, watching TV, doing his laundry-I could go on and on! C'mon you've seen it. There are five other girls that live here; it's hard enough to find time to watch a little TV or do our laundry without him around. I just can't take it anymore."
"Wow, you seem rather bent out of shape about this," Stephanie acknowledged.
"Well, it has been going on all semester," Marianne replied.
"I guess it just hasn't been that big of a deal for me," Stephanie confessed. "But if you're so troubled, why don't you just say something to him or Lisa?"
Marianne sat on her bed pondering Stephanie's suggestion and finally said, "Well he should just know! He doesn't even live here! What's his big problem anyway?"
Questions for discussion
- How do we obtain the courage to act when issues or concerns arise?
- Why does the adversary tempt us to be silent?
- What happens to a relationship, or even the lives of others, as we are silent?
- What can we learn from the Savior's example about the manner in which we should communicate?
- Perry M. Christensen, "That Ye Not Be Offended," Ensign, March 1991, 16.
A lesson is not complete until a challenge or invitation is extended which inspires and motivates participants to apply what they have learned. "It's in the doing, not just the thinking, that we accomplish our goals" (Thomas S. Monson, "A Royal Priesthood," Ensign, Nov. 2007, 59-61).
As a result of the lesson, each participant should feel an increased desire to change an attitude or behavior and become a stronger disciple of Jesus Christ. Include the following steps as part of the application process:
- Summarize what has been learned or ask a member of the group to do so.
- Invite participants to write goals specific to what they have felt and learned. How will they apply the principles to their personal lives and apartment life (including roommate relationships)? How will they act on what they have learned as a means of preparation for marriage and family life? In short, what will they do about what they have learned?
- Follow-up with participants on goals they have set. Regular and consistent follow-up will increase the likelihood that participants actually execute their plan of action.