Week 12 in the year of our Lord 2022

Better decision-making & emotional leadership

8 minutes to read

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How emotional leadership grounds strong households #

A leader’s emotional stability is the choke-point for the growth of any organization. He must be capable of remaining emotionally involved, without becoming emotionally caught up. And he must be capable of remaining emotionally apart, while not becoming emotionally detached.

In other words, an organization cannot grow beyond its leader’s ability to stay plugged into it, while still keeping a cool head and differentiating himself from what everyone else is feeling.

This goes for families, churches, businesses, and governments.

A household cannow grow without an emotionally stable father. This means that controlling your emotions is critical to the health of your house.

One area that is especially challenging for us as men is keeping a lid on it when something…or someone…pushes our buttons.

Everyone gets angry. Men, women, old, and young all have been guilty of sinful anger. It’s a shared experience that cuts across every culture, time, and life stage. That being said, sinful anger is an especially male problem.

This is, in part, because men have more testosterone than women. Higher T is associated with higher levels of aggression. Testosterone spikes in men when they are faced with a challenge. This is why we tend to react to difficult situations with aggression.

Aggression is a feature—not a bug. We need it.

But aggression is easily twisted by sin, and so it often takes the form of sinful anger.

We don’t need neuroscience to know this. It should be common sense. But we live in stupid times.

Scripture knows that sinful anger and wrath is an especially male problem. In the sex-specific commands of 1 Timothy 2, Paul says, “…I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.” We also see something like this in the Ephesian household codes, where he says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (6:4).

Sin gives way to sin, and sinful anger gives way to sinful anger (Rom 6:19). This is a major reason why an emotionally-differentiated father is so important. Angry fathers will result in angry children—although sometimes that angry child simmers under an outwardly repressed shell.

Note that in Eph 6:4, provoking your children to anger is contrasted with bringing them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. This is purposeful. James 1:20 teaches us that “the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” An angry man cannot bring up children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, for he himself is not in it.

It is as Christ said: “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.” Fathers reproduce themselves in their children.

The angry father’s children may become godly adult Christians. But it will be despite his angry way. That is why it’s so important that a father embodies Proverbs 16:32:

He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.

A father who rules his own spirit well will give his children the gift of emotional stability. He will not be easily pulled into participating in their emotional outbursts. Quite the opposite, he will pull them into his calm and controlled emotional state.

When his son raises his voice or strikes a disrespectful tone, he will not match and exceed it with a louder voice and even more intense tone. Doing so would make his angry son the emotional leader in that interaction. Fathers must be the emotional leader. It is by his cool head in hot disputes that he teaches his children to discipline and control their emotions.

Remember that the person pushing your buttons is the person sitting in the control chair. The man who cannot control his emotions will be controlled by and through them—which means that his house will be controlled by the tossing waves of whomever has the dominant emotions.

Why more information makes you less decisive #

There is the false conception that being more informed will lead to taking more action.

In reality, there is a bell-curve like relationship between being informed, and your capacity to be decisive.

Your ability to make a decision increases with being more informed—but only to a certain extent.

There is a point where decisiveness peaks, and begins to decline due to being overly “informed.”

Due to Pareto’s principle, this point can come a lot earlier than you expect. 20% of the knowledge gets you 80% of the results.

This is important because “information” is like a drug for the chronically indecisive man.

Decisions make him anxious—so he self-medicates that anxiety away with more information.

He tells himself, “I need to know more to make a decision. Therefore, I don’t have to make a decision until I know enough.”

But he will never know enough.

The idea that he needs more info is a way to cope with the anxiousness he associates with being decisive.

This a major factor in people’s insatiable desire for more information, more book lists, more podcasts, more news, more more more.

It’s a way to kick the can of action down the road for another day…which rarely comes.

If you are trying to be more than 20% informed before taking action, you are trying to put the cart before the horse.

Instead, set time limits rather than info thresholds to trigger decisions. “I must decide by next Wednesday,” rather than, “I must decide when I feel like I know enough.”

It is also imperative to stop trying to learn about and take action on things that aren’t your responsibility. This is why we so often counsel men to stop watching the news. Know what is actually in your domain, and direct your energy toward those things. Ignore anything else.

Finally, don’t try to take action on things that are not in your ability to control. Control the controllables, and if you find yourself responsible for things you cannot control, devote them to God in prayer.

Decision-making ability v. knowledge

Btw, for a fascinating real-world illustration of the Pareto principle applied to knowledge and action, one of the members of Tyrannus Hall found this paper: (PDF) How much is too much? The effects of information quantity on crowdfunding performance.

A more banal example, courtesy of Gavin Beers’ wife, is trying to make a decision about what restaurant to go to. If you have some basic information, like a menu, a driving distance, and an average review rating, it’s pretty easy to decide. But if you start reading all the reviews for every restaurant, and trying to weigh each conflicting report and opinion, you get deeper and deeper into analysis paralysis, and end up having microwaved Ramen at 11 pm.

The Bike Chain Solution to getting back on track #

Bike chains can slip off their gears. When they do, you flip your bike over on its seat and handle bars. You then fully realign the chain one of the gears, get the chain on a few of the teeth of the other gear, and turn the pedals.

Voila! The chain is pulled back on by the turning of the gears.

Here’s a 45 second video if you’re struggling to visualize this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjjUjfwPGwA

Now let’s apply this to when the “chains of life” have fallen off the gears.

You don’t need to get everything perfectly aligned. Partially aligned will do. In other words, knowing just the next step is enough to get you going—if you apply forward motion.

It will pull the “chains of life” back on.

What is the next thing? Do that.

Notable: #

Talk again next week,

Bnonn & Michael

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