You know who they are. Those people in your life who know just how to push your buttons. There’s one or two – or maybe more – friends, neighbors, coworkers, or family members, who seem to have the extraordinary talent to say or do just the thing to “get your goat,” “rub you the wrong way,” or just generally tick you off.
If we spend more than a few minutes around them we will probably soon be angry, impatient, jealous, grouchy, irritated, or depressed. They just have that effect on us. And it’s their fault. Right?
Well, maybe not. This past weekend I heard something that really got me thinking. Jennifer Kennedy Dean, founder of The Praying Life Foundation, spoke at my church. Saturday afternoon we had a two-session conference on prayer. Sunday morning, she shared a message about living an “altar’d” life.
An “altar” (the noun) is the place we lay our offering down before God, where we yield that which we hold and control. In her book, “Altar’d: Experience the Power of the Resurrection,” Jennifer turns the noun “altar” into a verb. To live in an altar’d state means to live surrendered to God, yielded and free. It means to put to death our sinful, fleshly ways and lay them down before God. “Altar’d living frees us to live in the power of the resurrection.”
So what does push-button people have to do with altar’d living? Our “buttons” are those spots where our sinful flesh still rules and reigns. Those areas of our lives we have not yielded up to God are the very ones that light up when the push-button people come around. Jennifer called them “pockets of flesh” that rear their ugly head when engaged by the words or deeds of people we encounter.
Selfishness. Anger. Impatience. Greed. The desire to control. The need to be right. Should I go on? Ouch, I really want to stop now.
The real problem is not the people who push the buttons. The real problem is the buttons. That means the fault is within us. Our ugly, fleshly human nature.
Here’s the good news: God wants to use those push-button people in our lives to make us more life Jesus. Whenever our buttons get pushed, the Spirit says, “Did you feel that? That’s an area that needs to be laid down, given over, altar’d.” God points out these areas of sin in our lives because He wants to refine them, clean them out.
I’m tired of having my buttons pushed. I hate how it feels. But this weekend the Holy Spirit showed me that God can use push-button people in my life for a greater purpose. Now I’m praying that God will help me give every “button” over to Him. When one lights up and I feel that little jolt, I want to turn it off for good, to altar it before God.
What do you think? Do you have any push-button people in your life? How can God use them to make you more like Jesus?
Sign up to get Kathy's blog posts by email and get a free Bible study on the book of Titus.
Yesterday was a push button day. Ouch! This really hits home. So hard to live out sometimes. Thanks for the reminder. Being aware that it is a flesh issue is half the battle. Getting out of the way, well, it must take practice. Joyce
Joyce, I think I will be “practicing” for the rest of my life! But you’re right about being aware. When I heard Jennifer speak, it made a huge difference to realize that God actually wants to use these encounters to make me more like Jesus. They are so much more than just a nuisance in my day. They are moments of spiritual refinement!
Four years ago, we adopted our youngest son. He is 12 now and brings such joy & excitement to our lives. BUT, he pushes my buttons. Partly because we’re opposite personalities (he’s an outgoing sanguine & I’m an introverted melancholy) and partly because he likes to test limits and partly because of him living an undisciplined life for 9 years… he gets under my skin. But, I have to be honest and say that many of the areas he pushes me are ones I need to work on, ones that God wants to refine in me. To a large extent, helping him out from under the weight of his past is my mission focus, but to an equally if not larger extent, God is using Him to craft me into the person He desires. It’s an amazingly wonderful and frustratingly astounding experience.
Kari, isn’t it amazing how God does that! He uses us not only to sharpen each other but to refine each other. Of course, if we will cooperate with Him!
As I was about to allow the ugly head rear itself this afternoon, i remembered seeing this article this morning on facebook and i went back to read. WOW! It literally has stopped me in my tracks ~ so many times I want to have the last word in, but this truly shows where I should be putting in my strength… right back to God himself! Thank you Kathy for sharing what you have learned and your words of wisdom!
Hi Jenn, thanks for sharing this with us! Let’s keep encouraging each other to turn to God when our buttons get pushed!
Jennifer’s talks were very thought provoking. I could definitely sense God speaking to me though her words. I am working on “altaring” my thoughts and reactions to those ” push button” people in my life. I know God has them there for a purpose–to refine and grow me and hopefully to become more compassionate, understanding, patient, and tender hearted toward others. Thanks for your efforts in bringing Jennifer to our church. She was an excellent presenter and made me think about things from a new perspective.
Miriam, I am so glad you were able to attend! I was blessed too and so thankful God worked it out for her to come.