Reactors vs. Thinkers

Some questions require an immediate answer. 


What time are you picking me up for dinner tonight?

We’re going to be late! Where are your shoes?

Did you put the ice cream in the freezer?

These are questions that many of us handle as they pop up. We just automatically spit out the answer and move on without spending much time thinking about the question in depth or the effects of the answer.

After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”

And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.” 
John 21:15-19 NKJV

There are even some personality types that seem to answer all questions this way.

Hey, Bob, we’re talking about moving you to the other coast to open up a new store, total new concept, new product line, new everything. We have no idea if this will work or not, but the option has opened up and we need to make  a decision. Can we count on you to head this up?

And Bob immediately says yes, goes home packs his stuff, informs his wife and children, and away they go.


Ok, so that situation may be a little extreme, but what about the organization you volunteer for?

Hey, Jane, we’re thinking a spring fundraiser would be a great idea for the kids summer trip. We know you have experience with fundraising, kids, and community events so we nominated you to chair the event. All we need now is your signature on the acceptance form.

You do have everything they’ve mentioned, and you happen to think it’s a great idea. You also have a family with a busy schedule, a job that’s working you overtime, a church where you have responsibilities, and belong to three other like-minded organizations. Do you take the pen and sign the form right there on the spot or do you take time to think about it?

There are thinkers and there are reactors.


I tend to be a reactor, although through the years I’m getting much better at taking a step back to pray and think before I respond, surrounded by thinkers.

If you want to drive a reactor nuts, surround them by thinkers. However, if you are a reactor overlooking thinkers, today’s thoughts are probably for you.

In the past when someone would ask me to do to them a favor, I would usually respond with, “Sure. What do you need?”

Unfortunately, after being asked to do some things that I wasn’t comfortable with, by people I respected, I had to change my response. My new response really drove some people nuts.

“Hey, Carrie, could you do me a favor?”

“Maybe. I will pray and think about doing what ever you present.”

Want to drive a reactor (Remember, I’m typically a reactor.) really nuts? Tell them you’ll pray about something instead of simply agreeing to do what you’ve been asked to do. See, if you’re a Christian reading this post, then you know “I’ll pray about it.” means one of two things.

*One: I don’t want to do this at all, so telling you I’ll pray      
          about it is going to be my long-term excuse not to do it.
          Every time you ask for my answer, I’ll just respond with the 
          fact that I’m still praying. Guess God’s been too busy to get 
          back to me on this one.

Or

*Two: I truly am going to pray about until God answers and 
          tells me what He wants me to do. If you got your instructions 
          from God, this will go your way. If, however, you came up 
          with this “good idea”, presented it before praying it through, 
          and have already sold it to others, well, it’s likely God’s not 
          going to tell me to do what you’ve asked me to do and 
          you’re going to look bad. 

Reactors expect other reactors to react. It’s why we go to other reactors first. If you want something done, you go to a reactor, not a thinker.

That sounds so wrong, doesn’t it? And yet some of you were shaking your heads in agreement as you read that statement. 

Reactors don’t always get things done right. They just get them done right now.

Ouch.

Several years ago (Pains me to say that. Seems like just the other day.) an individual asked my husband to do something. He responded immediately that he couldn’t due to his work schedule. It was impossible. No thinking or praying required for this. 

The individual refused his answer. Basically told him they wouldn’t accept his no. They were going to pray that God would change his mind or his work schedule or whatever it took.

My husband came home furious. I found it hilarious. 

He was just re-telling me this story one evening this week. He won’t ever forget it. He doesn’t remember it fondly. He thinks the whole situation was handled VERY poorly and in bad taste. (He’s very correct!!!!)

I still smile politely on the outside and die laughing on the inside. I’ll never forget this situation either. I still think it’s hilarious. The reactor used some reverse psychology and got their way.

However, sometimes, we reactors count those thinkers out too soon. Sometimes, “I need some time to pray about this and think it through.”, is the answer we should WANT to hear from others.

Perhaps they’ll pray it through and God won’t lead them to fulfill your request. Or, perhaps God will impart some additional wisdom to them that is necessary for the plan to prosper. And, it may even be that God instructs them that the whole idea is the wrong way to be headed at the time.

In my experience, living with a thinker, he hears God when so many of the rest of us are just running full steam ahead towards what looks like a Godly thing to do. 

You know, there are days when feeding and tending God’s sheep and lambs becomes less of a sprint and more of endurance. Jesus asked Peter three times if He loved Him, and gave him instructions three times regarding what He should do as a response to that love. 

I don’t think Jesus was wanting Peter’s off-the-cuff reactor answer. Think it through, Peter. You’ve seen so much already. I’m calling you to walk a path that won’t be easy. You’ve already denied me three times. Speaking love and showing love are two totally different things.

Sometimes we need to back off and let people get their answer from God. We may know, that we know, that we KNOW that God is calling someone into a certain ministry, but we need to let that person hear it from God themselves. 

It doesn’t mean we can’t encourage them. It definitely doesn’t mean we should just dismiss them and move on to someone else. We reactors just need to take a step back into prayer and let God’s Spirit do the leading.



photo credit: Sigfrid Lundberg via photopin cc

20 comments

  • I think I may be a reactor!! Something to think about….

  • This is a great post, I tend to be a reactor. I am learning how to balance though. I definitely agree that taking a step and praying about something first is important.

    • Nicole,

      Great to see you today! It’s hard to change our natural patterns. I see a need and I’m just off. Sometimes we need to slow down and make sure we’re charging off in the right direction.

  • great post. i think i am a reactor and thinker based upon situations. when the responsibility is on me, i tend to think before reacting. while when decision is not on me, i tend to become a reactor. i think finally it depends upon situation.

    • Amarnaik,

      I would agree with that. In some situations it is much easier to take the time to think than others. It does take both personality types, however, for us to have balance!

      Thank you so much for dropping in to chat!!!! I hope to see you again!

  • A lot of food for thought in this post. I’m not sure if I’m a reactor or a thinker–that’s something I’ll have to reflect on. (Maybe that means I’m a thinker, since I can’t decided right away–LOL!)

    I appreciate that you aim to bring God into everyday situations. Just as it should be!

    • Sonya, I love your response! Your immediate need to think about it lends to the thinker side. 😀

      I try to see God in all situations. I KNOW He’s in them all, so I try to make an effort to see what the lesson there is even when I’d rather not.

      Thanks for dropping in today to chat!!! See you again tomorrow?

  • I tend to bounce back and forth between the two extremes. Sometimes if I think too much things never get done, but of course when I simply react that doesn’t work so well either.

    • Lynda, How true. We must find balance between the two in order to find our true purpose and manage to get things done in a reasonable amount of time. I’m so glad you dropped by again today to join the conversation!!!

  • Oh my – such a great post. As I have aged (and hopefully gotten wiser) I can see myself more as a thinker. But that reactor – well she is definitely still in the house! One thing I have learned to do though is consider the impact to other commitments already made. That is my litmus test now more than anything. I was chuckling on the “let me pray about it” discussion. Ah so true… Absolutely loved the music video. Jason Gray is new to me. I’ll be checking out more of his work.

    • Kathi, Thank you for stopping in to join the conversation! I’ve stepped away from most (not work related) commitments for the time being, and I’m taking a lot of time just to think. However, my “normal” is just charging into everything full steam ahead.

      I think anyone who has ever had much to do with leadership in a church can laugh about the “I’ll pray about it” situation. 😀 I think that phrase means the same thing in every denomination!

      We love Jason Gray! I’m glad you got to meet him here! I try to incorporate music frequently. I believe I also heard a new song on your post today too!

      Please come back to chat again soon! I love to talk!!!!

  • Amen! Thank you for your post and the reminder.

    • Carol,

      Thank you for dropping in to visit! I’m glad these words struck a chord with someone. I always wonder if I’m the only one…

      Please stop in again!!!

  • I know I’m a thinker. I’m afraid to take chances and try new things by nature. That is why God challenges me to do them constantly. Sometimes it’s hard but when I accept His will it is incredible to be able to trust Him in everything, feel how He takes care of me and my insecurities.

    • Joanna, Thinkers have a LOT of positive attributes that those of us reactors could definitely learn from. It’s great that you accept His challenges and step out in faith! We all have challenges. Mine is to be still and LISTEN, not to go charging into action. Thank you for dropping in again!!!!

  • I think it depends what it is all about. In some instances, I am definitely a reactor, other times I weigh out all the options and think about it. ♥

    • Kathy, Balance is what it’s all about. If we could all find that balance, well, I guess I wouldn’t have much to write about! 😉

      Ahhh. What am I saying? I always have something to talk about! It’s the reactor in me!

  • I’m definitely a thinker…no thought needed on that one, lol. I tend to analyze the situation and are quite slow to react. My reactor friends have learned not to push me or if my first response is “no” to wait a few minutes before I change my mind and say “yes” lol.

    • Olivia,

      You are BLESSED to have friends who know to wait for your thoughts to process. I have witnessed so many thinkers get left behind, left out, and frankly walked all over because reactors just didn’t let them process the information. It took watching it happen up close and personal for me to realize I’ve been guilty of doing the same things.

      You are BLESSED!