Do you know the difference between a thermometer and a thermostat? A thermometer measures the temperature. It doesn’t do anything about it.
A thermostat measures the temperature and then responds. If the temperature is too high, a thermostat may shut off the heat. If the temperature is too low, a thermostat may trigger heat to turn on. It measures temperature and it does something about it. While a thermometer is passive, a thermostat is active.
Sometimes I am more like a thermometer. It's good for me to know which problems I should respond to and which ones I should step back from. It’s good to know my boundaries; some problems are mine and some belong to others.
At times, thermometers are just what we need. They size up a situation but don’t try to fix it.
On the other hand, if a circumstance requires me to respond, avoiding it because it is difficult or because I don’t like conflict may only make it worse. Sometimes I need to be a thermostat, not a thermometer. There is a time for action. A time to own the problem and do something about it.
I think there’s wisdom in knowing when a thermometer is called for (time to stand down), and when a thermostat is needed (time to step up).
Some questions worth considering are these:
If I don’t respond to this problem, is it because I don’t like conflict? Because I’d rather not be involved? Or do I intentionally not respond because my jumping in may be the wrong thing to do?
If I do respond to this situation, is it because the problem is truly mine and nothing will change until I act? Or is it because it’s just easier to do it myself instead of allowing others to struggle?
Thermometers and thermostats. Today – which will you be?