Rudders of destiny – pronouns

By Dave Henning / July 5, 2023

“Pronouns are the rudders that determine our destiny.  They reveal where we find our identity. . . . our security.  They even reveal idolatry!  The psychology of please starts with first-person plural pronouns.  We is greater than me.  The power of please lives in the second person.  There you are!”- Mark Batterson

“It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.”- President Harry Truman

Mark Batterson concludes Chapter 1 of Please Sorry Thanks as he suggests that the most significant clue indicating whether you’re a giver or a taker = pronouns.  Hence, takers tend to use first-person singular pronouns.  Versus first-person plural pronouns like we, us, ours, and ourselves.  In fact, pronouns make up almost 60 percent of your word usage.  But pronouns account for less than .1 percent of your vocabulary.

Next, Mark takes a look at the world of politics.  As a result, he notes two primary ways to rally the troops:

 1.  Focus on a common enemy.  Consequently, you denounce those who dare to disagree with you.  Rabbi Jonathan Sacks calls this pathological dualism.  Because such a view prejudges people as ‘unimpeachably good’ or ‘irredeemably bad.’  In addition, Pastor Batterson describes this common-enemy approach as a zero-sum game.

 2.  Celebrate our common humanity.  In this approach, the image of God in you greets the image of God in others.  Therefore, humanizing one another levels the playing field.  Above all, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. appealed to common values, common ideals, and common sense.  He once said:

“Hate cannot drive out hate.  Only love can do that.”

So, Mark asks, what’s your bent — common enemy or common humanity?  And pronouns signal the point where the road divides.

In conclusion, Mark offers this summary:

“Self-centered leaders take the credit and shift the blame.  Other-focused leaders give the credit and take the blame. . . .  If you find your identity in Christ, you build altars to God.  If you’re trying to prove yourself to people, you build monuments to yourself.”

Today’s question: How do you see pronouns as rudders that determine your destiny?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Legacy and tipping points”

About the author

Dave Henning

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