Jan Johnson
Jan Johnson

Retreats & Conferences

Retreat/In-House Conference Retreat 4:
How to Love Your Difficult Neighbor (Living Without Contempt)

Managing anger and frustrating is a hot topic, but this is deeper. It’s possible to become the kind of person out of whom contempt and anger do not naturally flow. We no longer manage people through forceful speech, clever comebacks, or withdrawal strategies – nor do we think judgmental thoughts in our head. By connecting with God through spiritual disciplines, we become people who can speak the truth in genuine, caring love. (Inspired by Chapter Five of The Divine Conspiracy.) A 3-talk version of this retreat is also available.

Session 1: What is Contempt and Why Do I Think I Need It?

We harbor contempt for someone anytime we regard them as worthless. This “studied anger” leaks in such things as tone of voice, humor, grumbling, moral superiority, and pet peeves. But as we move forward in transformation into Christlikeness, we get a vision of life without such things. Experiments with appropriate spiritual disciplines are suggested.

Session 2. A Bad day in the Life of Jesus?

Did Jesus show contempt? We examine a passage that plainly says Jesus was angry and look at how he also spoke from a clean heart full of compassion and a desire to see his enemies’ souls restored. Experiments with appropriate spiritual disciplines are suggested.

Session 3. Speaking the Truth in Love

Speaking the truth and speaking with love can seem poles apart, but the life of Jesus shows us they do not have to be. We explore what loving speech looks like as well as respect as a part of love, the difference between discernment and judgment, issues of retraining the body away from contempt and what loving confrontation looks like. Experiments with appropriate spiritual disciplines are suggested.

Session 4. Everyday, In-the-Moment Anger

When we stop living with contempt, the ordinary anger that seizes us stops seizing us. We explore where anger comes from and what it looks like to walk away to process anger and frustration (without repressing it). We also explore righteous indignation as well as feeling we have to be tough to get our point across. Experiments with appropriate spiritual disciplines are suggested.


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