A Pandemic Through the Lens of The Parables: Part Three

Written by Dr. Brenda Neyens

In part one of this series, we discovered how compassionate actions may overcome certain fears. If you missed part one, you can find it at thecoreomaha.com titled From Fear to Healthy Concern.  In part two of this series, From Fear to Abiding, we learned how to trade our self-sufficiency for interdependence through our connection to Jesus. In the final part of this series, From Dishonor to Emotional Intelligence (EQ), we will take a closer look at how we can develop healthier relationships. This final entry focuses on The Prodigal Son: Luke 15:11-32.

Please take a few minutes and read through this passage, and take special note of how Jesus depicts both of the sons in relationship to their father. In this story, they both treat their father with blatant disrespect.

The younger son asks the father for his inheritance, essentially wishing him dead, and then proceeds to leave him and his community.  Due to his actions, this community must function minus a third of their original assets. Even after the prodigal son makes a mess of his life and journeys back home, he is still determined to take matters into his own hands as evidenced by his speech. It is when the father steps in and redeems him that we finally see a halt to his self-destructive pattern.

The elder son disrespects the father through his words and lack of reverence, and then dishonors him by refusing to attend the banquet. A banquet which would have placed him in the role of head-waiter. As part of his attendance, he would have had to serve his younger brother.

Plus, the elder son of such a wealthy man would have had a relatively easy life as a supervisor over the other servants. He would have had access to all the wealth; meaning, his rant towards his father was way off base.

Within this overall teaching, we learn that sin is more than observable wrong deeds. It is a condition of the heart and an attitude at odds with the grace and goodness of God.  Each son sought to displace the authority of the father; therefore, we learn through this parable that we can sin not only through open rebellion (prodigal son) but also through compliance minus a healthy disposition (elder son).  

Additionally, we see through this parable that the self-righteous journey of the elder son may be even more problematic than the obvious sin of the younger son when it comes to our standing as a healthy member of society. Specifically, it may prevent us from responding to others with the same grace and love that we receive in Christ Jesus. Case in point, it is the elder son who is on the outside looking in at the end of the parable.  

The dishonorable actions of these two sons affords us an opportunity for our personal growth. Certainly, we can relate to these two sons when we struggle with our self-awareness and/or social-awareness. In other words, moments or seasons of a lower emotional intelligence.

Low emotional intelligence disregards our emotions and also dishonors the people around us. A person struggling with emotional intelligence is unable to consider the vantage point of another, resorts to sarcasm, micro-manages, attempts to exert more control, lacks empathy, gets in a lot of arguments, has a high need to defend themselves, blames others for their mistakes, manipulates, takes credit for the work of others, flees or fights during emotionally charged situations as opposed to being able to self-regulate, offers excuses not solutions, has a limited emotional vocabulary, and will not apologize. While not all of these behaviors are included in this parable, a version of many of these items on this list are present.

Every person reading this blog, yes starting with me, may resort to any of these behaviors. Especially when we are under extra stress, like during a pandemic. If we reinforce these behaviors, we can form some unhealthy habits which may remain with us even after this crisis.

Where do you find yourself in this list? Maybe you find yourself on the receiving end of some of these behaviors? What do we do?

Since it is far too easy to fall into unhealthy relational patterns and to either ignore our emotions or be ruled by them, please join me for a class that has been specifically created for this season, but is applicable to life in general:  

Increasing Emotional Intelligence

Intelligence is more than book smarts. Join us for a deep dive into Emotional Intelligence where we will examine practical ways to strengthen your relationship with yourself, others, and with God. Learn how to set the tone for your home and work, strengthen your relationships, and how to more accurately pinpoint your feelings. Let your emotions contribute some clarity and direction towards a healthy, holy, and happy life. 

You can expect to learn some easily applied tips for increasing both self and social awareness.

There is no cost for this class (Classes will be on Zoom), and the only homework is the application of the tips that you will learn in class. The format will be teaching and discussion; however, personal sharing will not be expected. Each class size is limited to 10 participants plus the leaders. Registration is required. Sign up at The CORE Omaha website.

You have two options for this 6 session class: 

Wednesdays – June 17th – July 22nd 4pm-5pm OR Thursdays – June 18th -July 23rd 12pm-1pm

Also, an additional free resource based on the Prodigal Son is available on The Core website: https://www.thecoreomaha.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Anxiety-Core-Booklet.pdf 

Please contact Brenda at brendan@kingofkingsomaha.org. Brenda is a licensed counselor and the Spiritual Formation Director at King of Kings Church.

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