Don’t Normalize Behavior, Look for the Principle

Introduction: Recently speaking at a Minister’s Conference.

Between the other invited guest and myself there was over 135 years of living and over 90 years of ministerial experience.

By the grace of God and by being star pupils in the school of Hard Knocks we both had had a measure of success and thus spoke with some authority on our subjects. 

The good news is we gave some good and practical advice.

The danger is that our listeners may have latched on to our behavior and missed the principles being taught.

  • Or to put it another way, our listeners may have latched onto what we did and not why we did it.

Application: Do not normalize my behavior; look for the principles.

What to do:

FIRST: Do not normalize other people’s behavior…

SECOND: Look for principles that will help you improve and be more effective

James 1:22-24 (NKJV) But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.

Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Application: Make time in your week for intense study and reflection on what you have read and listened too.  And review it regularly.


The Benefits of focusing on principles vs. behavior

First: Living a principle-based life protects you from the ever-changing tides of human opinions, styles, and fads.

“The only thing your competition can’t duplicate is the relationship your people have with your customers.” _Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges, Lead Like Jesus, p. 198

Second: Living a principle-based life helps you to make decisions and take actions based on your values and eternal truths and not emotions.

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock…” _Jesus (Matthew 7:24)

3 thoughts on “Don’t Normalize Behavior, Look for the Principle

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