One way to classify people is whether they are an Acceptor, a Questioner, or Rebel. I’m sure you can guess their definitions just by the titles, but let’s look at them (or not if you’re a Rebel). I recently had a friend send me a personality test. She said it identified her perfectly. I hate personality tests because I find the questions don’t allow for grey areas – any guesses as to what I am? I assumed this test was connected to Myers Briggs, which I’ve done several times in the past and found I had two very different results based on the mood I was in when filling it out, so I question the overall validity of it. What made me happy about the result of this test I took was that it was wrong even though I answered it as best as I could. One of the things it said about me was that I care about fashion… um, anyone who knows me is well aware that fashion is not my strength as I wear clothes I received as gifts up to fifteen years ago. Plus, being married with kids my concern for fashion is even less than when I was younger wearing shirts that said “Chad is rad,” and “Once you try Chad everyone else is bad.” I clearly wasn’t a fashion guru then and even less of one now. When I wore those shirts, they were conversation starters and to show I wasn’t uptight (or someone to be threatened by for their fashion sense). How I perceived this personality test compared to my friend clearly defines a difference between us; she is an Acceptor and I am a Rebel. She accepts what’s given to her and I go against it. Why am I a Christian? I’m a Rebel – a lame one, but still a Rebel. Since I went to public school where Jesus wasn’t cool, I naturally liked being Christian. If I was sent to Christian school, I would likely be an atheist – don’t tell me what to believe. Why don’t I have a tattoo or try growing a beard? I do the opposite of the norm. Why did I used to like the Backstreet Boys? I’m lame. When my wife read me parenting advice from a book she was reading, my first response was to tell her how wrong it was: (her) “It says you should praise the action and not the child.” (me) “Or we can not worry so much about the words we use since what we say is interpreted however the listener wants to interpret it. Why put extra pressure on ourselves when it doesn’t really matter. It’s like when they teach you should say the action is bad and not the child is bad. Sometimes, the child is bad. If your actions are frequently bad, you’re a bad person. Why are we so afraid to be straightforward? A Spade is a Spade, or are you saying that the person you’re talking to is too weak to handle any hint of a criticism because that seems meaner to me than saying they’re bad.” (wife) “I really need to stop telling you what I read.” (me) “So you’re saying I’m too insecure to handle other people’s ideas?” (wife) “No, but it doesn’t lead to a good conversation.” (me) “Good point” – which proves I can be an Acceptor… eventually… if it makes sense.
As a Rebel I’m quick to defend the underdog. In Hamilton news right now two paramedics are in court for essentially others saying they were bad at their jobs and racist. Reading these articles drives me insane because I want to protect the paramedics since I naturally want to protect the underdog, and I want to believe that they’re better than the news is making them. Their bosses should want the same thing because if they were bad at their jobs, their bosses have no judge of character for hiring them and have very unhealthy standards for keeping them. As a regular citizen I want to hope the leaders are hiring good people because otherwise how can I trust our healthcare system? Attacking any professional for a bad moment is stupid because how can someone who has helped 1000s of people make one mistake and lose their job? If that’s the case, how can any of our jobs be safe? How can we ever feel safe and trust those around us? One mistake and our lives are ruined. The implications in this are huge, and how do I see this? I’m a Rebel.
Does being a Rebel get me in trouble? It has potential. Do I have to be very careful what I say and to whom I say it? Absolutely. When I get that wrong is when I get in trouble. In the book The 12 Bad Habits that Hold Good People Back the author talks about people like me and how we can get in trouble for always having an objection and/or questioning what’s being taught. Meanwhile another book, In Defense of Troublemakers, the author argues how people like me help society be better because we naturally challenge the norms and push to improve ideas or be replaced by better ideas. A lot of comedians are Questioners or Rebels because it helps fuel their ideas. At the same time, I’m well aware that I can also be incredibly annoying if I always have objections, so I have to be careful. It can also be hard for me because I’ll get really discouraged with how stupid some people are and how their bad decisions hurt people without them realizing it.
I will also acknowledge that I’m not always a Rebel; I’m an Acceptor when people I respect tell me something that makes sense. I have a friend who is a hardcore Rebel. His opinion will often surprise me, but it will be informed and it will be strong. I’ve learned it’s best to wait until he shares his opinion first and then I can join in as I make sure I affirm his ideas rather than suggest I’m different. See? I can be an Acceptor… it just isn’t very often. I also hate conflict and I’m open minded, so I can adjust in some cases. When a cop pulls me over, I’m definitely an Acceptor… and then complain about him after like you’re supposed to do. When I’m around Rebels, I rebel against their rebelling and in a way appear to be an Acceptor. It’s very strange.
My brother is a pure Acceptor… and has less conflict. Acceptors are very nice people who go with the flow. They don’t question or cause issues. They’re very good at doing what they’re told and follow every rule like during lockdown. The downside is Acceptors can be taken advantage of and good ideas they have can be kept to themselves. Sometimes we all need to be Acceptors, and if we are socially aware and mature, we’ll recognize those times.
Questioners are the middle between the two extremes. They will question what’s being said and can then go to being an Acceptor or Rebel, but they’ll question first. Questioners can be like Rebels who help us rethink ideas. For instance, because I’m a Rebel, I have created a very healthy, rational theology considering both scripture and real life experience that I follow. I’m not so liberal that I lose touch with faith, but my theology will either open the eyes of a conservative Christian or they’ll hate me because a lot Christians are Acceptors and don’t want to rethink things.
Understanding the difference between Acceptors, Questioners, and Rebels is very important because you’ll know the more you tell others to do things, the greater the risk of it creating that very problem. This means if you’re a parent and you tell your teenager they shouldn’t date a specific person, there’s a good chance they’re dating that person because teens are natural Rebels and like to do the opposite of what they’re told. If you’re a wife telling your husband to do something, if he’s a Rebel he’s going to give you pushback. Even if you tell people not to be racist, you’re going to risk increasing the amount of racism. It’ll just become quieter. The sad truth is the current push for black empowerment is going to create some strong rejection. Some Rebels will listen, but you can’t expect every Questioner and Rebel to be an Acceptor. Acceptors will have no problem falling in line, but we can never expect everyone to just accept things because that’s not how people work. Leaders need to be careful with this because it can cause major backlash down the road. It’s just like I know some people will read this and want to prove it wrong while others like it. Telling people not to do something will make some people do it, which is a major reason Christianity grows best where it’s not allowed and dies where it is.
The good news is there is benefit to all three categories and we need to learn to appreciate what people offer while considering if we need to adjust in the moment to make life better for ourselves.
This week may you consider which category you more likely fall into and how you can make your life and the lives of those around you better.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people (like me)