5 Ways to Snuff out the Flame in Another’s Life

Ok, I’m coming out with it. I like candles and I enjoy burning them in my office.

And though I do enjoy this small pleasure of life, my only deep-seated question is how the CSOT (Candle Scent Origination Team) decides on names for candle scents, especially when the consumer is male.

I am not going to buy the “Lemon Flower” scent or the “Cranberry-Infused Pot Pouri” scent either (or whatever it was called). As a guy, I am looking for candle scents like “Baby-Back Ribs” or “Raging Camp Fire with S’mores.”

Photo courtesy of Marcus74id | FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Photo courtesy of Marcus74id | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

But alas, I have to settle for the “Coastal Mountains” or “Winter Lodge” scents. How do they think these up?

For me, I like to get the candles in the jars that have the lids. When leaving the office for the day, I used to blow out the candle but then got the “smoking wick” scent that would waft through my office. Then I went to blowing out the candle and quickly putting on the lid to minimize the smell of the burning wick.

Then one day I thought, “I wonder if I can just avoid the whole mess altogether and just put the lid on while it is burning?”

Eureka! Problem solved. No smell of the burning wick at all.

**Note: the author actually does have a life and does not spend his time thinking about candles .

But in the process of doing this, I noticed something interesting. Within about 5 seconds of putting the lid on, the flame extinguished itself. Now yes, before you think, “Well what did you expect! Without air candles do not burn!”, I did take Chemistry in high school and do remember that lesson on “elements of the burning fire.”

It was just curious to me how quickly the flame went out after the lid was put on the top of the jar.

And suddenly, like a flash of light from heaven (OK, probably not that dramatic) it occurred to me that I had the makings of a good blog post.

People need oxygen for more than breathing

And the premise is this: if simply putting the lid on the candle extinguished the flame within seconds, what am I doing to those whom I lead around me? Whose “flame” am I extinguishing? What kinds of things do I do or say that minimize oxygen in another’s life? And what are the ramifications of doing this to another person?

Perhaps you are not quite following me yet. Everyday in which I lead and influence others, I am doing one of two things through my interactions:

  1. I am either doing or saying things that make my coworker, friend, church body member, or family member burn bright, feel encouraged, or help them become a more effective version of themselves; OR
  2. I am doing or saying things that make my coworker, friend, church body member, or family member feel like their flame is being snuffed out, feel discouraged, or hinder them from becoming a more effective version of themselves.

I think what struck me most about the candle in my office was the fact that it did not take much to completely stop the flame from burning. And not only did it not take much, it took very little time.

If I am to be the leader that God designed me to be, living out the Gospel in my interactions with others, then I must understand that though getting the job done is important and necessary, developing those around me, and giving them the necessary oxygen to burn brightly is of more importance than being able to even get something accomplished.

What removes the oxygen from another’s life?

So how do I remove oxygen from someone around me? Here are five ways that we can end up “putting the lid” on the life of another and extinguish their “flame.”

  • By only seeing what needs to be fixed in their life. Problem solvers can often be this way. They look so hard to solve a problem that they never give the incremental praise that supplies oxygen for further progress. People are not our projects to be fixed.
  • By not listening. You want to snuff out a flame quickly within another? Just dominate the conversations of those who look to you for leadership. And listening does not mean you just hear their words. The listening leader also hears intent, motive, and what was not said.
  • By not developing those around you. People feel stuck when they are under-developed and not allowed to grow. God designed us to be creative and see work as a gift from Him. Matt Perman has some excellent thoughts in this area.
  • By not conveying trust. Do I micromanage those around me because I feel it just won’t get done well otherwise? Do I fear allowing those under me to make mistakes? Am I lacking in enabling others around me? Then count on their flame begin snuffed out.
  • By removing grace from a relationship. Grace allows for mistakes. Grace conveys kindness. Grace supplies the oxygen others need to flourish. If God extended grace through His son Jesus, when I rebelled, when I was going my own way, what makes me think I have the right to withhold it from others?

All of these examples have either been modeled to me, by me, or around me. Often I do not see the harmful modeling I have done until I have all but snuffed out the flame in another’s life. And God has gotten my attention in a number of different, creative, and painful ways.

All I am asking you to do is evaluate yourself, either by personal introspection or by being humble enough to ask those around you who really know you.

“What? Ask for transparency? That might be painful.”

Right. I know. Self-preservation. But it is more painful to have life sucked out of you by an uninformed leader.

I don’t want to be known as “that guy” by people who are influenced by me. You know, the one with that legacy. Limiting oxygen. Snuffing life.

So what type of leader are you? Are you the type of leader that cannot see clearly through the smoke because you are sucking the oxygen from people’s desire to burn brightly? And all that is left is the smoking wick of their life?

OR do you supply that essential oxygen to those around you so that they can burn bright, breathe deeply, and flourish?

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12-14)

So what are your thoughts? What are other ways that remove the oxygen from another’s “room”?


5 thoughts on “5 Ways to Snuff out the Flame in Another’s Life

  1. Great article. You are absolutely right. If you remove grace from a relationship you snuff the life out of the other person. You also nuff the life out of yourself.

    Too many want grace to be given to them, but do not give it to others.

  2. Totally agree! And good thought that it also snuffs the life out of yourself as well.

    I have had a resurgence in the last few years of recognizing the need of overflowing grace in my own life, and it has been so refreshing for my family and I. Thanks so much for commenting and subscribing to my posts. Appreciated on this end.

  3. the Youth group at my church chose “light” as a theme this year. We start our lesson every week with lighting a candle and prayer. We have spent a good deal of time this year talking about how we all have a light to shine into the world, but honestly we have not addressed the issue of feeding each-other’s lights. I think I am going to use this with my teens this week. It is a well written reminder that we need to focus on feeding each other’s light as well as showing the light Christ gave to each of us.

  4. That is a great idea Michael. I think that would be a profitable discussion to have with your youth group especially as the branding today among teens is to be self-focused and self-affirmed – a “what can you do for me” attitude.

    Thanks so much for the encouraging words with your comment. I appreciate your reading this post.

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