A Petit Primer for Pouters

C’mon now, admit it. You like it. A virtuous pout from time to time really feels good doesn’t it?

You get a wounded look on your face; you say, “No! There’s nothing wrong. Leave me alone.” You go to the other room. You replay all the ways that someone has not noticed you, or not helped you, or hasn’t done what they should.

So, you get revenge. You pout!

According to the Merriam-webster.com dictionary, to pout means: “to push out your lips to show that you are angry or annoyed or to look sexually attractive: to refuse to talk to people because you are angry or annoyed about something.”

It’s this last part of the definition that interests me. I’ve been pouting from time to time for many years now. I can remember a pout from my early childhood. It was lunchtime but I was upset about something and I needed attention. So, I went and lay on the bed and pouted while the others ate.

I was inconsolable. I would teach them to ignore me. Etc.

Let me give you a bit of advice. If you’re going to pout, do it after lunch. The joy you get from a good pout isn’t close to the joy you get from a good meal.

Here are some reasons to pout:

You’ll show them. They ignore you. It’s unjust. You’re not getting what you want and others are. They’ll suffer from your silence or your anger.

Go ahead! Stick that lip out. Let them know you’re mad. Then they’ll come and soothe you. Someone said, “Pouting doesn’t mean that you are a spoiled brat. Pouting means that you know what you want and are trying to get it.” (www.brainyquote.com)


The Price of Pouting

Or you might simply make yourself miserable and everyone else around you, too. Or you might miss a good meal. Or people might think you’re acting like a child and respect you less.

Or you could do something really stupid. King Ahab was mad because one of his subjects wouldn’t sell him a plot of land. He went home and pouted. “He went to bed, stuffed his face in his pillow, and refused to eat.”

So his sweet wife Jezebel, always wanting to help, said, “What’s going on? Why are you so out of sorts and refusing to eat?” (1 Kings 21:4, 5, the Message).

The king poured out his sad tale lamenting that someone wouldn’t sell him a small piece of land he really wanted.

Now let’s stop here for a little advice: if you wife is named Jezebel, it’s better not listen to her solution to the problem. Her solution was: “Off with his head!” or something like that.

So they executed the man on trumped-up charges and pouting Ahab got what he wanted.

But, it ended up being what he didn’t want because that little garden which sprang from a pouting spell cost him much more than he had dreamed it would.

Listen to Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of the confrontation Ahab had at his new garden:

“Then God stepped in and spoke to Elijah the Tishbite, ‘On your feet; go down and confront Ahab of Samaria, king of Israel. You’ll find him in the vineyard of Naboth; he’s gone there to claim it as his own. Say this to him: ‘God’s word: What’s going on here? First murder, then theft?’ Then tell him, ‘God’s verdict: The very spot where the dogs lapped up Naboth’s blood, they’ll lap up your blood—that’s right, your blood.’”

“Ahab answered Elijah, ‘My enemy! So, you’ve run me down!’

“’Yes, I’ve found you out,’ said Elijah. ‘And because you’ve bought into the business of evil, defying God. ‘I will most certainly bring doom upon you, make mincemeat of your descendants, kill off every sorry male wretch who’s even remotely connected with the name Ahab. And I’ll bring down on you the same fate that fell on Jeroboam son of Nebat and Baasha son of Ahijah—you’ve made me that angry by making Israel sin.’”

“As for Jezebel, God said, “Dogs will fight over the flesh of Jezebel all over Jezreel. Anyone tainted by Ahab who dies in the city will be eaten by stray dogs; corpses in the country will be eaten by carrion crows.” (1 Kings 21:17-21, The Message)

Whoa! That’s a pretty high price for a pout.

I suppose we all pout at times but be careful. We might end up hurting ourselves more than the ones we’re trying to punish. Charles “Tremendous” Jones told of a time that he was mad at his wife. He slept on the edge of his bed on his side for a whole week, according to his story.

At the end of the week he discovered that she didn’t even know he was mad.

If we feel that someone is not treating us correctly, let’s have the courage to go to that person and talk to them like an adult. Speak respectfully. Don’t let anger distort your voice but speak your heart. That’s much more effective than pouting.

And if the person doesn’t change? Well, that’s not good. But, pouting just complicates the issue. It doesn’t solve it. Give it to God. He will work for you.

Use that pouting energy for something else. The singer Duke Ellington once said, “I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues.”

Not a bad idea.


Hmmm ….
If we can fall in love with serving people, creating value, solving problems, building valuable connections and doing work that matters, it makes it far more likely we’re going to do important work.  Seth Godin

Duke Ellington

A husband is one who stands by you in troubles you wouldn’t have had if you hadn’t married him.

Photos: Flickr, Creative commons amanda tipton Anastasios Fakinos Duke Ellington (Pictures slightly cropped)

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