Why I Get Defensive

Defensiveness…I’m writing this post today because yesterday I got defensive.

I got defensive yesterday during a conversation I was having about this blog. I debated with a number of people without emotion about the contents of that blog, but one member said something to me and I immediately felt defensive and reacted defensively.

Defensiveness is an issue that I struggle with and maybe you do as well. I’ve found that what helps me the most to move out of my defensiveness is to acknowledge what is making me defensive and then dealing with it accordingly. When I say what is making me defensive I am not talking about the specific issues I become defensive over, but rather the underlying deeper issues that cause me to react in such a childish way.

So here are the two main reasons I become defensive, maybe you can relate, or maybe these will help you analyze & find the deeper reasons for why you get defensive…don’t get defensive, I’m not saying you do…but if you do maybe this will help.

After years of over reacting to certain criticisms I’ve come to discover that I do so for two main reasons:

  1. My own insecurities.
  2. Conviction from God that I have been fighting.

Let me start with the first reason. Of the two this position of defensiveness takes place less often than the latter. I’m not saying I am the most secure person, I have some very deep insecurities, but I have come to accept, most the time, my weaknesses and not become defensive about them. When I do become defensive due to insecurity it is often when someone close to me or someone I have deep respect for critiques me. While not a “pleaser” by nature (maybe that is bad for a pastor to admit), I do find that rather than just acknowledging how I have let someone down by recognizing:

A) I can’t do it all (time challenges)

B) I do not have the gifting to fulfill their need


C) I just dropped the ball

that instead I make excuses, I rationalize, I point out when I did succeed in that area; in other words, I get defensive. Which often leads to a needless argument if it is with my wife or my Dad (two of the folk I get defensive with the most) or awkwardness if the critique is from someone outside of family. This would be the lesser of the two reasons I get defensive.

I find the other one though far worse…because when I get defensive for the latter reason, “conviction,” I find I am not only getting defensive with the individual I am speaking with, but I know in my heart I am also being defensive with the Holy Spirit.

You see there are certain areas people will, whether out of kindness or rebuke, show me my need for improvement. I have spent enough time with myself to almost always know if the defensiveness that sometimes occurs in these moments is an insecurity or a conviction. I know when they are of conviction, because while hearing from the individual I almost simultaneously hear a voice saying, “listen to this” “grow from this.” Oh what a joy it would be if I would just acknowledge that voice, but instead so often I internally start to debate that voice and unfortunately the internal debate also pours out of my mouth and becomes an external debate with the person critiquing as well.

While the former still happens…my insecurities still arise, as they did yesterday…

More often than not the deeper issue is the latter, a struggle against the Holy Spirit. A conviction that I do need to change, and a heart that wants to justify who I am now, a heart that wants to resist the change, a heart that isn’t very happy that the Lord has allowed someone else to see my deep flaws and need for growth.

These are the reasons I get defensive and I’m finding the quicker I acknowledge them, the quicker I get over my defensive position and allow myself to either let go and accept my deficiency or allow the Holy Spirit to change me for His glory!

If you get defensive I hope you’ll discover why and allow yourself to move out of this detrimental response sooner rather than later.


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