Science, Relationships, and Spirituality: 5-1 Rule

On Sunday we looked at what’s called the 5-1 Rule. How our brains are wired for negativity, and we need at least 5 positive interactions to cancel out 1 negative interaction. The interesting thing is that’s actually what we see in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

Prior to Paul giving some pretty specific instructions in chapters 4, 5, and 6 (don’t steal, treat your spouse well, etc) Paul affirms the good in the Ephesians first. Paul begins building them up and reminding them who they are, before turning to what they need to do differently.

And that one difference, can make all the difference.

We tend to jump to the negative, but that’s not the example of Paul in Ephesians. Paul starts with the good in people, not the bad. Paul reminds them of who they are before telling them what to do. Paul in essence follows the 5-1 ratio or rule. He certainly addresses concerns, but not before affirming and caring for who they are.

And I think that one little insight can help so many of our relationships.

What if before nagging – we stopped to do some caring? What if before confronting – we did some affirming? What if before judging – we actually did some loving?

I think if we focused on following Paul in this, not only would our lives be different, but our relationships healthier, whole, and better.

Big Idea: Practice the 5-1 Rule

Teaching Notes:

  • Every relationship has expectation gaps
  • Before bringing up the negative, Paul shares the positive.
  • Paul starts with the good in people, not the bad
  • Before Paul tells them what to do, he tells them who they are.
  • Science has taught us what is called “The Brain’s Negativity Bias
  • The mind is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones.” Rick Hanson
  • affirm the good, before bringing up the bad

Questions for Discussion:

What was funny or new? How did God speak to you through the sermon? Have you ever thought about an idea like the 5-1 rule before? Are you prone to start with good or bad? How can you put this rule into practice this week?

Questions for Young Families:

Rather than talking about the today, show it. Do something for your kids to affirm their goodness.

Challenge for the Week:

Practice the 5-1 Rule.

Learning to Deal with Anger


On Sunday we are looking at a topic we’ve looked at before here, but one that needs to be addressed often. We are looking at anger.

And this is a really important topic because as Jesus teaches us anger is like murder (Matthew 5). And what Jesus is trying to get at in that teaching is that anger, just like  murder, can actually kill relationships. Anger can fracture friendships. Anger can wreck families.

And I think we know this and have experienced this before.

But the other side of the coin is this, anger is a feeling we have when our wills get stopped. We get angry when what we want doesn’t happen. In this way then anger is a natural response to the world around us. Paul says in Ephesians 4 in your anger do not sin. Meaning that anger isn’t a sin, our response to anger can determine whether we sin or not.

The point is that if we respond poorly to anger, it will lead to a severing of relationships like Jesus said. If we indulge and cultivate anger it will lead to a fracturing of families like Jesus said.

So on Sunday we want to look at how to deal with anger, how do we respond to anger, and what advice does the Bible give on how to do this. That’s where we are going and I think it’s an important topic. Because if you want to have healthy relationships we need to learn to deal with anger and conflict. So that’s this Sunday and if you want to read ahead – why not start with Ephesians 4. There is some real wisdom in there we’ll be drawing from.