How To Avoid The "Instawall!"

You already know what the Instawall is! You’ve likely been on one side or the other multiple times, but now you have a word for it.

It happens when someone says something that builds an instant wall between two people where no matter what was said it cannot be considered a valid choice. A line of respect has been breached and the listener feels small, invalidated or infantized.

Most often the Instawall happens after openers like these:

“You know what I would do if I were you….”

“Okay, so here’s what you need to do…”

“Did you want to (insert what the speakers want them to do) ….?” (this is the soft sell version)

“Listen to me now! …”

Each of these lines assumes the speaker knows best what should happen next for another person.

The kicker is that the speaker may be right! But if the statement is made in a way that makes the other person feel like they are being bossed, or belittled or just flat out told what to do the healthy response is the Instawall.

That’s a bold statement. Here’s the reasoning behind it.

Our Jesus-given goal from the great commission is to make disciples NOT dependents. When we tell people what to do we are in essence putting them in a lesser place. We are disempowering them. We are removing their opportunity to choose and basically putting them in a corner with the options to “Listen to me now” or disrespect my advice and choose for themself what to do with their life. Both of these options are a lose.

If they learn to listen to leaders only – they will never develop their own ears to hear God’s voice and will be held back from developing a personal relationship with Him. This also puts a weight on leadership that God never intended. The weight to solve other peoples problems.

If they “rebel” and do what they want with their lives, there is a risk of renegade syndrome and their becoming loners with small or no circles of healthy support or influence.


What if the opportunity to make disciples was about helping them learn to choose wisely?

What if we could offer our brilliant ideas without telling?

What if people could become empowered to use the free will God gave them in a way that was good for all?

So, what can we do?

How can we help people without invoking the Instawall?

First change your heart. Recognizing that you may not have the best answer for someone else’s life seems elementary, but really. Do you think you know better? (Two things quick – I am not talking about moral issues here. That is a line we can’t cross as coaches. And – if you really think you know best for someone’s life then there may be a pride root you need to get out or you may not be trusting the Holy Spirit to move in their lives and think you could or even should get more involved.)

A few easy vocab flips could change everything!

Second, consider your wording. If your heart is truly right and you simply feel you have good ideas because of your education or your personal experience, than you can make an offer that is worthy of consideration. This is honoring and more likely to be received while avoiding the Instawall.

They sound like this:

“What would it look like if you ….?”

“I find myself wondering if …..”

“Help me understand …”

“I’m just curious…”

When we can help people discern their options; we can assist them as they learn to choose well. We can look at potential outcomes of each option. We can figure out what obstacles are holding them back.

We can build leaders confident of making choices for their own lives.

We can make disciples of God and not dependents on us!



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