Thermostat or Thermometer?

According to, 75% of couples argue over where to set the thermostat. While my husband and I have come to terms with this dilemma after 41 years, I still struggle with other people’s thermostat choices. But, hey, if they want to set their thermostat at subzero temps, more power to them!

The thermostat determines the temperature in the room. I know that is earth shattering info for you, but I wanted to clarify that before continuing.

In our first pastorate, we lived in the parsonage right next door to the church. The house desperately needed more insulation, so setting the thermostat was quite an ordeal. In the winter, once the furnace reached the set temperature and the fan shut off, you could watch the temperature needle descend. So, we always set the temperature a bit higher than normal to compensate, and for a few minutes, it would be quite warm in that house. But only for a few minutes.

This solution worked for us but became a problem for a church board member who dropped in regularly. He always went straight to the thermostat and readjusted it. I’m not sure how it happened that every time he dropped in, the furnace was hard at work to reach a too-warm, temporary temperature. He never stayed around to experience the falling temps. Yes, I was offended and annoyed, but I also understood that he was looking out for the church budget. And I was too much of a coward to confront him. As much as I tried to understand his actions, the fact remained that he didn’t live there; we did.

I sometimes feel that same way when the mindset trends of the day are being pressed upon me by media and conversations. They are attempting to adjust my moral thermostat to match everyone else’s, but everyone else doesn’t live here and look at me in the mirror; I do.

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus, a single father, is trying to explain to his son, Jem, why their friends and neighbors would condemn an innocent man based only on the color of his skin. I appreciate what Atticus says and want to share it with you.

“Well, most folks seem to think they’re right and you’re wrong…. They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions, but before I can live with other folks, I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

I think the key part of Atticus’ quote is that we must live with ourselves before we can peaceably live with others. If you are unsure what to believe, what to fight for, what to dwell on, check with your conscience, not majority rule. What is it that guides your conscience?

(Side note: I chose the word peaceably on purpose. According to, “Peaceable, means inclined to peace, is more likely to describe people and groups of people, whereas peaceful, means undisturbed by turmoil or disagreement, is more likely to apply to events and situations.)

I am inclined to peace, but I am disturbed by turmoil and disagreement; therefore, I want to live peaceably with others.

The criterion for our thermostat setting in our first parsonage was based on the lack of insulation; my moral thermostat setting is based on my relationship with my Creator, not the news, the latest social justice group, or my friends. Call me crazy, but my moral thermostat is based on God’s Word, not the world. I just hope my thermostat reflects that accurately.

Psalm 119:105 – Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.

4 Responses

  1. The Traveling Wilburys said it in their song “It’s All Right Now”; You can’t please everyone so you’ve got to please yourself. I live by that philosophy.

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