This past week I spent 6 days working with Hope Reigns doing disaster flood relief in West Virginia. This is the third trip I have done with Hope Reigns. They are a division of Eight Days of Hope a non-profit organization that helps communities rebuild after a disaster.
Every morning the volunteers gather and someone shares a message or devotional and we pray together before heading out to the projects. In the evening after we eat together we have a time of worship and a message and more prayer.
On Monday July 4th I shared a devotional with the volunteers in the morning. We had been talking about the heart of God and understanding how amazing his heart is. Here is what I shared:
As I think about the heart of God I have to think about my own heart. My heart is not perfect like God’s, I have stuff in there that is not good. Things like anger, greed, envy, lust and pride just to name a few.
Of course Jesus changed everything when it comes to our spirit and our heart. He made is possible once again to be at one with God. To be reconciled to Him and a part of God’s family. God’s heart is for us and His desire is for all to be reconciled to Him.
When we make the decision to have a relationship with Jesus. When we believe Jesus Christ lived a perfect life, that he took the sins of the world on himself and died on a cross for those sins and then three days later rose from the dead overcoming sin and death, our spirit is changed. We now have a part of God in us, the Holy Spirit resided in us. That is when our hearts start to change.
We begin to see the world differently, we see people differently, we have a new perspective on life. We are no longer slaves to sin because Jesus is now our Master.
Romans 8:26-28 says: “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them”
So since we have the Holy Spirit with us and for us and in us, we have a great advantage in life. Over time as we mature in our faith and relationship with Christ. Our heart changes, those things that were in there begin to become less and less and we have more of the Spirit in us. In Galatians Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit and below is a listing of those fruits and a definition, the opposite and the counterfeit.
Be filled by the Spirit:
Definition – To serve a person for their good and intrinsic value, not for what the person brings you.
Opposite – Fear: self-protection and abusing people.
Counterfeit – Selfish affection. Rescuing someone but really rescuing self. Attracted not to a person, but to how this person’s love makes you feel about yourself.
Definition – Delight in God and his salvation
Opposite – Hopelessness, despair.
Counterfeit – Happiness that come because of the gift, not the giver. Mood swings based on circumstances.
Definition – Confidence and rest in the wisdom and sovereignty of God more than your own.
Opposite – Anxiety and worry
Counterfeit – Indifference, apathy, not caring about something. “I don’t care.”
Definition – Ability to take trouble (from others or life) without blowing up. To suffer joyfully.
Opposite – Resentment toward God and others.
Counterfeit – Cynicism. Self-righteousness. “This is too small to be bothered about.”
Definition – Practical kindness with vulnerability out of deep inner security.
Opposite – Envy. Unable to rejoice others joy.
Counterfeit – Manipulative good deeds. “Right hand knowing what left hand is doing.” Self-congratulation and self-righteousness
– Goodness. (Integrity)
Definition – Honesty, transparency. Being the same in one situation as another.
Opposite – Phoniness; hypocrisy.
Counterfeit – Truth without love. “Getting it off the chest” for your sake.
Definition – Loyalty. Courage. To be principle-driven, committed, utterly reliable. True to one’s word.
Opposite – Opportunist. Fair-weather friend.
Counterfeit – Love without truth. Being loyal when you should be willing to confront or challenge.
– gentleness. (humility)
Definition – Self-forgetfulness.
Opposite – Superiority: self-absorbed
Counterfeit – Inferiority: self-absorbed, self-consciousness.
Definition – Ability to choose the important thing over the urgent.
Opposite – A driven, impulsive, uncontrolled person.
Counterfeit – Willpower through pride
So we have the heart of God in us and The Holy Spirit is active every day in our lives. We have everything we need to live life to the fullest and to deal with anything that comes our way.
I recently read through & discussed James Kouzes & Barry Posner’s book called The Truth About Leadership with a group of guys. Here are some of my nuggets I took away from the book:
I hope you can also learn from some of these quotes. It may be a reminder or a new challenge. We are all leaders to some degree whether at home with our families, at work, at church or in your community. I’ve heard this many times and I believe it that everything rises and falls on leadership. Lead On!
Twenty “I Cans” of Success
As we approach the end of another year I can’t help but reflect on this past year. It was filled with good times, bad times, positive emotions and negative emotions. I cried and I laughed. I opened up and I shut down. I made some good decisions and I made some bad decisions. I got angry and had a negative attitude and I was filled with joy and had a positive attitude. I also learned a lot this past year about leadership, my relationship with God and the baggage that I still tend to carry.
If you’re like me this can describe almost every year. However every year I like to ask myself if I have grown in my faith, character and leadership in this past year. For me it’s a big yes this year. Probably more than many other years because of the amount of change I experienced at work. Here are some of the lessons I learned or went deeper in understanding.
Keep growing in Faith, Character and Leadership.
I first heard this quote from John Maxwell: “Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less.” If you don’t have influence you can’t be a leader. So if you have influence with anyone, you are a leader. If you’re married, a parent, have a job, serve on a committee, play on a team or have friends your a leader. Some people have obvious leadership positions and oversee or lead a large number of people. While others may only have influence with a few people or their immediate family. No matter how many people you have influence with, there are some essential qualities when it comes to leadership and developing increased influence. These essentials will help you at work, at home and in the community, wherever you have influence.
I could include many other things but these five essential qualities give any leader the foundation needed to increase their influence and therefore their leadership. For me I need to ask God for help in all of these areas. Everyone can improve in these essentials and when you do you become a better person and a better leader.
A lot has been written about leadership, I’ve read books, articles and listened to speakers. There is not one thing that makes a great leader, each person is a bit different in personality, style, gifting and drive. Some leaders are bold and charismatic while others are quiet and reserved. I’ve seen great leaders with each of those traits. So what’s important to know in leadership? As a young person what can be done to grow as a leader?
Here are some things I’ve learned over the years in my experience leading in the banking/accounting world and also in full time ministry:
Learning to lead is really learning about yourself, knowing your blind spots and barriers. Knowing your core fears, weaknesses and scars. When you raise your level of self-awareness you raise your level of leadership. Then if you can surround yourself with people that will be honest with you and are gifted in areas you are not, incredible synergy can start to happen.
Living an emotionally healthy life is incredibly freeing. Yet it is very difficult to do because we all grow up learning unhealthy behaviors and unhealthy emotions. Think of it like pieces of armor that we put on growing up, defense mechanisms, ways of handling conflict, how to treat other people, what we think about ourselves, others and God.
In order to get healthy here are a six guideposts that can help us all get healthier emotionally and live with freedom and joy. Many of these guideposts come from researcher, author and speaker Brene’ Brown.
Start pursuing an emotionally healthy life by cultivating the good and letting go of the bad.
Recently I challenged a group of guys I meet with to read through the book of Proverbs and identify their top ten. We all found that very challenging as there are so many great Proverbs. So here are my top ten:
If you can’t read through all the Proverbs take some time over the next several days and read these 10 and ask God to help you understand how they apply to you personally.
Reading is one of the most important things you can do to learn, grow and improve yourself. I love to read and I try to read one or two books a month. I also listen to pod casts, and audio books to keep feeding my mind good stuff. As a leader this is vital to keep stretching and pushing yourself to get better.
So over the next several months I plan on doing a lot of reading. I have carved out some extra time to allow for this by taking some vacation time and incorporating it into my regular work schedule.
Here are the books I am currently reading and several I plan on reading later:
Spiritual and Personal Growth:
Just for Fun:
I’ve been studying the idea of vulnerability and how that plays out in our relationships. Brene Brown has some incredible insights on this tough topic. Much of this post is based on her research.
One of the things that keeps us from being vulnerable is shame. Shame thrives in secrecy, silence and judgement. However when we introduce empathy, shame cannot grow. So in order to be open and vulnerable we need to be around people that are great at empathizing and we need to learn how to be empathetic with others. Learning how to be empathetic is one of the most powerful ways to improve your relationships.
In order to be empathetic we need to be able to see the world as others see it. This is all about perspective, being able to take the perspective of another person and not our own. It’s being able to listen to someone and not interject our own experience but to really what to hear it from them. It’s not one upping the person by sharing what you did or how you messed up. It’s being able to realize that our lens of life and our experiences are different than others and being OK with that.
Empathy also requires that we are nonjudgmental. Most of us are judgmental and we are usually judgmental in areas where we are vulnerable to shame. We tend to judge people that are worse than we are so that we feel better about ourselves. We do that because we are looking for validation that at least I’m not as bad as so and so.
Empathy is not our default or natural mode, it’s a skill that must be worked on and developed in order for this to happen naturally. Empathy is usually very subtle, it can be just a knowing look or going to be with someone in a time of crisis instead of calling to express sympathy.
When we empathize with someone, we go to that dark place with them, we don’t flip on the lights and try to cheer them up and fix the problem or make light of the situation. It’s like walking up to your friend that is in a hole and going down into the hole with them, but knowing how to get back out of the hole because it’s not your hole. Sympathy is walking up to the hole and asking what happened. When they tell you, you express that your sorry to hear that, that’s a terrible thing. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help. There is a big difference.
When we empathize with someone, we are creating a safe environment for people to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable is one of the most accurate measures of a persons courage. To be vulnerable takes bravery, because it is walking into uncertainty, it’s taking a risk and it’s exposing your emotions. It takes courage because the reality is you can get hurt when you do this with someone that is not able to empathize or keep things confidential.
However if you live in secrecy, and silence you might feel safe, but are most likely miserable. When we are vulnerable we are our true self. We are showing that we are imperfect, messed up, awkward and goofy. The greatest relationships are the ones where you can be all of that and the person loves you even more.
So if your looking to improve your relationships, first learn how to empathize better with the people around you. Work on those skills of listening and trying to understand their perspective. Don’t try to fix them or the situation, but let them know we can do this together. Then work at being vulnerable with the people in your life. Expose yourself emotionally by being honest about your struggles and your shame. When we do that there is incredible freedom and life when we push past our fear.