Four Ways to Devlop Your Character & Succeed in Life

Character-Development-C

 

Here are four ways develop your character:

  1. Never let life’s difficulties surprise you – hardship, disappointments and struggles are inevitable.  Bad things happen because this is not heaven.  However, they are the rule, not the exceptions of life.  So the important thing is to make sure your expectations are realistic and not idealistic.  When hardships come you will be better prepared to respond in a way that helps instead of hurts.
  2. Keep a positive perspective – Your perspective depends on what your focus is on.  When you focus on problems and your current situation you will tend to be more negative, fearful and hurt.  When you focus on your faith, character, integrity, loving God and other people, you will tend to be much more positive and joyful no matter what is happening around you.
  3. When you face challenges, pray first – Pray for help, pray for protection, pray for wisdom, pray for strength, pray for God to intervene.  Keep your prayers short, specific and spontaneous.  Pray throughout the day, before you have the conversation, before you walk in the door and before you let your emotions take over.
  4. Be humble enough to allow accountability in your life – None of us is totally self-sufficient.  You will grow more when you allow some people to get close enough to you to really know you, not just on the surface.  Pride will keep you from admitting your weaknesses, asking for help and making changes in your life.  A humble person is a strong person, a self-aware person, and a person others want to be around.  If you don’t have anyone you can open up to start asking God to help make that happen.

Developing your character takes courage to face your strongholds, habits and hang-ups.  It’s hard to do but the rewards are huge.  Lead on.

4 Ways To Growing Your Faith

This week I met with my older brother Brian for lunch.  We don’t get to spend much time together anymore so it was nice to meet with him and talk about what is going on in his life.  He is facing some big life-changing things like starting his own business, being an empty nester and getting involved in ministry at his church.

As we talked, I could see and hear how much God has been working in his life.  He has grown more in the last two months than he had for the last several years.  God really has gotten a hold of him and he is following God with all his heart.  As I heard him talk about how close he felt to God I got to thinking about how many people aren’t experiencing that kind of relationship with God.  Brian includes God in every decision and won’t make a move without hearing from God.  He works hard at what he knows he should be doing and waits on God for things he is unsure of.

So here are a few keys I learned from Brian to growing our faith:

  • Listen – Most people are busy and we run from one thing to the other.  We can fill our lives with all kinds of activities that distract us from listening to God.  Brian’s new journey started while on vacation away from the distractions of life.  Say no to some things so you can slow down and listen more and run less.  Maybe its time for a short retreat to listen to God.
  • Read – Even if your not much of a reader, this is a key to growing spiritually.  Most people don’t use much of the brain God gave them.  I know I don’t.  Reading the Bible and books about God, christian living, relationships and even leadership will stretch your mind and help you to grow.  Brian told me he has read more in the last two months than he had in the last 10 years.  He said his mind has been opened up and he is able to learn and grow like never before.  Make a goal of reading a book of the Bible and another book on faith within the next two months.  Reading feeds your mind and is one way to hear from God.
  • Pray – That may sound simple, yet many of us don’t take the time to pray.  When we do its a quick thought or running through a list of items we need help with.  What I am talking about is having a real conversation with God.  Pouring out your heart and opening yourself up to what God wants to do in you.  Start to pray out loud even when you are alone.  Brian has gone on prayer walks and spends time throughout the day in conversation with God.  Make it a practice to praise and thank God every day, confess anything that needs confessed, pray for people that God brings to your mind.  Also pray for God to fill you with the Holy Spirit and for wisdom, courage and strength to do His will.  You might even consider fasting and praying.  Maybe you should get on your knees or even bow down on your face and pray & listen.
  • Do – It is great to read, study, learn and pray, yet if you don’t do something you will not change.  Brian got involved in his church.  He volunteered for the prayer ministry and quickly began leading that ministry.  This helped him put into practice what God started in private.  He started praying for people and God started using him to impact peoples lives.  He did some things that made him uncomfortable and stretched him, and God used it to change him and the people around him.  When you listen, read and pray God directs you in what to do.  God will give you opportunities to influence other people, serve other people, encourage other people and even heal other people.

Lead On

Thoughts on Prayer

I have been reading a couple of books on the subject of prayer. Both are very good, one is an older book originally written in 1937 by Oswald Chambers called “If You Will Ask”. I am reading the 1989 edition. I am also reading a new devotional book by Mark Batterson called “Draw the Circle”. Both have inspired me and challenged me. I find myself praying differently, more often and more boldly. There are so many take-aways I could share, but I want to focus on one part of Chambers book entitled The Submission of Life.

He starts the chapter with this: “We are not built for ourselves, but for God. Not for service for God, but for God. That explains the submission of life.” Submission is one of the most difficult things to do and yet one of the most powerful things we can do. It seems odd that submission is powerful, but with true submission comes peace, unity and rightness with God. Chambers goes on to say this: “God is not concerned about our aims. He does not say, “Do you want to go through this bereavement, this upset?” He allows these things for his purpose. We may say what we like, but God does allow the devil, He does allow sin, He does allow bad men to triumph and tyrants to rule, and these things either make us fiends or they make us saints. It depends entirely on our relationship with God. If we say, “Your will be done,” we get the tremendous consolation of knowing that our Father is working everything according to His own wisdom. If we understand what God is after, we shall be saved from being mean and cynical.”

God isn’t checking in with us to see if his plan is ok. God sees all things and knows all things, therefore he knows what is best and how to work all things for good. When we fully submit to his will we can stop worrying about everything in the world around us and focus on how we are responding to the things in our lives. We can look to what God wants to do in us. Listen to what else Chambers says:

“The things we are going through are either making us sweeter, better, nobler men and women, or they are making us more captious, more insistent on our own way. We are either getting more like our Father in heaven, or we are getting more mean and intensely selfish. How are we behaving ourselves in our circumstances? Do we understand the purpose of our life as never before? God does not exist to answer our prayers, but by our prayers we come to discern the mind of God, and that is declared in John 17:22 “That they may be one just as We are one.” Am I as close to Jesus as that? God will not leave me alone until I am.”

When I read that I said Wow outloud. Prayer is really about getting to know God, becoming more intimate with him and understanding his heart. The more we pray the more we change. God wants to be one with us, but that can only happen if we submit to His will and His ways. The more time spent in prayer the more clear our purpose in life becomes. What would happen if we would start praying for God’s will to be done in our lives, for us to become one with Him and see as He sees and think as He thinks. What would happen if we would do what He says and be obedient to His will. God’s will is that we become one with Him as Jesus was one with Him. To become more like Him in all our ways.

Tribute to Jim Mason

This past week my friend and mentor Jim Mason turned 88 years old. I have gotten to know Jim over the past 10 years. I have had the privilege of serving with Jim in the Pastoral Care ministry at NewPointe Community Church. Jim is a retired pastor having served many Free Methodist churches over the past 40 plus years. Jim also served his country in WWII. He has shared some incredible stories with me about the war, pastoring a church, loving his family and his wife.

Jim is one of the most godly men I know. He is also the most humble man I know. I have had the honor of seeing him serve his family in times of crisis. I have gone to the hospital with him to call on sick people. I was amazed at his compassion and how he interacted with the nurses and staff. They loved him and many of them knew him.

He has been through some real hardships in his life, but through everything, he has kept a strong faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

He lost his wife last year and once again I was amazed at his level of compassion and faith. He served her through those hard days and never blamed God. He recently shared with me the final moments he had with her before she passed away. He has been an inspiration to me and has challenged me to be a better man, pastor, husband and child of God.

At 88 years old Jim continues to serve at church. He is in our prayer room every Sunday for all three services. He prays for every prayer request that comes in over the weekend. He writes letters and calls people that are struggling and hurting. He goes and visits people as much as possible. He stops in my office once or twice a week and always encourages me. He also encourages most of the other staff members as well. We pray together and talk about how we can help more people through the prayer/care ministry.

He also is passing on to his family a legacy that will out live him for decades. Jim I love you and appreciate your friendship, thanks for being a great example to me and others. Thanks for your obedience to Christ and your humble servant spirit. I know your rewards in heaven will be great.

Nehemiah

My favorite book in the Old Testament is Nehemiah. This is an incredible story that is packed with wisdom, leadership principles and examples on how to live life and get things done. Nehemiah had a good life, he was comfortable, had a good job, made plenty of money, had influence with his boss and was well respected by many. Things were good, until God revealed to him the situation his home town was in. His home town was Jerusalem, and it was a mess and the people that were trying to rebuild it were under attack and being taken advantage of.

When Nehemiah heard what was going on he was deeply troubled and impacted. He was never the same again. He felt deep compassion for the people and their situation. But he did more than just feel for them, he immediately began fasting and praying for how he could make a difference.

I love that about Nehemiah. He started by seeking God with all his heart. He focused fully on God by fasting and not getting distracted from praying for this situation. He did this for months, before God opened up an opportunity for him to make a difference. What I really love about Nehemiah was that during those months of praying and fasting, he also began to make plans. He thought about what it would take to go and help the people that were in Jerusalem. He put a plan together and began gathering resources and thinking through what it would take.

What I take away from that, is that we need to pray and seek God with all our hearts. We also need to continue to work hard and make plans while we seek God. If we do both of those, God will open up the doors to help make things happen. It may be as simple as giving you favor with your boss, like he did for Nehemiah. When Nehemiah got that chance to go, he had a plan on how to get there.

Has God put a burden on your heart? Are you deeply concerned for a person, a family, a people group, a country, a leader? If you are, then start fasting and praying for them. Also start making plans on how you can make a difference. Maybe it is building a better relationship, maybe it is doing some research, maybe it is giving some money, maybe it is writing a letter, maybe its getting involved in your church. Whatever that burden is, pray and make plans, be ready when God gives you that opening.

If you have not read Nehemiah lately, I suggest you read it. Nehemiah didn’t complain about what was going on around him, he did something about it.