One of the questions that runs through our minds is; am I good enough? Am I good enough feeds our need to perform, please and pretend. Am I good enough pushes us to prove ourselves and show people that we matter. This can be very dangerous to our emotional and mental health. It also damages our spiritual lives.
We all grow up with dysfunction. There are certain values that you grew up observing and statements that were made to you that have affected your life. If you only got attention or approval if you did something good or achieved something then you will continue to think your only worthy if you perform and are productive.
When we experience conditional love it feeds this question of am I good enough?
The truth is in God’s eyes we are good enough. There is nothing we can do to make God love us more and there is nothing we can do to make God love us less. His love for us in truly unconditional. We are good enough. When we can step away from this question and say yes I am good enough our focus can be on the right things. We know we can improve, but that does not make us more worthy or valuable as human beings. Our worth is not found in our achievements, its found in our character.
Being good enough is the wrong question because it causes us to question our value and worth. We all have stories that are undesirable, painful and shameful or embarrassing. When we can walk into those stories and accept them as part of us, we can experience the power of our worthiness. Those stories don’t define us but we can use them for good. That’s what God does every day, brings good out of the bad. When we can love ourselves despite those stories and see our worth as a human being then we can love others and encourage others along the way.
God says that we are good enough just as we are, dysfunction and all. He loves us unconditionally and desires for us to grow and connect with Him every day. So stop asking yourself if your good enough, God created you and planned for you to be a part of this world at this particular time in history. You are enough simply because you are you.
Summer is a great time of the year. For many families it’s when you take vacation and spend a bit more time together. It’s easier to have social functions with friends, cooking outs, camp fires, camping, outdoor sports and more. I’m on a softball team and love to get away and have fun with some other people.
I remember summer as a kid, not having to go to school and spending long days out exploring my grandpa’s farm. I spent hours looking for arrow heads and flint after the fields where plowed and was even known to go skinny dipping in the creek from time to time.
Summer for me has become a time of building. I try to approach each summer as a time to sharpen myself as a follower of Christ, a husband, a leader and a friend. It’s a time to work on relationships, read good books, plan for the rest of the year and relax and have a little fun.
I try to read a lot, because that is one of the ways I learn and keep my mind sharp. Each summer I try to put together a reading list that I try to knock out over the months of June, July and August. Here is my list for this year:
Have a great summer but remember to include some reading. Even if you are not a reader, try to read one book this summer. Reading helps you to focus, use your brain and relieve stress. Reading also feeds you spiritually, emotionally and intellectually. If you want to change, grow or just get better as a person, then start reading. If your into sports you read all the article about your favorite teams, so you can do this – Give it a try this summer.
I’ve been thinking and studying this idea of love. I have to say that I need to work on this area of my life. I think most people would say they can do a better job of loving others. But for most of us we don’t know what that looks like. I work at a church so what I look to in order to learn and grow is God’s Word. I was reading this today and it really struck me and challenged me. I hope it does the same for you. This is found in Romans 12:9-21 in the New Century Version of the Bible:
9 Your love must be real. Hate what is evil, and hold on to what is good. 10 Love each other like brothers and sisters. Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves. 11 Do not be lazy but work hard, serving the Lord with all your heart. 12 Be joyful because you have hope. Be patient when trouble comes, and pray at all times. 13 Share with God’s people who need help. Bring strangers in need into your homes.
14 Wish good for those who harm you; wish them well and do not curse them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and be sad with those who are sad. 16 Live in peace with each other. Do not be proud, but make friends with those who seem unimportant. Do not think how smart you are.
17 If someone does wrong to you, do not pay him back by doing wrong to him. Try to do what everyone thinks is right. 18 Do your best to live in peace with everyone. 19 My friends, do not try to punish others when they wrong you, but wait for God to punish them with his anger. It is written: “I will punish those who do wrong; I will repay them,”[a] says the Lord. 20 But you should do this:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him a drink.
Doing this will be like pouring burning coals on his head.” Proverbs 25:21–22
21 Do not let evil defeat you, but defeat evil by doing good.
Just that first sentence, your love must be real is enough for me today. You can’t fake love.
Love is all about doing and taking action. It’s about how we think about ourselves, others and God. The best way we can worship God is by loving others well.
Problem solving is a key skill to develop if you want to be a good leader. Solving problems will get you noticed and give you influence. Of course solving problems can be both positive and negative.
In the book of Genesis the story of Abraham and Sarah gives us a good example of trying to solve a problem on your own. Sarah could not have children and was getting older. God had promised them they would have many offspring and a nation would grow from them. Sarah was impatient, and who can blame her as she waited for over a decade and no child. Sarah decided to solve the problem on her own and convinced her husband to sleep with her servant Hagar in order to have a child. It worked and Hagar got pregnant and had a son. However this caused a lot of conflict in the household between Sarah and Hagar and Sarah ended up kicking Hagar and her son out.
This story illustrates what happens when you try to work independently of God. Here are some mistakes that Sarah and many others make in solving problems:
So what are some characteristics of a good problem solver?
- They anticipate problems – When you can see a problem coming and prevent it before it happens that is great leadership
- They accept the truth – You face reality and are honest with yourself and others
- They see the bigger picture – You must understand where you are trying to go and what the vision is before solving problems. This is about perspective
- They handle one thing at a time – This is all about focus and not getting distracted from dealing with the issue at hand
- They don’t give up when they are down – Things will not always go according to plans and that is when persistence and patience come into play.
So when you face a problem, how do you react? Do you ignore it and hope it goes away? Do you feel paralyzed or powerless? Solving problems well comes from evaluated experience, learning from failures and overcoming mistakes. It also comes from wise counsel with other people and staying connected with God who gives wisdom when we ask. Here are a few things you can do to improve your problem-solving skills:
- Look for trouble – Don’t avoid problems, but pursue them. This takes both persistence and patience and a willingness to face messy things and speak the truth in love. It means talking openly about the issues no one else wants to face. This takes courage and confidence, but must be done with humility.
- Develop a method – Systems are the best way to solve problems. Take time to discover the real issues. Usually the things we notice are just surface issues or emotions. You need to dig in order to find the root issues. Find out what other people have done in similar situations. Study the options that come out of your research and then prioritize solutions and try one.
- Surround yourself with problem solvers – This means finding people that are good at areas you are weak. Diverse thinking usually leads to more creative solutions. Seeking wise counsel is always a good idea when trying to solve problems. You should have people in your life that you can go to when you need help solving certain types of problems. For example when you are having problems in your marriage you need to find someone that can mentor you in that area. When you are having problem financially you find someone that can give you wise counsel in that area.
Take the initiative to solve problems. Ask God to give you wisdom, patience, discernment and the right people to help you solve the problems you face.
Leader’s are readers, I don’t remember who I first heard that from, probably John Maxwell. Over the years I have made it a point to read as much as I can. I try to read a variety of books and even include some fiction from time to time. I like to read because I like to grow, learn, and stretch my thinking and perspectives. One of the ways I like to read books is by meeting with a group of other people and read it together. I do that with my staff and different groups of men. I love the interaction and discussions and it also helps me to actually read more books and finish them.
I have an active list of books I am reading, have read and want to read, to check them out click here.
Several of these books are on my Kindle the rest I have in old fashion books. If you haven’t read a book in a while plan to start this summer
I hope you will put a list together of the books you want to read in the coming months. If you want to be a better leader at home, at work or in your community then start reading.
Most people start the new year by thinking about things they want to change or do differently in the coming year. It is a time when we can hope for a better future and many people will make resolutions or set goals for the coming year. I firmly believe in goal setting and have done that for years. It helps me think about what I want to accomplish and the kind of person I want to be.
Most people never follow through on the resolutions they set or goals they come up with. The main reason for that is we don’t change the way we think and therefore our actions never follow. Only when we change our mindset and what we care about can we change our lives. We all have things that we believe to be true about ourselves, the world, God and others. Those core beliefs drive our thinking which in turn drives our behavior. So, to really make a change in 2012, the way we think and what we believe needs to change.
To do that it is important to identify what lies might be a part of our belief system. Here are a few that many of us struggle with:
Here are some lines of thinking that lead us into deception:
- Thinking I am something I am really not
- Thinking I was just born this way and can’t change
- Thinking I can be truly religious but not bridle my tongue
- Thinking that God is the source of my problems
- Thinking I can live my life without the help of anyone else
- Thinking that it’s my life and I can live however I want to
- Thinking that I need to control the people and situations around me
- Thinking that I can change other people
Before we can identify lies we believe we need to know what is true. That starts by looking to the ultimate source of truth and that is God and the Bible. If you only do one thing this year, let it be to read the Bible more than you did last year. Maybe it’s reading a devotional daily or maybe it’s reading the New Testament or the whole Bible. If you have never gotten into the Bible, let this year be the year. Get a translation that is easy to understand like “The Message” or the “Amplified” or the New Living Translation”.
Here is a summary of some of the most important truths from the Bible. A goal might be to read this daily for 3 weeks and see what happens.
I recognize that there is only one true and living God (Ex. 20:2-3) who exists as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and that He is worthy of all honor, praise and glory as the Creator, Sustainer and Beginning and End of all things (Rev. 4:11; 5:9-10; Is. 43:1, 7, 21).
I recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1, 14). I believe that He came to destroy the works of Satan (1 John 3:8), that He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public display of them, having triumphed over them (Col. 2:15).
I believe that God has proven His love for me because when I was still a sinner, Christ died for me (Rom. 5:8). I believe that He delivered me from the domain of darkness and transferred me to His kingdom, and in Him I have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:13-14).
I believe that I am now a child of God (1 John 3:1-3) and that I am seated with Christ in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:6). I believe that I was saved by the grace of God through faith, that it was a gift, and not the result of any works on my part (Eph. 2:8-9).
I choose to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Eph. 6:10). I put no confidence in the flesh (Phil. 3:3) for the weapons of warfare are not of the flesh (2 Cor. 10:4). I put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20), and I resolve to stand firm in my faith and resist the evil one.
I believe that apart from Christ I can do nothing (John 15:5), so I declare myself dependent on Him. I choose to abide in Christ in order to bear much fruit and glorify the Lord (John 15:8). I announce to Satan that Jesus is my Lord (1 Cor. 12:3), and I reject any counterfeit gifts or works of Satan in my life.
I believe that the truth will set me free (John 8:32) and that walking in the light is the only path of fellowship (1 John 1:7).
Therefore, I stand against Satan’s deception by taking every thought captive in obedience to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). I declare that the Bible is the only authoritative standard (2 Tim. 3:15-16). I choose to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).
I choose to present my body as an instrument of righteousness, a living and holy sacrifice, and I renew my mind by the living Word of God in order that I may prove that the will of God is good, acceptable and perfect (Rom. 6:13; 12:1-2). I put off the old self with its evil practices and put on the new self (Col. 3:9-10), and I declare myself to be a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
I trust my heavenly Father to fill me with His Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18), to lead me into all truth (John 16:13) and to empower my life that I may live above sin and not carry out the desires of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). I crucify the flesh (Gal. 5:24) and choose to walk by the Spirit.
I renounce all selfish goals and choose the ultimate goal of love (1 Tim. 1:5). I choose to obey the two greatest commandments; to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul and mind, and to love my neighbor as myself (Matt. 22:37-39).
I believe that Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18) and that He is the head over all rule and authority (Col. 2:10). I believe that Satan and his demons are subject to me in Christ since I am a member of Christ’s body (Eph. 1:19-23). Therefore, I obey the command to submit to God and to resist the Devil (Jas. 4:7), and I command Satan in the name of Christ to leave my presence.
Happy New Year!
For most people worry is something that comes naturally. We worry about deadlines, how to pay the bills, what other people think about us, our job security, our marriage, our children and their future. Sometimes we worry about little things and sometimes we worry about big things, but the point is we all tend to worry. A good definition of worry is negative focused thinking. When we worry we are thinking in a negative way. We go into the worse case scenario and often begin to spiral downward in our thinking. The result of negative focused thinking is that our emotional and physical state is impacted in a negative way as well.
Jesus actually cautioned us against worrying about anything – even the food we eat or the clothes we wear. In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus gives us six reasons for trusting in God rather than worrying.
The next time that worry starts to creep into your life or you feel the pressure of life, pray for the grace you need to depend on God. He is faithful and trustworthy and will provide what is needed to endure and overcome whatever comes your way. Psalm 118:6, 8-9 says “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?… It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.”
This is only possible if you have a personal relationship with God. It is your decision whether you have that relationship or not. In order to be a child of God you need to accept the free gift God gives to you through His son Jesus Christ. By asking Jesus to forgive your sins and be the leader of your life you instantly become a child of God and can have the close personal relationship I described above. Once that decision is made, you begin the journey with God in becoming the person He originally designed you to be. God begins to chip away the rough edges and begins to shape you and mold you, so that you can fulfill the calling He has for your life. He begins to heal the hurts and hang ups from your past that keep you from living life to the fullest.
God wants to carry our burdens for us, but we need to hand them over and not take them back. So take some advice from Jesus and stop worrying.
I have been reading a book on brain health, by Daniel Amen. If ind it very interesting. His overall theme is that most people’s brains are not very healthy because of the poor nutrition, lack of exercise & lack of sleep. I just finished reading the chapter on nutrition and thought I would share the Eleven rules the author shares for our best nutrition. By following these rules, we can lose weight, lower blood pressure, bad cholesterol, increase focus and energy and enjoy life much more. So here they are:
The more I study nutrition, the more I am convinced that many of our physical and emotional problems come from poor nutrition. Most of us would prefer to first medicate instead of dramatically changing the way in which we eat. God designed our bodies in an amazing way and if we put the right things into our bodies they function better and last longer. I still have a lot to learn and implement into my life, but I am trying I hope you will as well.
While I was working out yesterday, the instructor in the DVD made this statement while I was bent over try to catch my breath: “Get your mind right!”.
I heard a similar message at our staff retreat on Monday. This idea of how powerful your mind is and how much the way we think affects our emotions, our physical well being and our relationships. The Bible says that we were created in God’s image. He is the one that gave us these incredible minds to use, not only to benefit ourselves but to glorify God.
For most of us our minds have been transformed into something other than what God intended. By the early age of six years old many of our basic beliefs are already in place. As we grow there are many lies we begin to believe because of the experiences we go through. Our mind filters each experience and that shapes our worldview.
Of course God knew this would happen in this fallen, evil world. This is not perfect heaven, so there are many lies and deceptions that we fall for. That is why Paul wrote in the book of Romans “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
When we get our minds right, our focus sharpens and clears. When our minds are racing, whether worrying about the future unknown or remembering the painful past, our focus is weak and foggy. When our minds are not living in the present, our emotions get out of control and actually begin to control us. When our minds are right, we can hear God better and know what His will is. When our minds are not right, we do not hear God and tend to do our own thing.
When I was working out, my body wanted to stop because I was getting tired. When I focused my mind on the exercise I was doing it gave me the energy I needed to finish and keep up. When we are tired, our mind tends to drift and negative thoughts can easily fill our minds.
So how do we get our minds right?
So get your mind right!
What is your take on the world around you? The way in which we see the world around us and the people in it, determine our belief system. It shapes the way we interpret life events, from the simple every day things (No milk for my cereal) to the terrible (a child killed in a car wreck). This take on life shapes our view of ourselves and others and what it means to have a meaningful life. Our take on the world shapes our beliefs, emotions and every day decisions. Each one of us is in a story that we live, moment by moment. We try to find meaning in things and try to find purpose in life.
We sometimes feel helpless and hopeless. We suffer because of the decisions of others. We hurt because of broken relationships. We hurt and suffer because of our own bad decisions. We have moments of happiness and great joy and moments of sadness and despair.
Everything that happens around us and too us goes through a filter or lens that shapes our perspective. The big question then is what lens will we use?
These four questions are a starting point to contemplate our worldview. Brian Walsh and J. Richard Middleton propose four basic worldview questions:
These questions, and how we answer them, form the backbone of how we interpret our personal stories. It determines how we view our relationships, our work, our families, our struggles, our circumstances and God.
I try to live with a Biblical lens. As a Christian this can be difficult at times because we are so influenced by the world around us. Many Christians do not have a Biblical Worldview, but one that takes several worldviews and meshes it into one that fits our lifestyle. That is why so many Christians get divorced, sue each other, act unethically at work, have affairs, have sex outside marriage, live together before marriage, judge others, look out for ourselves, spend more than they make, file bankruptcy, drink too much alcohol, explode in anger and I could go on and on.
Don’t get me wrong, just because you have a Biblical worldview does not mean you will not struggle and go through hardships. What it does mean is that you will respond in a different way when those things happen. It means you will make different decisions when facing tough circumstances. It means you look to what God has to say before you make decisions. It means you stay close to God and dig into Scripture for answers instead of the world around you. It means you see yourself as a saint, set apart as a child of God. A saint that may suffer hardships and illness and must fight against the temptations to sin.
We are in a bigger story, one being written by God and we get to play a part in that story. So what is your worldview or take on life?