I am currently reading a book call “I Quit” by Geri Scazzero. I am about half way through it and am being challenged in many ways. I highly recommend the book. This quote really jumped out to me and I wanted to share it.
“It doesn’t matter how much you read your Bible, do good works, go to church, serve others, or know about God. If you are not honest about your true feelings, you will be stunted in your spiritual growth with God and limited in your relationships.”
The three emotions she drills down on are anger, sadness and fear. Many Christians try to hide these emotions because we have been taught that they are bad. In reality these emotions are very important for us to understand and acknowledge. If we don’,t all of our relationships are impacted in a negative way and we can slip into putting on our everything is OK face when everything is not OK. When we face reality and the reasons we are angry, sad or fearful we can begin to chip away at the hurts, hangups and habits that cause these emotions. We can start to see what is missing in our lives that has contributed to these emotions popping up. We can begin to grieve the losses we have experienced.
So what feelings are you having that you are embarrassed about or that you think you should not be having? If you are courageous enough to face your inner self head on and open up to a trusted friend, mentor or counselor, real freedom and growth will result.
There is a saying that I love, that I first heard from author and speaker John Maxwell. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” As a leader I can never separate leadership from relationships. Leaders need to develop relational skills in order to lead the people around them. One of the questions I often ask myself is how likeable are you? Do people like being around you? All of us can work on being a better person and improving our relationships with people. Relationships are messy, yet necessary because we were created for relationships.
In the book of Romans in the Bible I came across ten instructions that Paul gives us that will help us get along with other people. These instructions come from Romans 12:9-21:
On our own, we cannot do this on a consistent basis. That is why it is so important to be connected with God, who can give us everything we need to have thriving, healthy relationships. It starts by making the decision to accept Jesus Christ as the leader of your life and the forgiver of your sins. After that we have a special connection with God through the Holy Spirit that is available as a constant help to live life to the fullest. Living life to the fullest means having the best possible relationships in our lives. Ask God to help today to live out these ten things in all your relationships. Over time hurts will be healed and hearts will be repaired and peace and joy will be more evident in all your relationships.
Over the past several years my wife and I have changed some of our behaviors as it relates to food and exercise. We decided that we wanted to lose weight and keep it off in order to feel and look better. We started slow by getting on a system that taught us how to eat right. It wasn’t a diet, it was a training system. We had to relearn how to eat the right portions and the right kinds of food. We had to start thinking about how many servings of each kind of food we would eat each day. We also had to think about movement and motivation. Incorporating exercise into our lives and finding out what would motivate us to do this the rest of our lives. So we changed our behavior by changing our thinking and we changed our thinking by learning the truth and applying it to our lives.
So what is influencing your thinking right now? What are you feeding your mind that is influencing how you think and therefore how you behave? What’s feeding your marriage? What’s feeding your parenting? What’s feeding your relationship with God? What’s feeding your work life? What’s feeding your finances? What if the things that are feeding our minds are lies? If the sources of what we feed our minds is not truth, then our beliefs and behaviors can be destructive to our well being and relationships. What are you doing now that is hurting your marriage, your leadership at work, your relationship with your kids, your relationship with God? Often times we do what we have learned from others and many times that is filled with lies and half truths. If you really want to transform your marriage, your parenting, your leadership, your intimacy with God or your physical health, it starts with a training program. You need to start to go to the right sources to feed your mind in these areas.
Some of those sources include God’s Word, wise men and women, books from experts on marriage, parenting and relationships that follow Biblical principles. Whatever you want to transform, you must first transform your thinking by learning the truth and apply it to your life.
Having healthy relationships in our lives is vital, yet many people do not have many close, vibrant relationships. The way in which we communicate with people often determines how healthy that relationship becomes. Communication also determines how close we allow people into our lives. Communicating on an emotional level is difficult, but critical. Especially in the marriage relationship, listening with the heart paves the way to deeper intimacy. Here are six ways to work on that and instantly improve your most important relationships.
So start working on your emotional communication skills right now by focusing on the emotions behind the words. Approach each conversation as an opportunity to learn more about what makes that person tick and what is important to that person.
As a leader, I must constantly be working on myself. Leader’s that stop growing, quickly start declining and losing influence. A great example of someone growing as a leader is Peter, one of the 12 disciples that followed Jesus. Focus and self-discipline provide the foundation for solid leadership. Peter learned this lesson the hard way. Over a three and a half year period, God transformed Peter from a cocky, loud influence to a thoughtful, humble leader. As I read in 1 Peter, one of his letter to the Christian Jews, he gives three directives in this area of focus and self-discipline:
Peter also talks a good bit about sacrifice and submission. He tells us to respect and submit to authorities, regardless of how the authorities might treat those they are over. He reminds us that God places all people in authority for His plans and His purpose. Peter reminds us in chapter two about the sacrifice that Jesus made for all of us. He suffered greatly and died for us. Here is how Jesus responded to the insults, mockery, physical beatings, false accusations and carrying all our sin:
Peter also does a nice job of addressing husbands and wives. No home can thrive without functioning according to sound spiritual leadership principles:
He then talks about spiritual gifts. Peter encourages us to make five observations about our spiritual gifts:
When we fail to use our gifts properly, we are disobedient, the body of Christ (Church) suffers and God is not glorified.
Peter closes his letter by addressing church leaders and encouraging them to lead well. He calls church leaders to:
Peter encourages us to humble ourselves by casting all our cares on God. Only then does God promise to exalt us.
I hope these thoughts from Peters letter are helpful in your spiritual growth. I encourage you to go and read 1 Peter for yourself. I am sure there are other nuggets of gold that may be just what you need.
This morning I spent about a half hour reading through the book of James. What amazing truth and incredible wisdom. It was such a refreshing and challenging time that I thought I would share a few nuggets that really brought some renewed focus to my faith.
- Selfish motives prevent a servant’s ministry
- Following rules cannot save us, but following Jesus can
- A lifestyle that costs nothing is worth nothing
- A faith that is only in my head is dead
- A worthless past is resolved by a present that works
- The tongue is a spiritual meter. If we can bridle it, we can bridle the whole body. It becomes the gauge for our maturity. Our faith will never register higher than our words.
- The tongue is like a horse’s bit, a ship’s rudder, or kindling wood. It starts things in motion. If we control it, we can guide our lives, just as a bit directs a horse and a rudder steers a ship.
- The tongue is powerful. Like a huge fire, it can ruin or bless our entire lives. This power was meant to send us down the rigfht path, not to kill us.
- The tongue can reveal what sort of wisdom we harbor inside. A good tongue protects our integrity. James asks: Is yours a good guard or a bad one? Does it create peace or reveal hypocrisy
- Growth takes work and effort
- Growth means you have to stretch out of your comfort zone
- Growth means learning something new or developing a deeper understanding.
- Growth takes focus, you can’t drift or get distracted.
- Growth takes accountability, it accelerates when someone is watching.
- Growth means learning from the past.
- Growth takes action, practicing what you now know.
- Growths means gratitude for past blessings from God.