Patterns & Routines

The older I get the more I find myself liking familiar routines and patterns. It becomes a little more difficult to change or to be motivated enough to want to change. The longer you have done a certain routine like what you typically do when you get home from work, or how you go about buying groceries, the harder it is to change it up. We have patterns like the TV shows we watch, the Internet sites we visit, the friends we talk to, the words we use, the food we eat and even the way we talk to our spouse or children.

We all have certain patterns and routines that make us feel comfortable and safe. Some call this our comfort zone. Some of that is good, but it can also keep us from experiencing the best things in life. You see I don’t think God wants us to be comfortable and safe. Comfortable and safe means we are not going to make much of a difference. We do have an enemy that wants us to be comfortable and safe; to get stuck in certain routines and patterns that keep us ineffective.

What have you risked lately? Do you always play it safe in your relationships? Do you have some patterns or routines that are unhealthy? Do you usually take the easier road? For me selfishness usually keeps me in the comfort mode. I think it’s the same for most people. We want to be happy and do things that benefit us or improve our situations.

God tells us repeatedly in the Bible to be courageous, to be strong and courageous. We don’t need to be courageous if we are living comfortable, safe lives. What is one thing you can do starting this week that will make you a little more dangerous. What can you do to make our enemy a little nervous. What pattern or routine do you need to change that will get you out of your comfort zone? What can you start doing today that would surprise your spouse or your friends in a good way?

Go ahead, take a risk, do something different, do something that would make God smile and say that was courageous.

Are You A Leader?

So what does it take to be a leader. Maybe you don’t even think of yourself as a leader. The truth is that if you influence anyone you are a leader. If your a parent, you are a leader. If you are married you are a leader. If you are in a serious relationship you are a leader. If you have a job you are a leader. If you have friends you are a leader. If you have brothers or sisters you are a leader. If you are dating someone you are a leader.

Basically we are all leader’s, because we all have influence with someone. The question is what kind of influence do you have. Are you a positive leader or a negative leader? Do the people around you benefit from being around you or suffer from being around you? Whether it is at work or at home, you are influencing people.

You can influence people just by the way you go about your daily activities. The people you have influence with are watching you. It could be your children, your spouse, your co-workers, your neighbors or your friends. How you handle conflict, how you talk to people, how well you listen and where you spend your time all have an affect on the people around you.

To be a positive leader, you have to believe the best about the people in your life. The words you use determine a lot about your leadership. If your words tend to encourage and lift up the people around you, people will benefit from your influence. No one likes to be around a negative person, or a person that is always thinking the worst about you.

Since all of us are leader’s to some degree, it helps to be aware of the way you are influencing people. Do your actions, words, habits and priorities help or hinder the people in your life?

Choose today to be a positive leader. To influence the people in your life in a positive way. Choose to believe the best, and watch your influence go up.

Where Do You Live?

On my run today(5 miles) this thought came to my mind: Where do you live?

Usually when we are asked that question we tell people what city we live in, that’s not what I am asking. Do you live in the past or in the present? Many of us get stuck in the past. It may have been a traumatic experience, a painful experience or even a fantastic experience. Those moments in our lives that impacted us in a positive or negative way. If we are reliving those moments in our minds, we are living in the past.

We all have had those defining moments in our lives, which is very important, it’s part of your story. The problem is that if we focus too much on those old defining moments we may miss some new defining moments. A negative experience from your past can be keeping you in fear of taking a risk in the present. A positive experience from your past can make you feel overconfident and keep you from continuing to grow.

So what should we do? I think we need to remember the past and learn from it, but we need to focus on the present and the future. When we glance at the past that’s OK. The problem is when the past becomes our focus we can no longer move forward.

That is why it is so important to have goals in all areas of our lives. It is important to be thinking about how you can make progress today. What changes you can make to improve the person that you are today. Yes you acknowledge your past, you learn from your past, you use your past experience to make better decisions today, but you don’t live there.

So where do you live?

Trust Me Part 2

Trust is such a huge issue I thought I would continue to talk about it. For many of us trusting God seems to be a struggle, completely trusting that He is good, that He cares about us, that He is working for us and for our best interest can be hard when we are struggling just doing life.

Trust is warranted by consistent honor and care toward another. Trust can be betrayed in an instant, when we don’t honor and care for the people around us. God however never dishonors us, He never stops caring for us. As I thought about that I decided to look up Scriptures that talk about trust. Here are a few that spoke to me about the importance of trusting in God.

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Psalms 20:7

“Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. Test me, o Lord, and try me, examine my heart and mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth.” Psalms 26:1-3

“Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in Him.” Psalms 32:10

“Trust in the Lord and do good…” Psalms 37:3

“In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” Psalms 56:4

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” Proverbs 11:13

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” Jesus in John 14:1

Think about it like this. When your children trust you even though they don’t fully understand what you are telling them, how does that make you feel? When a friend says that she trusts you on this but does not see how it can work, how does that make you feel? When your spouse says she trusts you completely even though she does not understand everything going on, how does that make you feel?

God loves us more than we can ever love Him or other people. He never forces Himself on us or makes us do what He wants us to do. That is honoring us. He cares for us in ways we don’t even know. God wants our trust, He wants us to say, God I don’t understand what is happening around me, but I am choosing to trust you on this. I trust that you have my best interests in mind and are working for me. I trust that you are good and you care about me. I trust that you are going to bring some good out of all this mess.

When we do that it opens us up to receive the blessings that God has for us. It brings a peace and comfort to our lives that helps us through difficult circumstances. It changes our perspective on what is happening to us and how God is involved in that.

God is saying “Trust Me”

Trust Me

Why is trust such a big deal? When I was in the business world of banking and consulting trust was a key ingredient to client development. When clients felt like they could trust you, they would be more loyal, worry less and take your advice more readily.

It’s the same in any relationship. Take the marriage relationship for example. When both husband and wife trust each other they are more committed to each other, they worry less about what the other is doing while they are not around and they tend to listen better and accept what they hear.

Whether in business , marriage, friendship or any other relationships trust is vital to good health. When you trust someone, there is a comfort or easiness about the relationship. If you don’t trust your friends, you are less likely to open up and share much about what is going on in your life. If you don’t trust your spouse you are going to be skeptical of everything they say or do. If you don’t trust God you will not believe everything He says and hold back from giving him all of you.

So how do you build trust? Henry Cloud made this statement “Where there is a failure in empathy and understanding, trust is not built.” For trust to happen we must listen well. When you listen to someone with the intent of trying to understand them or where they are coming from it builds trust. You do this by being fully present with them, asking questions to clarify and by not prejudging or jumping to conclusions. When you listen with empathy, you are trying to put yourself in their shoes and understand their hearts. When you listen well and someone feels like you understand them, trust is deepened.

Trust is also built by being actively involved in that persons life. When you show that you are actually interested in them as a person it builds a bond. Showing that you value them and want to get to know them will build trust and strengthen the relationship. God demonstrated this quite well, He desires to know us at an intimate level, to always be with us and to care about every single part of our lives. Read Psalm 139.

Trust is also built when we treat others well, no matter what they can or can’t do for us. It is easy to treat people well, when they treat you well. But what about the people that have hurt you or offended you? What about the spouse that has been distant and irritable. When we extend grace, which is unmerited favor, to other people it builds trust and respect. Remember God gives us unbelievable grace.

Trust is also built when we are real with people. When we share that we are not perfect and that we do mess up. When we admit our mistakes and ask for forgiveness. When people see that you are willing to open up and show your weaknesses it builds credibility and trust. The people around you already know your weaknesses and when you mess up. When you admit it, it shows that you are real and not fake. Fake people cannot be trusted.

We also trust people that do what they said they would do. When you walk the talk, so to speak it builds trust. This is an issue of character and integrity. When you make a promise do you follow through or do you drop the ball. When you tell your spouse you will do something do you follow through or do you usually forget. Dependable people build trust and are entrusted with more.

Trust is not something that is just freely given. People don’t usually blindly trust. Trust is earned by our behavior. To build trust we must build the kind of character that the people around us can see on a regular basis. This takes diligent spiritual growth, that shapes you into the man or woman that God created you to be. The benefit of being trustworthy is healthy, happy relationships.