True Encouragement: Sit, Wait, Weep

Reaching the proper mind-heart balance involves developing a set of character qualities that enable you to find your life’s purpose.  These qualities are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.  They are the fruit of your new spirit.

A by-product of mind-heart equilibrium is an intuitive sense of what the right thing to do is given any situation.  In other words, doing the right thing becomes an intuitive habit.

One of the areas for which I am most grateful for having acquired mind-heart equilibrium is the area of encouraging others.  In fact, I’ve “made a 180” from where I was five years ago.

Then, when someone opened up to me with a sad situation, or disclosed they were hurt, or I sensed they were in despair, my inclination was to give words of wisdom or a pep talk, relieve their pain, or solve their problem.

Now, when that happens, I just sit, wait, and weep with them.  I’ve learned that the best type of encouragement is just sitting in silence, and then waiting and weeping with a friend.

In these moments, the fruit of the spirit take control.  They are uplifting to my friend as well as myself.

The Forgiveness Quiz

Pastor Rick Warren gave me this quiz recently.  I passed.  Before reading any further, please take it by deciding if each statement is true or false.

  1.  A person should not be forgiven until asking for it.
  2.  Forgiving includes minimizing the offense and the pain caused.
  3.  Forgiveness includes restoring trust and reuniting a relationship.
  4.  You haven’t really forgiven until you’ve forgotten the offense.
  5.  When you see somebody hurt, it is your duty to forgive the offender.

If you really understand what forgiveness is, then you know each of those statements are false.  How did you do?

If you’d like, click on the following link to read the full devotional:  What Forgiveness Really Is.

Most people have it wrong.  “Forgive and Forget” is the worst advice.  In fact, it’s not even possible.  The mere act of trying to forget something places it as the forefront of your mind!

We are not asked to forget the offense.  Rather, God wants us to trust he will bring good out of it.  That’s more important because it replaces a resentful mindset with a grateful one.  You can’t be thankful for things you forget.  Rather, we can experience true joy by remembering how God took that horribly bad thing and made sure a series of events transformed it in to a very good thing.

Understanding what forgiveness really is enables this trust.  Forgive and then see how good will result.

Love & Dominoes

What if I told you that you have something in you that is stronger than anything this world can produce? Would you believe me?

Something greater than anything life could throw at you. Something that you’ve had since you were conceived. Something that has been attempting to grow since you were born. When you were in your mother’s womb, it was planted in your heart just as a seed is planted in fertile soil.

It’s a spirit on record for making the following statements:

  • ”Look out for one another’s interests, not just your own.”
  • “When my thoughts were bitter, and my feelings were hurt, I was as stupid as an animal.”
  • ”A person’s wisdom yield’s patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”
  • “We must bear the ‘burden’ of being considerate of the doubts and fears of others … Let’s please the other fellow, not ourselves, and do what is for his good.”

Yes, you have a spirit in you that’s made each of those statements. Isn’t that wonderful?  In practice, the cumulative effect of their demonstration is the manifestation of true love. Isn’t that beautiful? I think it is.

This spirit wants to grow in you. It wants to help you find meaning in life and see that you discover your purpose. It knows that’s only possible if you learn how to sacrifice for others. It’s the ultimate player-coach who has “walked the talk” by getting in the game and demonstrating sacrifice. It’s asking you to follow its lead.

Patiently absorbing and enduring the unfounded malicious anger of others is a sacrifice. Why would you do such a thing? There are two reasons:

  1. Sacrificing allows the spirit in you to grow. Every time you sacrifice, the spirit will become stronger, and you’ll be one step closer to finding your purpose.
  2. Unselfish sacrificing demonstrates love, and love is a game changer. The love shown someone may be catalyst to unleash the spirit in them, equipping them to sacrifice for someone else. It’s the domino effect.

You have this spirit in you. Believe it. The insults of those who insult your spirit have fallen on you. Don’t live to please yourself, but rather sacrifice for them.

No Excuses

Do you have a special day of reflection and rest during the week, i.e. a Sabbath?  There are no excuses not to have one, even during your busiest of times.  If fact, that’s when you need it the most.

  • A day when you don’t do any real work and rest your body.
  • A day where you decompress, have fun and let your emotions recharge.
  • A day when you think about life’s bigger picture and refocus your spirit.
  • A day for yourself
    • Being grateful for
      • who you are,
      • where you are,
      • what you are going through (good and bad),
      • where you are going, and
      • what you have.
    • Serving your loved ones in a meaningful way and truly connecting with them.
    • Letting yourself notice and appreciate things that slipped by during the “work week”.

It doesn’t really matter which day is your Sabbath.  Mine is Saturday.  My pastor’s is Monday.  To some, Friday is.  To others, it’s Sunday.  What does matter is that you have one.  Being obedient is critically important to finding your life’s purpose.  The Sabbath was made for us.

I know what you’re saying, I don’t have time to take a whole day off.  Nonsense.  In my case, when I examined how “busy” I was, I discovered much of it was self-imposed stuff that crept into my life.  80% was fluff.  I felt busy, but was rudderless.  I was expending too much energy and time on insignificant things.  They were not adding value or meaning to my life or relationships.

My solution?  Have you ever tended to a plant, tree or vine?  I started to treat my time as thought it was a vine.  I cut off every branch that was not bearing fruit and pruned the branches that were bearing fruit so that they will be even more fruitful.

The results have been amazing.  I made time for my Sabbath.  I am seeing life with more clarity than ever.  I wake up every day with passion and purpose.  I have more energy and joy.  My spirit is calm and peaceful, even in when I’m surrounded by chaos.

I understand why I’m here.  I am created to be an influential teacher.  Honoring the Sabbath is on the critical path to fulling that purpose.  There is not an excuse good enough for me to not be obedient.

Put a stake in the ground and enjoy a Sabbath.  Trim the vine.  Quality of time is more important than quantity.  Don’t get sucked into what everyone else is doing, filling up schedules with too much meaningless stuff.  Be a contrarian.

No excuses.

The Battle of the Mind (Part 2) – What Would Jesus Do?

Get to know the mind of Christ by asking “What would Jesus do?

The outcome of daily battles that occur in your mind between the you want to be and your old self, pop culture and Satan is determined by what and how you think.  Knowing your enemies and the strategies and tactics they employ to keep you depressed, hold you back and create chaos in your life is the first step to winning these battles. Part 1 of this 2 part series examined this step.

The second step is having the right weapons to fight them.  Here’s what you need in your arsenal.  Surprisingly, you don’t need many, rather just two very powerful weapons.

  1. Jesus as your role model.  Now, I know I risk losing some of you with that suggestion, but hear me out.  You don’t have to be a Christian or believe Jesus was who he said he was.  I am only saying if you examine his behavior and the example he set in living his life, it will tightly align with who you want to become.  A role model is simply someone whose behavior, example and success is worthy of emulation.  Jesus provides the framework to properly fight our daily battles.
  2. Take captive every thought and make it obedient to that framework.  To do this, you need to understand what it means to take a thought captive.  It is comprised of awareness and ability.

I hope you will meditate on these two suggestions and use them to fight the enemies in the daily battles of your mind.

As a player-coach, I do not teach anything I do not practice myself.  This isn’t ivory tower theory.  It’s role-up-the-sleeves, knuckles-in-the-dirt, hand-to-hand combat.  I’m in the trenches with you always asking, “What would Jesus do?

The Battle of the Mind (Part 1)

Whether you realize it or not, every new day when your eyes open, heart beats, lungs breathe, and blood flows is a gift.  It is a new day of opportunity and possibility.  Be grateful for it.  Be a good steward of it.

To do that, you must recognize that your day will be a series of battles.  The outcome of each battle is determined by your thoughts.  The battleground is your mind.

To win each battle, you must know your enemies.  They seek to disrupt your focus, derail you from your purpose, and create chaos in your life.  They strive to keep you off your game and stop you from changing your life for the better.

You have three main enemies:

  • Your old self.  You know who you want to become.  You want to do the right thing, but you find yourself doing things your really don’t want to do.  These are the battles between your old character and your good intentions.
  • Pop culture.  This is society’s value system.  It works against you.  It’s attractive and tempting, but does not reward self-discipline and self-control.  It encourages gluttony in every aspect of life.  These are the battles between what pop culture promotes and your new character, i.e. the person you want to become.
  • Satan.  This is an evil spirit working against you every minute of every day.  It’s real.  It makes very powerful suggestions and constantly plants negative thoughts in your mind.  It will use other people, the media, or just throw a thought in your mind.  These are spiritual battles, and failure to recognize them as such puts you at a severe disadvantage.

Knowledge of your enemies is the first step to winning these battles.  Next week, I will offer the second step:  weapons you can use to fight them.

Just Keep Looking, Looking, Looking

I reject the premise that there are unmotivated people.  I believe everyone is motivated by something.  We’re just motivated by different things.  Motivation is an art, not a science.  The trick is to first learn and then lead.  Learn what someone wants, then you can lead them to do what you want.

Most people I’ve met want to know their life’s purpose.  Unfortunately, however, I’ve encountered a few souls who truly don’t care.  They are rotten to the core, have no redeeming qualities and only exist to create chaos and discord.  I believe Hell was created for these people.  Everyone else can be redeemed, and it is to you I address this blog.

No matter how old you are, the hand you’ve been dealt, the circumstances you are in, how good or bad your life is right now, you can find your purpose because you want to find it.  However, you can’t find it by thinking about it or talking about it.  You can only find it by looking for it.  In other words, you can’t find something if you don’t look for it.

What do I mean by looking for it?  I mean taking action, i.e. doing, learning and adapting by trial and error.  And then doing, learning, adapting again.  And again.  Eventually, you will find it.  Trust me.

Just keep looking, looking, looking.

When No One is Looking

If you want to know who you really are, what you’re really like, then there’s an easy litmus test:

How do you act when no one is looking?

… or a slightly modified version is:

How do you act when your son, daughter or spouse is looking?

Having the mental awareness to ask yourself these questions is first step to finding your purpose in life.  It requires courage.

Why courage? Because you won’t like what you see.

It also assumes that you care to do the right thing.  If you don’t, then you can stop reading.

Everything you do should be placed under this level of scrutiny.  If you care, you’ll start today.  Whether you realize it or not, you are continually tested.

Here are some of my daily tests, both minor and major:

  • I’m walking on the sidewalk, and I see a piece of trash on the ground.  Do I pick it up, or walk by it?

Action:  Pick it up and throw it away.

  • I paid for something with a $10 bill, but I’m given change for a $20.  Do I notify the cashier?

Action:  Let them know they accidentally gave me change for a $20.

  • I had a nice lunch in the city, but I could not finish everything.  I take the leftovers to eat later.  On my walk back to the office, I see a homeless person rummaging through a garbage can, but they don’t see me.  Do I give them the leftovers?

Action:  Walk up to them, and ask if they’d like the food.  Tell them I just packed up the warm leftovers from my lunch.

  • I’m tempted by a phishing e-mail to visit a website that has sexual overtones.  I’m on my personal computer at home, and my family is not around.  There’s a picture of a beautiful woman with a link.  Do I click on it?

Action:  Do not click on it and flag the sender as spam.

  • While traveling on business and out to dinner with male colleagues and clients, there is talk about going to a gentlemen’s club afterwards.  I feel considerable pressure to go.  Do I join them?

Action:  Tell them I’d prefer not to go and will see them in tomorrow morning’s meeting.

I think you get the gist.  Asking yourself the litmus questions will reveal your true character.  If you don’t like what you see, then you can do something about it.

If you’ve read this far, then you must care enough to want to do the right thing.  Now that you’re aware of it, just do it.  Make it a habit.

Self-Control

On a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being in complete control, where do you rank yourself on self-control, i.e. having control over your feelings or actions or showing restraint over your impulses, emotions or desires?

Today I give myself a 9.  Five years ago, I was a 2.  To change, I had to learn to think differently.  I had to re-calibrate my mind.  I had to unlearn what I had learned.

It was a long process, but worth every step.  It took commitment, determination, discipline and patience.  I read, listened to and experimented with a lot of stuff.  That which resonated, I used to build a system that transformed my mind, heart and life.  My system is a blend of things I learned from the following people:  Mark DevineSeth Godin, Rick WarrenCraig Groeschel, Earl Nightingale, Og Mandino.

I would encourage you to do the same.  Commit to becoming a 9 or a 10 on the self-control scale.  Seek that which resonates with you and you will find it.  Ask for help and you will receive it.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Word of caution … on your journey, there will be a force attempting to derail your progress.  It will put you down.  It will try to master your moods.  It can lead you into depression.  It can make you angry.

You must build up a defense against this force.  To do that, you must act in the following manner.  Pray for the strength to do the following:

  • Don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that start fights.
  • Be kind to everyone.
  • Be patient with difficult people.
  • Forgive those that oppose you.

Master this, and you can begin to live a fordriven life of self-control.

Self-Sacrificing Love

Self-sacrifice is giving up something you want or desire for the greater good of another.  Self-sacrificing love is giving up something that would benefit you to demonstrate to someone else that you genuinely care about them and that your interests are subordinate to theirs.

It is at the core of leadership.  For great leaders, it is a habit.

It is the greatest form of love.  It will never leave a heart the way it found it, ever.

This does not come natural to many of us, but it can be developed.

  • Step 1 is awareness.  You need to be aware of those moments of opportunity to demonstrate it. img_0755
  • Step 2 is being able to put your feelings aside and put yourself in the other person’s shoes.  See things from their perspective.  If it helps, pretend they are your son or daughter.  After all, they are somebody’s son or daughter.  We have an easier time self-sacrificing for our children.
  • Step 3 is wanting to give a gift without any expectation of anything in return.  Giving is therapeutic.  It makes both the giver and the receiver feel good.
  • Step 4 is action.  Just do it.  Do the right thing and give the gift of self-sacrificial love.

Do this over and over until it becomes second nature.  Not only will your heart be transformed into a wellspring of love, it will change the hearts and lives of everyone you touch for the better.

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