Tag Archive for success

Do Unto Others: Part 6–Courageous

moment of courage
So be strong and courageous!  Do not be afraid and do not panic before them.  For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you.  He will neither fail you nor abandon you.  Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT)

 

The world can be a scary place, no matter what stage of life you’re in.  We’re all afraid of different things, and we all have our own ways of dealing with that fear.

 

One thing we all have in common, though, is a need for courage.  Courage is the character trait that allows us to take on things that are bigger than we are.  It comes from knowing that we have access to a power that is stronger than whatever it is we are facing.  For this reason, the key to being courageous is making sure that we know and rely upon that power.

 

It all comes down to trust.  It is one thing to believe that God can fight the battles that are beyond our strength.  But do you trust that He will?  Do you trust Him enough to keep moving forward even when it seems like a risky thing to do?

 

The answer to that question depends on the answer to this one.  Do you believe that God wants you to succeed?  I’m not talking about the Joel Osteen “I’m-believing-God-for-a-new-Mercedes” kind of success.  I mean do you really believe that God DOESN’T want you to fail at life?  Do you believe that He knows what’s best for you and has a plan to help you stay on track for that?

 

If you do, then you have either learned or are in the process of learning that obedience is the quickest path to success.  This means that you pray about major decisions, and even the minor ones.  Now I don’t know that it’s necessary to ask God if I should order Sprite or Root Beer at the local diner, but I wouldn’t, for example, buy a car without praying for a green light from above.

 

If you have established and cultivated this kind of a relationship with God, then you have also learned that fear and faith can not occupy the same mind at the same time.  So when we say we “lack courage” or that “our courage has failed us,” what we really mean is that we have not been putting our faith to good use.  Here is one way to make sure that doesn’t happen (or at least happens less often).

 

Practice trusting God with the little things.  Ask Him questions about things you could typically handle by yourself and see if He leads you in a different direction.  Maybe start with “Which route should I take to work today?” or “Should I get gas now or wait to fill up later?”  Simple routine stuff that you do all the time that doesn’t really require “divine intervention.”

 

The point of this exercise is not for the Holy Spirit to save you 3 cents a gallon.  It is to form the habit of trusting by essentially turning your life into a big game of follow the leader.  If you trust that God won’t lead you where His grace and power won’t keep you, then you’ll keep following until it becomes second nature.

 

Forming courageous habits is particularly important for parents.  Not only do our kids look to us as an example when they’re young, but someday they’ll be grown and won’t look to us for leadership anymore.  We need to do our part to make sure they have courage of their own to lean upon when they run into their own problems.  So what can we do now, those of us that still have kids at home?

 

  1. Remind your kids of God’s faithfulness. Keep track of His answers to your prayers and tell those stories often.
  2. Train your kids to seek out other godly mentors besides you. They will probably always want to come to you first, but you won’t always be around. Your kids need to know that they have some control over feelings of isolation, a control that they can carry into adulthood.
  3. Teach them obedience. The Bible is full of examples of God giving specific instructions, such as in the verse at the top of this post. The Bible is just as full of examples of what can happen when you don’t follow those instructions.  Although obedience requires surrender, there is power in this surrender, because you are setting yourself up to succeed by keeping in step with God’s plan for you.
  4. Practice integrity by saying what you mean, meaning what you say and finishing what you start. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. Trust me on this—if you fail on this one, your kids will pounce on it and use it against you at every opportunity.  The result of that will not win you many spouse points either.

 

Fear happens.  Fear of failure happens a lot.  Please don’t beat yourself up when it happens to you, as though the fear of failure were a failure in itself.  Don’t worry about what other people are going to think of you if you screw up.  Anyone who would think badly of you for making a mistake isn’t somebody you ought to be concerned about impressing anyway.

 

Be strong and courageous.  Follow God even if nobody is following you.  Acknowledge that your hands are sweaty and that you feel sick to your stomach and move forward anyway.  Not everything in life is easy or fun, but with God on your team, ALL things are possible.

 

 

Do Unto Others: Part 4–Who Do You Think You Are?

who do you think you are

 

Who do you think you are?

 

I’m not asking that in the sense that you usually hear it.  Usually this is a rhetorical question reserved for somebody who is getting WAY out of line.

 

But seriously, who DO you think you are?  What kind of adjectives would you use to describe yourself?

 

Unfortunately, the words many people would think of are not flattering.  “Depressed.”  “Worthless.”  “Insignificant.”  “Damaged goods.”  “Failure.”  “Unlovable.”

 

This matters, because how we see ourselves is a major factor in determining how we interact with others.  People who have a low self-image are not likely to engage in a healthy way, if at all, with the world around them.

 

Self-image is a complex thing.  It is the sum total of every attitude we have ever had about ourselves, but also everything we have ever HEARD about ourselves.  Some people are just jerks that like to pick on us and beat down our self-image.  Sometimes, however, we suffer long-term consequences for something we actually did do.

 

If any of this sounds familiar to you, may I offer you some encouragement, courtesy of St. Paul?

 

And his fullness fills you, even though you were once like corpses, dead in your sins and offenses.  It wasn’t that long ago that you lived in the religion, customs, and values of this world, obeying the dark ruler of the earthly realm who fills the atmosphere with his authority, and works diligently in the hearts of those who are disobedient to the truth of God.  The corruption that was in us from birth was expressed through the deeds and desires of our self – life.  We lived by whatever natural cravings and thoughts our minds dictated, living as rebellious children subject to God’s wrath like everyone else.

But God still loved us with such great love.  He is so rich in compassion and mercy.  Even when we were dead and doomed in our many sins, he united us into the very life of Christ and saved us by his wonderful grace!  He raised us up with Christ the exalted One, and we ascended with him into the glorious perfection and authority of the heavenly realm, for we are now co-seated as one with Christ!

Throughout the coming ages we will be the visible display of the infinite, limitless riches of his grace and kindness, which was showered upon us in Jesus Christ.  For it was only through this wonderful grace that we believed in him.  Nothing we did could ever earn this salvation, for it was the gracious gift from God that brought us to Christ!  So no one will ever be able to boast, for salvation is never a reward for good works or human striving.

We have become his poetry, a re-created people that will fulfill the destiny he has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One.  Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it!  Ephesians 2:1-10 (TPT)

 

Our worth does not come from what we have done (or failed to do) or from anyone’s opinion of us.  We have value simply because we were created in the image of the One who is the most worthy of all.  We didn’t have to clean ourselves up or check of a list of criteria or accomplishments to be “good enough” to live this life.  Rather, we have this life to live because we are already counted as good enough by the only One who matters!

 

We were made in the image of the all-sufficient God; therefore, what we have in our hands will always be sufficient for the tasks ahead of us.  Because when we were created, so was all of the work that God had planned out for our entire lives.  We are all wired to be proficient at and passionate about certain things.  And although we do have the free will to choose whether or not we want to walk on this path that has been so scrupulously marked out for us, it always seems to go better for us when we do.

 

Will we get off the path from time to time?  Of course we will.  We’re humans; we do that.  Remember, though, that the value of your life is not determined by how many times you screw up.  There are no “D-” children of God.  Life is pass/fail, and the pass is irrevocable, because the One giving the grade rigged the coursework in our favor.  All you have to do is show up for class.

 

Success!

 

I think the reason so many of us (myself included) see ourselves as failures is because our definition of “success” is all whackety.  We live in a world that is constantly judging our performance, so naturally, we do that to ourselves as well.  It seems we’re always trying to measure up to something.

 

Can we please help each other get over this?

 

I’m going to repeat myself here, because I need to hear it again too.  We don’t EVER need to worry about being good enough, because we were designed to be good enough to do the work that we were designed to do.

 

At the end of our lives, there are no bonus points for climbing the corporate ladder.  No other human will be giving testimony at the Judgment Seat of God that will determine whether or not we make the cut.  God is only going to ask us about two things: What we did with Jesus, and what we did with the gifts He gave us.

 

I need to pause here to note that the questions come in that order for a reason.  Because if you haven’t done anything with Jesus, the rest of this doesn’t matter.  You can’t do the work God predestined you to do if you are not even aware of (or are in denial of) the Truth that God actually did do that.  The thing is, we can’t do any of this on our own.  God doesn’t just provide the calling for our lives, but also the strength to live it out.  If we aren’t in a state of total trust and reliance upon that strength, then we are doomed to failure.

 

But wait a minute, aren’t there lots of successful people in this world who don’t believe in God?  Again I ask, how are you defining success?  If you’re talking about worldly things like money and status, then sure, I guess.  But as the King of the Piedmont Blues, Cootie Stark, once sang, “I never saw no U-Haul behind no hearse.”

 

 

 

Sure, we can make money and get the corner office, the big house, and all that.  But are we ever satisfied with our own efforts?  Solomon was one of the richest kings who ever lived, but this is his observation:

 

If you love money, you will never be satisfied; if you long to be rich, you will never get all you want.  It is useless.  Ecclesiastes 5:10 (GNT)

 

It is true that our identity is inextricably bound to our work.  It’s supposed to be that way, but we tend to look at this truth from the wrong angle.  Our work doesn’t determine who we are.  Who we are—who we REALLY are—determines our work.

 

So maybe when we meet people for the first time, instead of asking the typical guy question, “So what do you do?” maybe we should be asking, “Who do you think you are?”  Well, maybe not, but you get the idea, right?

 

So, Truthseeker, who DO you think you are?  Or better still, who do you KNOW you are?  Because that will determine what you do.

 

DN=: Part 10–Affirmation

tell me what I want to hear cat meme

 

For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit,  for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.  (Luke 6:43-45 ESV)

 

If a person’s words are trustworthy, that person will have an established record of trustworthiness.  You are not going to be led down a successful path by someone who has never succeeded.

 

Likewise, a person who is known for encouraging and lifting others up is not likely to tell you something that will be a stumbling block to you.  Even if it’s something you didn’t expect, or didn’t WANT, to hear.

 

We all come to a day of reckoning where we realize the direction we’re going isn’t the one in which we ought to be.  I can’t imagine anyone going through his or her entire lives without making at last one major course correction.  (If you’re reading this and you haven’t yet, don’t worry, you will.)

 

No matter who you are and what your situation is, that situation, and your destiny, will never change without you making some conscious decision to change your way of thinking and go a way you haven’t gone before.  This could mean a slight change in direction, or a complete 180.

 

The churchy word for a change of mind, accompanied by a change of direction, is “repentance.”

 

The important thing to understand is that repentance cannot occur without new information entering the cranium.  You can’t change your mind or choose your direction without knowing that you have a choice to make.

 

The trouble is that the right choice is not always the easy one.  In fact, it usually isn’t.  The right choice usually results from your having received information that you needed, but not necessarily that you wanted.

 

Anybody can tell you what you want to hear.  If you want your current belief system to be affirmed, the internet is more than happy to oblige.  All you have to do is type what you already believe into your favorite search engine.  You will find thousands, maybe even millions of people, to affirm your point of view.

 

There’s just one problem with this.  Belief DN= Truth.  As such, a quest for affirmation will never lead to intellectual or spiritual growth.

 

AFFIRMATION DN= INFORMATION

 

 

Now don’t get me wrong; I am speaking of affirmation in the sense of affirming a point of view, not one’s own self-worth.  The latter is healthy affirmation. I will tell you plainly that I crave that kind of affirmation nearly as much as I crave oxygen.

 

However, a quick perusal of the Truthseeker Manifesto will illuminate everything that is detrimental about a quest for affirmation of one’s worldview.

 

You can’t end an argument by attempting to bolster your own position.  You can’t establish common ground without leaving your own ground.  Seeking to affirm your beliefs does not afford you the opportunity to test them.  Also, it is very difficult to explain your own reasoning when all it consists of is quote mining from other people’s reasoning.

 

Essentially, the quest for affirmation is a rejection of Truthseeking.  The desire for affirmation is a symptom of insecurity.  Specifically, it is the fear of losing everything that is familiar to you on the off chance that whatever, or whoever, is challenging your belief pattern might have some information that you would have to accept.

 

The only way to overcome this fear is to have a burning desire to be informed, not just to believe, but to KNOW!  But knowledge only comes when you take the lid off the glass.

 

In a culture that values affirmation, however, this is easier said than done.  If we are serious about obtaining information that is worth knowing and passing on, we may have to look to history.

 

(For a different kind of history lesson, come back for Part 11—Backwards)