An Apostolic Fellowship – Part Six

The Scripture exhorts believers to avoid the following negative ways of relating when sharing apostolic fellowship:

1> “Let us not judge one another” (Romans 14:13). We are to bless and encourage, not unduly criticize.

2> Do not “go to law against one another” (1 Corinthians 6:7). Settle differences and conflicts peacefully and among ourselves.

3> Do not “bite and devour one another … lest you be consumed by one another” (Galatians 5;15). Do not tear each other down with words.

4> Do not get involved in “provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:26). Do not let pride create unnecessary conflict.

5> “Do not lie to one another” (Colossians 3:9). Do not mislead one another with words.

6> Do not be “hateful and hating one another” (Titus 3:3). Do not seek to harm one another.

7> “Do not speak evil one of another” (James 4:11). Rather protect and promote one another’s good reputation.

8> “Do not grumble against one another” (James 5:9). Do not spread discord and complaints throughout the fellowship.

In every case, the commandments and exhortations of Scripture regarding how Christians are to relate to one another can be summed up in one phrase: Love one another. Jesus calls and empowers His saints to love each other as He loves us. He asks believers to commit themselves to selflessly pouring out their lives for one another. This is the new law, the law of love.

John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

1 Thessalonians 3:12 “and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you.”

1 Peter 1:22 “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart…”

1 John 4:7-8 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

All Christians are part of the same body of Christ. They are members of each other. They belong to each other. They have been given to one another by the Lord for mutual love, encouragement, and strength. 

“… we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:5)

Ephesians 4:25 “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbour, for we are members one of another.”

The New Testament apostolic fellowship was not just Sunday religion. It was an entire way of life. It brought Christians together into the presence of the Lord and then sent them out into the world to seek and save the lost (Luke19:10) and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). 

An Apostolic Fellowship – Part Five

We are talking about apostolic fellowship. And a simple phrase in the New Testament leads to an understanding of how Christians are to relate together in true fellowship. That phrase is one another, the Greek word alleles. Verses that contain this phrase speak of believers lives together and how they are to treat one another.

The basis of their relating to one another is the relationship they have with God. As a result of being born agin they have received the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23b). This gift of ‘eternal life’ is defined in John 17:3 which states: “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” As a result of this intimacy with the Lord and our heavenly Father we can then have fellowship with one another. We can then share the most precious things together.

1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Christians are to fellowship with one another in the following ways:

    • “Have peace with one another” (Mark 9:50) In this way we will be the salt of the earth.
    • “Be kindly affectionate to one another” (Romans 12:10) We are to love one another as members of one family.
    • “Giving preference to one another” (Romans 12:10). We are to prefer others in specific acts of service.
    • “Be of the same mind towards one another” (Romans 12:16). We are to be unified in values and goals. (See: Romans 15:5)
    • “Receive one another” (Romans 15:7). Fully accept one another.
    • “Admonish one another” (Romans 15:14). Caution one another, reminding each other of the dangers that might lie ahead.
    • “Greet one another” (Romans 16:16). Embrace one another in a full-hearted welcome. (See: 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Peter 5:14).
    • “Wait for one another” (1 Corinthians 11:33). We aren’t to selfishly move ahead of one another.
    • “Have the same care for one another” (1 Corinthians 12:25) Treat every member with the same concern and affection.
    • “Serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). We are now free to dedicate ourselves to one another, being a blessing, serving in practical ways. (See: 1 Peter 4:10). Koinonia may also have reference to the collection and distribution of gifts (Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 8:4; 9:13; Hebrews 13:16).
    • “Bearing with one another” (Ephesians 4:2). We are to bear with one another’s weaknesses,. Standing strong in our devotion to one another no matter how offended we might get. (See: Colossians 3:13)
    • “Be kind to one another” (Ephesians 4:32). Be gracious and easy going with one another.
    • “Tenderhearted, forgiving one another” (Ephesians 4:32). We Must be filled with compassion for one another, graciously forgiving one another from our hearts. (See: Colossians 3:13).
    • “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19). Bring the presence of the Lord into the center of our fellowship.
    • “Submitting to one another” (Ephesians 5:21). Respect one another and respond to one another with a word of encouragement in times of crisis and discouragement. (See: 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13; 10:25).
    • “Edify one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Always build each other up and not tear down; be a blessing and not a curse.
    • “Consider one another in order to stir up love and good works (Hebrews 10:24). Positively provoke one another to press forward in the will of God.
    • “Confess your sins to one another” (James 5:16). Be open and honest with one another.
    • “Pray for one another” (James 5:16). Stand in the gap for one another in the presence of the Lord.
    • “Having compassion for one another” (1 Peter 3:8). Be sympathetic for one another, identifying with each other at the point of need.
    • “Be hospitable to one another” (1 Peter 4:9). Have a sincere desire to host one another in our homes. 

These are summed up in 1 Peter 3:8 “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”

An Apostolic Fellowship – Part Four

The apostles’ doctrine included six foundational elementary principles of Christ, according to the book of Hebrews:

“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment” (Hebrews 6:1-2)

These six doctrines actually involve the following there pairs of truths:

      • Repentance and faith
      • Baptisms and the laying on of hands
      • Resurrection and eternal judgment

The Jerusalem church experiences all six foundations truths in a measure:

1> Salvation by repentance and faith – Acts 2:38; 16:30-31

2> Water baptism by immersion – Acts 2:38-39; 10:44-46; 10:2-6

3> Laying on of hands and prophecy – Acts 13:3

5> Resurrection of the dead (Acts 9:36-40)

6> The judgement of God – Acts 5:3-6; 13:10-11

Initially, the laying on of hands related primarily to receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit; however, later, the laying on of hands was used in a variety of contexts. The doctrine of resurrection and eternal judgement have a future fulfillment, but they also cover the new convert’s present experience of turning from death to life.

To see the dynamics of the first New Testament church restored, Christians today need to understand and experience the foundational doctrines of Christ. Bible doctrine should be studied because:

      • It gives substance to believer’s faith confession
      • It stabilizes Christians in times of testing
      • It enables the saints to handle the Bible correctly
      • It equips the believers to detect and confront error
      • It makes Christians confident in their walk
      • It calms their fears and cancels their superstitions
      • It gives saints objective beliefs that form the foundation of their every day Christian lives

With elementary doctrines understood and experienced, Christians can “go on to perfection” or maturity. 

As soon as the saints in Jerusalem entered covenant relationship with Jesus, they began associating with each other often and regularly. Believers need fellowship with their brothers and sisters. They are not like marbles in a bag — gathered in one place but not bonded together. Rather, they are like pieces of a beautiful puzzle that fit together just right.

Acts 2:42 links fellowship with the apostles’ doctrine. The verse could be translated as: “The apostles’ fellowship that is a result of the apostles’ doctrine.” The Beck New Testament translates the first part of the verse as: “They were loyal to what the apostles taught in their fellowship.” The Living Bible renders it: “They joined with the other believers in regular attendance at the apostles’ teaching.”

Christians enjoyed two dimensions of fellowship:

1> Fellowship with God

2> Fellowship with each other

The basis of Christians’ fellowship with each other is their fellowship wth the Lord. Believers are to have ongoing communion with Him. Being saved cannot be reduced to mental assent to a doctrinal creed; it involves personal relationship and fellowship with Jesus Christ Himself.

1 Corinthians 1:9 “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

2 Corinthians 13:14 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

1 John 1:3 “That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

The Greek word for fellowship is koinonia. It means association, community, joint participation, intimacy, joint contribution, or a collection. It refers to using something in common.

True koinonia involves:

      • All believers
      • Dynamics that bind the church together
      • Unconditional love and acceptance
      • True honesty with humility
      • Restoring fallen and stumbling believers
      • Wise confession and cleansing
      • Heartfelt encouragement and availability
      • Open houses and a spirit of hospitality

On the other hand, the Bible forbids Christians to fellowship with:

      • The world – Ephesians 5:11
      • Satanic spirits and cults – 1 Corinthians 10:20
      • Unrighteousness – 2 Corinthians 10:20
      • False religion – 2 Peter 2; Jude 4
      • False doctrine – Galatians 1:7-10; 2 John 9-11)

Growing Through Criticism – Part Five

TEN TIPS FOR GIVING CRITICISM

1> Check your motive.

2> Make sure the issue is worthy of criticism.

3> Be specific. 

4> Don’t undermine the person’s self-confidence.

5> Don’t compare one person with another.

6> Be creative or don’t confront.

Will Rogers said, “There is nothing as easy as denouncing. It doesn’t take much to see something is wrong, but it does take some eyesight to see what will put it right again.”

Look beyond the problem and see if you can help find some solutions. For most of us it’s much easier to be critical than to be creative. But unless you’re willing to help to some degree in turning the situation around, you’re not ready to comment on the problem.

7> Attack the problem not the person.

Deal with the issue at hand. When a confrontation becomes a personal attack you destroy your own credibility and find yourself in a no-win situation. The expected outcome of a confrontation should be that the offender leave with a clear understanding of the problem and the hope that he can turn it around.

8> Confront when the time is right.

The right time is just as soon as you know something is wrong. When you’ve completed your homework then you’re prepared. Sometimes people tell me about their relationship problems and ask me for advice. The scenario is always the same and so is my advice: You cannot escape the need to talk to the person. When you wait too long you lose the opportune moment and the issue becomes history. When you confront the person in a timely fashion you are better able to keep the facts straight and use the incident as an opportunity to help the person grow.

9> Look at yourself before looking at others.

Instead of putting others in their place, put yourself in their place. Have you successfully done what you’re accusing the other guy of failing to do? Look at things from his point of view. You may see that you’re the one who needs to make changes.

10> End confrontation with encouragement.

Always give confrontation the “sandwich treatment.” Sandwich the criticism between praise at the beginning and encouragement at the end. To leave a discouraged person without hope is cruel and vindictive. Goeth, the German poet said, “Correction does much, but encouragement does more. Encouragement after censure is as the sun after a shower.”

A mentor of mine taught me to simplify things as much as possible. He showed me that there are various ways people will respond to confrontation.

      • BYE. The ‘bye” people never profit from confrontation; they don’t hang around long enough. Their egos are too fragile.
      • SPY. Spies become suspicious of everyone. They begin an investigation to find out who in the organization is out to get them. Often they will avoid risking a failure again.
      • FRY. Some people will simply get mad and either fly off at the handle or do a slow burn.
      • LIE. The liar has an excuse for every mistake. Therefore he never faces up to the reality of his situation.
      • CRY. Cry babies are overly sensitive and become hurt by confrontation. Unlike the “bye” people, cries hang around in hopes that people will see how mistreated they are and sympathize with them. They have a martyr complex.
      • SIGH. These people have a “That’s-too-bad,-but-there’s-nothing-I-can-do-about-it” attitude.They don’t accept any responsibility for making right the wrong.
      • FLY. This category of people takes criticism and flies with it. They learn from it and become better because of it.

Which category has fit you in the past? Are there changes you need to make before you can take criticism and fly with it? I challenge you to start today. 

Sometimes I Feel Completely Inadequate

https://rhm.podbean.com/e/sometimes-i-feel-completely-inadequate/

 

Sometimes I Feel Completely Inadequate

Have you ever felt somewhat or totally inadequate for a task or a role that you are about to engage in?

In my life there have been numerous times when I have felt inadequate:

      • As a teenager I felt totally inadequate in gym class and track and field days – unable to do what was expected of me
      • When I went to seminary I felt totally inadequate as I knew little to almost nothing about God or the Bible
      • When I became a priest I felt totally inadequate personally and even more so professionally
      • First funeral in small town south of Regina
      • Becoming a husband
      • Becoming a father
      • Becoming a born again believer
      • First time prophesying
      • Planting a new church
      • Witnessing on the streets
      • First trip overseas to Ukraine
      • Working through a translator
      • Even today … some of the things I am called upon to do I feel totally inadequate to accomplish
              • Writing a series of books comes to mind
              • Teaching and leading through Zoom

Feelings of inadequacy lead to… insecurity lead to… uncertainty Read more

Growing Through Criticism – Part Four

Continuing to look at how we are to handle criticism …

9> Surround yourself with positive people.

When you have optional time, spend it with people who will build you up. Enough quality time with positive people will minimize the effect of negative criticism in your life. It will also discourage you from being critical. When a hawk is attacked by crows, he does not counterattack. Instead, he soars higher and higher in ever widening circles until the pests leave him alone. Circle above your adversaries rather than battle with them. If your positive attitude has any effect on negative people, it will be because of your example, not your defensiveness. So rise above them. It really is hard to soar like an eagle if you identify with the turkeys!

10> Concentrate on your task or mission — change your mistakes.

Most people do exactly the opposite — they change their mission and concentrate on their mistakes. If you run from your task each time you make a mistake, you will never accomplish anything. You will always be in a state of frustration and defeat. The only real mistakes in life are the mistakes from which we learn nothing. So instead of dwelling on them, count on making them, learning from them, and moving on to finish the job. There’s an Arabian proverb they says if you stop every time a dog barks, your road will never end. Don’t let your mistakes become roadblocks; make them building blocks.

In order to build strong relationships you need to know how to take criticism graceful, but there are also times when you will have to be the critic. It is possible to confront without ruining a relationship, but use caution, because careless confrontation can be devastating. Before you confront and be critical, check yourself in the following areas.

TEN TIPS FOR GIVING CRITICISM

1> Check your motive.

The goal of confrontation should be to help, not to humiliate. Three key questions will help you expose your true motives. So ask yourself:

A> Would I criticize this is it were not a personal matter? Sometime we react differently when we are emotionally or personally involved. 

B> Will criticism make me look better? Cutting someone down to boost yourself up is the lowest form of ego gratification. It’s the sign of a very insecure person. Remember that it isn’t necessary to blow out another person’s light to let your own shine.

C> Does this criticism bring pain our pleasure to me? When it is painful for you to criticize others, you are probably safe in doing it. If you get the slightest bit of pleasure out of doing it, you should hold your tongue. 

2> Make sure the issue is worthy of criticism.

To whom does it really matter? Sometimes our pride causes us to engage in skirmishes that need never happen. Continual, petty criticism is the mark of a small mind; you have to be little to belittle. The secret to not letting yourself be distracted and needled by insignificant issues is to keep your head up and your eyes on the goal.

3> Be specific. 

When you confront you must be tactfully explicit. Say exactly what you mean and provide examples to back yourself up. If you can’t be specific, don’t confront. People can usually tell when you are skirting an issue and will not respect you for it.

4> Don’t undermine the person’s self-confidence.

Try to find at least one area in which you can praise the person before you expose the problem. Stay away from all-inclusive statements like, “You always…” or “You never…” Assure them that you have confidence in them and their ability to handle the situation correctly.

5> Don’t compare one person with another.

Deal with people on an individual basis. Comparisons always cause resentment and resentment causes hostility. There’s no need to create a bigger problem than the one you already have, so why arouse heated emotions? If you stick to the facts, you’ll be less likely to put the person on the defensive. 

Growing Through Criticism – Part Three

We are looking at “tips for taking criticism” and we have seen:

1> Understand the difference between constructive and destructive criticism

2> Don’t take yourself too seriously

3> Look beyond the criticism and see the critic

4> Watch your own attitude toward the critic

5> Realize that good people get criticized.

Jesus, those motives were pure and character was spotless was called a glutton (Matthew 11:19); a winebibber – drunk (Luke 7:34); a Samaritan (John 8:48); a friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19 and Mark 2:16). If our lives are Christlike we can expect criticism. In fact, there are times when we should see criticism from the world as verification that our lives have been changed. A person whose mind is polluted and whose vision is not clear cannot understand or interpret behaviour based on obedience to God. So if you’re living on a higher plane than the world, expect some criticism.

6> Keep physically and spiritually in shape.

Physical exhaustion has a tremendous effect on the way we act and react; it distorts the way we see and handle life. Elijah succumbed to opposition when he was in a state of weariness. Jezebel was a firecracker, and her opposition sapped the preacher’s strength. Elijah complained, “It is enough, now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:4). Elijah was completely shaken. Watch weariness because Satan will take advantage. When we become overly tired, we can become overly critical, and at the same time we are less able to handle criticism from others.

7> Don’t just see the critic; see if there’s a crowd.

The following story illustrates this point. Mrs. Jones had invited a great and well-known violinist to entertain at her afternoon tea. When it was all over, everyone crowded around the musician.

“I’ve got to be honest with you,” said one of the guests, “I think your performance was absolutely terrible.”

Hearing his criticism, the hostess interposed: “Don’t pay any attention to him. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He only repeats what he hears everyone else say.”

I’m suggesting that you expand your vision; go beyond the critic and see if he has a cheering section. Consider the possibility that you are hearing the same criticism from several people. If this is the case, and the critics are reliable, you need to realize that you have a challenge to work on. If, on the other hand, you’re dealing with a pocket group of negative people, your challenge is to not be affected by them.

George Bernard Shaw, the Irish playwright, certainly had his critics, but he knew how to handle them. After one opening, a critic voiced his displeasure. He said, “It’s rotten! It’s rotten!” To which Shaw replied, “I agree with you perfectly, but what are we two against so many?”

8> Wait for time to prove them wrong.

Time is your best ally; it allows you to prove yourself right. Often, as events unfold, the cause for criticism is eliminated and you will be vindicated. You may be thinking, “ Easy for you to say, but you’re not where I am.” But I have been there many times. If you know your action or decision was right, hang in there. Time will prove you out.

Abraham Lincoln, the most loved president of the united States, was also the most criticized president. Probably no politician in history had worse things said about him. Here’s how the Chicago Times in 1865 evaluated Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address the day after he delivered it. “The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat, and dish-watery utterances of a man who has been pointed out to intelligent foreigners as President of the United States.” Time, of course, has proved the scathing criticism wrong. 

Loving Difficult People – Part Four

Perhaps you have recognized someone you know in each of these caricatures we have been looking at. Or maybe you’re dealing with a person so difficult, he is in a category all by himself. Take heart; there are certain general rules which you can put into practice that will enable you to work more effectively with problem people.

1> Love them unconditionally.

2> Ask God for wisdom in working with them.

3> Stay emotionally healthy yourself.

4> Set and maintain proper personal boundaries with the person.

5> Be honest with God, yourself, and them.

The Process of Relationships

It’s important to understand the process of relationships; specifically the stages of a relational breakdown. Let’s take a look at them one by one.

  • The Honeymoon stage is the one we begin with. We usually have an unrealistic view of the relationship at this point. Obviously, what attracts people to each other, whether it be a business relationship, a friendship, or a romance are their positive qualities. The excitement of finding someone who meets some need in our lives tends to temporarily blind us to their negative traits.
  • Specific irritation is the stage where we begin to open our eyes and see things we don’t like. Here we develop a memory bank of these negative traits. But then we also see the relationship in a more realistic light. If you look back at the early weeks of your marriage or of a new job, you will probably recall the first incident that shook you into reality — the time you realized the honeymoon was over.
  • General discomfort should cause us to deal with the specific irritations that have piled up in our memory banks. We become more open, honest, and transparent about telling someone why they are making us uncomfortable.
  • Try harder stage of development where we raise our energy level to make a success of the relationship. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s very hard to separate the problem from the person.
  • Exhaustion often becomes a serious problem in a relationship because we are too tired to try any longer. We tend to throw up our hands and quit at this crucial point. 
  • Separation is the final stage. By this time the relationship has usually been terminated with little hope of restoration. Usually, by the time this happens we are too numb to even care or hurt.

The series of stages does not have to be completed; the cycle can be broken. Most often, if the process is reversed, it happens during the stage of general discomfort. At that point it is still possible to make the decision to accept what you don’t like about a person and to love that person unconditionally. As you try harder to overlook a person’s faults, it becomes easier to again focus your attention on his or her positive traits.

Problems in Relationships

In most relationship it is inevitable that at some point a confrontation will take place. At this crisis point it’s very important to approach the offending party prepared with the right attitude. If a confrontation is handled correctly, it can actually strengthen the relationship. If not, it can bring an abrupt, unhappy end to the relationship. In order for this not to happen, follow these six guidelines:

1> Bring in principle persons involved in the conflict. Experience has taught me that unless all persons involved come together, the whole story will never be pieced together accurately.

2> Line up the facts. Relying on hearsay evidence or “general impressions” will only invite emotion-laden rebuttals and, possibly, resentful counterattacks.

3> Never reprimand while angry. Make sure you are in control of your emotions. The angrier you are, the less objective you’ll be — and the less effective you will be in dealing with the problem or issue. It’s prudent to delay a confrontation until you’ve coolly asked yourself two questions: Could I have contributed to the problem? Were there mitigating circumstances I’m overlooking

4> Be precise about the offense. Let the person know exactly what the problem is. Don’t try to soften the blow by hemming and hawing or refusing to cough up the details. 

5> Get the other person’s side of the story. Always give the other person the chance to explain what happened and why they behaved as they did. There may be extenuating circumstances. Sometimes, you may even be a part of them. 

6> Don’t harbour a grudge. Once you have handled the issue, don’t carry around hostilities or unforgiveness. Let that person know you consider the problem a closed book and act accordingly.

 Our ultimate goal in dealing with relational problems should be to present the truth in such a way as to build and strengthen the relationship, not destroy it. Unfortunately, this cannot always be accomplished. If a relationship cannot stand an honest face-to-face encounter, then it probably is not a healthy relationship. In some cases, ending the relationship is the only solution, but this should be the last choice. 

Sometimes I have Stinking Thinking

https://rhm.podbean.com/e/sometimes-i-have-stinking-thinking/

Here is what I know:

Wrong thinking leads to wrong living

Here is another thing I know:

Manure happens

And, a third thing that I know:

One of the greatest stumbling blocks to spiritual life and spiritual growth is getting stuck in our negative, untrue, and impure thoughts instead of believing and living what God says in His Word

Our natural or built-in language is negative Read more

Loving Difficult People – Part Three

Another person who is difficult to deal with is the THUMB SUCKER. Thumb Suckers tend to pout, are full of self-pity, and try to get people to cater to their own desires. This pouting is used as leverage to manipulate others. If things are not going their way, they can create a heavy atmosphere that is as oppressive as a rain cloud. They can do this very cleverly. Often they employ the silent treatment to get what they want.

Here is a strategy in dealing with this individual.

First, make the Thumb Sucker aware of the fact that moodiness is a choice. This is essential. People become moody to manipulate people and gain control. They are very seldom moody by themselves. Teach them that they are responsible for the atmosphere they create, especially if they are in a position of leadership in the team or the church. Everyone in the world has problems; the Thumb Sucker has no right to add his or her personal petty grievances to the load. They can choose to be even-tempered and no longer impact a situation or others by their pity party approach to life. 

Sometimes it is helpful to expose Thumb Suckers to people who have real problems. Perhaps it will cause them to see themselves in a different light and to have a more grateful heart and positive attitude. 

It is important to never reward or give attention to moody people. Giving them an opportunity to publicly exhibit their negative attitudes gives them a sense of recognition. The best method of attack is to praise this person’s positive ideas and actions and ignore him when he is sucking his thumb.

Thumb Suckers are subject to mood swings; they’re negative only part of the time. However, THE WET BLANKET, on the other hand, is constantly down and negative. He is the classic impossibility thinker who see a problem in every solution. He is afflicted with the dreaded disease of Excusitis — finding problems and making excuses.

The most difficult thing about working with a person like this is that he or she usually takes no responsibility for his or her negative attitude and behaviour. It’s either “the other guy’s fault” or it’s “Just the way I am,” — a way of blaming God. Again, don’t reinforce the Wet Blanket’s behaviour by providing a platform from which to make excuses. Kindly but firmly point out that you have confidence in this person, but his or her present attitude is hindering progress. He needs to choose whether or not he is going to  risk being positive and responsible. If he chooses to change his behaviour, he’ll have a cheering section. If he chooses to not change, though, your best move will be away from him.

THE GARBAGE COLLECTOR is locked even deeper into the mire of negativity than the Thumb Sucker and the Wet Blanket. Garbage Collectors have surrendered the leadership of their lives to negative emotions. Oh, how they love to rehearse and replay the injuries they have suffered at the hands of other people. They nurse their wounds and hold onto their wounded ill spirits. Briefly and concisely, they stink! The fact that there is garbage in life is depressing enough, but to collect it and haul it around town in a dump truck for public viewing is downright sick.

How do you deal with these people? First confront them about the way they try to represent other people. I never allow a person to tell me “there are many others who feel this way also.” I won’t hear them out unless they give me names. That single requirement takes a lot of the “stink” out of their garbage because it usually boils down to just one or two individuals who have an affinity for garbage too. I challenge their statements by pinning them down when they make generalizations and exaggerations. If they have created a serious enough situation, it may become necessary to destroy their credibility by exposing them to a decision-making group.

THE USER is the person who manipulates others for his or her own personal gain. Users avoid responsibility for themselves, while demanding time and energy from others to benefit their own situations. They often use guilt to get what they want. The put on a weak front in order to get people to feel sorry for them and help them out.

How do you work with USERS? First, set predetermined limits on how far you will go to help them. Otherwise, they will push your guilt button and you will weaken. Remember that these people will not only take you the second and third mile, they’ll take you to the cleaners if you allow them. Require responsibility from the User. Even if you feel disposed to help him, make sure he is responsible for some part of the job. Otherwise, you will wind up carrying the load while he goes on his merry way — more than likely looking for another gullible soul.

Last, don’t feel obligated to Users, and don’t feel guilty for not feeling obligated. Most of the time a simple, firm no is the best medicine.

More next time …