Sometimes It Is Hard To Be Civil

https://rhm.podbean.com/e/sometimesits-hard-tobe-civil/

A pastor writes …

I received a message on Instagram from someone I didn’t know. Many people follow me who I don’t really know. And I follow many people who I don’t know hoping to have an opportunity to impact them with the Gospel.

One day he sent me the following message:

So umm… I see that you are following me, but I don’t understand why? I’m like a homosexual Satanist and I don’t believe in fairy tales — *cough, God, * cough

So, um yeah … unless you want something else from me … I would suggest blocking me.

If you had received this message, what would you have done? 

How would you have responded?

I wanted to say something that wouldn’t turn him away.

Something that would keep the conversation going.

I thought for a moment, started to type, and hit enter.

Why do you consider yourself a Satanist??

I just kind of skipped over the homosexual part and got right to the heart of the matter. And he responded by saying:

Just kidding. I’m an atheist.

Then I wrote:

So you are a comedic atheist?

He replied:

I guess … haha!

The next day I received this message from the guy:

What do you get from God? What does He do for you?

Wow, did I answer that question with joy! One of the many things I shared was:

I feel like I’m never alone. That I am blessed by God and that He has a plan, a direction for my life. I look up at the stars and think there must be a Creator; that none of this is an accident. And I just read the Bible, and it rang true. 

And then I challenged him to try to read the Bible. I figured he probably didn’t own a Bible, so I wrote:

Google “James 1” and read it, and you will see how cool it is — and wise.

He wrote back:

I said … I don’t read fairy tales

So then I prayed, “Lord give me the perfect answer to pique his interest,” and I sent him this message:

James is a history book! Try just one chapter. What would it hurt? What if it was a vast treasure just at your fingertips? If … after reading one chapter, you think it’s meaningless, then I’ll understand.

A couple of days went by, and I received a new message in my inbox from him. It read in all caps:

BEST READ OF MY LIFE!

This pastor was working hard to be civil … and it is not always easy

But, often the best way to open the door to sharing Jesus with someone is to begin a civil conversation

This means we maintain a sincere, kind, and respectful tone as we dialogue

Not preach at, not monolog as we share, but discuss and dialogue

It also means praying for the Holy Spirit’s guidance about what to say, including when and how to say it

Many Christians fall into one of two categories – two different extremes

1> There are some who don’t engage with nonbelievers at all about spiritual matters because they feel afraid, intimidated, or ill-equipped

2> there are others who do engage with nonbelievers, but it can be in a manner that is obnoxious or argumentative; critical and judgmental

The solution or remedy to both of these extremes is found in 1 Peter 3:15

“… but in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (ESV)

“Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy.” (MSG)

Our effectiveness for the Gospel begins with a reverence for Jesus as Lord in our hearts

And we are called to always be ready to give an answer to those who ask us the reason why we have hope

This must be done with gentleness and respect – in a civil manner -because it is coming from your heart which, as the verse states, is focused on Jesus

What the world needs now, more than ever before, is for believers to be open, engaging, and available to engage in civil conversations 

Often difficult in a culture where people are becoming more and more hostile to Christianity — and to each other — and there are so many different ‘camps’

Just look at any comments section of a social media post or news article online

It can be the simplest topic to the most controversial — It doesn’t matter

In just about every instance, you will have people who disagree with one another and begin labeling and attacking without a filter

Civil discourse seems to have left the building

Having a civil conversation with someone when you disagree seems almost impossible

And, I admit, “sometimes it is hard to be civil”

And, we Christians are just as guilty of this as nonbelievers

The truth is:

We are not going to win anyone or convince anyone of anything with our harsh and obnoxious Facebook posts over petty differences

We are not going to argue anyone into God’s Kingdom

Instead, we need to engage in civil dialogues and civil conversations with those who do not know Jesus … and those who do, for that matter!

Throughout Scripture, almost every conversion story began with some type of civil conversation

In Acts 8, Philip had a conversation with an Ethiopian who ended up getting baptized

In Acts 10, Peter and a man named Cornelius had a conversation, and the next thing you know, Cornelius and his family surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ

It was in Acts 16:13-14, during a conversation with Paul and his companions, that a woman named Lydia opened her heart to receive Christ as Lord

Jesus peached and taught the people but in His one-on-one conversations we see that He would often take on a different approach by being civil, conversing and asking questions

One of the best examples of this is recorded in the third chapter of John

A man named Nicodemus had an encounter with Jesus — and his life was forever changed.

John 3:1-15 “Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”

Nicodemus was someone you might meet fo the first time and think, He’ll never become Christian

The guy had political influence and clout

He represented the status quo

He was wealthy

A guardian of the rules

A keeper of the laws

Nicodemus subscribed to all kinds of unwritten laws as a teacher of Israel

He represents the people who believe that by keeping all the rules they are somehow saved or made righteous

And yet Nicodemus came to Jesus at night because he was very intrigued by Him

He wanted to learn more about Him and the things He had been teaching, the healings, the signs and wonders

So, Nicodemus said, “Rabbi,” which means “teacher, “ and the conversation begins.

John 3:2 “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”

Some things to note within Jesus’ and Nicodemus’s exchange that will be immensely helpful to you and me as we share our faithshare in a civil manner

1> Straight to the point

Jesus was willing to have a civil conversation with Nicodemus, but He also got straight to the point

John 3:3 “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

It could have been because it was late at night and Jesus was tired after a long day … and small talk was not something Jesus wanted to engage in

But it most likely had more to do with Jesus’s desire to see Nicodemus saved

He didn’t pull any punches

He did not shy away from this opportunity to speak openly and honestly with one of Israel’s most important and religious leaders

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

That’s pretty direct

“Truly, truly” means “Listen carefully, I’m not lying”

Nicodemus heard this phrase born again and he couldn’t figure it out

He didn’t understand it

So he asked the question:

“How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (John 3:4)

Jesus answered, and once again, He did not mince words:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit…”

Of course, we know what this meant but Nicodemus didn’t…

What Jesus meant was that Nicodemus had already been born physically; he needed to be born spiritually

But Nicodemus did not get it

But to fair, consider where we are in history:

Jesus has not died on the cross yet

The Day of Pentecost was still three years away

The Church had not started yet

There were no pastors

No church buildings on the corner of the street

No crosses on church buildings

Jesus was speaking prophetically when He pointed out the truth about being born of water and the Spirit

No wonder Nicodemus didn’t understand

I’m not sure that at this point in the conversation he was suppose to understand

And Jesus might have been thinking ‘You can’t handle the truth!’ … But He laid everything out directly anyways

Sometimes when believers are talking with someone who doesn’t know Christ, we beat around the bush

We use too many words

We preface or sugarcoat or water down the message

Jesus’s civil conversation with Nicodemus teaches us that sometimes we need to get straight to the point.

This does not mean you should be frantic, rude, or abrupt

Jesus was gentle and at ease as He shared the truth

It may not be comfortable to confront someone’s beliefs, but you can learn to do it

As we practice sharing our testimony and the Gospel message, we must learn to cut out all the hemming and hawing and get down to what’s most important

The simple story of Christ’s transforming love

2> The Spirit is there and is always moving (ministering)

Next Jesus says to Nicodemus, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)

Nicodemus ask, “How can this be?” (John 3:9)

The reason he asked this question is because he was convinced that the law was what saved a person

But since the law cannot save, there was a restlessness in Nicodemus’s soul

Despite the fact that he was a “law man” — and had money, fame, power, position, and religion — he was empty inside

He didn’t know why he was feeling what he was feeling

He was searching

He didn’t know what he was searching for

But, he was searching – or else he would not have come to Jesus in the first place

I think Jesus was trying to quiet all the noise in Nicodemus’s mind and heart by saying,

“Shh, Listen to the sound of the wind. The Holy Spirit of God is drawing you toward something that can save”

And here is the best part:

Even though Nicodemus came searching for Jesus that night, it was actually Jesus via the Holy Spirit who was searching for Nicodemus

Do you remember the story in the Bible about a man named Zacchaeus who was a short little guy?

He climbed a tree to look for Jesus, who was passing through the town of Jericho

Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5)

Let me ask you a question:

Was Zacchaeus searching for Jesus, or was Jesus searching for Zacchaeus?

Even though Zacchaeus was a wealthy tax collector, a “sinner” by everyone else’s account, he was valuable to the Lord

Jesus was looking for him and wanted to be a guest in his home

After encountering the Lord, Zacchaeus repented of his sins, vowing to give half of what he owned to the poor and to pay restitution to anyone he cheated in the past

If there was any doubt that Jesus was in fact looking for Zacchaeus, what the Lord declared next should clear things up:

Luke 19:9-10 ““Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

The Spirit of God moved in the heart of a wealthy tax collector to climb that tree in Jericho in order to catch a glimpse of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world

God’s Spirit also moved in the heart of Nicodemus to seek out Jesus for the answers to his questions

Behind the scenes, this very moment, the Spirit of God is moving!

He blows wherever He wants to

As you approach casual conversations with others, take comfort in the fact that God’s Spirit is always moving and wooing — even in folks you think would never be saved

John 14:17 “…He is with you, and will be in you

John16:7-11 “… convict the world (the unsaved) of sin, righteousness, and judgment”

There is a blogger named Russell Moore and he wrote:

“The next Billy Graham might be passed our drunk in a fraternity house right now. The next Charles Spurgeon might be making posters for a Gay Pride March right now. The next Mother Teresa might be managing an abortion clinic right now. But the Spirit of God can turn all that around. And seems to delight to do so.”

Don’t ever doubt whom God can reach and whom God can save!

So, when speaking to anyone and everyone – be civil, polite, gentle, kind, and get to the point so the Holy Spirit can do His work

You share the truth of the Gospel 

The Holy Spirit convicts them of sin and moves in their heart to receive Jesus

Here is what I know is true:

Right now there are people in your life — and perhaps even folks you have not met yet — who are restless in their heart and soul just like Nicodemus and Zacchaeus

They are wondering what it means to be alive – what’s my purpose and reason for living?

There is an emptiness in their hearts that the law, or self-righteousness, or money, or power, or fame, or sex, or relationships, or drugs, or alcohol cannot fill

The Spirit of God could be reaching out to them through you

Let that amazing truth be your confidence as you initiate civil conversations with them about matters of the faith

1> Straight to the point

2> The Spirit is always moving

3> Patience — even when they don’t understand

After Nicodemus asked, “How can this be?” Jesus continued to talk with him and explained Himself is quite some detail

Even though Nicodemus was a teacher of the law and should have been able to grasp these concepts

Even though, by all appearances, the conversation is going nowhere and his conversion is nowhere in sight

And what we learn from Christ’s approach and demeanour is that we must be patient with others, even when they don’t understand

Jesus patiently took Nicodemus back to a familiar story in Numbers, chapter 21 to explain salvation

The people of God were complaining when they should have been rejoicing because God had delivered them from captivity in Egypt and was leading them to the promised land

They questioned Moses’s leadership abilities

They didn’t like the monotonous and dry food God was supplying daily

They began to infect the camp with poisonous words

So the Lord sent real, live snakes into their midst, to do literally the very thing the people were guilty of doing figuratively: poisoning

Many of the Israelites died

Those who were left realized their sin and went to Moses to repent

They knew they were doomed and beyond hope

In recounting this story, Jesus reminded Nicodemus how Moses lifted up a bronze snake on a pole and whoever looked upon that snake would live

Just as He did with His “born again” statement earlier, Jesus was pointing out the spiritual with the physical

In fact, He told Nicodemus that He was speaking of heavenly things:

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”

Jesus was patient with Nicodemus as He led him to the truth of the Gospel

We are called to do the same in our civil conversations with others

It may look like they don’t understand

It may look like they are never going to receive the message

But God has called us to lift up Jesus so that He can draw all people to Him (John 12:32)

That is our only job

That is all we have to be focused on

More and more every day, our world is becoming so divided and confused and poisoned 

Like the Israelites who had snakes in the midst of their camp, it may seem as though we are all doomed

Our only hope is Jesus Christ

In everything we do

In every conversation we have

We believers must be loving, patient, truthful, and above all, lift up Jesus so that the entire world will believe.

1> Straight to the point

2> The Spirit is always moving

3> Patience — even when they don’t understand

CONCLUSION:

As I attempt to put myself in Nicodemus’s sandals after this fascinating conversation with the Saviour of the world, her is what I imagine Nicodemus saying or thinking:

“Jesus, everything that You’re saying has completely turned my thought process upside down. Everything I have ever been taught since I was a child is that the law is what saves! You come along with these miracles and signs that force me to listen to You. You tell me I have to be born again of water and the Spirit. And that the Son of Man must be lifted up.”

I imagine him continuing, “Jesus, I’m an educated man, but I need You to simplify this for me. I’m very interested — but I don’t understand. I know the Scriptures front and back. I know what the rabbis have taught for thousands of years, but … I have no idea what You are saying.”

Then, in perhaps the greatest verse in John’s entire Gospel, Jesus really did simplify it all for Nicodemus when He declared:

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

People can keep all the laws, but the laws can’t save

They can be leaders among leaders, but fame and recognition can’t save

They can be wealthy, but material possessions cannot save

Only knowing the Son Of God — Jesus — can save a person

Christ went to the Cross and died for the sins of the world

All who believe in Him will not perish but have everlasting life!

As Jesus spoke in a very civil and friendly manner with Nicodemus, we can can show others through patient, civil conversations that it was all part of God’s plan

      • God’s story
      • God’s love
      • God’s Spirit
      • God’s calling
      • God’s Son
      • God’s salvation

Any time you see people getting saved, lives being changes, miracles and signs, and people moving from darkness to light — it is all God

Anything good you see is because God is at work around the world to redeem humankind before Jesus returns

Unbelievers may not understand this, but we can help them. However, “Sometimes it is hard to be civil.”

How To Have Personal Charisma! – Part Five

There are, in each of our lives, roadblocks to being a person who is known to have charisma. Again, charisma is a trait or quality in our life that can be developed. It is not reserved for those who are extroverts and enjoy being in front of others. The potential to be charismatic lies within each of us, but first we must remove hindrances from the development of this important personality characteristic.

What are some possible obstructions?

    • PRIDE. A prideful person will have a tendency to look down on other people, feeling a sense of superiority. People will not follow or identify with a snobbish personality who is conscious of status and position.
    • INSECURITY. Insecure people are not willing to take a risk. They prefer to remain comfortable and probably, unexciting.
    • MOODINESS. This is an immature quality which is detrimental to personal relationships. Moody people are fickle and, thus, people who cannot be depended upon. Confidence is never built on a person who is subject to sullenness.
    • PERFECTIONISM. Perfectionism is an obsessive need to perform flawlessly. It stifles creativity and freedom and it turns people off and away. Perfectionists can rarely affirm themselves; therefore, it’s very difficult for them to affirm others.
    • OVERSENSITIVITY. Oversensitive people are constantly licking their wounds. They look inward and are not aware of the needs of others. Naturally, people don’t flock around them. 
    • NEGATIVISM. By definition, negativism is the opposite of charisma. A person with a constant negative attitude is depressing to be around. Their personality says no to life in general. Others will avoid a person like that. There is no possibility of being a charismatic leader or friend when no one want to be around you.

Charisma begins at the cross of Jesus Christ. Let’s take a look at Philippians 2:3-11 where we see Paul using the humility of Christ Himself as our pursuit.

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

There is no question that Jesus was and is highly exalted. He had charisma. But it began with the deepest of humility. Remember: Charisma is being more concerned about making others feel good about themselves than you are in making them feel good about you!

In review – Traits of a person with charism…

    • Concern – What they show
    • Help – What they offer
    • Action – What they provide
    • Results – What they produce 
    • Influence – What they do
    • Sensitivity – What they follow
    • Motivation – What they give
    • Affirmation – What they share

How To Have Personal Charisma! – Part Four

We are looking at building personal charisma and thus being someone others would want to be in relationship with and even friends with. We are looking at these personal qualities that we can learn and develop by using the word CHARISMA as an acrostic.So far we have seen:

Concern – The ability to show that you care

Help – The ability to reach out

Action – The ability to make things happen

Result – The ability to produce

Influence – The ability to lead

Sensitivity – The ability to feel and respond

Charismatic people have the ability to be sensitive to changing situations. They are adept at taking advantage of the mood, feeling, and spirit of any situation. Most people have the ability to feel something, but they aren’t sure how to react to it or express it. Charismatic people not only feel it,. But they know how to react and express it.

Charismatic people find a cause; that’s discernment. They also voice a concern; that courage. And they draw a crowd; that’s automatic.

If you are to become more sensitive, you must be willing to take a risk. Take the initiative to find a need and take action. People who are overly sensitive to the point that their feelings are always hurt will withdraw from others and never take a risk.

But the charismatic person will risk getting out of their comfort zone in order to make others feel comfortable.

Motivation – The ability to give hope

The secret of motivating others is providing them with hope. People tend to feel more positive when they are in relationship with someone who brings hope to the surface in their life. Let’s take a look at some Bible people who offered hope (and thus were able to lead others who were drawn to them):

    • Isaiah, speaking of God, said, “I will do something new” (Isaiah 43:19)
    • Jeremiah talked about “…new law in their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33)
    • Jesus spoke about being born again (John 3:3)
    • Paul called a Christian a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
    • John’s vision recorded in Revelation spoke of “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1)

Each of these dynamic leaders constantly waved hope before their people.

Do you convey hope or despair to those around you? Learn affirmation skills, problem-solving techniques, ways to verbally encourage others, and convey belief and support in others. 

Affirmation – The ability to build up

Charles Schwab, the successful businessman, said, “I have yet to find the man, however exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism.”

Everyone wants and needs to be affirmed for his or her accomplishments. A little boy playing darts with his father said, “Let’s play darts. I’ll throw and you say, “Wonderful!” That’s what the charismatic person does for others.

We tend to become what the most important person in our life thinks we will become. Think the best, believe the best, express the best in others. Your affirmation will not only make you more attractive to them, but you will help play an important part in their personal development.

How do you affirm others? First we need to feel good about ourselves. Then we can verbally and actively believe in others and expect them to respond positively. People are our only appreciable asset. As Christians, we cannot afford to not affirm them. If I fail to affirm a brother, we both lose.  

So, how do we have personal charisma? We have looked at eight qualities we will need to build into our life and relationships if we hope to be charismatic as a person…

Concern – The ability to show that you care

Help – The ability to reach out

Action – The ability to make things happen

Result – The ability to produce

Influence – The ability to lead

Sensitivity – The ability to feel and respond

Motivation – The ability to give hope

Affirmation – The ability to build up

How To Have Personal Charisma! – Part Three

We are looking at building personal charisma and thus being someone others would want to be in relationship with and even friends with. We are looking at these personal qualities that we can learn and develop by using the word CHARISMA as an acrostic.So far we have seen:

Concern – The ability to show that you care

Help – The ability to reach out

The “A” in CHARISMA stands for Action – The ability to make things happen.

Something exciting always seems to be happening around a person with charisma. The charismatic person has an aversion to being bored and boring. He or she may be interesting, controversial, unusual, or entertaining, but never boring. 

Be honest with yourself and evaluate how you come across to others. A young fellow in a dry church service turned to his mother and said, “Pay the man and let’s go home!” That preacher obviously lacked charisma. 

When evangelist John Wesley was asked why people seemed to be drawn to him, he answered, “Well, you see, when you set yourself on fire, people just love to come and see you burn.”

Do you want to increase your interest with other people? Develop your creativity and your confidence. Creativity is the ability to say things in an unusual way; confidence is the ability to do things in an unusual way. Charismatic people can do both. Develop these two traits and people will stand up and take notice.

As a speaker and apostle, I always want to be fresh and exciting in my presentations. I will use humour and real life stories to drive home a point but never to distract from the truth. Long after the content of the message is forgotten people will remember the creative illustration and the truth that was emphasized.

Results – The ability to produce is the next point…

Charismatic people want to be on the winning side of life. People like being around winners and want to play on the winning team. A boy playing chess with his grandfather says, “Oh, no! Not again! Grandpa, you always win!”

Grandpa says, “What do you want me to do, lose on purpose? You won’t learn anything if I do that!” But the boy replies, “I don’t wanna learn anything. I just wanna win!”

Charismatic people not only want to win, they want others to win too. That creates productivity. Results always follow. 

How does a person become productive? Find you strength and then find someone who needs your strength. Charismatic people use their strengths to help other people feel good about themselves; they are other-centered. The person who is self-centered uses his strength to dominate others and will simply not have people who willingly relate and follow him.

Influence – The ability to lead.

As we all know – leadership is influence. If something new, exciting, and interesting is happening in your life, you will want to share it. In doing so, you will influence others and they will want to hang out with you and follow your lead. 

What happens to you speaks to your circumstances. What happens in you speaks to your character. And what happens through you speaks to your charisma.

Do you want to learn how to be a positive influence on others? Five factors come into play:

    • Who I am — my character and gifts
    • Where I am — my location and those who are around me that I relate to
    • Who I know — my sphere of influence because people open doors of opportunity
    • What I know — my expertise, education, experience
    • What I do — my accomplishments (the fruit of my work) and my credibility

Summarizing…

Concern – The ability to show that you care

Help – The ability to reach out

Action – The ability to make things happen

Result – The ability to produce

Influence – The ability to lead.

How To Have Personal Charisma! – Part Two

We are looking at building personal charisma and thus being someone others would want to be in relationship with and even friends with. We are looking at these personal qualities that we can learn and develop by using the word CHARISMA as an acrostic.

Concern – The ability to show that you care

Charismatic people have the ability to show concern for people’s deepest needs and interests. That does not mean that charismatic people are mushy and patronizing, but when you are around them, you sense their interest and care and leave them feeling that they you are important. When you share with them they respond to what you are sharing. They let you know they heard you and understand what you said and, even more importantly, where you are coming from. They even share their thoughts and feelings about what you trusted them with when sharing. 

At any gathering you will find two types of people — those who arrive with an attitude of “Here I am!” And those who possess an attitude of “There you are!” It doesn’t take long to notice that people flock to the “There you are!” people.

So another definition of charisma that is easy to understand and grasp (again I learned this  from someone who was a great mentor) is: “Be more concerned about making others feel good about themselves than you are in making them feel good about you.” In other words, don’t try to sell other people on you, try to sell them on themselves.

If you need to develop greater concern for others in your life, increase your exposure to hurting people. We see Jesus’ sense of concern in Matthew 9:35-38 (italics added):

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had (felt) compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.”

Here is the sequence: Jesus went, saw, felt, and cared. It’s only when we go and expose ourselves to various situations that we will see enough to develop the concern necessary to move us to action.

It’s difficult to become motivated to help people without first seeing and feeling their needs. The secret is to spend time with them. Only when you go and see will you feel and do. Only as you enter into their world and let their needs, words, and feelings enter into your heart will you begin to develop charisma. 

Help – The ability to reach out

Put simply, charismatic people are helpers. They get involved in people’s lives and respond to others. They are out there to see others become fully who God created them to be. To be the “best you that you can be” is their motto towards others.  They want people to mature and grow. They have the gift of grace. In fact, the Greek word for gift is “charisma” meaning “gift of grace.” God has freely bestowed upon us spiritual gifts because of His grace toward us.

In Romans 12:6 we read about this further: “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them (exercise them) accordingly…” And we see in Ephesians 4:11-12, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…”

Notice in both references the emphasis on the variety of gifts and their purpose in the Kingdom. It is always for other people, never for self. There is no charisma in seclusion. You can’t walk into a room and have charisma by yourself!

People have problems and life issues. Many are like the beleaguered guy who, in desperation, when to a psychiatrist for help. He told the doctor, “Every time I get my act together, the curtain falls down.” He needed more than mercy and concern; he needed help. You will find that if you are adept at solving problems (offering help), that will guarantee a following forever. But if you want to develop solid, in-depth friendships or a loyal following (clientele, church members) you will need charisma. More than helping, you will need to be warm and transparent and even, at times, vulnerable. In other words, you will need to be real and have a personality that is attractive and that makes people feel at ease and at home when with you. .

What can you do to help people with their problems? First of all, encourage them to face their problem. Too often people would rather flee them, fight them, or forget them.

Second, encourage them to solve their problems. Don’t fix the problems for them. Teach them to fit them for themselves. Use the following acrostic to teach yourself to help people with difficulties.

T – Tell them it takes time.

E – Expose yourself to their problems in order to relate to the person’s situation

A – Assure them of your confidence in them

C – Creatively help them to see for themselves how to deal with their problems

H – Offer hope to them through the process

How To Have Personal Charisma! – Part One

I am an introvert. When I take tests that are meant to reveal your personality and how you function as a person I am an extreme introvert. As a result I have had to learn how to live as an extrovert because the majority of the world is extroverted. And, because I needed to develop the personal characteristics and relational qualities that would encourage others to want to have a personal relationship with me. I needed to study and then develop the character and personality traits that draw others to me. 

This is not something just introverts need to do. Every one of us needs to develop those qualities which cause people to be drawn to us and cause them to want to relate or become friends. If you don’t take the time to learn about and develop these qualities your will live a lonely life and one that is most likely an inch deep and a mile wide. Your relationships will all be fairly meaningless and very much on the surface of life. 

The word that summarizes all of this is “charisma.” Not everyone is born with charisma. But everyone can develop this quality that makes the difference between being a loner and being popular. It makes the difference between being an acquaintance and being a good friend. It is certainly the quality needed to become a leader in whatever area you are working or ministering. 

Charisma can be a difficult subject to grapple with because most people think it is a mystical, elusive, undefinable quality that you either have or don’t have. However, Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary has given several definitions to charisma, and this is the one we will use:

Charisma is a personal magic of leadership arousing special popular loyalty or enthusiasm.

I would interchange or add the word “friendship” where you just read “leadership” and add the word “personal” where it states “popular”

My definition of charisma: A personal quality of friendship (leadership) arousing personal (popular) loyalty or enthusiasm 

Each one of us has certain abilities that will increase the charisma of our personality. You don’t have to make a strained effort to become something that is not comfortable with your basic nature. However, if your desire is to become a people person and have good, life-long friends, then you need to develop an appealing personality that causes others to respond to you.

Using the word CHARISMA as an acrostic, we can define the outstanding characteristics of a charismatic person who people want to follow and be friends with. I learned this from several books and a mentor from many years ago. 

Concern

Help

Action

Results

Influence

Sensitivity

Motivation

Affirmation

Keep in mind that these traits are not simply inborn; they are attainable by anyone who cares about other people and wants to develop his or her relational skills. 

Let’s look at each characteristic in CHARISMA in a little more depth.

Sometimes I Lose My Spiritual Center

https://rhm.podbean.com/e/sometimes-i-loose-my-spiritual-center/

 

I want to talk about finding and keeping a “spiritual center” in your life

We are going to look at: 

The art of heaven-based thinking. 

You could also call it:

The practice of the presence of God.

Our Scripture passage:

Colossians 3:1-4 “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

TPT “Christ’s resurrection is your resurrection too. This is why we are to yearn for all that is above, for that’s where Christ sits enthroned at the place of all power, honour, and authority! Yes, feast on all the treasures of the heavenly realm and fill your thoughts with heavenly realities, and not with the distractions of the natural realm. Your crucifixion with Christ has severed the tie to this life, and now your true life is hidden away in God in Christ. And as Christ himself is seen for who he really is, who you really are will also be revealed, for you are now one with him in his glory! Read more

Building Healthy Relationships – Part Five

Within the realm of healthy relationships we have see:

1> You want others to encourage you

2> You want others to appreciate you. 

3> You want others to forgive you

4> You want others to listen to you and respond

5> You want others to understand and accept you

How do you feel when you are misunderstood? What kinds of feelings well up inside you? Loneliness? Frustration?  Disappointment? Resentment? Rejection? These are common feelings when we have been misunderstood.

Peter Drucker, often called the “Father of American Management,” claims that 60 percent of all management problems are a result of faulty communications. A leading marriage counsellor says that at least half of all divorces result from faulty communication between spouses. And criminologists tell us that upwards of 90 percent of all criminals have difficulty communicating with other people. Communicating is fundamental to understanding and acceptance. 

And unless a person truly listens and understands you, you never reach the stage of feeling accepted. Without feeling accepted you will not continue to feel free to share because it will seem to you that others are judging, criticizing, and rejecting you. 

A side note:

When someone shares a feeling you should never say “You shouldn’t feel that way.” That is actually rejecting the person’s feelings and thus rejecting them because the feeling is them at the moment. You may not agree with the feeling or the reason behind the feeling – but it is their feeling. It is neither good or bad as feelings are just feelings. What you do with them and about them determines good or bad. So, when someone is sharing a feeling you should work to accept how they are feeling, and let them know that you accept not only the feeling but them having the feeling. 

In the last week in this series of blogs we have discovered that in relationships you want others to:

      • Encourage you
      • Appreciate you
      • Forgive you
      • Listen to you
      • Understand you

As you think about these qualities, consider how they apply to your own life. Perhaps this short course in human relations can help each of us develop qualities that we admire in others:

  • The least important word: I (gets the least amount done)
  • The most important word: We (gets the most amount done) — relationships
  • The two most important words: Thank you — appreciation
  • The three most important words: All is forgiven — forgiveness
  • The four most important words: What is your opinion? — listening
  • The five most important words: You did a good job — encouragement
  • The six most important words: I want to know you better — understanding. 

In life, you are either going to see people as your adversaries or as your assets. If they are adversaries, you will be continually sparring with them, trying to defend your position. If you see people as assets, you will help them see their potential, and you will become allies in making the most of each other. The happiest day of your life will be the day when you realize “we” really is the most important word in the English language. 

Building Healthy Relationships – Part Four

We are looking at what makes for a healthy relationship within the family, with friends, and at work. Of course, not everyone will be your BFF in real life but we all need to be involved in a number of healthy relationships so we can continue to grow and mature and become all that God wants us to be. God created us to be social creatures. We need other people. 

Within the realm of relationships we have seen:

1> You want others to encourage you

2> You want others to appreciate you. 

3> You want others to forgive you

4> You want others to listen to you and respond

I spend a lot of time listening to people and responding to what they are saying. That is not only part of my ministry but it is also what people must do if they want to have healthy and vibrant relationships. I was recently sitting in a coffee shop reading and there was a man siting there talking to a younger lady across the small coffee table that separated them. Recognizing me he said, “Pastor, we are having a great conversation. I have been telling her my story.” I realized at that point how important it was to him that she was listening attentively and showed interest in what he had to say. It made him feel that he had value.

There is a difference between hearing people and listening to them. Listening is wanting to hear. As believers we are to love people as God loves us. And because we love people we should want to hear from them. We need to learn to listen with our heart and not just our head. People will respond in a very positive way to that kind of loving and visible, real caring.

As people people gain more authority, they often develop a lack of patience in listening to those under them. A deaf ear is the first indication of a closed mind. The higher people go in management and the more authority they wield, the less they are forced to listen. The same is true in the church and in ministry. Yet their need to listen is greater than ever. The farther they get from the firing line, the more they need to depend on others for correct information. If they have not formed the habit of truly listening and actually hearing what is being said – listening carefully and intelligently – they aren’t going to get the facts they need, and the people will resent their decisions.

I saw a television sketch which, in some variations, might seem familiar in many households. A husband is watching television and his wife is trying to engage him in conversation:

Wife: Dear, the plumber didn’t come to fix the leak behind the water heater today.

Husband: Uh-huh.

Wife: The pipe burst today and flooded the basement.

Husband: Quiet. It’s third down and goal to go.

Wife: Some of the wiring got wet and almost electrocuted Fluffy.

Husband: Darn it! Touchdown.

Wife: The vet says he’ll be better in a week.

Husband: Can you get me a coke?

Wife: The plumber told me that he was happy that our pipe broke because now he can afford to go on vacation.

Husband: Aren’t you listening? I said I could use a Coke!

Wife: And Stanley, I’m leaving you. The plumber and I are flying to Acapulco in the morning.

Husband: Can’t you please stop all the yakking and get me a coke? The trouble around here is that nobody ever listens to me. 

A couple of side notes:

When someone shares with you it is good to respond to what they are sharing. Let them share, listen thoughtfully, and then dialogue with them about what they have trusted you with. Tell them what you are thinking and feeling about what they have shared. Otherwise, you may say you care and that you are listening, but there is no real proof that that is a fact. Your silence can be read as not caring and not interested.

When someone shares something that seems important to them, don’t use it to jump off into something you want to share. Keep the focus on them and don’t use what they have shared to turn the focus onto yourself.

When someone shares – they are wanting you to listen and care. They are not looking for you to fix it. Most people know what to do to fix a problem or get out of the situation they are in. What they want to know is that you are really listening and that you care. Yes, maybe you can help and ‘fix it’ but that will be later. Caring before fixing.

Remember, most of us are very poor listeners. You will need to learn how to listen with your heart and not just your head. 

Building Healthy Relationships – Part Three

We are looking at what makes for a healthy relationship within the family, with friends, and at work. Of course, not everyone will be your BFF in real life but we all need to be involved in a number of healthy relationships so we can continue to grow and mature and become all that God wants us to be. God created us to be social creatures. We need other people. 

Within the realm of relationships we have seen:

1> You want others to encourage you

2> You want others to appreciate you. 

3> You want others to forgive you

Almost all emotional problems and stress come from unresolved conflicts, failure to have developed right relationships with people. Because of this, many people have a deep desire for total forgiveness. A forgiving spirit is the one basic, necessary ingredient for a solid relationship. Forgiveness frees us from guilt and allows us to interact positively with other people.  

Earnest Hemingway, in his short story, “The Capital of the World,” tells the story about a father and his teenage son who lived in Spain. Their relationship became strained, eventually shattered, and the son ran away from home. The father began a long journey in search of the lost and rebellious son, finally putting an ad in the Madrid newspaper as a last resort. His son’s name was Paco, a very common name in Spain. The ad simply read: “Dear Paco, meet me in front of the Madrid newspaper office tomorrow at noon. All is forgiven. I love you.” As Hemingway writes, the next day at noon in front of the newspaper office there were 800 “Pacos” all seeking forgiveness.

There are countless Pacos in the world who want more than anything else to be forgiven. The two great marks of a Christian are that they are giving and forgiving. Show me a person who walks with God, and I’ll show you a person who has a giving heart and is forgiving of others.

The unfortunate truth is that many of us, instead of offering total forgiveness, pray something like this Irish Prayer:

May those who love us, love us;

And those who don’t love us

May God turn their hearts;

And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,

My He turn their ankles,

So we’ll know them by their limping.

People who find it difficult to forgive don’t see themselves realistically. They are either terribly arrogant or tremendously insecure. Though hanging onto a grudge gives some people a feeling of satisfaction, the truth is people who do not forgive are hurting themselves much more than they’re hurting others. A person who possesses this characteristic and keeps score in relationships is a person who is emotionally and sometimes physically under stress. We just are not wired to carry all the stress that goes with carrying grudges.

Too often people wait too long to forgive other people. Forgiveness should be given as quickly and as totally as possible. Do it now. It does not get easier over time, so the sooner you go and deal with the issues and become reconciled through offering forgiveness, the better off you will be. 

Over my years in ministry there have been a number of times when I’ve experienced strained relationships. I have had people swear at me, tell me where to go, how to get there, and offer their assistance. But I have never knowingly let them walk out the door without telling them I love them. I don’t hold any grudges or carry any resentment against anyone. I cannot stress this enough: if you don’t have peace, it isn’t because someone took it from you; you gave it away. You cannot always control what happens to you, but you can control what happens in you. 

A side note or two: 

Many years ago I learned a truth from a book I was reading: “Unforgiveness is like you drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” The only person unforgiveness really hurts is you.

Sometimes when we are in a long term relationship – a deep friendship or a marriage – and something goes wrong we see the other person go “historical.” Not hysterical but historical. They throw back in your face all the things that you did wrong over the  last number of years. This is a sure sign of unforgiveness. 

Often, like the story of Paco and his dad, there is a need to make things right with a parent. Trust me, it is far easier to do that while they are alive than after they die. I became a believer a number of years after my father had died and there were some outstanding issues that had never been dealt with. As a believer I still needed to deal with them but, of course, without being able to talk to my father. Much easier to deal with issues while a parent is still living.