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 …

Loving Difficult People – Part Two

There are several types of difficult people, and it’s helpful to identify their common traits in order to learn how to deal with them effectively. As we review these traits remember that you can choose how to react to them. The effect of difficult relationships — whether they make us or break us — is determined not by the treatment we receive but by how we respond to it.

Take a look at the SERMAN TANK personality. This label may bring to mind a person who runs over everything and anything that is in the way. These people have a tendency to intimidate others because of their “I’m-right-and-you’re-wrong” attitude. They intimidate through their force and power; they’re behaviour is aggressive and even hostile. Because of the Sherman Tank’s insensitivity, people tend to battle with them. It is difficult to sit down and reason or rationalize with “tanks.”

Don’t lose hope; there is a strategy for dealing with the Sherman Tanks of life.

First consider this person’s influence as well as the issue at stake. How important is the point being fought over, and how many people are being influenced by the “tank?” If the issue could have a direct, negative effect on others within the organization or group involved, it is probably worth fighting over. But if it an insignificant issue or a matter of pride, it’s not worth the battle. When crucial issues arise, however, you must stand up to this personality. True, there is no easy way around these people. Be direct, because they probably don’t understand tactfulness. Look at them face to face and confront the specific issues at hand. Unfortunately these people cause more pain than any of the other difficult personality types because they feel little pain themselves. As a result, they can afford to be unreasonable. What adds to the burden of dealing with these people is that, with their power to intimidate, they can pull together many allies. 

Another difficult personality with whom we call come in contact with is the SPACE CADET. These people live in their own world, walking to the beat of a different drummer. They usually do not respond to normal motivation techniques. Frustration is the overwhelming feeling you get when working with this type of person. And, you will quickly learn you should not be greatly influenced by this person’s comments and feedback. Probably the people you know who fall into this category, you have labeled ‘weird.’

Consider these guidelines when working with a SPACE CADET:

    • Don’t evaluate your leadership or relational skills by the Space Cadet’s response. In fact, don’t even ask his or her opinion about something because you will get an off-the-wall answer. Space Cadets are not good sounding boards.
    • It’s not a good idea to place a Space Cadet in a ‘team ministry’ position. When you need a group of individuals to pull together to accomplish a goal, the Space Cadet has difficulty pulling with other people in the same direction.
    • Don’t place Space Cadets in positions of leadership because they won’t be able to determine the heartbeat of others.
    • Don’t write your Space Cadet friend off as a lost cause, though. Search for the key to his or her uniqueness and seek to develop it. Many Space Cadets are extremely brilliant and creative; they have much to offer if you put them in the right spot. They work best when they work alone, so find an area in which they’re interested and give them space to dream and create. 

The VOLCANO is an explosive, unpredictable type of person who tends to be unapproachable. How do we treat them? Should we walk around them softly, or test the waters and see what kind of a day they are having? It’s difficult to relax around them because we don’t know when the heat is about to rise. Just as the Space cadet causes frustration, the VOCANO causes tension. Those who have to work with this person can never relax; they never know what might set him or her off. It is like having to walk on egg-shells all day. 

How should we handle VOLCANOES when they blow up? Calmness is the key. Remove them from the crowd and remain calm yourself. They don’t need an audience, and you are better off to keep your blood pressure down. Once you have them alone, let them vent steam. Allow them to blow as hard and as long as necessary; let them get it all out. Don’t try to interrupt because they won’t be hearing you. In an attempt to get the story straight, you may need to go back and ask them to repeat some details. Minimize any exaggeration and remove any hearsay that has mingled in so you can deal with the facts and not the emotion. Then provide a soft, clear answer concerning the situation. Finally, hold these people accountable for the things they say and the people they harm.

Loving Difficult People – Part One

Are you aware of the tremendous advantage frogs have over humans? They can eat anything that bugs them! Wouldn’t it be great of we could consume our relational problems rather than letting them consume us! What “bugs” you the most about people? Is it inconsistency? Inflexibility? Inability to give and take? Bad attitudes? Whatever it is that makes relationships difficult for you to build and maintain is something that needs to be looked at and dealt with. 

I personally can handle disagreements or differences of opinion, but people who refuse to engage in and embrace a relationship that they have chosen to become involved in really gets to me. It means that the relationship becomes very one-sided very quickly. All give and no take. You share feelings and thoughts and there is no response, no interaction. So, it is like talking into a void never knowing what the other person is thinking or feeling. 

I find that most Christian people suffer from very poor and even surface relationships. They truly are missing the relational skills needed to form and build healthy beneficial relationships with others believers and with non-believers. And, as a result they suffer from guilt in their relationships with others. 

Christians are often taught that we should be full of grace,. Sounds good. But, what does it mean? Does God expect us to get along peaceably with everybody? Are we suppose to simply overlook other people’s faults and idiosyncrasies? Right relationships with difficult people can seem like an impossible standard to reach. Just what are we suppose to do?

The Apostle Paul offers this practical advice, “If possible, so far as it depends upon you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18). You might paraphrase that verse to read: Do the best you can to get along with everyone. Yet realize that once in a while you are going to have a relationship with a difficult person that may fall short of the ideal. 

A personal inventory of the “Three P’s” will help you determine your part in a difficult relationship or association.

    • Perspective. How do I see myself? How do I see others? How do others see me? Our perspective determines how far our relationships will develop.
    • Process. Do I understand the stages of a relationship? Do I realize there are some stages in a relationship that are more critical than others?
    • Problems. When facing difficulties in a relationship, how do I handle them?

Show me a person who sees themselves in a negative light and I will show you a person who sees others in a negative way. The opposite is also true. A person who sees himself positively also looks for the good in others. It’s all in one’s perspective. 

Some people see a relationship as a series of isolated incidents, and one bad incident can break the relationship. People who think this way never develop deep relationships. Their friendships are precarious, on-again-off-again types of associations. These people run every time a difficult situation arises. They seldom, if ever, develop long-standing relationships.

Let’s take a look at perspective first. We act in a way that is consistent with the way we see ourselves. I act as I see myself. In fact, it is impossible to consistently behave in a manner that is inconsistent with the way we see ourselves. Understandably, this is the cause of many relationship problems. 

Only when we view ourselves with 20/20 vision will we be able to see other people clearly. Perspective is crucial. That’s why Jesus spoke about judging others: “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:4-5). He is telling us we need to deal with our own attitudes before we criticize another person.

In Matthew 22:39 we read Jesus’ command to “love your neighbour as yourself.” He knew that if we truly loved ourselves, we would also love our neighbour. He also knew that before we could really love our neighbour, we would need to love ourselves — not a selfish, self-serving type of love, but a deep appreciation of who we are in Christ. Most of the time our relational problems stem from the fact that we ourselves have problems or issues that have not been resolved. It is not possible to treat another person’s hurt until we have first discovered the cure and accepted the treatment ourselves.

The story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37 illustrates this principle. The robbers who beat the the traveler used people. They stole from the traveler and saw him as a victim to exploit. The priest and the Levite were legalistic and withdrawn. They saw the beaten, robbed victim as a problem to be avoided, because they believed if they touched a dead man they would be unclean according to the Law. The Good Samaritan was a social outcast — despised, ignored, and rejected by society. He knew what it was like to be passed by and uncared for, but he also had experienced the cure. When he saw this victim, he was able to empathize with him. He looked upon him as a person who needed to be loved, identifying with the traveler’s problem and sharing in the solution. 

It is perspective that helps build relationships. 

When you realize that people treat you according to how they see themselves rather than how you really are, you are less likely to be affected by their behaviour. Your self-image will reflect who you are, not how you are treated by others. You will not be riding an emotional roller coaster. This type of stability will have a tremendous effect on how you feel toward and deal with others.

The key to successful relationships really gets down to responsibility. I am responsible for how I treat others. I may not be responsible for how they treat me; but I am responsible for my reaction to those who are difficult. I can’t choose how you’ll treat me, but I can choose how I will respond to you. 

More next time…

Feeling Confident In Life – Part Six

As you grow more self-confident you will find your confidence has a contagious quality. It will spread throughout your sphere of influence. The Bible provides some interesting examples of “confidence contagion.”

For instance, how many giant-killers are in Saul’s army? None. When Goliath defied the armies of God, they quaked in fear (1 Samuel 17:11). David, who came to bring food to his brothers, sized up the situation, went out in faith, and killed the giant. After David the giant-killer became king, how many giant-killers arose in Israel? Quite a few. They were almost a common commodity in the army under David’s leadership. 

1 Chronicles 20:4-8 “And after this there arose war with the Philistines at Gezer. Then Sibbecai the Hushathite struck down Sippai, who was one of the descendants of the giants, and the Philistines were subdued. And there was again war with the Philistines, and Elhanan the son of Jair struck down Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. And there was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number, and he also was descended from the giants. And when he taunted Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David’s brother, struck him down. These were descended from the giants in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.”

Why do you suppose there were no giant-killers in Saul’s army? Surely one reason is that Saul himself was not a giant-killer. However, under David’s leadership they were numerous, because David was a giant-killer. This illustrates a tremendous principle, a principle that runs throughout the Bible — it takes one to make one! When you develop confidence, those around you – friends, family, fellow church members – will increase in their own confidence levels. Confidence breeds confidence. 

Everyone needs to be affirmed both as a person and as a believer. Affirmation allows our self-confidence to grow. It is easy to give a generic compliment such as “You’re great to work with.” But a comment that really means something to a person is specific and mentions a certain quality: “I appreciate your efficiency in relational skills, and this is very important to the success of the group.” We don’t help others by passing on empty compliments or avoiding the necessary task of sharing needed constructive criticism. Unfortunately too often we are stingy with honest praise. Built up those you relate to and encourage them by verbalizing their worth and value in front of others. Remember, praise in public and criticize in private.

Confidence can provide the momentum you need to be the person God meant you to be. It cannot substitute for character, or skill, or knowledge, but it enhances these qualities so that you can be a person who makes a difference in the life of others. When you have people knowledge and skills and the momentum that confidence brings, then things begin to happen in your relationships.

The largest locomotive in the New York Central system, while standing still, can be prevented from moving by a single, one-inch block of wood placed in front of each of the eight drive wheels! The same locomotive, moving at 100 miles-per-hour can crash through a wall of steel-reinforced concrete five feet thick. The only difference is momentum. Confidence gives you the momentum that makes the difference.

You remember the childhood story about the train engine that did because he thought he could. Some of the larger engines were defeated when they saw the hill. Then came the little train hustling down the track repeating to himself, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can” and he began to pass al the other locomotives who were saying, “It can’t be done.” As he got closer to the top his speed got slower and slower, but as he reached the crest, he said, “I though I could, I thought I could, I thought I could….”

The little engine made it, but not because he had more power or more skills. The little engine made it because he thought he could; he had more confidence. Many times we feel like little insignificant engines. But if we hone our skills and talents, then add a good dose of confidence, we can climb hills and overcome obstacles and barriers that could have stopped us dead in our tracks. Why pull off the track and stop when we can conquer those mountains with the momentum of confidence in our engines? 

Feeling Confident In Life – Part Five

We have seen that to feel confident and appear confident in relationships and in life in general we need to:

1> Establish your worth according to God’s value system.

2> Focus on God and not on our situation

A> Confidence is not the result of an absence of problems.

B> Confidence is a result of trusting God in our problems.

C> Victories yesterday give more confidence for today.

3> Develop friendships with confident people

4> Put a few wins under your belt

5> Quit comparing yourself with others

6> Find something you’re good at and then specialize until you are special.

It could be a sport, a task, a natural ability, or a personally developed talent and ability. Use that strength as much as you can to build your level of assurance and specialization. As you do a confidence will arise inside you. A successful person will play to their strengths and not focus on their weaknesses. And this is true when building solid, long-term relationships as well. Confidence comes from knowing what you are designed and wired to do and doing it to the best of your ability. 

6> Begin to develop a knowledge of people. 

Here is a humorous old story which points out the importance of knowing who you’re dealing with. A Baptist deacon had advertised a cow for sale. “How much are you asking for it?” Inquired a prospective purchaser.

“One hundred and fifty dollars,” said the advertiser.

“And how much milk does she give?”

“Four gallons a day,” the deacon replied.

“But how do I know that she will actually give that amount?” Asked the purchaser.

“Oh, you can trust me,” assured the advertiser. “I’m a Baptist deacon.”

“I’ll buy it,” replied the other. “I’ll take the cow home and bring you the money later. You can trust me. I’m a Presbyterian elder.”

When the deacon arrived home, he asked his wife, “What’s a Presbyterian elder?”

“Oh,” she explained, “ a Presbyterian elder is about the same as a Baptist deacon.”

“Oh, dear,,” groaned the deacon, “I have lost my cow.”

The deacon knew his product; he knew his cow. But his lack of people knowledge defeated him. To have confidence you will need to take the time to study people (be a people watcher), learn necessary relational skills, and develop a well-rounded personality so that you can confidently enter into any relationship within your season of life. 

So, you have developed confidence – what do you do with it now? Now that you have all this confidence, what should you do with it? Keep refuelling it! Confidence is not a constant; it fluctuates according to your success / failure ratio in life. We all have defeats and failures which occasionally and temporarily lower our level of confidence. If you accept the fact that you will not be outstanding in everything you attempt nor in every relationship you work to establish, you will not be devastated when your best is not good enough.

You will also find your confidence has a contagious quality. It will spread throughout your sphere of influence. The Bible provides some interesting examples of “confidence contagion” which we will look at next time. 

Feeling Confident In Life – Part Four

We have seen that to feel confident and appear confident in relationships and in life in general we need to:

1> Establish your worth according to God’s value system.

2> Focus on God and not on our situation

A> Confidence is not the result of an absence of problems.

B> Confidence is a result of trusting God in our problems.

C> Victories yesterday give more confidence for today.

3> Develop friendships with confident people

4> Put a few wins under your belt

Another way to develop confidence is to put a few wins under your belt. Start with building on small successes and little by little you will tackle bigger and bigger challenges. 

A few successful victories under your belt gives you the impetus to keep starching your abilities. If you keep winning, you may see yourself as a no-limits person. Repeated failures produce the opposite effect. You begin to see yourself as a hopeless loser. The best way to develop rational, well-balanced confidence is to go after a few victories immediately following a failure. Don’t allow yourself the luxury of wallowing in self-pity.

A great confidence booster is a personal victory list of past successes and achievements. This is a biblical concept. There are two Bible characters who practiced this: Samson, who became a total failure, and David, who became a great success.

In Judges 16:20 we see Samson’s victory list:  “And she [Delilah] said, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ And he awoke from his sleep and said, ‘I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.’ But he did not know that the LORD had left him.”

Now let’s read David’s victory list in 1 Samuel 17:37: “And David said, ‘The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.’ And Saul said to David, ‘Go, and the LORD be with you!’”

There are two strong similarities between these two men. They were both chosen, ordained, and anointed by God, and they were both leaders of Israel at a time when Israel was battling agains the Philistines. But this is where it stops; Samson and David also had three distinct differences. These differences made one a winner (and confident) and the other a loser.

The first thing we notice about Samson is that he wanted to please himself. He lived life in the flesh, depending on his own strength and felt no need to rely on God, even when going into battle. He chose the road that always leads to ultimate defeat. Unlike Samson, David desired to please God. He knew that, left to his own resources, he was already defeated. So he called upon the Lord and went to battle with divine help. His weakness became God’s strength and he was assured victory.

Samson’s alienation from God not only led to his defeat, it ended his leadership. For David, however, this episode with Goliath was the beginning of his leadership. It was the incident that brought him into a position where God could greatly use him. Victory lists should give us confidence, not cockiness.

5> Quit comparing yourself with others

Another way to increase your confidence is to quit comparing yourself with others. Comparisons always leaves you found wanting. If you are better than the person you are comparing yourself to, this makes you proud — not more confident. If you are not as good as the person you are comparing yourself to then you become depressed and, again, not more confident. 

The following little story illustrates the point. A milk truck passes two cows grazing in a pasture. On the side of the truck are the words, “Pasteurized, homogenized, standardized, Vitamin A added.” Noticing this, one cow says to the other, “Makes you kind of feel inadequate, doesn’t it?” I think we have all known that feeling of inadequacy when we compare what we can offer with what someone else offers.

Feeling Confident In Life – Part Three

To be comfortable with others and thus build great relationships that have depth and substance we need to be confident in who we are and what it is God has called us to accomplish for Him. So, how can we become confident and thus able to be transparent and vulnerable when building relationships with others?

1> Establish your worth according to God’s value system.

God demonstrated our importance to Him in two great acts. First, He created us in His own image, and second He — through Jesus Christ — died for our sins. God thought so much of you, believed in you, and saw you as a person of such worth, that He allowed His Son to die so that you could live. When we begin to see ourselves in light of God’s actions on our behalf, then we immediately begin to have more confidence. There is nothing more humbling than the realization that if you were the only person on this earth, Jesus would have died for you. That makes you priceless. 

2> Focus on God and not on our situation

Focusing on God — what He has done, is doing, and will be doing — brings you personal confidence in life. Try living according to Psalm 27:1-3…

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.”

We can make three observations from these brief verses.

A> Confidence is not the result of an absence of problems.

It is very clear that the psalmist encountered many problems and difficulties. He mentions his enemies, evildoers who want to devour his flesh, adversaries, and a host encamping around him.

B> Confidence is a result of trusting God in our problems.

In the midst of his difficulties, the psalmist kept focusing on God and not on his difficult situation. “The Lord is the defence of my life.”

C> Victories yesterday give more confidence for today.

In verse two the psalmist speaks in the past tense. “When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, they stumbled and fell.” He’s talking about yesterday. In verse three, he talks about today: “Though an host encamp against me, my heart will not fear.” Confidence today is a result of victories yesterday.

3> Develop friendships with confident people

The old cliché is true: Birds of a feather do flock together. A big man is one who makes us feel bigger when we are with him.

Many people are doomed to suffer the “Charlie Brown complex.” It seems that Charlie Brown just can’t do anything right. But notice that one of his problems is the fact that Lucy is always around him. Lucy does not make it any better for Charlie Brown because she is always quick to point out the error of his ways.

On one occasion Lucy puts her hands on her hips and says, “You, Charlie Brown, are a foul ball in the line drive of life! You’re in the shadow of your own goal posts! You are a miscue! You are three putts on the eighteenth green! You are a seven-ten split in the tenth frame! You are a dropped rod and reel in the lake of life! You are a missed free throw, a shanked nine iron, and a called third trike! Do you understand? Have I made myself clear?”

Do you have a Lucy around you? It’s safe to say that if you surround yourself with people like her, you will have a difficult time developing a sense of confidence. Every time you start out there will be someone to remind you what you aren’t, haven’t been, and never will become. If we want to be confident, we must surround ourselves with confident people, people who believe in us and will be encouragers. 

Feeling Confident In Life – Part Two

So, why do we need confidence?  Why do you need confidence in yourself as we saw yesterday from Hebrews 10:35?  “Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” 

First of all, it will give you stability in every area of your life. Confidence equals contentment with self; contentment is knowing you have all you need for the present circumstances. This leads to confidence.

Philippians 4:11-13 provides the basis for this thought. “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

These verses cannot be separated because there is an absolute relationship between experiencing life’s lows and enjoying its highs. The apostle Paul is resting on the assurance that his strength is in God alone. And, he understood that confidence and contentment gave him stability in every situation he encountered in his tumultuous life. 

Contentment is taking your present situation — whatever obstacles you are facing, whatever limitation you are living with, whatever chronic condition wears you down, whatever has smashed your dreams, whatever factors and circumstances in life tend to push you under — and admitting you don’t like it but never saying, “I can’t cope with it.”

Contentment means you may feel distress, but you may never feel despair. You may feel pressed down, but you may never feel defeated. Paul says there are unlimited resources, and as soon as you say, “I can’t cope, “ you are failing to draw on these resources that Christ has readily, by His loving-kindness, made available to you. Contentment, therefore, is being confident that you measure up to any test you face because Christ has made His strength available within you.

If the first thing confidence does is to stabilize you, the second thing it does is to stretch you. The moment that I have my foundation strong and stable, I am in position to begin stretching. Insecure people and those who lack self-confidence seldom stretch because they are not willing to live on the edge of adventure in life. They are too insecure to risk what they have for what they might achieve and gain if only they let go and stepped out in faith. 

Helen Keller said, “Security is mostly superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” 

Think about a rubber band which is totally useless unless it is stretched. When insecurity and lack of self-confidence keeps us from stretching and growing, we end up with a life that is as unexciting and useless as a limp rubber band. 

We need confidence so that we can be stable in life not allowing neither want or abundance to control our response to daily circumstances and situations. Secondly, confidence allows us to risk stepping out in faith and in the process stretching and growing. 

Transferring this truth to the leadership level we see that confidence helps a leader to believe in other people because they are secure and confident. I mean, don’t we see others as we see ourselves? Show me a leader who believes in other people, and i will show you a leader who has a lot of confidence in their life. An insecure leader, on the other hand, believes neither in themselves nor in others. Insecure people are afraid to risk building up others with compliments, because they are constantly in need of compliments themselves.

A leader with confidence is a leader who brings about positive change in people. People must have affirmation, praise, and encouragement in order to believe in themselves, move forward, and maintain a high-level of excellence in the things they are called to do. Withholding negative or critical comments is not nearly as important as giving positive input through complements and praise. Again, the only people who can do this are those who feel positive about themselves. Work plus praise increases energy, but work without praise drains energy.

If you study the life of Paul, you will note he uses the word “confidence” in three distinct but related ways. Six times Paul refers to confidence in his relationship with Christ, six times to his confidence in himself, and six times he mentions his confidence in relationships with other people. There must be a balance because all three areas are related. Without confidence in Christ we could be tempted to become egocentric and cocky. Without confidence in ourselves we are defeated, powerless Christians. Without confidence in others we are suspicious and untrusting. 

Paul learned this lesson and it made him a successful motivator, leader, and servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot consistently perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the way you see yourself. The price tag the world puts on us is just about identical to the one we put on ourselves. Self-confidence is the first prerequisite to doing great things for the Lord and the Kingdom of God. 

Feeling Confident In Life – Part One

Have you ever noticed that some people simply stand out in a crowd? What is it about them that sets them apart and that draws them to your attention? 

    • Their sense of direction — the assurance that they know where they are going?
    • Is it an awareness that they have certain abilities?
    • Maybe it’s because they have good people skills?
    • Is it their sincerity?
    • Their past successes?
    • Their ability to use eye contact and body language?

What do they have that draws people to them and that people appreciate, apparently feel comfortable around, and even want?

I believe it is “confidence!” Self-confidence carries a conviction, a strength, and it draws others to you. It allows you to stand out in a crowd. And, it helps people to feel comfortable around you. But most importantly, confidence allows you to feel comfortable and even relaxed around others. You know who you are. You understand your purpose at this stage in your life. You are good at what you do – having sharpened your talent and learned important skills. You feel strong and secure, self-confident. The result: you live with conviction and as a result others will feel comfortable around you. 

A story I read back in September, 1989 goes like this:

A five-year-old boy was intently working with his crayons at the kitchen table when his mother walked in and questioned what he was doing. Her son replied, “I’m drawing a picture of God.”

“But honey,” she responded, “no one knows what God looks like.”

With great confidence the boy boldly stated, “They will when I’m done.”

I like that sense of self-confidence, boldness, and positiveness. And, believe me, this confidence is powerful. And, confidence is also contagious. 

The writer of Hebrews recognized the value of confidence:

“Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward” (Hebrews 10:35)

The author of Hebrews is letting us know that confidence is not set in cement; it’s possible to lose it. And one of the key elements that removes confidence from the way we live life is those that we hang out with. Most people fall into two categories: confidence builders and confidence shakers. If you are unsure of yourself, a confidence shaker can do you in. 

The following story provides a great example of confidence breakdown.

A man lived by the side of the road and sold hot dogs. He was hard of hearing, so he had no radio. He had trouble with his eyes, so he read no newspapers. But he sold good hot dogs.

This man put up signs on the highway advertising his wonderful hot dogs. He stood on the side of the road and cried, “Buy a hot dog, mister?” And people bought his hot dogs. He increased his meat and bun orders, and he bought a bigger stove to take care of his trade. He made enough money to put his son through college.

Unfortunately, the son came home from college an educated pessimist. He said, “Father, haven’t you been listening to the radio? Haven’t you been reading the newspaper? There’s a big recession on. The European situation is terrible, and the domestic situation is worse.”

Whereupon the father thought, “Well, my son’s been to college. He reads papers and he listens to the radio; he ought to know.” So the father cut down his meat and bun orders, took down his signs and no longer bothered to stand out on the highways to sell his hot dogs.

Of course, his sales fell overnight. “You’re right, son,” the father said to the boy. “We certainly are in the middle of a big recession.”

Confidence shakers see the negative side of everything. When they get you to buy into it, the very thing that was helping you be successful becomes your downfall. 

Unfortunately, this negative process can and too often does happen in the lives of Christians. We all go through periods of testing, wondering if God really can meet our every need. With a little discouragement from a good confidence shaker, we begin to doubt His ability and our own. This can begin a downward spiral which ends in the pit of failure and frustration. Our confidence has not only been shaken but uprooted.

The positive message from Hebrews 10:35 is that our confidence has a great reward. If we keep and build on it, we will be more than recompensed. Confidence in oneself is the cornerstone to inter-personal success ad healthy relationships that last. It is difficult for those who do not believe in themselves to have much faith in anyone else. Self-confidence breeds confidence in others.

 

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