Be Confident – Be You

The Bible states and God says, “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded” (Hebrews 10:35). Of course, our confidence is in Him and what He is doing in us and through us. On our journey with Jesus, as we discover who we are, we also learn what He has called us to do for Him and His Kingdom.

As we gain confidence in Him and thus who we are “in Christ” and what He has called us to do then we can reach the stage where we can relax and be confident and comfortable. You can “be confident in who you are, and comfortable with who you’re not.” In other words, you truly discover yourself – the real you that God created. And, you are then able to sort out and settle many of the issues that keep you from living a full and fulfilling life. You can separate what God expects of you and from you from what others expect and even demand. Your life-focus becomes much sharper and you stop wasting time trying to impress people or ‘keeping up with the Jones.’ You are too busy keeping up with Jesus and all that He is revealing to you about you. 

This means you can just be yourself. Being someone and thus something you’re not is exhausting. No one wins. You are plastic in your relationships. Conversations remain shallow and boring. You fear doing new things that might disturb the false ‘you’ that you have been projecting for years. You are fearful that if people really got to know you they would not like you and would reject you … walking away permanently. You live with that fear. You live ‘timid’ and afraid. As a result, you remain relationally unhealthy. And, never discover the real you; never experience what a healthy relationship is like; how life-giving and freeing it can be.

If you want to change and discover the real you and live with confidence … remember that if you cling to what got you to this point you will fail to evolve, and you will continue to be the you that you were never meant to be. 

However, if you want to create something that matters, for both yourself and others, you have to start where you are, with who you are and what you have. You can’t just jump into what you want and who God wants you to be. There are lots of small steps that you will need to take.The first being the way you see life, see yourself, and see what you do. To change your perspective you definitely need to push past your comfort zone. Get out of your rut no matter how comfortable that rut may be.

Remember this: Comfort zones are the places where dreams and hope go to die.

So, where others see the mundane and minimize it, you will need to see the possibility and maximize it. You will need to decide to live in “change mode” for the rest of your life, starting right now! You must stop thinking and believing small. I understand that what makes smallness difficult to overcome is that it feels easier and more comfortable than pressing forward into the new you and much bigger dreams. Just remember, comfort zones are the places where dreams and a better future go to die. Where the better you is buried and never discovered. You need to decide that no matter what happens you are going to move forward in the opposite direction to where you are currently headed.

Live fearlessly. Don’t allow past disappointments to abort today’s possibilities. See that everything is working together for your good. Don’t be petty.  Look for the good in everything. Find people – build relationships with people who love you, will stick with you, encourage you, and will be there for you regardless. There are relationships out there that are priceless. But they will be products of your own willingness to press into people, believe in them, love, take risks, and be open to the possibility of friendships and relationships that are open and transparent. 

Begin the journey and be yourself – the real you. Remember, being someone and thus something you’re not is exhausting. 

Take Responsibility

Adam and Eve were the first finger-pointing couple on the planet. When things went wrong, Adam said to God, “It’s the woman’s fault.” Eve said, “It’s the devil’s fault.” Ever since then humanity has become experts in making excuses, playing the victim, and shifting the blame. Owning our story means that we own our relationships fully and completely. 

Now you may be thinking, “A relationship is a two-way street. How can I be accountable for a relationship when the other person is being a complete jerk? Or, they are not responding and refuse to be engaged in the relationship? Or when they are unreasonable, irrational, and impossible to talk to?

Owning your relationship doesn’t mean you are responsible for what other people do. It means that you accept responsibility for everything you do and for everything you bring into the relationship:

        • Your attitudes
        • Your feelings and emotions
        • Your perspective
        • Your body language
        • Your words
        • Your tone of voice
        • Your investment

Rather than playing the victim, passing the blame, or making excuses, you take full responsibility to be the best you that you can be.

By the way, if this sounds risky and daring, this is just a reminder that you cannot live a full life if you are being guarded and playing it safe. Life at its fullest is about being open, vulnerable, and risking exposure. Owning every part of our story means we make a move when there’s no guarantee of the outcome.

If you want your relationships to be healthy and strong, one of the best things you can do is to have a full-ownership policy, where you take personal responsibility and ownership of your relationships. Scripture tells us that there’s power in agreement and that “two are better than one” (Ecclesiastes 4:9), meaning that the more people in a relationship do this, the stronger and healthier the relationship is. But if we’re going to own our story, we can’t wait for others to adopt an ownership mindset; we have to do it whether anyone else does or not. “Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can do with your own life” (Galatians 6:5 The Message Version).

This means taking full ownership of your life and relationships. Not 50 percent, not 80 percent, but 100 percent ownership. I’m not saying this is easy, because it’s not. In fact, most of us have been conditioned to place the responsibility for our lives on something or someone other than ourselves.

Going all in will always, without fail, create an all-in kind of harvest. This doesn’t mean every idea works or every plan works. It doesn’t mean every relationship with be long-term and healthy. It simply means that we are wholeheartedly committed to the relationships we have and do our best to bring them into a place of health where they are mutually beneficial. It means that  wholehearted commitment always creates an outcome that far exceeds that of a partial, cautious, guarded approach. Scripture teaches us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23).

All in. Not holding back, not keeping score, not waiting to see what others will do. Not tentative, not calculated, not having an agenda. But instead, facing outward, being eager, being ready to serve, being helpful, speaking encouragement, extending hospitality, being always considerate, being kind, and being generous. Being vulnerable is being all in when there is no guarantee of the outcome. 

It’s time to take responsibility and ownership for our life and stop blaming others for what we are experiencing in life. 

Choosing a Mentor – Part One

Personal growth should be the number one priority of all believers who are serious about following Jesus and reaching their divine purpose in life. Since I began my walk with the Lord over 43 years ago I have had a series of mentors.

At first, I simply grabbed hold or anyone who was willing to impart information into my life. This was good as I was a young believer and gained a great deal from other more mature believers and leaders. But this was a scattershot approach. Although I learned a lot I did not achieve the traction that I had hoped for. Then I figured out that I needed to focus my growth on my areas of personal strength: relationships, communications, teaching, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. When I did that, my effectiveness in growth started to increase. Most of my early mentors were authors whose books I devoured.

Through one of my mentors I started to learn to glean from what I was studying. Resources have little value unless you can pull from them the essentials that you need. That meant learning that I didn’t have to finish a book simply because I started it. I could read only the portions that I needed and deemed important at the time. I learned how to take useful notes, gather quotes, and, most importantly, reflect on what I was learning. I often summarized what I learned and wrote follow-up points inside the front and back covers of a book that was significant and life-changing for me. And, I learned to collect, categorize, and file stories and quotes every day. I also put into practice anything I learned at my earliest opportunity.

Of course, all of that is so much easier now with a good laptop computer or a tablet. And, even today, these disciplines are still part of my daily routine. I read several books a week, I listen to podcasts and watch You Tube videos of good preaching or interviews with people I admire and can learn from. However, I also learned early in my professional life and ministry that personal growth without the benefit of personal mentors could take me only so far. If I wanted to become the leader and teacher that I desired to be – and believed that God had created and called me to become – I needed to find models who were ahead of me to learn from. Why? Because it is hard to improve when you have no one but yourself to follow. 

I have learned a lot from people I have never met or met briefly. Reading helps you to grow and gain from the experience and wisdom of others who have written books and shared their hard earned lessons with the reader. Most people who decide to grow personally find their first motors in the pages of books. That is a great place to start. For that matter, it’s a great place to continue. I am still learning from dozens of people every year that I will never meet. But at some point, you must find personal, in-person, models too. If you follow only yourself, you will find yourself going in circles.

When choosing mentors and models, you must be careful and be selective. There were these two derelicts sunning themselves on a park bench. The first guy said, “The reason I’m here is because I refused to listen to anyone.” The second guy responded, “The reason I’m here is because I listened to everyone.”

Neither course of action is helpful. You must be selective in who you choose as a mentor. From both the positive and negative experiences I haver had with mentors, I went looking for direction as to how to properly choose a mentor who would be a real benefit to me. One of my early mentors developed the following criteria to determine the ‘worthiness’ of a model for me to follow.

1> A good mentor is a worthy example

We become like the people we admire and the models we follow. For that reason, we should take great care when determining which people we ask to mentor us. They must not only display professional excellence and possess skill sets from which we can learn, they must also demonstrate character worthy of emulating.

Many athletes, celebrities, politicians, and business leaders today try to disavow being any kind of role model when others are already following them and mimicking their behaviour. They want people to separate their personal behaviour from their professional life, but such a division cannot really be made. Religious leader and author Gordon B. Hinckley advised,

“It is not wise, or even possible, to divorce private behaviour from public leadership – though there are those who have gone to great lengths to suggest that this is the only possible view of ‘enlightened’ individuals. They are wrong. They are deceived. By its very nature, true leadership carries with it the burden of being an example. Is it asking too much of any public officer, elected by his or her constituents, to stand tall and be a model before the people – not only in the ordinary aspects of leadership but in his or her behaviour? If values aren’t established and adhered to at the top, behaviour down the ranks is seriously jeopardized and undermined. Indeed, in any organization where such is the case – be it a family, a corporation, a society, or a nation – the values being neglected will in time disappear.”

As you look for role models and mentors, scrutinize their personal lives as carefully as their public performance. Your values will be influenced by theirs, so you shouldn’t be too casual who you choose to follow.

More next time….

Hammering Home Your Point – Part Two

We looked at the four Ts of preventing a crisis when dealing with relational issues (see yesterday’s blog – Hammering Home Your Point – Part One). Let’s talk today about trading in your hammer and then treating people with dignity and respect. 

Some people seem to think that a hammer is good for anything and everything. I guess you could say they take a hammering approach to life. This attitude is most often observed among high achievers. When they give something their full attention, they go at it full bore. That’s usually a good approach to tasks. It’s a terrible way to treat people, however. As psychologist Abraham Maslow observed: “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” People require more judicious treatment than that.

If you desire to develop a softer touch with people, take the following advice to heart:

1> Let the past stay in the past

Resolve an issue when it occurs And once you have done that, don’t bring it up again. If you do bring it back up later, you are treating someone as a nail.

2> Ask yourself, is my reaction part of the problem?

When a person’s response is greater than the issue, the response is about something else. Don’t make things worse by overreacting.

3> Remember that actions are remembered long after words are forgotten

If you have a high school diploma or college degree, can you recall the message the commencement speaker delivered at your graduation? Or if you’re married, can you recite your wedding vows from memory? I’m guessing the answer to both questions is no. But I bet you do remember getting married and receiving your diploma. The way you treat people will stay with them a lot longer than the words you choose. Act accordingly.

4> Never let the situation mean more than the relationship

I believe that if I had not made my relationship with my wife a higher priority than always being right, we might not be married today. Relationships are based on bonding. The more important the relationship, the greater the bond.

5> Treat loved ones with unconditional love

Because ours is a society with lots of broken and dysfunctional individuals, many people never had good models of unconditional love. In “The Flight,” John Whit shared his perspective on where we fall short in our treatment of important people in our lives: “We gossip because we fail to love. When we love people, we don’t criticize them. If we love them, their failures hurt. We don’t advertise the sins of people we love any more than we advertise our own.”

6> Admit wrongs and ask forgiveness

Chicago mobster Al Capone reportedly said, “You can get farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.” Despite the humour, I can tell you this: forgiveness is better. Admitting you’re wrong and asking for forgiveness can cover a multitude of sins. That approach is also one of the best ways to try to make things right when you find that you’ve used the hammer when you should not have.

The problem with most individuals who use the hammer all the time is that they may not know that they do it. If you might be one of them – let some people who know you well hold the mirror and tell you what they see. If you don’t believe them, do the same with your loved ones and friends. If you do that, you will find out whether you treat others as people or as nails. If you do the latter, then you need to make a change. 

Hammering Home Your Point – Part One

When I was younger one of the hit songs was “If I had a Hammer” by Trini Lopez. I know, I am dating myself. You can watch a live performance of the song at: https://binged.it/2oChE2H

I was thinking about that song a few morning back as I was thinking of some people I minister to who seem to use a hammer to solve all their relational issues. They enter into the situation and just hammer away at people, beating them down and, in some cases, destroying them. 

It has been said, “Never use a hammer to swat a fly off someone’s head.” And often we enter into relational conflict to win the argument and not salvage or win the relationship. In other words, don’t put winning the argument over winning the relationship. Alexander MacLaren states, “If you would win the world, melt it, do not hammer it.” So the question we should ask ourselves and maybe others is: “Would others say I overreact to small things in a relationship?

We need to realize that having the right attitude is more important than having the right answers. We need to soften our approach, listen more, and stop making a big deal out of little things. In other words, put the hammer away.

To put the hammer away we need to consider four Ts…

1> Total picture

Do you come to conclusions long before the problem has been laid out before you? That is a common occurrence for most of us who have strong personalities. That is why we need to train ourselves to follow a process to keep ourselves from hammering people with answers before they are finished asking the question. When someone is sharing his point of view with you, try to:

      • Listen
      • Ask questions
      • Listen again
      • Ask more questions
      • Listen some more
      • Then respond

You will find that if you slow yourself down, see the big picture, you will be more likely to respond patiently and appropriately.

2> Timing

It has been said, “It’s what you do, not when you do it, that counts.” That’s not always true. If the general doesn’t order the attack at the right time, the battle is lost. If the parent doesn’t get the injured child to the hospital quickly enough, her life might be lost. If you don’t apologize to someone when you’ve wronged them, the relationship might be lost.

When you act is as important as taking the right action. Even knowing when not to act can be important. Someone noted: “The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing in the right place, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”

It seems to me that the most common cause of bad timing in relationships is selfish motives. For that reason, when little things bother us, our number one objective must be putting our personal agendas aside and building the relationship. If you have examined your motives, and you can be certain they are good, then you need too ask yourself two timing questions:

      • Am I ready to confront? That’s a pretty easy question to answer, because that’s really a matter of whether you have done your homework
      • Is the other person ready to hear. If you have laid a relational foundation and the two of you are not in the “heat of battle” then the answer may be yes.

3> Tone

People often respond to our attitudes and actions more than to our words. Many petty conflicts occur because people use the wrong tone of voice. The writer of Proverbs states, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Haven’t you found that to be true. If not, try this experiment. The next time someone says something to you in anger, respond with gentleness and kindness. When you do that, the person who spoke harshly is likely to tone down, if not soften, his attitude.

4> Temperature

As tempers flare, people are prone to dropping bombs when using a slingshot will do. And that can cause a lot of trouble because the size of a problem often changes based on how it is handled. In general…

      • If the reaction is worst than the action, the problem usually increases
      • If the reaction is less than the action, the problem usually decreases

That is why we need to follow a simple personal rule. Take thirty seconds to share feelings – and then it’s over. Anytime we let a little thing create a big reaction (one that lasts longer than thirty seconds), then we are using a hammer.

Next time … Trading in your hammer

Confrontation – Speaking the Truth in Love – Part Three

The last two times we have seen that:

There are two relational truths: 

1> Conflict is unavoidable

2> Conflict is difficult

We then looked at how to handle relational conflict:

1> Confront a person only if you care for that person

2> Meet together as soon as possible

3> First seek understanding not necessarily agreement

4> Outline the issue.

5> Encourage a response.

Let finish this series today…

6> Agree on an action plan.

Most people hate confrontation, but they love resolution. And the only way to achieve resolution is to take positive action. By developing and agreeing to an action plan, you place the focus on the future, not on the problems of the past. If the person you’re confronting wants to change, they will gravitate towards the possibility of making things better.

A good action plan should include these points:

    • Clear identification of the issue
    • Agreement to solve the issue
    • Concrete steps that demonstrate the issue has been solved
    • An accountability structure, such as a time line and a responsible person
    • A deadline for completion
    • A commitment by both parties to put the issue in the past once resolved.

If your confrontation is formal, such as in a work setting, then put the action plan in writing. Then you can always go back to that document if resolution doesn’t go as planned.

Successful confrontation usually changes both people, not just one. Positive change is the first measure of success when resolving conflict through confrontation. The second is the ongoing growth of the relationship. Any time you truly do resolve conflict in a relationship, it doesn’t hurt the relationship; it actually strengthens the bond between the people. 

But it all starts with genuine concern for the other person. President Abraham Lincoln summed it up when he said, “If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend … Assume to dictate to his judgment, or to command his action, or to mark him as one to be shunned and despised, and he will retreat within himself … you shall no more be able to pierce him than to penetrate the hard shell of a tortoise with a rye straw.” 

Confrontation – Speaking the Truth in Love – Part Two

Last time we looked at two truths:

1> Conflict is unavoidable

2> Conflict is difficult

We then began to look at how to handle relational conflict:

1> Confront a person only if you care for that person

2> Meet together as soon as possible

3> First seek understanding not necessarily agreement

A significant hindrance to positive conflict resolution is having too many preconceived notions going into a confrontation. There’s a saying that the person who gives an opinion before he understands is human, but the person who gives a judgment before he understands is a fool. So, go in prepared to listen and don’t pre-judge.

United States President Abraham Lincoln was well known for his tremendous people skills. He remarked, “When I’m getting ready to reason with a man, I spend one-third off my time thinking about myself and what I am going to say – and two-thirds thinking about him and what he is going to say.” That is a good rule of thumb. You cannot reach understanding if your focus is on yourself. 

As engineer Charles F. Kettering said, “There is a great difference between knowing and understand; you can know a lot about something and not really understand it.”

4> Outline the issue.

When it’s your turn to speak and to make yourself understood, it’s important that you take a positive approach. Here is what I would suggest:

    • Describe your perceptions. In the beginning, stay away from conclusions and/or statements about the other person’s motives. Just tell what you think you see, and describe the problem you think it’s causing.
    • Tell how this makes you feel. If the other person’s actions make you angry or frustrated or sad, express it clearly and without accusation. 
    • Explain why this is important to you. Many times when a person finds out that something is a priority to you, that is enough to make him want to change.

Engaging in the process without emotional heat or bitterness is essential. You don’t have to turn off your emotions; you just need to make sure you don’t verbally assault the person you are confronting. 

5> Encourage a response.

Never confront others without letting them respond. If you care about people, you will want to listen. Besides, “One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears – by listening to them.” (Politician Dean Rusk).

Sometimes simply having the discussion helps you realize that your perceptions were wrong. Other times you discover that you need to take extenuating circumstances into account. Encouraging a response helps you better understand the person and the problem.

It also gives the other person a chance to process the issue emotionally. Most of the time when you confront people, they will have an emotional reaction. They may be shocked or get angry or feel guilty. They may want to share those feelings with you, or they may not. But no matter what, you should encourage them to give you a genuine response. Why? Because if they don’t have their say, they won’t be able to move toward a resolution to the problem. They will be so focused on their response that they can’t hear anything else.

When confronting people, you will discover the following:

    • 50% of the people don’t realize that there is a problem
    • 30% of them realize there was a problem, but didn’t know how to solve it.
    • 20% realized there was a problem, but didn’t want to solve it. 

The bad news is that one out of five people doesn’t want to seek a positive solution. The good news is that 80% of the time there is great potential to solve the conflict.

Confrontation – Speaking the Truth in Love – Part One

Paul writes to the Ephesian Church and tells them that, as believers, we are to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Most people I relate to see this as “confrontation.” And, worst still, they see confrontation as negative and difficult. So, let’s look briefly at this whole area of speaking the truth in love.

The question we always need to ask: Do I care enough to confront the right way?

When working with relationships we instinctively know the following:

1> Conflict is unavoidable

Perhaps we ought to add conflict to death and taxes as one of the things we can count on in this life. The only way to avoid conflict is to isolate ourselves from all other people on the planet. So, we need to learn to deal with issue that cause conflict because they are inevitable.

2> Conflict is difficult

No one likes confrontation, so almost everyone avoids it. And those who do like it have their own psychological issues! Why is it difficult to confront? We fear being disliked, misunderstood, or rejected. We fear the unknown. We are not use to sharing our feelings. And we worry that we will just make things worse. Let’s face it: few people have been taught healthy confrontational skills.

But this I know: How we handle conflict determines our success in tough relational situations

So, how do you handle conflict in your relationships? Did you know that conflict always compounds when confrontation is not done quickly and correctly? That’s why your approach matters. Here’s a sampling of harmful strategies that we see people using when they deal with conflict:

      • Win at all costs. It’s like a shootout at the OK Corral. It’s quick, brutal, and destructive.
      • Pretend it doesn’t exist. If you hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil, evil will not exist.
      • Whine about it. Winners aren’t whiners and whiners aren’t winners. Playing the victim doesn’t cure conflict. It just irritates everybody.
      • Keep score. People who keep a record of wrongs can’t ever start over fresh. And nobody can ever get ‘even.’
      • Pull rank. Using position never really resolves conflict. It merely postpones it.
      • White flag it. Quitting is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

None of these approaches will give the help a person needs to resolve conflict in a healthy way. 

Conflict resolution isn’t complicated. Intellectually it’s simple. But emotionally it can be difficult. It requires honesty, humility, and dedication to the relationship. Let’s look at the first two points of what is a six-step plan to help you tackle the task of confrontation. 

1> Confront a person only if you care for that person

In rare instances people must confront someone they don’t care about, such as in legal trials or when abuse has occurred. But there are not typical relational conflicts. In nearly all relational situations, it is most productive to go into a confrontation keeping the other person’s interests in mind.

In the past when you attempted to resolve conflict with another person, what has been your goal? Sympathy? Quick relief? Victory at all costs? Next time try to go into it with the goal of making it a win for both parties. And if you attempt to ensure that the other person wins first, then you know you have the most beneficial perspective.

2> Meet together as soon as possible

When conflict arises, we are tempted to avoid it, procrastinate dealing with it, or ask someone else to resolve it for us. But the truth is that anytime you let conflict go – for whatever reason –  it only gets worse. If people are put in a position to start speculating about another person’s motives to figure out what might have really happened, they often think their worst. Putting off confrontation only causes the situation to fester.

So, don’t store up issues. It is never a good idea idea to save up a bunch of stuff and then give a person a history lesson during a confrontation. Instead meet together right away, face-to-face. If that’s absolutely impossible, then consider a conversation by phone. But under no circumstances should you confront a person via e-mail.

Conclusion next time…

People Change When…

I am a people-watcher. I have worked with people now, as a pastor and as a Christian leader, for over 50 years. And, I am amazed how little people change. Many times I see people decide that they need to change something in their life – an action, a relationship, the way they relate to others, their basic self-defeating lifestyle, or some addiction they have. But, other than vocalizing that they realize they need to change – change never happens.

A lot of leaders teach that people change when they hurt enough that they have to change, learn enough that they want to change, receive enough that they are able to change. It sounds good but I have not found it to be true in most situations. Let’s look at these three points realistically …

      • Hurt enough – It seems that many people have a very high tolerance for pain. I have seen individuals continue a hurtful habit like drug addiction and continue using more and more drugs even though they are hurting. Eventually dying and not changing and getting free
      • Learn enough – I know people who are seriously well educated and “know better.” Yet, they continue in a harmful behaviour in spite of their knowledge and understanding
      • Receive enough – People can receive lots of love and compassion from God’s people and friends and yet not change. This is especially true of those who see themselves as ‘victims’

The first key to changing is to simply recognize that you are responsible for your own life. No one can cause you to change. No one can keep you from changing. You are responsible for you. Others can help you change once you have decided that enough is enough and so desire to change. And, other, if you let them, can hinder the changes you need to make. But, you are responsible for changing you. 

The second key that I have discovered is that hope is the foundational principle for all change. People change when they have hope, and if people do not have hope, they will not change. 

The good news? You can change your life if you really want to. You can improve it, make it better. And it all starts with changing the way you think so that you are living with hope for the future. 

Here’s how you give yourself a little hope:

Step 1: When you change your thinking, you change your beliefs.

Change begins with the mind. Beliefs are nothing more than a byproduct of what you have thought about long enough, something that you have bought into—always remember that. 

What you believe, what you think, is just a collection of continual thoughts that have formed themselves into a conviction. When you break down the process of thinking into a manageable number of steps, you reduce the perceived risk associated with change. So, it is important to ask yourself questions like: “Why do I think that?” “Who says that it has to be that way?” “What does God have to say about this issue in my life?”

The Bible states that “as a person thinks, so they become.”

Step 2: When you change your beliefs, you change your expectations.

Belief is the knowledge that we can do something. It is the inner feeling that what we undertake, we can accomplish. For the most part, all of us have the ability to look at something and know whether we can do it. We either believe we can do it or we believe we cannot do it. 

So in belief there is power… our eyes are opened, our opportunities become plain, our visions become realities. Our beliefs control everything we do. If we believe we can or we believe we cannot, we are correct. So, as you change the way you are thinking and thus what you believe, you are then able to change what you are expecting. You live with a positive approach to what is possible. 

Step 3: When you change your expectations, you change your attitude.

Your expectations are going to determine your attitude. Most people get used to average; they get used to second best. The get use to life as it is and thus don’t even attempt to change their circumstances and situation. Nelson Boswell said, “The first and most important step toward success is the expectation that we can succeed.” The same is true for making major foundational changes in your life. Your attitude about yourself, who you are, and what you can accomplish need to change. Your attitude towards change will be positive when  your attitude towards life changes.

Step 4: When you change your attitude, you change your behaviour.

When our attitude begins to change, when we begin to see things in a positive light and grasp the potential that is inside us for permanent and positive change – then and only then does our behaviour begin to change.

Step 5: When you change your behaviour, you change your performance.

Most people would rather live with old problems instead of new solutions. We would rather be comfortable than correct; we would rather stay in a routine than make changes. Even when we know that the changes are going to be good for us, we often don’t make them because we feel uncomfortable or awkward about making that kind of a change. Until we get courage and get used to living with something that is not at first comfortable, we cannot get any better. We will not being change to our way of life.

Step 6: When you change your performance, you change your life.

It is easier to turn failure into success than an excuse into a possibility. A person can fail, turn around and understand their failure, learn the lessons that are within the failure and thus make it a success. But I want to tell you, a person who makes excuses for everything will never truly change or succeed in life. Don’t you know some people who just have an excuse for everything? Why they could not, should not, did not, would not, have not, will not. 

I promise you, when you excuse what you are doing, excuse where you are, and thus who you are – positive change will never happen and you will fail to reach your potential. It is impossible to turn excuses into possibilities and positive change.

So, people change when…

“The Lord Said!”

“The Lord said…” Really, did He actually say that? I hear so many people tell me what the Lord has spoken to them. And, I honestly would like to say “Really, did He actually say that?” Well, to be more honest, I would like to say “You have got to be kidding. You actually believe the Lord said that to you?”

Let me make a bold statement. Christians listen for the Lord to speak in their soul. Their soul is their mind, will, and emotions. So, they usually hear what they want to hear. They hear what they think the Lord should be saying. They receive ‘permission’ to do what they were planning to do but now can do it with ‘God’s blessing.’ At least, that is what they honestly think. 

Believers need to stop using the Lord and “the Lord said” to back up what they believe and what they are wanting and planning to do. The majority of the time it is not the Lord. In the long run the results of “the Lord said” proves it was not the Lord at all – just your own mind, will, and emotions. At some point I would like to go back to these people and say, “So, how is that working out for you?” But, I don’t. 

Here is my take on this. Believers have something they want to do or become involved in. They think and pray about it. Then, they ‘hear God say’ that it is okay. You know, good plan; go there; do that, go for it (whatever ‘it’ is).” And, then they announce (key word) that the Lord said and off they go. When they announce “the Lord said” they are not looking for clarification or any input. Why would they? After all, the Lord told them to do this. So, it is an announcement of a completed event, decision, plan. 

Listen carefully. That is not how it works. If the Lord really says something it needs to be run past mature believers with whom you have a decent, open, and honest relationship. You know, an accountability partner or two. You run it past them and ask if this seems to them like the Lord is speaking. Is it what He would, at this time in the church and in the Kingdom, be speaking to you? Is it the right time in your life to be moving forward with what the Lord said? The right time relationally, financially, maturity wise? Is what the Lord saying biblical because, of course, if it is not then the voice is not the Lord speaking? He does not contradict His Word. And, what do your family members think about what you believe the Lord is speaking?

Here is a hint … you hear God in your spirit not in your head. God is Spirit (John 4) and the Holy Spirit lives in your born again spirit. So, when the Father wants to speak to you He speaks to / through the Holy Spirit who lives in your spirit. He does not speak to your soul as it is still in process and on a journey to becoming transformed and submitted to His will. Not there yet. 

So, you listen and hear His voice in your spirit and then it makes its way to your head. Your spirit hears God’s voice perfectly. The message is received 100% right and complete. But, on the way through your will and emotions into your mind only a detail or two gets through. And, often even those details get a little mixed up. So, you then need to learn how to release what you have received in your spirit into your mind so that you actually understand the whole substance of what God revealed to you. That process is material for a future blog. 

If you are not dealing with emotional issues like unforgiveness, greed, resentment, anger, bitterness, offences then these things in your soul will distort what the Lord has spoken and you will miss the message entirely. God might have said white but you hear black. So, the soul need to be kept clean … your mind needs to be transformed by the Word of God; your will must be submitted to God’s will and His plan for your life; your emotions must be yielded to the Holy Spirit and brought into line with Scripture. 

Too often we move fast forward on what we believe the Lord spoke when really it was simply our will speaking, our emotions working overtime, or our mind thinking ahead without knowing or understanding the Lord’s thoughts – which, by the way, are much different and higher than our thoughts.

Just a few things to consider before the next time you are wanting to say, “The Lord said.”