When your faith is put on trial and is found guilty as charged for believing God to do what he said he would do, then patience is produced. Remember that it is “the trial of your faith that produces patience.” (James 1:3) Patience is worth waiting for. There are somethings in life that only come by working, there are other things in this life that can only be received by waiting. It is our job to discern if we are to wait or work or work while we are waiting. Patience brings God’s work in us and through us to a place of maturity. Things that are valuable and things that last take longer to make. For example a cheap digital battery operated watch takes minutes to make while a Rolex takes about a year to make. While it is true that God can accelerate time and make something priceless happen in a moment, often costly things happen very slowly. What God is doing in you and what God will do through you is worth waiting for. Give yourself to the slow process of growth. Be more concerned about growth than promotion. If you are patient with yourself and if you keep growing you will actually out grow your circumstances. The process that caused us to learn patience is actually the process that allows us to become the person God called us to be. Jesus said, “in patience you possess your soul.” (Luke 21:19) If you don’t have patience you don’t have self control, if you don’t have self control you will be ruled by someone or something else. Your future depends on you having patience. Your legacy is determined by you having long suffering. Long suffering is when patience starts to hurt. Have patience with yourself and others and be sure to enjoy the process. Don’t let impatience cause you to be impetuous. Keep waiting with joyful anticipation that God will do what he said he would do.
There is a reason why a high percentage of American’s are lonely. The National Science Foundation reported in its General Social Survey that unprecedented numbers of American’s are lonely. One study based on 1500 face to face interviews found that more than a quarter of the respondents had no one with whom they could talk about their personal troubles or triumphs. If family members are not counted, the number doubles to more than half of Americans who have no one outside their immediate family with whom they can share confidences. Why is this so? The answer to that question is no doubt a multi-layered one, one which would by itself occupy many articles and research data. But I want to make a simple observation from my own experience. Relationships are difficult, and generally speaking those relationships which can handle the weight of the deeper discussions of life are the most difficult of all.
Yet it is this very business of relationships to which the follower of Jesus is persuasively called upon to give their most serious attention. Peter speaks to this in 1 Peter 1:22: “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.” Pay attention to the weightiness of Peter’s words “sincere love for each other, deeply from the heart.” When I read those words I find them staggering because it describes a quality of relationship that seems so rare, and if the Social Survey mentioned in the first paragraph is true it is rare for most of the adult population of the U.S. And I suspect it is also rare among Christian people.It is the challenge of trust, vulnerability and the necessary persistence over time which close friendship requires that makes it a work which many of us simply will not carve out sufficient time to make a reality. Os Guinness notes “Life fired at us point blank becomes the survival of the fastest. As a Kenyan saying goes, “Westerners have watches, Africans have time.” This is one of the great temptations of our era the temptation to yield to the notion that there simply isn’t enough time to build these kinds of relationships. And it is not only the appearance that sufficient time isn’t available to take our relationships deeper but there are numerous issues which close quarter relationships inevitably bring us face to face with conflict, and the need to communicate about these inevitable frictions that emerge when we seek close friendship with one another. It’s much easier to simply keep your distance. Let things remain superficial and lighthearted.
Yet scripture makes clear that there is something critical to our spiritual growth which is tied to our relationships, “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) In the economy of God, the challenges which occur in our relationships are essential to brining about growth in our character and the quality of our love growth which comes only in this way. It is therefore no exaggeration to say from the vantage point of Scripture that the quality of life in which we must grow is precisely in the area of relationships. According to John’s recollections it was among the last things Jesus said before he was arrested and then executed: John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
This is one of the reasons why Christianity doesn’t have much appeal to lonely Americans, hungry for friendship. For when Westerners think about depth, Christianity is too often not the place where searching people turn for that substance. Yet, one of the most common images of the church in the New Testament is family, as though God intended for those who might have suffered with poor family life an opportunity to recapitulate the family experience with brothers and sisters who sincerely and from the depths of their hearts love one another. Could this have been what Jesus had in mind when he made love a cornerstone of what was to characterize his movement? A movement of friendships rooted in the Divine friendship?
By : Scott Pursley
Scott Pursley is a Psychologist and the Lead Pastor of Christ Fellowship in Cranford, NJ. Click here to visit the website of Christ Fellowship.
The wisest and wealthiest man to ever live said, “the integrity of the upright shall guide them.” Integrity is a guide, it gives us direction. Integrity instructs us with what to do next. Someone who has integrity may not have a blueprint for the rest of their life, but they intuitively know what is the next right decision. C.S. Lewis said, “integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.” When someone has integrity they are honest with God, themselves and others. If you have integrity you do what you say, you mean what you say, and you admit when you are wrong.
Integrity is not about perfection, it’s about authenticity. Hypocrisy is when we project an image of ourselves that is not who we really are. Hypocrisy is the opposite of integrity. Hypocrisy tells others that we are not trustworthy, serious or safe. Our integrity tells others that we are trustworthy. If people don’t see our integrity they won’t want to hear our truth. If we are honest most of us would say that we are recovering hypocrites who are being changed into people of integrity who mean what they say, do what they say, and are what they project. If we want to have real meaningful relationships then we need to keep it real with ourselves and others.
Our integrity will determine both our longevity and our legacy. King Solomon said this, “The just man walks in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.” Again we see that integrity gives us direction and provides our children with blessing. We can protect our children’s future by living with integrity now. Let integrity lead you to do the next right thing, it will effect you, your family, your friends and your future. Remember this, the more integrity you have, the less regrets you will have.
Powerful people don’t think I can’t, they think how can I? They don’t think this won’t work, they think how can we make this work? Powerful people don’t focus on the problem they focus on solutions and strategies. Let me share with you a private conversation I had with a powerful person who is happy, humble and really down to earth. This man is an inventor, an investor, a philanthropist and an evangelist. He is a good husband to one woman for many years and a good father to his children. He feeds orphans daily and sends young people to college that are not even his children. God has blessed him and he has made some right decisions over the course of his life and now he lives to give. I have leaned a lot from him. His life has taught me that the purpose of prosperity is generosity.
One day while in another country with my good friend I asked him, what does it feel like to be powerful? I said to him, you can buy a Mercedes or a house in the Caribbean or go on vacation for a few months. You can do virtually whatever you want. What does that feel like? When you get up in the morning what do you feel like? At first he really didn’t have an answer. In fact he said that it was a good question and that no one had ever asked him that before. From my question I learned that a good question is a question that has never been asked before. Not only will the asker grow from the answer, but the one answering the question will grow also because now he is thinking about something he never thought about before. The next day he answered me in a more clear and definitive way. He said, “to be honest it feels good to know that I can buy my wife a Lexus cash, but honestly I really don’t think about it until we need a car.” When he said that a thought hit me like a ton of bricks. Powerful people don’t allow useless thoughts to occupy precious head space. In other words my friend doesn’t wake up thinking about what he can buy or where he can go, he only thinks about what is pertinent to now. Because he planned for tomorrow he doesn’t have to worry about it. Powerful people live in now. They may plan for tomorrow, but they refuse to worry about it. Remember this if you are worrying about tomorrow you are probably not planning for it wisely, because fear and worry shut down the logical part of your brain. So worrying about tomorrow will mess up both today and tomorrow, making yesterday rather appealing. Powerful people don’t live in yesterday or tomorrow they live in now. You can’t be powerful living in the past or the future, because you live in now. If you are attentive to now, tomorrow will be better than if you focused on yesterday or worried about tomorrow. Whether you are day dreaming about the house or the car of your dreams, or worrying about how you are going to pay your bills. Dreaming and worrying are not how powerful think. Powerful think about what is the next right decision based on who I am, where I am, where I am going and what I value. Powerful people practice self control, which helps them to stay focused on what is most important. The more self control you have the more powerful you are. Powerful people don’t control others they control themselves.
3 things powerful people don’t think about.
- Powerful people don’t worry about what is out of their control.
- Powerful people don’t allow useless things to occupy precious head space.
- Powerful people don’t live in the past, they are focused on the next right decision.
Generally it is not wise to make assumptions. Unfortunately I have learned this the hard way. You can either ask questions or make assumptions. If you want answers, ask questions. If you want problems build your expectations about reality on merely assumptions. Assumptions often lead to false assumptions. False assumptions often lead to miss understandings, which usually lead to a downward spiral. When it relates to others we should ask questions when we are able to. However there are times in life where we are relying on our own perceptions of people or circumstances and we have to move forward without all of the facts. In cases like that all we can do is go with what we perceive. In life we are always estimating and assuming stuff. We estimate how long our commute home will take. We assume that our house will be there when we get there. As we forecast reality we need to be able to make some safe assumptions. Think of it like bringing your umbrella to work when it is very overcast and moist in the morning but not yet raining. Or like a life preserving raft on a boat or a seat belt in a car. Life will blind side you so make sure you wear your seatbelt.
3 safe assumptions you can make.
- Things will take longer than you thought.
- Things will cost more than you thought.
- The people you trust will let you down more than your thought.
Things will take longer than you thought because there are many variables that are out of your control which can prohibit things happening exactly when and how you planned them to happen. All the planning in the world can not stop something that is out of your control. So enjoy the process and be patient with yourself and others. Things will cost more than you thought because things break, and it costs money for parts and labor. A first time home owner, a first time parent or first time Mercedes Benz owner can attest to this reality. When you buy something nice be sure to research the cost of maintenance and factor that into your decision. Also having an emergency fund is a wise way to prevent a problem from becoming a crisis. The people you trust will let you down more than you thought. This is a painful reality because you trusted them. You can avoid unnecessary disappointment by verbalizing your expectations. Once you verbalize your expectations then you can determine if those expectations are realistic or not. Unverbalized expectations almost always leads to disappointment. It is important to factor in let downs and disappointments into your meaningful relationships. Give people permission to be human. Meaningful relationships are not perfect because we are not perfect. Be merciful because one day you will need some mercy.
Just because you are getting older doesn’t mean you are growing up. Just because you are getting older doesn’t mean you are getting wiser. Growth is a choice. It doesn’t happen by accident, it happens on purpose. Someone who knows they need to grow, will be humble. Someone who is humble, will be teachable. So to know if you are growing find out if you are teachable. Below are 7 ways to identify if you are growing.
7 ways to identify if you are teachable.
- If you are teachable you desire to learn.
- If you are teachable you put into practice what you have learned.
- If you are teachable you learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others.
- If you are teachable you are willing to admit when you are wrong.
- If you are teachable you are willing to take correction and make right what is wrong.
- If you are teachable you don’t just learn from your leaders, you learn from your piers and even those who you perceive to be under you.
- If you are teachable you are slow to speak. If you are not slow to speak usually you think you know more than you really do.
“If you don’t apply what you have been taught you are not teachable.” –Sarah LiVecchi. You are not the best one to determine if you are teachable. A trusted friend who is perceptive and emotionally healthy is better suited to tell you the truth. Your growth is determined by your ability to be teachable and accountable. Remember the seeds of true greatness only grow on the grounds of humility. When you are humble you attract the help you need to get where you are going.
Leadership is service, integrity and influence. When you serve someone they see your motives and find out that you have integrity. Then they know that they can trust you and will give you permission to influence them. In my opinion those are the basic mechanics of how leadership should work. Someone who is not willing to serve doesn’t deserve to have influence. I will not give anyone my trust before I see their integrity. Show me your integrity and I will give you my trust. Dwight Eisenhower said, “the supreme quality of leadership is integrity.” Integrity shows me they are safe and therefore trustworthy. When someone is trustworthy then and only then do I allow them to have influence in my life. Do not give someone influence in your life unless they are looking out for your best interests. Many people are disillusioned with leaders who they trusted and allowed to have influence in their lives when in all reality they should not have, because those leaders were not safe or trustworthy. Below are the 3 essential elements of leadership.
3 Essential Elements of Leadership
- Service – Service is what we do for others at our own expense. We find a need and do something about it. We can use our strengths, relationships and resources to serve someone else and help them move forward in life.
- Integrity – Integrity makes everything we do sustainable. Without integrity there is no real success or longevity.
- Influence – Influence is granted when integrity is seen. Our service and integrity makes an impact on others. That impact is called influence.
Leadership is not just service, influence or integrity, it’s all three working together to demonstrate an example worth following.
Progress causes us to turn our backs on those who don’t want to move forward. Progress means change and change is uncomfortable and uncertain. The cost of progress is change. The thought of change causes us all to ask questions. If I change does that mean I sold out? Will I get the desired results of that change if I change? Part of the pain of progress is that you by default turn your back on people who don’t want to move forward. Let me further clarify by telling you what I am not saying. I am not talking about thinking that you are better than people. I am not talking about betraying your family and friends. Let me give you a visual of what I am saying. Five guys are standing and facing north. One of them steps forward and continues to walk forward. What do his friends see? His back. So they no longer see him in the same manner? Did he change? Maybe, but did they stay the same? Yes. Progress means that we are consistently moving forward. The velocity is not as important as the direction and consistency. I am writing this so that you keep moving forward. Will you loose bad habits and people who don’t want to change? Yes. Will you become more and do more and contribute more? Yes. In reality most people want more but don’t use what they already have wisely. Most people don’t have the courage to change. Do you? We can’t really change if we don’t know who we truly are. Before progress can happen we must be honest with ourselves about where we really are in life. Progress begins when we take our first step forward. Which means we will leave some things and some people behind. Are you willing to move forward today? If so what does that mean for you? Let me give you a final thought that will help you gain traction in your life. When you know your priorities then and only then can you gain traction, get momentum and really make meaningful progress. Below are 5 simple steps that lead to progress. A better tomorrow starts today. Remember this, your choices are more powerful than your circumstances.
5 Steps to Progress
- Be honest with yourself. (Be Courageous) Courage starts the process.
- Who are you? (Identity) Identity gives you purpose.
- Where are you? (Location) Your journey begins where you are, not where you want to be.
- What are your priorities? (Values) Values give you priorities.
- Make the choice to let your priorities give you direction so that you can make progress. (Direction makes progress possible)
There are more ways to communicate now than ever before and it is only going to increase. That doesn’t necessarily mean people are communicating more effectively. Through putting my foot in my mouth several hundred thousand times I hope to save you some pain and some time. I hope that my lessons learned can be your problems avoided. Effective communication starts by listening, but also includes perceiving your audience correctly. Knowing your audience is as crucial as knowing what you want to say and why you want to say it and how you should say it. To effectively communicate sometimes we must say what we are not saying, so people can understand what we are saying. Also sometimes stating why you are saying what you are saying brings further clarity. Doing so can help build trust with your audience if they perceive that you are sincere in your motives and true in your content. Another thing to remember in your communication is to be gentle in tone but clear in your content. If there is any room to be misunderstood the communication was not effective or the audience was not attentive. Be inclusive when you talk and talk to people, not at them. People will be attentive as long as you are interesting. Remember to be clear and concise. After you have said what is necessary you must become observant to see if the listeners heard and understood what you have just stated. Sometimes to restate what you are saying in a different way is also very helpful. Here is an example of an initial statement, “the best way to protect your future is to guard your heart today.” Here is a similar reiteration, “the most strategic thing you can do for your future is guard your heart in the present.” Saying the same thing with different words increases the retention rate of your listeners. If they know and feel that you care they will pay attention and learn. They will learn as much as you care. So keeping caring and sharing so others can learn and grow.