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5 Dangerous Things Selfishness Brings To Marriage

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Recently I posted a quote on my personal social media from Pastor Jimmy Evans about marriage and I was surprised at the enormous amount of response and shares it received. He said, “Marriage is brutal on selfish people, and insisting that you get to do your own thing—rather than sharing interests with your spouse—is selfish behavior. Marriage is not about independence, but interdependence. If you want to be independent, stay single.” It seems like selfishness is an overwhelming force in marriage and the pain that many married couples feel. Webster’s Dictionary defines selfishness as “concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others”. Selfish behavior is destructive to any type of relationship, especially marriage. Why is selfishness so destructive to marriage? The definition that Webster gives us can offer some clear insight to that.

 

It Is Excessive

Selfishness avoids moderation and creates an excessive amount of focus on a specific person or need. When we speak in terms of something being excessive we rarely think of it in terms of being positive. We talk about excessive force or excessive talking or some other negative connotation. Selfishness is an excessive focus on oneself which means that something suffers. In marriage, it is our relationship that bears the weight of excessive focus on yourself.

 

It Is Exclusive

Selfishness causes exclusivity. When we are exclusive, we keep others out that very well may have value to add. Exclusivity pushes others away by making them feel inferior and unwelcome. This is toxic in a marriage. Though the marriage relationship should be exclusive in some ways, selfishness creates a personal exclusivity that pushes our spouse away and often has the same effects of inferiority on them. Marriage is about becoming one, not being the one.

 

It Concentrates On Personal Advantage

I have heard it said that some people are more interested in making a point than making a difference. That is a destructive trait to have in relationships. When our goal is to always have the advantage, win the argument or get our way, we undermine the continuity of marriage and make us the “only” one instead of the two becoming one. The goal should be to create an advantage for the relationship even if that eliminates personal advantage.

 

It Concentrates On Personal Pleasure

We all want to experience pleasure, but when our personal pleasure becomes the focus of our life, we make it difficult for others to experience pleasure in the context of relationship with us. Our desires and wishes are important but they cannot be the only consideration, especially where marriage is concerned. The sole pursuit of pleasure can be unhealthy at times from a personal standpoint but offers even more obstacles in achieving a healthy relationship.

 

It Is Oblivious To The Well-Being Of Others

It is clear that selfishness puts too much emphasis on oneself, but it also leads to being oblivious to the well-being and needs of others. When we are so consumed with our own welfare and the constant attention that it takes, we ignore the needs of those around us. Becoming one in a marital relationship requires us to be aware of and work to meet the needs of our spouse. One of the greatest ways to grow personally is to be aware of the needs of those around us. It is also one of the critical roles for us in a marriage relationship.

 

Selfishness, if not dealt with, will breed bitterness and poor attitudes, and in marriage, will often lead to divorce. Selfishness is not something someone else can conquer for us. It requires awareness of our shortcomings and faults in this area and intentional effort to overcome it. Selfishness is not something that is normally changed quickly, but over time with a constant examining of personal attitudes and behaviors and a willingness to allow others to speak into our life, it can be overcome. Selfishness, if left unchecked, will bring destruction. Overcoming selfishness will be one of the most rewarding victories of your life and your marriage will benefit greatly.

3 Challenges of a Parent-in-law

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Many jokes have been made about in-laws. Mothers-in-law especially catch the brunt of attempts at being humorous – even to the point of some being nicknamed “monster-in-law”. In life, the things that are the most humorous usually have some element of truth. One of the reasons that in-law jokes are a staple of comedy routines is that there is some relatable truth there. Marriage is not just about a bride and groom, it is also about the mingling of families. It is this mingling of families that often creates tension and sometimes conflict.

 

Based on their experience, age and wisdom it seems that parents would enter into the situation with a better understanding. They have more years of life experience and marriage experience. They have already themselves seen the good and the bad of mingling families and should be better equipped to navigate the challenges it brings. However, emotions for our children tend to override our ability to live out the actions and attitudes that we wanted our in-laws to have. We fall prey to many of the same circumstances and instead of applying what we wanted our in-laws to apply, our judgment is compromised and we become the problem instead of the solution. Being a parent-in-law comes with some built in challenges. It is our job to take the lead in making the mingling of families more agreeable. Here are some challenges that I have been able to identify for parents-in-law.

 

Letting Go

We invest a lot into the lives of our children. Usually by the time they marry, most parents have been the primary influence and caregiver in the lives of their children for over 20 years. We have poured out time, money, energy, love, wisdom, blood, sweat and tears. We have experienced overwhelming joys and heartaches as well. We are truly committed to our children and to their success. When they get married, there is a measure of letting go that is required of parents. There is a Bible verse that is often quoted at weddings that says a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves, or is joined to, his wife. Most parents want their child to have a spouse to cling to. The hard part is that in order for the child to cling to his or her spouse, the child must let go of the parents and the parents must let go of the child. As with anything in which we have made a significant investment, it can be difficult to release it. It could be a house or business that we sell, or a position that we leave for someone else to take over. There is a certain amount of pain that comes when we let go. As parents-in-law, it is important that we learn to let go properly and give the new couple room to grow into their own family.

 

Accepting the Spouse

Our child is our flesh and blood. We love them unconditionally. The spouse on the other hand does not have that standing with us and we as parents-in-law have to be open and accepting of them as a new family member. Babies are easy to love. Adults are sometimes not. They come with their own opinions, worldview, baggage and experience that makes them who they are. Add that to the fact that they are a part of the reason for us having to let go of a child who we have such an investment in and the challenge increases. Understanding all of these factors helps us be aware of our responsibility to be accepting to this new member of our family. We usually do not get to choose the spouse of our child, but we do have a choice in whether or not we are going to accept them and make our family unit the best it can be. Remember that family relationships are way more important than your opinion. The strongest family units are the ones that learn to accept one another and grow together.

 

Knowing When To Influence

Though it is critical to learn to let go when our children marry and work diligently to accept their spouse, our influence does not end. We still have an obligation to them as a new family unit to help guide them through certain land mines and challenges that all new families face. The best lessons in life are the ones that someone else has paid the price to learn. We should use the wisdom gained from our own family challenges to help our child’s new family. Though we should not try to offer our opinion about everything, we should not abandon our influence. We must learn to use it wisely and appropriately. Knowing when to use our influence can be one of the most challenging things a parent-in-law will face.

 

Though it comes with challenges, learning to be a good parent-in-law can be an excellent growth opportunity for both the parents and the new couple. Learning together and striving to make the family unit the best it can be will benefit everyone involved and offer a safe, thriving environment for everyone to enjoy. Don’t be the “monster-in-law”. Learn to overcome the challenges and be the parent-in-law your children need you to be.

4 Times We Like Change

Change Same Switch Showing That We Should Do Things Differently Sometimes

 

Change is often approached as a four letter word. Even the most ardent change agents struggle with change that affects them. Sometimes people verbalize the fact that they don’t like change or they struggle with change, but usually it is something that we do not even acknowledge. The fear of different or loss keeps us from reaching for new places and ideas. Sometimes the changes are needed or would make huge improvements but we resist because it will be different or we have a hard time letting go of something we know to hold something new. We have personalized where we are and what we have and to change it means that we have to change.

 

There are times when we like change. We don’t verbalize these times either, but if we recognize them, we should be willing to check our motives. There is naturally a cost to every decision we make and what we want to do is minimize the cost to ourselves. We prefer to have no risk involved. When we want change for the wrong reasons it can be dangerous. Here are four instances when we like change and at least two of them should cause us to check our motives.

 

When other people change for good and it does not affect us
There are many people we know or with whom we are acquainted who have destructive habits. Things they do hurt their families, themselves and sometimes others. They may be addicted to drugs or are abusive. They may be a thief or unethical in their dealings with others. Sometimes those people make changes to those behaviors and we are not directly affected, but we know the change to be good, so we are good with the change. When we are the ones with those behaviors, the change is much more difficult and our resistance is higher. But when someone else changes for good, we are usually OK with change.

 

When change measurably improves our lifestyle
We are offered a job making ten times what we currently make, that seems like a no-brainer. Someone offers us a brand new car at no cost to us. We get two additional weeks of vacation from our employer. When change measurably improves our lifestyle we are usually more open to those changes. Sometimes the changes are not as extravagant as a car, raise or vacation, but they improve our lifestyle and that makes us more open to those changes. When change brings clear improvement to our life that we desire, we tend to support it more easily.


When it hurts people we do not like
This is obviously something that most people do not say out loud, but deep inside many people there is a certain amount of joy or pleasure when people we do not like suffer. It may be a poor decision they have made or an “I told you so” moment, but when change happens to people we do not like and it hurts them or causes them difficulty, sometimes we are pleased. We must be careful when we are pleased with the demise of others. Our motives are impure and it should cause us to check our own character.

 

When the cost is low and the reward is high

One of the reasons we do not like change is because of the cost. There is a cost to every decision and especially decisions that require change. We tend to resist change when we fear that what we have to give up will cost more than what we will gain. One of the most appealing aspects of the lottery is the thought that you can exchange one dollar for millions of dollars; low cost and high reward. This truth of the lottery can be translated to change in our lives. There is a very limited possibility that we are going to win the lottery. We are extremely unlikely to exchange one dollar for millions. We are also just as unlikely to make a change in our life that does not have some representative costs associated with it. People would not be as resistant to change if the cost was low.

 

Change is inevitable. We can resist it if we choose, but change is needed and necessary. We cannot always get change that we like or that is easy. We should check our motives and make sure the reason we like change or resist change is appropriate. We may not always like it, but most of us need it. Don’t look for easy change, look for change that is best.

Holding History and Pursuing Progress

Past Present And Future Signpost Shows Evolution Destiny Or Aging

Recently Barbara and I visited the City of Charleston, South Carolina. I had been in Charleston briefly on a couple of other occasions but only for business; I was only at a single location for a couple of hours. We had decided to take a couple of days off and Charleston was our destination of choice. I was intrigued because many of the people we asked about Charleston prior to going either lived with us in the Town of Edenton or knew where we live, and many of them would remark that it is “just a bigger version of Edenton”. After my visit, that would be similar to saying New York City is just a bigger version of Greenville, NC.

Several years ago I heard a lesson taught on tension. Tension is necessary for many things to function. The engine in our car requires certain amounts of tension in places for our car to function properly. A bowstring must have the correct amount of tension to function properly. But there are also some unhealthy tensions. There are really two types of tension: a tension to solve and a tension to manage. Some tensions you will find in life need to be eliminated. For example, a relationship that is threatening or damaging to your marriage brings tension. That is a tension that should be solved or eliminated. On the other hand there are tensions present that need to be managed. To use marriage as an example, the balance between work and family is a tension that must be managed. For most of our working years, there will be a constant pull to do more at work while our family needs more of our attention at home. It rarely can be completely solved, but to be effective, it must be managed. The difficult issue in life at times is to determine which tensions need to be solved and which ones need to be managed.

The thing that seemed apparent to me in my visit to Charleston is that they had figured out a way to manage their tension. They had found a way for two things that often oppose one another to coexist in a thriving community. It seemed to me they were managing how to hold on to history while at the same time pursue progress. Often history and progress resist one another. In my world of church, I see this quite often. We desire to hold onto history or tradition at the expense of progress or we abandon history for the sake of progress. We use labels to classify extremists with things like “traditionalists” and “stuck in the mud” on one side and “wall singers” and “the skinny jeans crowd” on the other. Many places fall into the trap of being concerned only about one or the other. They either hold onto history too tightly and forsake far too many opportunities for progress or they only think about progress while history is destroyed.

Though history is not at the top of my list of interests, I am aware of the need for history to give us a reference point, a baseline, from which to operate. My natural inclination is for progress. I tend to be a risk taker economically. I love to see new buildings constructed and new businesses started. When I see a new church being built, I will often stop to see what is taking place and have a conversation with the pastor or staff. Growth is exciting to me. However, as I have gotten older, I have an increased sense of appreciation for the preservation of history. My world-travel experiences have exposed me to thousands of years of history which in turn has made me appreciate the efforts of those trying to preserve my own country’s few hundred years of history. The small town where I live is filled with lots of history that many people have gone to great lengths to preserve.

While visiting Charleston I was reminded that this tension must be managed and that it can be done. History does not have to be destroyed for there to be vibrant progress and progress does not have to be halted to preserve history. As with most tension that must be managed, I am sure that it is not easy. Tension comes when there are two forces pushing in different directions. Charleston has managed to restore and preserve hundreds of years of history for millions of people to enjoy while at the same time embracing and promoting progress. I was fascinated by some of the things that I learned as we took several tours. They have also managed to develop one of the most thriving foodservice and retail scenes in America. The streets were filled with young people eating and shopping while also enjoying the history. It was clear that the city was going to be vibrant for many years to come. The tension had been managed in such a way that history was not just a sight to see passing through, but history was a part of a destination where people wanted to come and spend time.

I recognize the fact that in leadership, managing tensions can often be exhausting and frustrating. We tend to want solutions instead of ongoing considerations. It is a tension that I see often in the church world as there is a desire to move forward but a fear of having to let something go. The reason we hold too tightly or let go too quickly is we are often attempting to solve a tension that should actually be managed. It may require more work, but it can also be extremely rewarding. In the town where I live, I am thankful for the history that has been preserved. It is a beautiful place to visit. I have numerous friends who love to pass through. I would love for our town to become a destination. A place where people want to stay, not just visit. For that to happen, it will require management of tension. It is possible to hold history while pursuing progress. It will require constant correction of the tension, but abandoning one for the other can prove dangerous. Managing the tension properly can create a dynamic, thriving community. I saw that first-hand in Charleston.

Managing tension properly is what makes any organization work most efficiently. The tensions you manage may be different than history and progress, but there are no doubt tensions in your life or organization that must be managed and some that must be solved. As leaders we must determine the difference and act accordingly. The health and growth of our organization depends on it.

Drive Thru Timers Seem Useless

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There is a phrase used in management and leadership training that says “what gets measured, gets done”. This acknowledges the fact that when we measure specific things we want accomplished, those who are doing those jobs will work diligently to reach the measurement that is desired. It may be a production output or a time limit, but when it is measured and performance is rated by those measures, the average person wants to meet those performance expectations.

 

One of the measures that many fast food restaurants use is the amount of time it takes to serve customers in the drive thru. A timer starts when the order is entered and is supposed to end when the order is served. This seems like a good idea and a way to measure the performance of the drive thru. The problem with this is that the personnel that are being measured are the ones that control the timer. So, in an effort to keep their performance levels where they need to be, they manipulate the timer by stopping it early or asking people to pull up and wait and then stopping the timer. This works great for those being reviewed but it fails in the desired goal. The desired goal is not to help the server reach the expected time. The desired goal is to serve the customer better. Instead, what happens is that customers become even more frustrated with the service while the fast food restaurant continues to boast about their fast service times. This seems to be a fail. I have been asked to pull up countless times while I waited as much as 15 minutes for food, but my guess is the timer showed I was served in a prompt manner. The most cars I have ever seen past the serving window was five. That’s right…5. Five unserved customers with a timer that told a different story.

 

Measuring for improved results is important for any organization. There should always be a desire to improve. But if we are going to measure something, we should take certain things into consideration.

 

What Is Your Desired Goal

In order to measure something properly you need to know your desired goal. The intent of the drive thru timer is to provide better, or at least faster, customer service. The problem is that it is not accomplishing that goal. Customers are not being served faster, they are only waiting in a different location. The customer is becoming more frustrated while the employee is learning that processes can be circumvented and what the timer says is more important than the customer. When you are clear on the goal, it will assist you in implementing a measure.

 

Implement Measures That Match Your Goal

On the surface, the timer seems like a wise idea. It could be a good idea, but it would need to be implemented in a different fashion. The timer and having cars pull up to wait have both been around long enough for fast food chains to recognize the flaws in the process. Instead, they continue to use the same strategy without getting the desired results. Your measure should bring about your desired result.

 

Identify Who Should Evaluate the Measure

If the goal of the timer is better or faster customer service, shouldn’t the customer have some input on the measure? If the one serving is the only one with control over the measure or evaluation then it seems natural that it would be skewed in their favor. It only makes sense that the server is going to find ways to make the measure look favorable to their work. In this case, moving a car forward and stopping the timer improves their performance but fails in the area of service. Shouldn’t the customer control the timer in some fashion? This may be a little more complicated to implement, but there is certainly plenty of technology available that would solve the problem. It shouldn’t be easy to manipulate the results.

 

Evaluate and Improve

I have yet to meet a customer that was pleased to pull up and wait. I would speculate it is close to 0% of customers who appreciate being moved forward to wait on an order. If what you are serving cannot be served within the desired time then either the item should be evaluated or the expectations should be evaluated. The only way to determine if the measure is accomplishing the goal is to evaluate it. If it is not accomplishing the goal, work to improve it. The first decision does not have to be the final decision. You are attempting to reach a goal not use a false measure.

 

Measuring and evaluating are great tools to improve results. Make sure your method is not making the situation worse instead of better. Don’t allow your measure to frustrate your goal as it seems a drive thru timer does. Good measures will get good outcomes.

25 Years Is A Reason To Celebrate

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The majority of people have the opportunity to celebrate their 25th birthday. When you think in terms of anniversary however, there are very few times in our life we get to celebrate the number 25. One of the reasons is that anniversaries are often attached to other relationships such as marriage, jobs or organizations. Though 25 years of living seems feasible for most people, achieving 25 years in the context of relationship can often be challenging. A limited number of people celebrate 25 years of marriage. Very few people celebrate 25 years at the same job. A small percentage of organizations survive for 25 years. So when the opportunity to celebrate an anniversary of 25 years in an organization comes along, we should acknowledge it and celebrate.

 

Last week marked the 25th anniversary of Open Door Church in Edenton, NC where I have the privilege to serve as Lead Pastor. I have been a part of the church for 11 years now and I am thankful for every day of that time. Over the last 25 years literally thousands of people have been touched by the work of this church. I am one of those people. Though I have the privilege to lead this organization now, I am also a life that has been impacted by the work of this church. For me it is hard to believe that I have been around almost half of Open Door’s existence. Though my role has drastically changed over those 11 years and the church has experienced changes over these 25 years, the mission of the church has been consistent.

 

From humble beginnings in the living room of Ronnie and Edna Holland to the multi-campus church that we are now, lives continue to be impacted and changed for Christ. This past week we invited everyone to join us for a celebration. We celebrated in ways that other churches celebrate – by having church. Some of our former Pastor’s were present to share with us as well as lots of food and games. We set aside time to reflect on the good things that have taken place, struggles that we have worked through, friendships we have missed and new acquaintances that we made. Often while striving to obtain the next goal or achieve the next breakthrough, we forget that it is important to celebrate what we have already accomplished. I find myself so forward thinking at times that I fail to celebrate moments that are important and need celebration. Here are a few reasons why it is important to reflect and celebrate at moments in your life and organization.

 

It Brings Perspective

In the daily work of trying to make progress and move forward we often lose sight of the big picture. Some moments feel like they are more important than they really are while in the heat of the moment. It is easy to overestimate your own personal contribution. Pride can slip in when we begin to view things with limited perspective. Celebration, especially for things like 25 years, brings a certain perspective that many victories and defeats lie behind. Many people played a role in the success of the organization. What appears to be large moments are only pieces to a larger puzzle when viewed in terms of 25 years.

 

It Tells Everyone What Was Done Right

What gets rewarded gets repeated. I have heard that said numerous times. When we celebrate right, we focus on what was done right and we remind people of what is most important and what a real “win” looks like. When what should be done is clear and celebrated correctly, everyone has a better idea of what they should be doing. Celebration allows us to focus only on the things that really matter and helps us clarify vision for our organization.

 

It Minimizes Things That Went Wrong

Sometimes problems look overwhelming or disastrous and we get frustrated thinking that things are just not going right. We wonder if we will be able to overcome the current situation or we constantly see all of the problems. When we take a few moments or days to reflect or celebrate, we realize that things have been overcome and goals have been reached in spite of trouble and difficulty. Over the last 25 years there have been difficult moments and struggles at Open Door. Looking back allows us to recognize that victories have been much larger than the difficulties. The same is true for each of our lives and organizations. Victories do not come because their are no difficulties but in spite of the challenges and difficulties. Years from now we will recognize that of our current circumstances. Distance allows us to also understand those things that went wrong were not nearly as critical as we thought at the moment.

 

It Encourages Everyone

It can be easy to become discouraged and frustrated in daily life. Celebrating gives everyone a lift in their spirit. I watched over the last week as old relationships were renewed, new friendships were formed and people past and present found themselves encouraged because they were a part of something great. Each of us experience moments of disappointment in our lives. Celebrating the good things that we have been a part of gives us energy and excitement to continue to participate.

 

Being driven is a great quality to have but in our drive to accomplish the next goal we often forget to celebrate what we have already accomplished. Take a few moments to celebrate what has been accomplished and you may find it makes what you want to accomplish in the future that much easier.

4 Things That Drive Conflict

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Tension of some type is present in almost every relationship. We may not recognize it, but certain tension is present in all relationships that work properly. That tension allows the relationship to grow and for each person to bring the best out in the other. There are times when tension escalates to conflict. Most of us have experienced conflict in one form or another in relationships. There have probably been times when we have resolved it in a healthy manner and there have been times when it was dealt with very poorly. Probably the most common relationship we experience conflict in would be family relationships and most often still with our spouse.

 

There are many things that can contribute to conflict; external stresses and pressure, health problems, relationships outside of our family. Sometimes it can be stress related to our careers. Many things can create a situation for us that raises the level of stress in our lives and creates times of conflict or makes us more susceptible to conflict. Though many of those things can be contributors, the one underlying issue that seems to be present in all conflict is communication. It could be the lack of communication or the way in which we communicate that creates the conflict, but generally, conflict can almost always be tied to how we communicate. The resolution of conflict is also affected by how we communicate. There are many things that affect our communication in moments of conflict, but here are four specific things we can be aware of when conflict is present that may help us avoid, reduce or resolve situations.

 

The Words We Use

There are times when conflict is present solely because of a word or phrase that we used; something we should not have said. Sometimes we say those things unintentionally, but other times we escalate a situation using words we know will offend. What we say is important. Words can wound, infuriate, and escalate but they can also diffuse, solve and comfort. When we have chosen words that have created conflict, we should be quick to acknowledge that and correct the situation. When we are in conflict, we should be aware that what we say can make the situation better as well. I have heard it said that each of us carries a pail of water in one hand and a pail of gas in the other. When we approach a conversation, especially where conflict is involved, we have the choice to throw water or gas. Our choice of words determines whether we put out the fire or enlarge it.

 

The Words We Don’t Use

There are times when conflict arises because of words we don’t use. Sometimes it is information that we have not shared. Other times it is words of affection or affirmation that we have withheld. Sometimes saying certain words would eliminate or at least alleviate some of our conflict. Unfortunately, we often withhold some words in conflict because we think it makes us look weak or we do not want to be considered wrong. We also think that if we acknowledge any fault on our part the other party may think they are right or be unwilling to acknowledge their own. Refusing to use words when you know it is right for you to do so only adds to the conflict. I once heard it said that the twelve most important words we could learn to say in marriage relationships are, “I was wrong. I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you.” Those first nine words are valuable in any relationship. Don’t withhold words that will resolve the conflict.

 

The Tone We Use

Sometimes the escalation of conflict is not just the words we use but rather the tone we use with those words. Sometimes we speak sharply. Other times we are speaking sarcastically. There are times when speaking loudly tends to affect the chances of conflict. The tone with which we speak affects how our words are received. As a communicator, I know that voice inflection can give several different meanings to a single sentence. Sometimes we are not aware of our voice tone and how what we are saying is being perceived by those to whom we are speaking. The dictionary defines tone as “a quality, feeling or attitude expressed by the words that someone uses in speaking or writing.” As you can see, feeling and attitude are a big part of our tone. We must be aware of the tone of our words, not just using the correct words. The correct words with the wrong tone can harm instead of help.

 

The Tone We Listen With

Though tone is most often attributed to the speaker or writer, the way we listen also affects what is being said. There are certain words and phrases that each of us find difficult to hear. The reason may be because of past experiences or past pain, but every time someone utters those words, we only hear them one way. There are other things that affect how we listen. External situations such as our job may have a bearing on the way we hear what is being said to us. Conflict with other people can affect our ability to listen appropriately. Predisposition to the person speaking or the topic being discussed are variables in the “tone” with which we listen. We often hear what we want to hear. Some of that is because we are all listening with a certain bias or “tone” if you will. We must make an attempt to understand what is meant by what is being said instead of letting our own prejudices cloud the situation and make the conflict worse.

 

Every one of us will experience conflict in our relationships. We must make sure that our contribution to the situation makes it better instead of worse. You may have some other ideas about things that contribute to conflict or other ways we struggle to communicate. Feel free to share those in the comment section. In the meantime, we can all work on our words and our tone; both are affecting conflict. Gas or water? It’s our choice.

6 Things I Was Reminded of During “Miracles From Heaven”

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Recently Barbara and I went to see the movie “Miracles From Heaven”. As a pastor I do my best to support faith-based movies even though they are at times working with very limited budgets. “Miracles from Heaven” was well made and had some very good actors and actresses. The story line was about a young girl who had a very rare disease that would not allow her body to process food properly. Her health was declining and there seemed to be no help for her. Through an accident that may have killed her, the neurological issue seemed to be solved. It was a miracle. As I watched that movie, I was reminded of several things that we often overlook in our own lives.

 

Thankful for Health

One of the first things I thought about as I sat in this movie is my health and the health of my family. We are very fortunate not to have had any life threatening illnesses. It doesn’t make us any better than anyone else. However, it is something that we often take for granted. Our children and grandchildren were all born healthy. We have the resources to have basic care and meet our basic medical needs. We have the ability to be active and eat healthy so we can maintain our health. Many others need our help and prayers and I am thankful that I am healthy enough to be able to do those things as well.

 

Our Faith Is Tested

I watched as this mother struggled with her own faith as she watched her child suffer. She was frustrated with the scorn of others and questions about her own life. She wondered how a God who is supposed to love us could allow her child to face such a difficult illness. She did not want to attend church and admitted to struggles praying and believing. The truth is many of us face those same struggles; moments when we question God or His role in our lives. Times when we wonder why He has not answered our prayer or solved our dilemma. Our faith does get tested over time. In the outcomes of life, our faith either strengthens or weakens depending on the long view that we take. Faith itself requires us to believe things we cannot see. By its very nature faith must be tested in order to be strengthened.

 

Trouble Makes Us Better or Bitter

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people use that phrase. I also must admit in looking back over my life and watching the lives of others that it is very true. Difficulties or trouble in people’s lives either makes them better or bitter. They are either thankful for the experience and the joy of the journey, or they are bitter about the difficulty. We usually respond with gratitude that people are in our lives and care for us or we become critical that others have not done enough. Everyone will face trouble, pain and heartache at some point. How we respond to those situations may affect us much longer than the problem or circumstance. We truly do have a choice of whether we will get better or bitter.

 

Medical Professionals Are A Blessing

Often we overlook the sacrifice and care given to us by those in the medical profession. Part of the reason we overlook them is because we view it as a vocation instead of a calling or gifting. As I watched Dr. Samuel Nurko portrayed in this movie I was reminded that men and women who serve in offices and hospitals around the world in the medical profession do so because of their love and care for others. The gifts they have been given by God, the talents they have honed and the education they have received provide value for millions of us so that we can experience a better quality of life. We should not overlook those that daily provide care for us medically. We are blessed to have those people in our lives.

 

All Trouble Is Not Bad

This young girl was very ill and it appeared there was nothing medically that could be done. She had an accident and fell 30 feet inside of a rotten tree. In most circumstances, she should have died or at the very least been severely injured. The family was distraught because it took hours to retrieve her and she was not responsive. Once she was examined at the hospital, she only had minor scrapes and bruises. By all accounts she hit her head exactly right to solve the medical issue that she had. Her fall was her healing. Sometimes we view trouble or hurt as only that, trouble and hurt. But many times those situations are providing things in our lives we could or would not get otherwise. Her accident turned into her miracle. There is something good that can and should come from every moment of pain and hurt. All trouble is not bad.

 

I Am Thankful For Miracles

Some things we can explain scientifically. Other things we cannot. I am thankful for the problems that science is able to resolve and the help they are able to provide to people. I am also thankful that there are times when no one can explain what happened. The miracles that take away our ability to take credit or bask in our own knowledge. The events that leave us speechless and searching to know and understand the source of these events. My faith allows me to trust and believe that God delights in those moments as we seek to know and understand Him better.

 

I don’t walk away from every movie or event with a list of things that impacted me, but I began to think about these things while this movie rolled a few days ago. We can learn something anywhere we are. Don’t overlook the fact that God is speaking to us every moment of our lives. We just need to be open to listening.

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About Me

I currently serve as Lead Pastor at Open Door Church and I am a certified trainer & coach with the John Maxwell Team. I am also an Associate Trainer with EQUIP training leaders around the world. I currently own two businesses related to the foodservice equipment industry. I am a certified speaker, teacher and coach with the John Maxwell Team. I can offer you workshops, seminars, keynote speaking, and coaching, aiding your personal and professional growth through study and practical application of John’s proven leadership methods. Working together, I will move you and/or your team or organization in the desired direction to reach your goals.