4 steps: toxic thinking

Do you ever think about your thoughts?  Or the motivations for things that you do?  It seems to me that the thought processes, feelings, motivations and our internal mindsets have massive affects on our choices, conversations, attitudes and actions.  So if our thinking or emotions have been poisoned by the enemy (who comes to steal, kill & destroy), then it makes sense that the behaviors, conversations etc can be dysfunctional & corrupt.

Here’s a good example:  have you met people who have a chip on their shoulder, or think that nobody likes them or maybe they’ve been victimized & carry that mindset throughout their daily living?  There’s probably good reasons behind why they behave the way that they do.  But let’s remember this truth:  we have a free will to make different choices.

So here are a few things for consideration:

  1. Take a pause & reflect:  why am I doing / saying this?
  2. Is my behavior / conversation / attitude coming from a place of brokenness or distortion?
  3. Welcome the Holy Spirit into the places where you sense such brokenness & distortion / deception
  4. Let the Holy Spirit help you make different choices – Romans 8:26 🙂

Getting Strong

“Time to get up,” I whispered gently to my very tired daughter this morning. Mornings tend to be a weakspot for her. So helping her to get moving & be strong in the morning is an ongoing challenge.

With that said, strength is the antidote to weakness, so how we can be strong is important for all of us, no matter our age, situation or season in life. Here’s a good example for for getting strong: David

  • Friends help us to be strong: in 1 Sam 23:16, it says that Jonathon encouraged / strengthened David in the Lord. Let’s remember to encourage our friends & let them encourage us! This helps us to be strong:)
  • Strengthen ourselves: in 1 Sam 30:6, it says that David strengthened himself in the Lord. In this chapter, David was really squashed to the wall & very discouraged, but he chose to find his strength & encouragement in the Lord.

Let’s lean into the Holy Spirit to gain strength & be encouraged :)Getting

Liability or Strength?

What are your strengths?  Do you ever feel like your strengths are also your greatest liabilities?

I have a friend who says that I fire & then aim, or I leap & then look.  It’s true.  I tend to jump in with both feet & then cry about what I’ve gotten myself into.  I admire the people who are more methodical and take things a step at a time & I’ve sincerely tried to do this better.  But alas, I’m still learning, still.

In my thinking, this “all in” mindset has been a significant liability for me & I’ve berated myself repeatedly about not learning from my mistakes.  Except last night, I had a wonderful epiphany.

This “all in” strategy serves me really well in walking with God because I’m not half-hearted & I’m quick to turn up the heat if I feel like I’m being luke warm.

All of us are fearfully & wonderfully made!  We have definite strengths & with God’s help, the downside of these strength can be continually worked on so that we grow!   The enemy of our soul would have us minimize the gifts that God has given us, causing us to be less than the full person of God’s design!

Let’s be thankful that God made us with such careful & creative design, while remaining committed to the continual pruning and sculpting the Holy Spirit does with us every day!  You are AWESOME!

#heavenlyhelpmoment

Redeeming Messups!

I’ve been reading about King David in 2 Samuel lately & this morning I was struck by the severity of his shortfall with Bathsheba.  There are a boatload of things he did wrong in that scenario:

  • should’ve been out fighting with Joab, but he stayed home
  • secretly watched a naked woman bathing
  • continued his interest in her by inquiring her name
  • brought her to his palace
  • slept with her, knowing she was married
  • tricked Uriah, her husband
  • sent Uriah to be killed in battle

Bathsheba became pregnant after sleeping with David, their son was born sick and died after seven days.  This story is an epic tragedy full of death, pain, suffering, selfishness, deception and loads more!  It seems to me that nothing good could come out this whole mess, ever, never and in no way.

Enter Solomon.

Solomon was considered one of Israel’s greatest kings!  He built the temple in Jerusalem, wrote two books of the Bible and was one of the wisest men who ever lived.  Solomon was the son of Bathsheba and King David, after the baby died who was conceived from David’s sin.

Let’s remember that there’s no weakness or failure in our lives that God cannot redeem & make into something entirely glorious!

Hot Topic: The Downsides to Upsides

“Play to your strengths!” When I played basketball, I wasn’t very fast & I couldn’t jump high. So my coaches encouraged me to play to my strengths – I was kind of smart & I could make some good passes. This advice of playing to my strengths always seemed like sound wisdom. But there’s a weakness in this advice. Hidden in our strengths, we can often find our weaknesses as well. For example, I have a child who is very persistent & has tremendous endurance. The downside is that this child can also be stubborn. Here’s another example, I’m an extremely independent person & this strength can easily turn into a weakness when I isolate myself from help or healthy relationships. A few other strengths / weaknesses that might fit into your DNA could be:

  • Disciplined – inflexible
  • Smart – arrogant
  • Insightful – critical
  • Adaptable – uncommitted
  • Humble – insecure

Let’s give the Holy Spirit the freedom to manage the strengths we have so they don’t become debilitating weaknesses 🙂

Hot Topic: The Downsides to Upsides

“Play go your strengths!” When I played basketball, I wasn’t very fast & I couldn’t jump high. So my coaches encouraged me to play to my strengths – I was kind of smart & I could make some good passes. This advice of playing to my strengths always seemed like sound wisdom. But there’s a weakness in this advice. Hidden in our strengths, we can often find our weaknesses as well. For example, I have a child who is very persistent & has tremendous endurance. The downside is that this child can also be stubborn. Here’s another example, I’m an extremely independent person & this strength can easily turn into a weakness when I isolate myself from help or healthy relationships. A few other strengths / weaknesses that might fit into your DNA could be:

  • Disciplined – inflexible
  • Smart – arrogant
  • Insightful – critical
  • Adaptable – uncommitted
  • Humble – insecure

Let’s give the Holy Spirit the freedom to manage the strengths we have so they don’t become debilitating weaknesses 🙂

follow the leader

At some point, all of us have played Follow the Leader or Simon Says, most likely when we were kids.  The first few times, it took me some practice to get the hang of it, but rather quickly, I wanted to be the leader so I could make others do what I said.  That felt really powerful ,)

I remember one of my teachers telling me, “Sarah, if you’re going to be a good leader, you have to learn to follow well.”  Of course, this wasn’t the advice I was eager to hear, even though it felt right in my heart and I still hear these words bounce around in my heart & thoughts to this day.

I’ve been thinking of these words about following as they relate to Jesus following the Holy Spirit in Luke 4:1-2.  These verses describe how Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and led by the Spirit around in the wilderness for 40 days as He fasted & He was tempted by the devil.  When I’ve thought of these verses, they don’t feel particularly alluring nor enticing.  I’d prefer to not wander around in a desolate wilderness and fast for 40 days, nor be tested by the devil.  Yet that’s exactly what happened as Jesus followed the Holy Spirit.  Later in Luke 4, we read about Jesus being anointed by the Holy Spirit, speaking gracious & powerful words and we see Jesus start to walk in the fullness of His earthly ministry.  But all of that came after His committment to follow the Holy Spirit.

When we follow our flesh, it can briefly make us feel good.  But following the Holy Spirit has far better & longer lasting results than any flesh adventure we could choose.  Let’s be committed every day to following the Holy Spirit.

Weaknesses & Deficiencies

Last year, I dislocated my shoulder & had surgery to repair it. Thankfully, my shoulder has recovered well & I can play basketball again 🙂
The shoulder thing was a challenge for me in lots of ways: limited range of motion, pain, restricted activities, physical therapy yuckiness & the mental struggles for my highly independent personality. When we have weaknesses & deficiencies, we often want to hide or camouflage these struggles. 

With God, however, such weak spots need to be accentuated, rather than obscured. Paul made this axiom abundantly clear in 2Cor 12 with his words about having a thorn in the flesh. Paul said that Jesus was glorified through his weaknesses. 

So today, let’s celebrate that we aren’t uber mensch – that we are frail & flawed humans through whom God works & gets all glory because of God’s love, power & grace!

Failing at Leadership

This week I failed at some leadership stuff – I hate failing when I know I can do better, hate it 🙁
Over the years, I’ve been in lots of different leadership roles, learning & growing heaps! Leadership is certainly an honor & weight. With that said, I think I learn the most from hearing about leadership failures & not just successes. So here are some of my failures as a leader & maybe you’ll find them helpful sometime:

  • communication shortfall – people can’t read my mind & it’s my responsibility to communicate clearly
  • insecurity – letting my insecurities bleed into my various leadership roles has left me with stupid, messy & unnecessary problems
  • proactive – it’s not helpful when I’m passive & don’t provide direction or anticipate obvious needs
  • arrogance – this was really stupid because my pride prevented me from learning & it was hurtful to the people I was leading
  • impulsive – there’s stuff in my personality where I can be impulsive & not strategic; this creates instability, confusion & sabotages teamwork

I know that I have boatloads more failures in my leadership experiences but I’m committed to grow & make new mistakes ,)

Managing weakspots

If you’re like me, we tend to enjoy swimming in our strengths, but try to abandon our weakspots on a desolate island, hoping to avoid any long interactions with those weaknesses. I prefer to arrange my life around my strengths & avoid those troublesome weaknesses. Even with my best efforts, I still have to deal with my weaknesses. So here are some things that are helping me:
*acknowledge rather than deny – denial isn’t truly helpful
*be humble – everyone has weakspots, even if they don’t admit them
*get help – my best source for help is God
*forgive yourself when you fail – perfection is permitted for only one Being, God
*celebrate progress – I may not be where I want to be, but at least I’m not where I was 🙂

swot analysis (strengths & weaknesses)

I have several friends who are really business-smart & I thank God that they’re my friends because presently, I don’t consider myself business-smart (although I’m getting better).  One of the exercises that many businesses commonly run through, from time to time, is the swot analysis: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats.  After having gone through this exercise in various organizations, it’s been really helpful to kind of do a personal swot analysis & to consider some outcomes: 

Something that I consider to be one of my strengths is my indepdence.  I can do alot of things by myself & generally, that’s something that I like about me.  Lately however, I’m seeing that more & more,  my independence isn’t so much a strength, but rather is a weakness because I see that I can easily isolate myself & thereby minimize my effectiveness.  Furthermore, I’m learning that teamwork isn’t only about the accomplishment, but maybe even moreso about the personal development & growth that teamwork cultivates.  I’m writing all of this to encourage us to be mindful that whatever strengths we have, that we appreciate that they can also be weaknesses.  Maybe this is some of what Paul was talking about in 2 Cor 12:9-10, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness .” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, . . . ” 🙂

we follow strength but fellowship w suffering

I like what Paul says in Philip 3:10 about knowing Christ, the power of His resurrection, fellowship of His suffering, . . . .

I’ve been thinking about this alot & here’s something to consider:  i can find myself following strong people;  people who have vision, strength of personality & character & those who are strong within themselves.  I’ve been around LOTS of strong people – some politicians, Christian leaders, social leaders, etc & they’re very interesting people.

However, when it comes to connecting on a personal level, i find myself drawn to people who are flawed, who share their struggles & vulnerabilities.  I think this is because i can easily relate to someone else’s frailties & failures in some ways better than a person’s strength.  There’s a distinct fellowship & intimacy that can be experienced in hardship, weakness.  Truth be known, i think most of us find it difficult to share our weaknesses.  Our society applaudes strength, power, victory & not weakness, vulnerability & failure.  Nevertheless, we’re invited to share in the fellowship of the sufferings of Jesus – bringing an intimacy w Him that is both distinct & beautiful.