Seek to Add Value (Single & Following Jesus Part XII)

What does it mean to add value?

We live in a world of gimmie and bless me and serve me. In an ideal world, one with Jesus at the center, there would be lots of, “How can I serve you? How can I bless you? What about you?

If we all looked out for each other, every person would come into relationships looking for ways to help and bless the other person. There would be no one sided relationships, abuse, infidelity, dishonesty, selfishness, consumers in relationships, gross hurt or unnecessary pain. Utopia right?

The only perfection this side of eternity is found in Jesus. We are not perfect, He is. We can pursue abiding in His love so others around us are blessed.

When you and I set our minds on being a blessing it gives us the opportunity to love. Love is not selfish.

Love serves. Jesus did not come to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom.

The example of Jesus does not mean we offer up to everyone endless pouring out. Why? The one who gives the most is the one who ends up attached and loving.

It is important to use wisdom with our attachments. Though we are encouraged to just give and give, pour out and pour out…if you do not use wisdom you can end up having your heart shredded.

God intended for relationships to be reciprocal and involve commitment, not be one sided. God intended for both people to be loved and stewarded well. Love is supposed to be safe.

The level of access someone has to us should increase with the level of commitment.

Adding value is not giving everyone equal access to your heart.

Before you give your heart away, is the other person trustworthy to steward your heart. What is this person’s commitment to you? Casual, then their access should reflect that. Growing, they show you they are trustworthy, then a bit more knowing. Closeness/committed, then a bit more with the deepest intimacy (emotional, spiritual, or physical) happening inside of marriage. Some share way too much while dating to have their hearts broken. Engagement implies commitment, it is not marriage. Dating is not engagement. How much are you giving away?

Adding value is not sex outside marriage!

Some give their bodies away with zero commitment thinking giving without commitment will lead to love. Well, giving your body, the temple of the Holy Spirit away without an eternal covenant (commitment) is actually sin and not demonstrating self value. It’s like having a 1,000,000 car and giving people free rides. They have no plan on caring for the car, they just enjoy the ride. Our bodies are MORE valuable than a car. Would you give someone you just met a billion dollars? Probably not if you do not know someone. Yet movies show people climbing in and out of bed like it’s nothing.

Sex is more than a physical act, it joins two people in the soulish and spiritual realm. You are saying, “Whatever is in you, I invite into me.” Two people link in body, soul, flesh. God designed sex to unite people for life. His motivation was love (giving, knowing, intimacy), not lust (taking, self pleasure). The only closer connection is between God and born again believers where His Spirit lives in us.

Why use boundaries with giving or giving everyone equal access to us? The giver has the most invested. This means you do not treat boyfriends and girlfriends like husbands and wives. There are certain parts of our lives that are off limits. There are boundaries we need to have in place to prevent heart entanglements without commitment, emotional attachment too soon, over-giving, oversharing, etc. There is wisdom in what we give to friends as well.

The goal is to look at each relationship and see what you can bring to add value. This can consist of:

  • Encouragement
  • Listening
  • Kindness
  • Asking, “How are you?” and caring about the answer
  • Being honest
  • Being present
  • Devoting some time (texting and emails are not the same as quality time in person)
  • Inquiring about another person’s life
  • Caring about what interests the other person
  • Offering to help with something
  • Supporting something they care about
  • Loyalty
  • Initiating instead allowing all contact to be one sided
  • Being honest about what you like and don’t like
  • Not pretending (some pretend while getting to know someone that they like certain things or they are someone else-be the real you!)

If we ask God, He will show us ways to add value. Different people have different likes and dislikes. I may love something that someone else dislikes. The goal is to be on the lookout for what blesses someone else.

Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others,~Phil 2:4.

This means we also do not go into relationships as consumers. Over the years I have met several men who came with their wife list. They were checking off boxes. They were not looking for how to be a blessing, they were looking to be blessed. They were not looking to serve, they were seeking to be served. It was not about love; it was about selfishness. As long as I appealed to their flesh and met a few criteria I could (in their minds) be wooed or bought into relationship. Like a car they saw something they wanted and desired to purchase. If they could flash enough money or try to charm me, then magically I would fall for them and sign up for a life of servanthood. Ummmmm no. They had little plans to serve or love like Jesus.

Marriage is supposed to be about two people loving and serving each other. People are not objects we buy to please us. Our world suffers greatly because things are being loved and people used. People are to be loved. Love seeks to serve, help, support, give, invest, and add value. Does your person of interest care about adding value or are you an object they seek to obtain to please them? Do they take any interest in your life? Or is it all about them?

Let me tell you an important truth, selfish people hurt others. If you have grossly selfish friends or a grossly selfish mate you will experience pain and deep hurt. Do NOT think if they are selfish in the beginning you are going to change that. God changes selfish hearts, we are not God.

My encouragement to every person is to seek to add value and look for those who add value. It is not selfish to wish for a mate who actually cares about you, for who you are-not because they are lonely, lusting, trying to fill a void. Adding value is not about money, it’s about genuine love. You and I were created to be loved!

Love,

Erin Lamb

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Breaking Cycles of Dysfunction in Relationships (Single and Following Jesus Series Part IX)

Have you been in a cycle of repeated bad relationships or you see your friends in those same dysfunctional relationships? Today is a day of breaking free.

I have asked the same questions about friendships or casual relationships, “Why is this type of person attracted to me? They have no qualities that match up.” That may seem harsh yet let me give some examples for clarity.

My nature is encouraging, supportive, and I pursue kindness. I want to see you win. I will be the most vocal cheerleader for you.

I wondered why those who were negative, critical, mean spirited, unsupportive, and hateful were drawn to me and why they turned their negativity on me.

I am going to tell you why. Are you ready?

1. Opposites Sometimes Do Attract.

You may be giving and attract a taker. You may be kind and attract someone rude. It is not always true that we attract who we are. You may be loving and attract someone critical, rude, mean.

2. Poor Boundaries.

People treat us the way we let them treat us. Some see meekness (strength under control) as weakness. If we do not set a boundary, “You may not treat me that way, you may not talk to me that way, no this is not okay,” then we invite disrespect. It’s a conversation that must start early, not months into the relationship.

I had a lady tell me once (long ago), “I know no matter how bad I treat you, you will always be there for me.” I thought to myself, “What kind of crazy have I signed up for.”

Loving someone does not mean you let them treat you poorly. That is called enabling. It is a form of codependency. Some think God is this way. He is not. His love does not change. He is not cheering when we misbehave. God sets boundaries-“If you do this, this is the result.” God allows natural consequences. He does not remove every consequence this side of heaven.

So with this lady, I pulled back from being her default when she had no boyfriend, the person who answered her calls in crisis. I removed myself from being a doormat under the umbrella of false love.

More examples:

I have an associate who is negative. This person loves to complain and focus on what is wrong. It drains me. I told the person this week, “I would love when we talk for it to be about something positive, goals, good things. What’s going right? There is enough crazy in the world, let’s be the change we wish to see.” I set a boundary. Please keep your constant complaining in your yard. Do I love this person, yes. Do I want to listen to hours of doom, gloom, negativity, gossip, he said/she said…no. I am not a garbage can.

I had a gentleman pursuing me who always wanted to wait until the last minute to set dates. I told him I would appreciate advance notice (not all the time-yet it was considerate to give others notice); texting me Friday afternoon to meet Friday night is a no go for constant meet ups. I set a boundary. He did not listen. So often he’d texted on Friday or Saturday afternoon and I was busy.

My female friend said it was a game to see if I was seeing other people. I am an adult. I only play games with actual children. Some may have thought that was cute. I did not. Maybe if we were a couple and had been dating awhile, yet not for someone I do not know well this was a no go and setting dates signifies value. Yes, be spontaneous…Also take the time to plan something. Gentlemen say, “I would love to see you Friday night, do you have plans?” That conversation happens before Friday. I am not clearing every weekend hoping a guy messages me. I have things to do.

If you make yourself so available to everyone, they will treat you like you have no value. If you do not value your time, value yourself, why should they? I am not saying play hard to get nor play games. I am saying if you do not respect and value your own time, others will not either.

Place God at the center. Would God want me treated this way? If not, why are you allowing it? How much time do I need to invest in this relationship? How much of my heart can they steward well? God knows.

If you have poor or low boundaries, then you will find disorder and dysfunction and poor treatment.

3. Quick to Trust and Dismissing Relational Red Flags.

I consider myself trustworthy. Therefore, I give people the benefit of the doubt. I have learned to pay attention. Watch people. Watch how they treat people. Watch how they talk about others. Do they tell everyone else’s business? They are not trustworthy with your business. Do they only show up when they need something? You are most likely a convenience. Do you make all the effort? You are in a one sided relationship. If they destroy others, do not think they will not do it to you.

Many times red flags are ignored under the, “I am a loving Christian.” Okay, be a loving Christian with wisdom. Wisdom says, “Bad company corrupts good character.” Wisdom says, “How can two be joined unless they agree?” Wisdom says, “Do not make partners with an angry person.” These are all in the Bible right along with love your neighbor. You can love someone without dating them, being close friends, being business or ministry partners, or marrying them.

One of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou is as follows, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” Unless they want to change or God changes them, that is what you are dealing with in a partner or friend.

4. You Are Pulling All the Relational Weight

I love giving. I love giving with no expectation of return. Yet there is wisdom required in giving as well. Too much time spent together, too much closeness without commitment, too much investment without any investment back is a set up for dysfunction.

Jesus loves perfectly and in exchange for our freedom He gave His life. When we enter into covenant, God asks for our life. Please understand God is not just giving, giving, giving and expecting nothing. He asks for our entire lives. It’s a bigger commitment than an earthly marriage.

This thought that selfless giving is to lead to one sided relationships is not covenant love. Relationships were designed to be give and take. If one person is doing all the work, it’s not love. Both people are to pursue the best interests of the other.

I have seen overgiving lead to abuse; it attracts narcissists and abusive people. Why? They thrive on taking. Selfless givers with no boundaries are easy targets.

A person who loves you will want to bless you too.

I have met so many people angry because they trusted too quickly, fell in love with the idea of someone, ignored red flags, and were burned poorly in a relationship. If you pay attention, people show you who they are. Their mouth speaks what their heart is full of and their actions, if you watch closely, manifest their heart and how they feel about you.

Placing God at the center can save us loads of heartache.

God help me to choose the right associates, friends, confidants, mate. Help me to set godly boundaries and respect those of others. I want to be the best friend I can be to someone and want that in return. Help me to not only be a blessing, but to cease settling for less than what you would offer. Break every cycle of dysfunction in my life and relationships. The common denominator is me. Show me what I am allowing or the poor or low boundaries. Help me to stay centered in you and have the best relationships possible. God help me to be healthy in my soul and attract and maintain relationships with healthy people. Jesus break cycles of dysfunction and it starts with me. Change me so I guard my heart and live out of wisdom and love! In Jesus powerful name.

Pursue Jesus and Use Wisdom (Single & Following Jesus Series Part VIII)

For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor and [future] glory (honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss)! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly,~Psalm 84:11.

“Get [skillful and godly] wisdom! Acquire understanding [actively seek spiritual discernment, mature comprehension, and logical interpretation]!

Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not turn away from her (Wisdom) and she will guard and protect you;

Love her, and she will watch over you,”~Proverbs 4:5-6.

Wisdom is so vital in all of life.

Believers are encouraged to follow Jesus and acquire wisdom. The pursuit of wisdom is not for demonic wisdom; the wisdom of this age is not always in alignment with God.

Godly wisdom is pure, full of truth, love, and has the best interests of everyone involved considered. Godly wisdom is holy; it is without sin.

Our culture promotes immorality and sensuality. It is ungodly. The movies and tv promote immorality without ever truly showing the depths of the consequences for immoral choices.

Our culture also promotes the lie that sex or marriage will complete a person.

As stated last post, casual sex is promoted. Not only is casual sex promoted so is love at first sight, magical/mystical/over romanced/over sexualized relationships. Many of these relationships disregard wisdom, true God love, or God’s truths. They sound good, may look good, yet they do not hold onto goodness as you fast forward to when reality sets into the picture.

Ex: Henry and Julie who fell in love find out a year later after the honeymoon period is over that they have nothing in common that’s not physical, they the thrill is gone, they fight over money, they hate each other’s families, and they are miserable. This scenario rarely makes it to the big screen. Henry and Julie maybe pursued lust/feelings over wisdom and love. Then we see them break up (if unmarried) or divorce.

Follow Jesus:

Jesus is love, therefore pursuing God is pursuing love. God helps us to love ourselves and others. When God is first, the voids in our lives are filled by God. We then make decisions out of unselfish, sacrificial love not lust (which is about pleasing self), selfishness, desperation, or loneliness. God fills all the empty places so we enter relationships prepared to give, not with our hands out to receive or be made whole by an imperfect human. Only God can completely fill the voids of the soul and spirit. God solidifies identity, not a mate.

When God is first, He can bring in an equal complement/companion. Otherwise there may be a temptation to pursue a match that is less that God’s best. There are no perfect people, there are God matches that are better together than apart.

Wisdom says, “Will the relationship add value for both people? Is God at the center? Can we grow together? Is there mutual effort? Are we headed the same direction? How does this person handle life, conflict, money? Would God or my close friends/family choose this person for me? Is this person even interested in a lifelong partnership with me? Can we be allies? Are we friends?

If things do not work out, are we leaving the person in better shape than they were before they met us? Or are they in need of deep inner healing after connecting to us? Seriously think about what you bring to the table. Is it good? Does it add value?

The people who engage in sex outside of marriage are robbing a future spouse of intimacy with that person and their own future spouse. The one who engages in pornography is robbing themselves of deep intimacy and understanding of what God intended with sex. His design was always about love; unselfish, committed, holy, powerful, intimate, sacrificial love. The devil invites people to cheapen the most intimate act between a man and woman.

Love is willing to slow down and pray. Love is willing to evaluate the situation and relationship with God. Love wants to keep God in first place. Love pursues purity. Love is willing to set boundaries that offer protection of both people. Love is who God is.

Pursue Wisdom:

Let’s venture into another part of process, pursuing wisdom. I have met many people hurt because they forsook wisdom.

Ex: Susie likes John so she starts having dreams that he is the one. Obviously God speaks in dreams, so she should grab ahold to that dream and start planning their wedding in her head (not wisdom). Hit the mega pause button. I have seen women do this and ignore the actions of John. John is a jerk and mistreats everyone, yet there is this dream/prophetic word-so Susie holds on for dear life only to find out later John never wanted to marry her, or worse they get married and he’s an abuser.

Red Alert: Every dream, vision, prophetic word needs tested. Every single one. Do not just run with a “word” or “impression” or “dream” without testing it to see if it’s truly God. I do not care who the prophet was who gave that word, it needs tested and confirmed. The devil speaks and can invade dreams, impressions, visions.

If you think you heard from God about someone, pray and put that word on the shelf. I recommend praying, “God show me who this person really is,” and watching them. How do they treat you? Do you always initiate contact? Do they invest in you at all? How does being with this person impact your life? Are you constantly confused about where you stand with that person? Are they controlling, mean, unloving? Do they treat you with love, respect, honor?

Too many times people fall for who they want someone to be instead of who they really are. Would you let your best friend marry someone like the person you are interested in? If not, why are you in that relationship?

I have seen women chase men like they are Jesus then end up disappointed they are rejected. Relationships are not mean to be like the animal kingdom; chase, pursue, conquer. They are supposed to be about love. Love involves mutual pursuit.

Evaluate your relationship:

Is your relationship life giving? Or are you in tears or upset most of the time? God wants His very best for you, for everyone. God ordained matchups still have challenges, they should not be loaded with confusion, uncertainty, abuse, pain, and suffering.

I have also seen both men and women cling to the idea that someone loves them or is interested in them who will not commit to them nor express their intentions.

Ex: Karla has been into Jerry for years. Jerry flirts and is nice yet has never asked her on a date, never expressed interest, and does nothing to initiate contact or getting to know each other. Karla is convinced his flirting when he sees her is more than it is.

I work in a predominately male environment and they have told me, “We flirt because it’s fun. It makes us feel good.” Therefore there is no intention of a relationship. For the unsaved person there may be an intention of a hook up, but not marriage or a serious relationship.

Get Wisdom! Ask for discernment.

“Discernment is more than the ability to differentiate between right and wrong. It is the ability to differentiate between right and almost right.”

Wisdom looks at the future as well as the present. Wisdom prays and seeks godly counsel. Wisdom is a life preserver. Wisdom says, “Where is God in this situation? Are we are good match? Spiritually are we on the same page? Can we grow together? Is this someone God would choose for me? Are my God expectations on this person when they should be on God? How does this person treat people, including me? Does this person demonstrate any of the fruit of the Spirit?”

Papa God I pray every unmarried person pursues Jesus and wisdom. I bind any spirits of impatience, deception, selfishness, lust, false dreams/false prophecies, and declare soul health. Come Lord Jesus and fill every soul with your love, peace, joy, and purity. Fill every person to overflowing. Impart godly wisdom and truth. Help each person make wise decisions about relationships. Prepare each person for what you have for them. Heal all past relational wounding, in Jesus powerful name. Amen.

Live in Reality (Single & Following Jesus Series Part VII)

Aloha friends.

Today I wanted to chat about living in reality and being realistic.

We live in a world of reality tv which does not always represent reality. We live in a world that promotes fantasy (what feels good to you, act that out).

God invites us into reality with Him. Why? God’s reality is rooted in truth, His wisdom, and holiness.

Fantasy is often rooted in seduction, lust, and deception.

Imagination is God given and can be holy; fantasy is normally rooted in pretending.

God invites us into His truth and holiness. Believing God’s truth sets us free. Believing the devil leads to bondage.

Culture vs. God’s Kingdom:

You see movies of two people falling instantly in love then bed together. They sleep together and live happily ever after right? They do not show you the people dumped after a one night stand, the pregnancies and abortions after one night stands, the sexually transmitted diseases contracted, the new demonic spirits transferred between two people, the tears on the soul, nor the decreased ability to bond to another person after casual sex. The devil never talks to people about negative consequences of stepping outside God’s boundaries. He presents something that seems good, will bring temporary pleasure, yet will not bring lasting joy and satisfaction.

The same goes with pornography. It was not until recently studies popped up showing the detriment of this activity. Fantasy in this area leads to lack of genuine love, decreased genuine intimacy with a real human, and is often the gateway for more illicit choices. Many who later participate in human trafficking (buying slaves or engaging in prostitution/abuse) started with pornography; it devalues humans and reduces them to objects instead of people.

What is Reality?

Reality is God highly values all people and they are not objects to be used for pleasure, they are people to be loved.

Godly love involves commitment, protection, and stewarding the heart of another person well. It is a love that says, “I want to honor you so I am willing to do things God’s way. I will safe guard this relationship so it brings God glory and honors you. I will not take from you without committing to you, for that is stealing what I am unwilling to cherish for life. I want to steward the gifts you are offering me of your time, resources, body, heart, and life. I want to be in covenant with you which is bound by a commitment to sacrificial, unselfish, God given love.”

Let’s talk about another form of fantasy. It happens when people start planning their marriage before their first date or idolizing someone they just met. Why is this dangerous? The person you may end up marrying may not be that person you made up in your head or the person sitting across from you at coffee. Pursuing a fantasy relationship (the made up one in the head) leads to gross disappointment when facing reality.

The made up John may cook, clean, leave roses and romantic cards. The real life John may just take out the trash.

I have seen way too many people fall in love with the idea or marriage or the idea of a person and end up grossly disappointed with reality.

Reality is until that person says, “I do,” they are not your spouse. In your head you can paint a wild, vivid fantasy that amounts to nothing. Why? Until they say, “I do,” they can still choose to walk away from the situation.

Reality is what that person shows you is what you are dealing with and have to take home. People are not projects. I have heard so many women say they will change their husband only to find out they (their spouse) has zero desire to change. They envisioned John the romantic. The reality is they got John the couch potato. In their fantasy they would marry John and make him like the Señor Suave in their head. Reality was John had zero desire to be what the fantasy was so he refused. I still tell people to pray God shows you before you say, “I do,” what you are dealing with in a partner.

Reality is marriage requires work. It as painted as an every day, all day love fest. Yet get some couples as friends who have been married awhile. They will tell you that it requires some work. Get more than just your parents who may withhold some of the deep challenges.

Reality is treating that other person like a brother or sister in the Lord or friend until their is a level of commitment. Giving yourself away, being too available/vulnerable, not setting great boundaries (including emotional/physical), and treating someone not your spouse like a spouse is the set up for heartache. We were not intended to bond with dozens of people then break up. God set up bonding and intimacy so we could form life long bonds. If you take two pieces of paper and glue them together then rip them apart, there is tearing. Neither piece remains whole.

Reality is being single is not a curse nor indication of being inferior/rejected. Jesus had no earthly wife. Paul had no wife. Mother Teresa had no husband. I would not say any of these people were cursed, without purpose, nor inferior beings. They went about doing the will of the Father. Desiring marriage is not a bad thing. Thinking it somehow improves your worth is a bad thing.

I do not know the exact map of my life nor the map of others. I do know God is good. Time can be wasted worrying or stressing over what is not happening verses enjoying who God is. In the presence of God is fullness of joy. I do know fantasy robs us of experiencing the joy of the Lord.

Papa God, for anyone who reads this that is caught up in fantasy instead of reality, I ask for your Holy Spirit to wash over them from the tops of their heads to the soles of their feet. I bind any and all seducing spirits and spirits of lust. I ask you would loose your love, peace, joy, and power. Reveal every lie they have come into agreement with that is blocking freedom. Every idol come crashing down. Holy Spirit of truth permeate every part of their being. Every addiction be bound. I ask you Lord for total freedom, inner healing, and deliverance by the power of your anointing. I decree and declare freedom from living outside Godly reality. In Jesus powerful name. Amen.

Love in Christ,

Erin

Overcoming Rejection

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I told you I would post some personal experiences with rejection to hopefully inspire you to press on.

Family:

Before I was even born, I was rejected by my biological father and his family. My parents were married, yet my father didn’t want kids at the time. He had his own dreams he wanted to pursue. Being tied down to a family wasn’t in his plan. So when my mom was eight months pregnant with me she came home one day to an empty house.

I didn’t see him again until I was 16. I went looking for him. He hadn’t told his new family about me.

I will say that was the hardest to get over. It took God’s help, loads of forgiveness, and I grieved his actions for a long time. God gave me a new set of parents as an infant; they gave me more love than I could imagine. God did me a huge favor in setting up my adoption.

Peers:

As a kid the only friends I truly had were my adopted parents and cousins. I never fit in with other children. My mum used to say, “Erin you have the heart of a child, the soul of an old lady.” I’m an introvert, who did not enjoy socializing with other kids. And it’s true, as an adult I get along really well with children and the elderly. I’ve never truly fit in with my peers. I’ve encountered rejection due to my ethnicity (experienced racism living in the south), my personality (I’m too direct or too happy), or for reasons that made no sense to me.

I learned through the rejection of my peers to be friends with God and to have compassion for people who are different from me. I learned to appreciate people who treat me well and the good friends I do have. Lessons I’m glad I learned.

Church:

In church I’ve experienced rejection from people who have said I make them feel bad about who they are because I’m quite serious about all things pertaining to Jesus. Ironic, but true.

I won’t change or alter my passion for the One who died for me. I love Him. Jesus died for me so I could live for Him. I am more careful in what I share and how I share. If people don’t want to hear the Gospel, you love them and let it be. Learning to share only what God leads me to share.

Being a Scientist:

In engineering, I’ve been rejected by some colleagues based on my age (too young to supervise older people) or based on my gender. A young woman leading men isn’t always well received either. Luckily my current employer has zero tolerance for discrimination, and I’m able to do my job in a pretty pleasant atmosphere.

I’ve learned and am learning to not base my worth, or value on the opinions of people. If you live by the praises or approval of people, you’ll be destroyed by their criticism.

When the insults come, I can boldly say, “Your opinions don’t define who I am. God does.”

Closing Thoughts:

All of my experiences, too many to post here, have taught me seek God for worth, identity, and friendship. He grows even bigger when the world treats you poorly. He is home. He is the one place I fit, and I never feel different, or alone. He is my safe place. He heals any wounds in our hearts. We can trust if something or someone is good for us, God will make it happen. If not, thank God for closed doors.

You, my friend, will encounter people who dislike you without cause, Jesus did. You may be judged, mistreated, talked about, or verbally abused. Stand in your God given identity as a child of God. He will change what needs changed in your life if you’re linked to Him. Stick close to Jesus. Live loved.

How people treat you is a reflection of what’s going on in their heart. Pray for others, and don’t let them steal your JOY! Shine on! You’re here for a divine purpose. 🙂 You are deeply loved!

You were born an original, don’t die a copy.

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The Trap of Success (Killing Insecurity Part 3)

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Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were doing it for God rather than for people,~Colossians 3:23.

We live in a world that measures success by the amount of money a person makes, their possessions, their academic achievements (the highest GPA, or degrees), their intelligence (IQ), their ability to play a sport well, their performance (the best singer, dancer, actor or actress), their ministry (is it growing? is it big? how many people have been impacted?), or even their ability to have a great marriage or great kids. Our world measures success very differently than God does. We base success on externals. God looks at the heart and whether or not we are faithful. Faithfulness is important to God. Winning is something we value.

Faithful (definition):

1. thorough in the performance of duty: a faithful worker. 2. true to one’s word, promises, vows, etc. 3. steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant: faithful friends. 4. reliable, trusted, or believed. 5. adhering or true to fact, a standard, or an original; accurate: a faithful account; a faithful copy.

Let’s investigate this trap….

I. Our worth is based on what we can do (how well we do things) or what we do (are we the best at what we do) or what we have (I’ve achieved so much). If we are finding security in what we can do, what we do, or what we have, then our foundation is as shaky as shifting sands. There will always be someone  who has more, can do more…and if our esteem is rooted in those things we will either spend our lives striving for success, competing with others, looking down on people who we don’t perceive are as good as we think we are, or feeling insecure because we are not as successful as we think we should be.

The problem:

  • If our worth is rooted in our ability to succeed, it promotes pride. If we succeed, we pat ourselves on the back and inflate our ego. If we fail (by our standards or the world’s), then we fall into self-pity and shame. We keep striving to be better for our ego. It’s not about being faithful to whatever God calls us to do, it’s about succeeding at whatever we set our minds to do. We are not what we do. We become addicted to success so we can feel good about ourselves or establish identity.

The solution:

  • An identity rooted in Christ. Our worth is not determined by what we can do or accomplish. We are valuable because God says that we are. If we know who we are in Him, we will be lead to excellence for His glory, not success for our ego. People in the Bible had flaws, moral failures, made mistakes, and God still used them. He looked at the heart, qualified the unqualified, restored the broken, and rewarded faithfulness.

II. Our self built monuments are not as valuable as we think. We can build quite a monument for ourselves. And if we have no monument for our achievements, we have a monuments of shame for what we haven’t accomplished.

The problem:

  • The focus is us and not God. Everything we can do is because He enables us to do them. If He spoke to end our lives, He could do so. Everything in the Universe is held together by an awesome God. If there is greatness in us, it’s because He is great. Our monuments of glory or shame are worthless in comparison to who He is.

The solution:

  • Acknowledging everything we do is only because of Him. Giving Him the credit for the good things in our lives. Thanking Him for we can do nothing without Him. Even those who don’t know Him are alive and gifted because He allows it. The gifts, talents, skills, and intelligence are given by Him.

God is not opposed to higher education; excellence in craftsmanship, talent or skill. He wants us to steward gifts given by Him. The goal is not to find our value in what we do or success at what we do. If we do, then it promotes insecurity. Money can be lost, marriages can fail, children can disappoint you, a head injury could destroy mental capabilities, jobs can be lost, and if success is what motivates us-then we will bail when we’re not successful or be miserable.

Testimony:

I’ve been fortunate to be placed in situations where God called me to be faithful, but in my eyes and the eyes of others there was not success. I devoted 7 years to leading Bible studies and home groups. Looking back on some of those years I felt like a failure or there were moments I felt it was a waste of time. People would show up sometimes and other times they wouldn’t. You’d prepare a teaching or worship and people would be on their smartphones texting, chatting with each other, or disinterested. You’d pour into people and have them tell you they didn’t want to be pointed to the truth of the Gospel. You’d pray and things would get worse. Finally God spoke these words that changed my perspective, “I honor faithfulness. You were faithful to do what I ask you to do.” When I become focused on succeeding or measuring up to some standard, I can be reminded that God honors faithfulness! It’s about Him and His ability, not me and my ability. And I’ve learned from those situations to be more of a helper/encourager to those God places over me and other people, not to expect perfection and to help/encourage others remain faithful to what God calls them to do. So, I am somewhat thankful for those years…

Final Notes:

This world will pass away and all that is in it. There won’t be a world’s most successful person bulletin in heaven. We won’t have a bigger mansion or more privileges in heaven based on success on earth. Money, titles…those things won’t matter. God honors faithfulness. May we be faithful to whatever God asks us to do.

Identity Crisis (Identity in Christ Part 3)

 

 

I am American. I am a woman. I am a daughter and sister. I am Scientist and Engineer. I am a worshiper, artist, and singer. All those statements are correct. However my true identity is a child of the King. Most people will tell you about their earthly citizenship. If we are a follower of Christ, we have a heavenly identity that is the most secure identity. Let’s look at Paul’s instruction.

Philippians 3: 12-21

12b I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Following Paul’s Example

15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Paul was speaking in the previous passage about all the things that made him a model citizen, but none of those things made him right in the eyes of God. We are citizens of this world, but our eternal citizenship is in heaven. If we live from our true identity we don’t have an identity crisis. Many of us walk around unsure of who we are, what we can do in Christ, how valuable we are, and what we have access to as God’s child. We can live with only this earthly life in view struggling with our identity. Here are some examples.

1. People strive to be successful thinking that if they are, they will be more valuable. The truth is every person is already valued in heaven. God views success very differently than we do. God defines success as being faithful. Are we faithful to do what He says and faithful over what He’s given us. See passages on the talents, Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-28. God expects us to use what we are given.  We can be rich, respected, and successful and it does not make us more valuable to God. We have the highest value we can obtain in our identity in Christ.

2. People strive to have the perfect body, image, or looks. The truth is that every person is beautiful in the eyes of God. He made all things and people beautiful. Obtaining the perfect body, image, or looks does not make a person more valuable. God is so creative that He refused to make every person look the same. Every person is made in God’s image and the delight of His heart.

3. People strive to please God, instead of living loved by God. It’s easy to get caught up serving God and find identity in doing for God. Our identity cannot be in serving, ministry, or doing for Him. Our identity is in Christ and from that identity we serve, minister, and do things for God. He does not value us more for doing things for Him. Also if our service is out of obligation, it’s not from a pure heart. In Christ we are 100 percent approved of already.

4. People find their identity in their marital status, family, or relationships. In heaven none of those things make a person more valuable. God doesn’t look over at the angels and say, “Hey that’s John’s mom or dad, or Jack’s wife, or Susie’s best friend.” The relationships we use to find our identity and worth are not what God uses. Our marital status, family, or friend relationships are not our true identity. They do not make us more valuable.

5. People find their identity in the things of this world. This world will pass away and only God’s Kingdom will remain. Our identity in Christ will not change.

6. People find their identity in other people’s opinions of them. God doesn’t take a survey of other people opinions. People pleasing, allowing others to label us, and living under the umbrella of others opinions leads to idolatry. We either live for an audience of One or worship the opinions of people. If we live by the applause of people, we will die by their criticisms.

7. People find their identity in what they do. This does not just apply to occupation. It applies to not so positive things as well. People will say, “I am loser,” defining their worth by what they do or have done. People say, “I am an angry person or type A personality or …fill in the blank.” Labels limit what we can do. The way we see and define ourselves is important. If we see ourselves differently, we will behave differently. Also God doesn’t define us by our shortcomings, “That’s impatient Patty and angry Anita.” In Christ we are covered by the blood of Jesus. He looks at us through the finished work of the cross. He says, “That’s My child.” He doesn’t approve of everything we do, but He continues to love us. Our do (what we do) does not define our who (who we are in Christ).

You get the idea. If we are followers of Jesus, then our identity is only secure in Him. In Him we are forgiven, loved, cared for, accepted, chosen, set apart, and valuable. May we not have an identity crisis. Our lives are hidden in Christ.

No one could replace you. tumblr image.