Do you have what it takes?

I read something on social media a while back where a young person was asking for someone to please be proud of him.  It got me thinking – a lot.  It saddened me that he felt that way, but the truth is, it is completely in his control.  

First, let’s look at the difference between I love you, and I’m proud of you.  

My love for you does not depend on how you act because it isn’t based on who you are, it’s based on who I am.  Love also can’t be taken, it can only be received. If it’s taken, it’s not real love, but something devious that we call manipulation.  Manipulation is the place where the selfish people play.  These will try to make you perform in order to be loved, but that’s not real. Real love must be given, not paid for.  It comes from the heart of love, and is demonstrated by giving.  This can be clearly seen in the famous Bible verse John 3:16.  

Joh 3:16  For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

There’s a huge difference between I love you, and I’m proud of you.  I love you can exist on it’s own because it’s not really dependent on you.  It’s a decision made by someone else, and it’s based on what’s in their heart, not on you, or what you have done.

That being said, when someone says I’m proud of you, that is a way of saying that they are pleased with you.  Being pleased or displeased with someone doesn’t mean that you don’t love them.  It just means that they have done something you think is awesome or they’re doing things you don’t like.  Maybe they’re doing something that you are uncomfortable with. This is where some might get confused.  People can love others, but not want to be around them because of the way they act.

When someone tells you they are proud of you, or are pleased with you, they are telling you that YOU have done well.  Pride in yourself, or other people being pleased with you is based on YOU.  It comes from what you do or have done.  How you act is what matters here.  

Here’s a hard truth, and the faster you learn it, the better off you’ll be.  People don’t really care how you feel.  Seriously.  They don’t.  What they do care about is what you do.  

You have an unspoken agreement with everyone you interact with.  They may care how you feel, but they care far more what you do.  So much of what happens to you, or for you, is based on how you act.  

Does it seem like nothing goes your way?  Is it hard to get ahead?  Does it seem like you just can’t get a break?  When I hear people say stuff like this, the first thing I start looking at is how well do they take instruction and criticism.  What I usually find is that when people think they are struggling and can’t seem to get ahead, it’s usually true.  The reason it’s true though is because they won’t listen.  They can’t take criticism without getting their feelings hurt or getting angry, and they can’t take instruction because they act like they already know it all.  

When you’re arrogant, people don’t like dealing with you.  They will push you to the sidelines of their life and only deal with you when they have to.  

I know this from experience.  When I was 19, I was hard to get along with.  I had a very bad attitude.  I was arrogant, smart mouthed, and easily offended.  I was a real pill.  I had a friend that I worked with named Tim. Tim cared enough for me to pull me aside one day and tell me the truth. He said “People don’t like working with you.  If you don’t change your attitude, you’re going to get fired.”  The fact that he was there talking to me about this meant that it was the topic of conversation among my coworkers and my supervisor.  He was warning me.  

While it was extremely hard to hear, it cut straight through my bad attitude and hit me right in my heart.  It was apparent to me that my friend didn’t want me to get fired.  He wanted me to change, to do better, and he knew that I was burning my own bridge and my time was running out.  

Let me stop here and ask you a question.  What would you do if you were me?  Would you spout off something like “I don’t need this  #@!* job anyway!” and storm out?  I didn’t.  I wanted that job.  I immediately humbled myself and asked him to help me.  I submitted myself to his oversight and invited his criticism; both of which he faithfully gave.  It was hard, it was SO hard.  I don’t know about you but I don’t like hearing bad stuff about myself.  I want everyone to like me all the way, all the time.  

I began to realize something in that time that has helped me stay steady ever since.  We all would agree that none of us are perfect. Criticism is one of the most effective ways to identify areas where growth is needed, but we all resist criticism all the time.  Part of the reason is because when someone points out one of your faults, it may not be your fault that’s the issue.  Maybe they are the one who’s actually more wrong that you.  Another reason is that, even when someone is right about us and our faults, we think they are just judging, and we don’t consider them qualified to judge us.

If you can get over that, if you can learn to see correction and criticism for what it really is, you will grow & mature faster than you can imagine.  What correction really is, is someone taking the time to point out that you could be doing a little better.  To really grow, you will have to want it enough to endure the discomfort of being corrected.  You will need to humble yourself.

The bottom line is that, if you want people to be pleased with you (proud of you), you have to do things that earn it.  It’s not too late to start down this road.  You can begin today and build the man you want to be.  It starts with humility, and being able to be corrected.

Undermining Your Own Credibility

We’ve all done it.  Limited ourselves by our words.  Today I share insight in the video below on how word choice can cost you in influence.

 

I would love to hear what you think about this.  Have you ever noticed where someone was destroying their own credibility?  Please join the conversation and leave a comment.  If this is helpful to you and you think it can help someone else, please consider sharing.

Dear young man, there’s more to you than your penis!

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Here are some phrases I keep hearing from young men in our modern culture. “Gonna hit that!”, “Gonna get wit that!”, or “Gonna nail it!”. While it’s not always men saying this stuff, it’s men that I’m thinking about when I’m writing this post. I’m a man and I believe I am qualified to speak to men in this area. The men who live like this have no honor. Notice how the phrases objectify the subject, usually a woman by reducing them to “That” or “It”. The kind of man that would use those phrases above would be a man who’s predominantly driven by conquest. He’s a predator. His goal is the score. He’s not looking beyond it. What he expects after his little victorious moment is for everything to go back to the way it was before the score. Go hang out with friends and maybe talk about the conquest. Get up. Live life. Nothing changed. Just a hit; just a score; just another notch. No real consequences, at least not for him. No honor. Of course the deception is that you can do the sin and not get the death. Death always rides with sin. As I was thinking on this I wrote down some characteristics of a guy like this. The dishonorable man.

  • His friends are probably not real friends. The friends that push you toward these things does not have your best interest at heart. Some may even try to shame you when your hunt is unsuccessful. These are not real friends. You can’t trust these guys to have your back in a time of trouble.
  • His life will be full of shallow relationships. He will not have many, if any, deep meaningful relationships because his priority will be the physical. He comes around usually for only one reason. He has a wandering eye and is always pursuing the next conquest.
  • He’s a man of no restraint. He may think he’s a tough guy but he’s not. Where it matters, he’s absolutely weak. Every time a temptation or an urge comes up, he caves under it’s weight. He doesn’t exercise any discipline over himself. He’s also prone to losing his temper. When it comes to his feelings and his urges, he just gives in.
  • He leaves blood & guts in his wake. Many, many, many times I’ve seen it where there are young mothers toughing it out on their own because some carnal boy in a man-suit doesn’t have the real honest strength to stand up and be a man. I’m not just talking about standing by your mistake. I’m talking about not making mistakes. Using wisdom. Not taking chances when you are not ready for the result. Let me just say that I believe with all of my heart that God’s grace is there for the single parent. I am convinced that the Holy Spirit is the difference maker and where He’s involved, a single parent family can come through lacking nothing. It’s just not the best way. It’s gonna be a rougher road.

By contrast, the man of honor looks a little different.

  • He is humble. According to Proverbs 22:4, Honor comes by humility and the fear of the Lord (KJV). An honorable man has an honest estimation of himself. He doesn’t think more highly of himself than he aught to think.
  • He follows after what is right. Provers 21:21 (KJV) He that follows righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness and honor. A man of honor will do what’s right even if it costs him. A man of honor understands that there are things more important than money or being liked and accepted and he values justice and mercy.
  • He avoids strife. Proverbs 20:3 (BBE) It is an honor for a man to keep from fighting, but the foolish are ever at war. A man of honor isn’t out there trying to prove how tough he is.
  • He listens to instruction. Prov 13:18 (BBE) Need and shame will be the fate of him who is uncontrolled by training; but he who takes note of teaching will be honored. I can’t stress this enough. The problem with so many is that they can’t receive correction. It’s sad because many times you have to let them learn through “Hard Knocks University”. They have to take the beating for themselves. It’s foolish to think that we don’t need correction. If that were the case, we would be perfect. That is NOT the case though. When we know we’re not perfect, why do we resist instruction and correction?
  • He pursues wisdom. Prov 4:7-8 says to get wisdom with everything you have. Lift wisdom up and she will promote you. Embrace her and she will bring you honor. Wisdom, the skillful application of knowledge, should be a life-long pursuit. Wisdom sees down the road and makes adjustments for what is coming. A man of honor looks down the road to see the eventual end of his actions. This keeps him from getting girls pregnant. This keeps him out of jail. This keeps him from losing his job. A man of honor pursues wisdom. Wisdom for every area of his life. God has made wisdom available for you to know the next step. Wisdom to resist in areas where you keep falling. Wisdom to rebuild broken relationships. The wisdom is there and the man of honor will seek it out.

Are you in an affair with your problem…or are you in a covenant with your solution? Stir up the gift!  -(AJRK) From Coy Wade.

These are things that are close to my heart. I strive to be a man of honor everyday. It really is a better life. If you have been struggling with the stuff I’ve talked about here, there’s still hope. You can get there. The first thing is that you need a “Want to”. Nothing in your life changes until you are properly motivated to want it. Nothing. How do you make the change? Here are a few short steps to get you moving in the right direction.

  1. Ask for forgiveness. (Click here for more information).  Ask God and if there’s another person, ask them too.
  2. Humble yourself to ask for help. The bible says that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6 & 1 Pet 5:5). Grace is the unearned power of God. He wants to give it to you. By humility you recognize that you need His help and then just ask. Jesus said “Ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full”.
  3. Trust Him. Believe that He’s on the case. Mark 11: 24.
  4. Let peace rule in your heart and be thankful that He’s helping you. Col 3:15.

If this post has helped you or you believe it could help someone else, please consider sharing. If you are reading this anywhere besides artmills.org, please head over there and leave a comment. I welcome your participation and discussion. While you’re there, check the place out. If you would like to receive the posts directly to your email, you can sign up for it there too. Have a blessed week.

Parenting Guidelines that Made the Difference for Me.

Father Kissing NewbornI have always tried to tow the line when it came to my kids.  If my kids were not allowed somewhere, I didn’t go either.  It was always important to me to not be false or hypocritical to them.  I wasn’t perfect at this but I really tried.  My thinking was that if they couldn’t do it, then I couldn’t either.  As it turned out, this was much easier for me than it was for them.  In a recent conversation that I had with my daughters, they confessed that in school, they often felt like the “weirdoes” because they were not allowed to do and see what many of their friends were allowed to do and see.  While some may see me as too strict, I see me as a parent.  When my children were born, I made a commitment in my heart to be the best dad that I could be.  I decided that it was one of my primary purposes to get them to self sufficient adulthood in the best shape that I could.  For me that meant that I needed to be present in their lives.  I needed to know what they were facing and struggling with.  I needed to hear what they were hearing and see what they were seeing and help them get perspective.

 

Some parents may argue that I should have let them find their own way and let them decipher the world for themselves.  For a parent to just allow their child to “find their own way” indicates that the parent hasn’t found any truth for themselves that they thought was worthy to be passed on or to be taught to their children.  I have found profound truth in my own life and journey that has made me a new man and shaped my life for the best.  I think that is very worthy to pass on to my children.  I’m not interested in leaving them twisting in the wind, grasping for direction with out my help or guidance.

“Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.”  ― W.E.B. Du Bois

When God chose Abraham, He (God) said “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him” Gen 18:19 (KJV).  God chose Abraham specifically because of this.  He knew Abraham would pass it on.  God is looking for parents to pass on the truths that they know to their children. God loves your kids as much as He loves you.  He doesn’t want them hurt & struggling either.  You are in their life to instruct, correct, guide and help them.  Don’t be slack about it.  They need you.

“One of the most important things we adults can do for young children is to model the kind of person we would like them to be.”  – Carol B. Hillman

Deuteronomy 6:6 & 7 (BBE) “Keep these words, which I say to you this day, deep in your hearts; Teach them to your children with all care, talking of them when you are at rest in your house or walking by the way, when you go to sleep and when you get up”.
It’s interesting to me that the Hebrew word for Teach used here means to sharpen, or to whet.  That implies repetitiveness.  When you sharpen a blade, you grind it against a whet stone over and over until you get the keenest edge possible on your blade.  When you’re teaching your children, it involves correction and instruction, over and over, hearing and hearing. This is how confidence comes (see Rom 10:17).

What is the promise for children who hear and follow the Godly instruction of their parents?  Ephesians 6:1-3 tells us. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.  Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with you , and that you may life long on the earth”.
Who doesn’t want that for their children?

What’s the take-away here?  Parents, don’t be afraid to be parents.  Take time to pray for your kids and/or grandkids. Ask God to give you the wisdom and influence to have the maximum impact on their lives for good.  He loves them and has put you in their lives to help them.  That is His will.  He loves you too and He wants to help you be all you can be to your children.

Bill Cosby QuoteI also can’t overstate the importance of being led by the Lord when it comes to being a good parent.  There have been times where I wanted to be corrective to my daughters but sensed a little “check” down in my heart that now was not the time to be corrective.  There have been times when I sensed that I needed to be tougher then I would normally be.  The Lord knows the situation and will steer us.  Dads in particular run the risk of being too heavy handed and can leave their children feeling like they can’t do anything right.  The Lord will help you to know what to do and how to read your situation.

I am not your friend. I am your parent.  I will stalk you, flip out on you. Lecture, drive you insane, be your worst nightmare and hunt you down when needed. Because I Love You. – Seen on a wall hanging.

What has helped you to be a better parent?  What tips can you share that would help other readers in our community?  Please leave your comments and advice.  If this has helped you and you think it can help others, please help spread the word about artmills.org and also share this post.  Thank you all.  I appreciate you!

Want to Reach Your Full Potential? This is a Must.

A few years back, I saw a made for television movie about settlers moving west. I don’t remember what it was called but I remember one scene in particular when a family came to the Mississippi river. It was during winter and the river was frozen over. They were going to have to cross the river in their wagon. Though the river was frozen over, there was always the possibility that the wagon would break through the ice . They needed to make sure they were as light as possible. As they stopped on the bank of the river, all along the bank were fine pieces of furniture, cabinetry and even an organ. Treasures left behind by travelers who had passed before. Family heirlooms that were so precious that they couldn’t be left behind and it no doubt broke the hearts of the people who had to just leave them there sitting in the open air on the bank of the river. Why were they there? Because they suddenly became a direct threat to the success of the journey. Hanging on to them would have meant possibly breaking through the ice, losing the wagon, the rest of the belongings and maybe even the lives of the family. These things that were once considered so valuable were now considered heavy weight and were hindering the progress. Keeping these things would have caused the travelers to fall short of the goal. They would not have made it if they didn’t dump the unnecessary weight. 

IMAG0435I remember a time several years ago when I had an experience that I will never forget. It was early one morning and I was right at that point where my eyes were not open yet but I was sort of awake. You know, that point where you are sort of teetering on the edge of sleep, when all of the sudden this thought floated up into my mind like a voice from the inside of me. ”The time is coming when this will no longer be tolerated”. First, I knew immediately what it was pertaining to, and second, I was instantly fully awake. So many times this is how God leads his people. Not by an audible voice but by a “knowing” or a conviction.

I understood what it was about. There were some things in my life that the Lord had been dealing with me about and I was over-riding my conscience about them. I was ignoring His correction. He was warning me that if I wanted to reach my full potential, I was going to have to lay them down and not pick them up again.

I began to see that many of the ministers that I have heard of that have fallen, failed and brought reproach against themselves and the ministry were in this same situation but would not listen. They would not receive correction and wound up ship wrecked with damaged credibility and diminishing influence. In some cased dying sooner than they should have. Some fell over money. Some over sexual immorality. Some over mishandling the ministry that the Lord put them over and in each case they would not judge themselves, they would not submit to correction. In some cases we have record of other ministers going to them and warning them but they would not listen. I realized that if I continued to resist instruction and over-ride correction, I was very likely to stall. 

I began to understand the importance of correction. First we need to understand that God loves us, and who He loves He corrects. Heb 12:5 (God’s Word Translation) says “You have forgotten the encouraging words that God speaks to you as his children: “My child, pay attention when the Lord disciplines you. Don’t give up when he corrects you. 6 The Lord disciplines everyone he loves. He severely disciplines everyone he accepts as his child.” 7 Endure your discipline. God corrects you as a father corrects his children. All children are disciplined by their fathers. 8 If you aren’t disciplined like the other children, you aren’t part of the family.” 

How should we think about correction? Correction is not a bad thing. God corrects us because he loves us. Realize that when He begins to convict your heart about anything at all, it’s the creator of the Universe taking a specific interest in your life and giving you instruction to help you grow up to a greater level of maturity. Correction from God should not to be feared or despised. The tiny details of your life matter to Him.

  1. We should pay attention to it. The King James says it this way “Despise not the chastening of the Lord”. We find in the Bible that to despise means to value lightly, to lightly esteem (1 Sam 2:30). When we are corrected, we need to value it & take it seriously. This is honor. The reason we are warned to pay attention is because the temptation will arise to ignore it.
  2. Don’t give up. The whole purpose for the correction is to help you move forward. Consider what would have happened to the settlers moving west if they had gotten all the way to the Mississippi and then just refused to part with the heavy stuff. Imagine thirty years later, there they are, stuck. The dream of a new life in the west fading into distant memory. In some cases, not accomplishing the life that they were born to live, all because they wouldn’t let go of the things that were weighing them down and holding them back.
  3. Understand why you’re getting it. You’re getting it because God really does love you. He wants the best for you and wants you to stay on track and stay out of the ditch.
  4. Understand how God thinks of you. If you’ve received Jesus as your Lord, He thinks of you as His child. As His child, He has the right as your father to instruct, guide and correct you. There’s no one wiser that He is. When you look to His word and it hits you right where you live, don’t ignore it. It really is for your good.
  5. Correction may come to you through an elder. You must have the humility to receive it. They may not say it in soft tones but if you’re going to grow, you can’t let hurt feelings keep you from seeing the truth of it. When you can receive it and use it and not let your feelings or pride get in the way, that shows real maturity.

God is faithful. I trust Him to help me. I’ve prayed and asked the Lord to show me where I’m being held back. I want to know. I don’t want to be deceived into thinking I’m okay in an area where I’m not. I know that in my own past I have been entirely too light on myself when it comes to what I allow. The truth is, corrections are always necessary in order to get where you want to go. Life will try to blow you off course all the time. The only way to reach any goal is to correct. If you don’t correct, you will end up somewhere but it will not be anywhere you want to be.

You be faithful too. I remember a long time ago when I quit smoking. I blew it after several days of success and I was so disappointed in myself. I remember praying and saying “Lord, I’m sorry. I don’t want to do this anymore.” Just like the morning I woke up to that thought, He caused me to realize this “The quicker you become faithful, the quicker the fruit of faithfulness will show up in your life”. The faster you respond and the more serious you take the instruction, the faster the results show up.

Correction usually means course change and that sometimes involves repentance. Hebrews 12:1 says “Since we are surrounded by so many examples of faith, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up.”

fist-1What should we do? I’ve decided to get “Bare Knuckles” with myself concerning these things. I want to get brutally honest with myself. I don’t want anything to hold me back from hitting the mark and reaching my full potential. So here’s my challenge to you. Will you go with me? Will you take the Bare Knuckles challenge? Let’s take this walk of faith together.

What steps can you and I take this week? Let’s mix it up! I want to hear from you. Maybe we can give a few minutes each evening to reflect on the day and where we may have missed it, then make a plan for the next day so that we don’t.  Please leave your comments below and that way we can help each other.