3 ways to lose relational traction in 2016

Do you want to send your relationship on a downward spiral to begin the year 2016?

If yes, here are the answers to the questions…

  1. Live in the land of “should of’s”
  2. Defend yourself by blaming
  3. Show indifference in the middle of a conversation

In reality, none of us want to send our relationships into a death spiral at any time, especially in beginning a new year. Our hope is that we begin something new and sustain it. So…in living in the “new” here is what we can do…

1. Only look back to go forward.

We can look at the past, learn from it, saying no to living in the remorse of the “should of”, taking responsibility for the circumstance, and then live forward in the present.

2. Be aware of defensiveness which leads to blaming.

Awareness is huge! Don’t ignore the Holy Spirit’s voice. Listen, He will show you defensiveness. Blaming prevents us from seeing ourselves honestly and stops us from living in humility. Blaming builds walls, grace and humility attract.

3. Indifference is a icy cold wind that drives a wedge in relationships.

Indifference can look like withdrawal, diving into the “screen” when another is trying to communicate with you, etc. Combat this with attunement; truly being present for the other person. Listening with heartfelt compassion is another way of saying it.

Happy New Year! There is more to come!

 

 

 

The Seven Choices of Exceptional Leaders

Dan Rockwell’s blog, Leadership Freak, is one of my favorites. There is so much talk about Leadership these days around organizations; schools, businesses, churches, government, etc. Dan shares some great stuff and often links you to other good men and women who have great simple realities to focus all of us. This one titled: The Seven Choices of Exceptional Leaders, is very very good. Read it today…what are your thoughts?

Stumbling with vulnerability

I think we stumble along desiring to be known, to be vulnerable, to be real, but being in control seems to trump wholeness most of the time. Control is the trump card we play, but it in itself is an illusion. So we stumble along, pretending, masking and hiding. We believe the lie that we are in control.

God gives us many examples to show us that we aren’t in control, but instead of surrendering to Him, we experience fear and find ourselves living in it. Fear kills any hope of being vulnerable and thus leads us into hiding, mask wearing and shallow living with others. Fear denies the gift that God has given us….here is what the apostle Paul says to young Timothy, a young man he mentored in his faith journey;

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

(2 Timothy 1:6, 7 ESV)

I think most often men fall into a fearful guarded life because of past relational hurts and pain. Oh, we’d never talk about it honestly, but it is real and it affects our relationships. We choose to live on the surface instead of exploring the deeper parts of our iceberg. Here is what author/pastor Max Lucado says about his experience with living through his hurt.

Look at What You Have
by Max Lucado

Linger too long in the stench of your hurt, and you’ll smell like the toxin you despise. I spent too much of a summer sludging through sludge. Oil field work is dirty at best. But the dirtiest job of all? Shoveling silt out of empty oil tanks. The foreman saved such jobs for the summer help. Thanks boss! My mom burned my work clothes. The stink stuck!

Your hurts can do the same. The better option? Look at what you have. Your hurts and pain took much, but Christ gave you more! Catalog His kindnesses. Everything from sunsets to salvation—look at what you have.

Let Jesus be the friend you need. Talk to Him. Spare no detail. Disclose your fear and describe your dread. Will your hurt disappear? Who knows? And in a sense, does it matter? You have a friend for life. What could be better than that?

from Facing Your Giants

Can you relate? Will you choose to live in the gift God has given you, the spirit of power. love and self-control? Choosing to live by the Spirit will lead you into a very different life, a life that has something to offer to this fearful world.

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Less than human

I have decided to fire up my Relational Traction blog and am going to point it towards men, however it is not for men’s eyes only. It is hard to believe that over a year has passed by since I’ve written anything here. Most of my posts have landed on our Marriage Mosaic blog and pertain to the marriage relationship. The posts here will have application in all relationships and will come from my perspective and the perspective of others whom I respect in the journey to become whole in a relationship with the living God.

Recently I was struck and now stuck on something I read in Acts of the Bible, chapter 9 and I’ve bolded it below:

Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ. When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death; but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket. When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death. But when the brethren learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus. So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase. (Acts 9:19-31 NASB)

What caught my eye is, “But Barnabas” and the fact that the disciples were afraid of Saul (apostle Paul). But Barnabas took the risk, became vulnerable and let Paul in, actually took hold of him or came alongside him. Why? Why did Barnabas take the risk? Why did he step into relationship with Saul, a guy who was having some of his friends and neighbors put to death just weeks or months ago? Hmmm?

There is a lot here to ponder, but maybe Barnabas had become fully human. See this new video by Jefferson Bethke and we will talk more about this in the coming weeks. It is good to be back in the arena where we can talk about traction in relationships. Thanks for joining me. See this link –

Image of Perfection

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We have been talking about seeking perfection and how striving for perfection will ignite our shame. What are your images of perfection? What pictures or thoughts have been placed in your mind that define perfection for you?I have wondered why at times I seek perfection and when I fall short in some way, anger easily wells up in me. Is my perfection rooted in pleasing others? Did it begin in my first relationships with parents, family and friends? As I do a little looking back, so that I can go forward, I find that there are some roots that lead me to relationships in my past, primarily with parents. 

These roots run deep and if I don’t seek healing, they will remain alive, feeding my shame and affecting relationships today. The most significant relationship for couples is our marriage. 
This perfection striving carries over to the Christian life. I see so many Christians striving to be like Jesus. Jesus has become their “image of perfection”. The truth is, He is the image of perfection, living a life among us free of sin (self-centeredness). Here is the problem with the thinking that we can become like Jesus. It isn’t possible! Christians right now after reading that statement are saying, “Whoa, what are you talking about? This is the goal of the Christian life.” 

No, I don’t think so. We can’t become more like Jesus in our own strength. We can’t work on our stuff to create His image in us. Oh you say, this isn’t the “good news” I hear about in church. That news being that I can change now to become more like Jesus because he has forgiven me and now I’m heaven-bound. 

Hmmm…sorry to say, there is something missing in that belief system. Here is the Good News…he came to free me (us) from my striving to be perfect. By placing your faith (trust) in Him, He lives in you now. All that is true about Him is true about you. You are holy, righteous (perfect in the Father’s eyes), blameless, accepted and forgiven. He desires to live through you now. 

This is huge for us in marriage. Wives don’t have to work at molding and shaping their husbands to be more loving like Jesus. Husbands don’t have to strive and stress about being perfect husbands or fathers; providing abundantly, putting on cuddly facade to appear more loving, etc., etc. etc. 

Yes, Jesus is the image of perfection for humanity, but He has given us a gift that leads to freedom, not striving and bondage. It is a gift that will free us from our shame stories. Here are two key verbs for the next blogpost;receiving and abiding. The Marriage Mosaic will begin to come together as we step into receiving and abiding. 


Andy Stanley has posted a series of 4 messages titled, Free, that explain clearly more about the gift. Take some time to listen to all 4 messages. 


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Gratefulness in the “empty cup”

It is almost Thanksgiving Day and I’m seeing so many beautiful posts on Facebook referring to thankfulness. I just read Dan Rockwell’s post in his blog, Leadership Freak. I think his story is well worth reading and shares something from a heart that turned to gratefulness. I encourage you to check it out.

This holiday in encourages us to reflect, more than any other I think…and seek in our hearts a reason to be grateful. Dan goes deeper than a superficial exploration of gratefulness…he looks to relationships. Powerful, life changing and healing!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I can’t be enough

Striving for perfection is a sure way to ignite our shame. Somehow thinking this is attainable is a death trap mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Spiritually speaking this striving leads to disillusionment with God and distance in relationships with others. 

The Superman emblem caught my attention is this graphic, as I always wanted to be like Superman. I’m talking the Superman of the 50’s and 60’s, not the new highly buffed, super-stud rendition of today. He presented a standard of perfection for me.
The reality, as Natalie Grant’s song shares, is that there is no such person, no human standard of perfection. However, if I’m not willing to be vulnerable with others, I won’t discover this truth and will continue to compare and strive to please others. I will give tons of attention to the voice of shame and be plagued by wrong beliefs and life choices. This will affect my relationships, the love of self, the ability to give and receive love, and live a life of freedom.


God offers me this life…his essence is love. There is so much confusion around this very truth. Let’s talk about all the confusion and seek some clarity.