Health for the hurting.

Dysfunctional is the new normal. Years ago being “dysfunctional” or coming from a “dysfunctional” home was not really the social norm. Now a days being dysfunctional is normal.  It is not unusual to hear another’s story that includes abuse, broken families, or a slew of other childhood baggage.

Ignoring our pain has also become normal.  We all have it. Pain that is.  It is deep in our core. It is lurking around our deepest memories waiting to show it’s ugly head. Instead of working through it we have ignored it.  We have convinced ourselves that we are over a certain pain or situation. However, every time certain situations occur we find out very quickly that thing we convinced ourselves that we were over was only being covered up.

If we are honest with ourselves we would recognize how messed up we really are. Somewhere in our minds we want to truly believe that we are healthy individuals. That our emotions, thoughts, actions, and behaviors all match up in a very positive way. The truth is that they often times do not. We struggle to control our emotions. Our thoughts often times are dark and brooding. So much so that we mask our true thoughts with good actions.

The ravages of sin are apparent. The pain, the hurt, the dead feelings we experience, and the denial of truth. All of it raging in our souls. All of it fighting to overtake us. To make matters worse not only are we fighting our own sin and pain we are also dealing with other peoples pain. We are trying to work through our own junk while others are projecting their junk on us. However, the same can be said of us as well. We project our issues and junk onto others.  In truth, we are damaged and unhealthy in our soul.

We would prefer to cover up our damage instead of finding healing. This is the most heartbreaking news. To hide damage and convince ourselves, and others, that we are really okay, but in reality we are not okay. We need healing in our soul.

Soul Health, also known as emotional health, should be the goal we push towards. To work towards finding healing so that we can operate at the potential that God has placed in us. In reality, if we are not healthy then we will continually sabotage our lives and potential. That has to be one of the hardest things to swallow for me. To know I am full of potential, but I can potentially destroy my ability to obtain it, because of the sickness in my soul.

Emotional health is a word that is used often with no definition. So let me define it for you. Emotional health is not the absence of emotions, but it is your ability to understand the value of your emotions and use them to move your life forward in positive directions. The more emotional health you have, the more self-esteem you have. This means you do not frequently react with knee jerk responses, anxiety or panic to the events that occur in your life.  Instead, you are usually calm and patient with yourself and others. You are an emotionally safe person to be around because you feel emotionally secure.

Emotionally healthy people do not judge or criticize others. This is because they have learned not to judge and criticize themselves. Emotional healthy people are able to erect strong boundaries in their lives and not feel insecure about them.

Emotionally healthy people know the value of relationships and do all they can to grow and maintain them. Emotionally healthy people are able to be vulnerable. Emotionally healthy people are able to maintain emotional security in the face of others unhealthy expressions of their brokenness.

We must push towards emotional health. The greater level of soul health the great our contentment with this life.  The reason many of us are so miserable is because our pain continually drags us down. Let me give you a few things that may help you on your journey towards emotional health.

1. Recognize that you need healing.

The hardest step is admitting that you need help. To admit that we need help is to admit that we are not as whole or as good as we want to believe.  Admitting you need help takes courage (lots of it) and vulnerability. Especially when you realize that everything you are going through is truly caused by your responses. Sure others have a part to play in the issue, but you are the master of your response not them.

Let me give you a word of caution. Sometimes our soul is so damaged that we cannot see that we are the problem.  If the same issues are happening over and over no matter where you are at then you are the problem. Let that sink in. You are the source of the problem. Once we can accept that we can move on with our healing.

What is revealed can be healed. Recognizing your weak spot is the key to your inner healing. Once you are aware of your need for healing then you can get on with your healing. If we don’t come to a place of recognition of our need for healing then we will never find the healing that we need.

2. Accept that God is the only one who can heal us.

Time doesn’t heal all wounds. God heals all wounds. God uses time. However, we must always remember that it is God who heals and not time. I think this is tough for us to grasp. We hope and pray that time will cover and heal, but all time does is gives us distance from the pain. The greater the distance the more we can ignore it.

God wants you healed more then you do. I think we forget this. God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to die for us. In the crucifixion we can understand that healing is involved in God’s plan for salvation. Not only has God given us access to heaven (ultimate healing), but he also wants us to experience healing (inner healing) in this life. God has sacrificed everything for us.  His desire for us is great then we can comprehend. If God was willing to sacrifice Jesus then we have to know that He is willing to do whatever it takes to bring about our healing.

When we take it out of God’s hands we lose the power needed to find healing. So many of us have the “I can do it” attitude. We think that we don’t need anyone. That God is there as a spectator and not a participator. When we live our life from this perspective then we are left powerless and unable to find healing. God is the creator and sustainer of all life. Through Him we can find healing. God is not a spectator and desires to participate in our lives.

3. Recognize that we have a part in our healing.

God is the healer. There is no greater truth. God expects you and I to take responsibility in the healing process. No one else can do it for you. The greater the degree we own our healing the greater the level of healing we can achieve.

God uses different methods. The interesting thing with Jesus is that you couldn’t pin Him down to a method. He had progressive healing, instant healing, and healed through others. There was consistency in healing, but there was no consistency in the method. Sometimes Jesus spit in people’s eyes and other times He just prayed. The method shifted, but the results (healing) was going to happen.

Our response and ownership of God’s methods can enact or deny our healing. We are naturally rebellious. We don’t want to do anything we haven’t deemed adequate.  We see this best in the story of Naaman. He went to the prophet Elisha with a contagious skin disorder.  Elisha told him to wash in a  certain river. Naaman refused, and was not healed. Then Naaman was c convinced to bath in the river. Naaman was healed. When we  obey God’s ways we will find healing. When we ignore God’s ways we will not find healing.

4. Take practical steps towards that healing.

a. Keep a journal.  One of the most therapeutic methods to find healing is journalling. When I journal I do it prayerfully. Armed with an attitude of prayer I can write my pain and allow my words to intersect with God’s Spirit. This simple act can produce powerful results.

b. Reach out to close friends. You can’t do life alone. We all have to have someone to talk to. I am not saying talk to everyone. That would be unwise. I am saying to find 1 or 2 people that you can trust. If you say “I cannot trust anyone” then that statement should be an indication of how unhealthy you are. We all need to trust someone. We are not an island, but a community.  We all need someone.

c. Don’t be afraid to see a counselor. There is this running fear of counselors. They are trained professionals with the tools we need to move forward. We have to get over our fear and realize God uses doctors. Luke, The Bible writer, was a doctor. If Luke was a doctor, and he wrote a Gospel book, what makes you think God won’t use one now? If you are hitting a wall in your healing then I HIGHLY suggest you see a trained professional.

d. Pray.  Continually stay in contact with the ONE who made you. When we stay in contact with the creator then He can lead the created (us) into the path of healing. With every step we make we have to pray. When choosing friends, doctors, or methods of journaling we need to pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Then pray some more.

Over the next several post I am going to chronicle the difference types of emotionally challenged people. I am also going to help define some ways to overcome each type.

I would love your thoughts! Post a comment! Follow us on Social Media!

Blessings

Jim

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Are you a problem finder or a problem solver?

Problems are all around us. You don’t have to look hard to find them. When you go to McDonald’s you can quickly experience what poor customer service is like. That is a problem. Every time I go shopping at Walmart I can never find anyone to help me! That is a problem. When I try to play my Playstation 3 and the system goes out. That is a big problem. No matter what context you are in you can find problems all around you. The world is full of problems. You don’t have to look very hard to find them. This poses a question. Are you an individual known for your ability to discover issues, or are you a leader who is known for being a problem solver.

Leaders recognize problems, but focus on solutions. I heard it said once that you will be known by the problems you create and the problems you solve. Leaders are problem solvers. Leaders recognize that there are problems. They don’t waste energy or time hunting for them, but they deal with them as they come up.  The leaders focus is on solving the problem and not just finding them. Why is this important? Because there will ALWAYS be problems. We don’t like hearing that problems will always exist.  However, there are a GREAT number of people who thrive on finding problems. Leaders are a different breed they recognize problems, but focus on solutions.

What separates the leaders from the others is very simple. All the leader’s time and energy goes into the solution and not the discovery. You can waste a lot of time and energy being a problem hunter. You can be effective and impact the lives of people by being a problem solver. If I spent all my energy discovering what’s wrong then I would have no energy left to do anything about it. When I am unwilling to do anything about it people will not be willing to follow me as a leader. People will give you room and space to work on it. People will even be able to accept a change in direction or a refocusing on the issue. People will not be so forgiving if they perceive you don’t care. Problem solvers care about impact. Impact come when my time and focus is on the solution.

Critical people focus on locating what is wrong, and rarely (If ever) mention what is right within the organization. Leading an organization has been an interesting journey. I have had the pleasure to engage with some of the most fascinating people. Their personalities have ranged from dominate to passive, submissive to controlling, constructive to critical, or humble to proud. I have had the pleasure to engage with so many wonderful people. What I have noticed to be true is that the more critical a person is the more problems they seem to find. Rarely will you hear these individuals mention the good things that are happening. The focus is always on what is wrong. If they are jaded in the criticism then they will believe they are right and their idea is the best idea. This can be dangerous. A person who is convinced that they are right will fight hard to make you KNOW that they are right. This person has the potential to cause more problems and make the problems that are present worse than they should be.

To the leader a problem represents a challenge to grow and be innovative. It is easier to be frustrated then it is to be innovative. When things don’t go the way we think they should we become frustrated. Frustration is not always a bad thing. The greatest inventions known to man were invented because people were frustrated with the way things were. A church or an organization that isn’t innovating isn’t experiencing growth.

To the leader a problem isn’t a problem. To the leader problems are challenges to help you get better at what you do. To the leader problems are challenges to push the limits of your creativity. To the leader problems are invitations into doing something new. This should be an exciting time of growth. It can be scary and cause anxiety, but the end results outweigh the initial feelings. Keep pressing.

To the critical individual a problem represents something that has to be fixed by someone else.  I cannot begin to tell you how often I am told that I need to fix the problem. It is assumed that because I am the guy in change that I have to fix every problem or be involved in everything. The truth is as a leader I have to trust those who lead along side of me. If leaders are appointed to places of leadership then they are given a sacred trust that they are competent enough to use wisdom when handling issues.

A critical individual doesn’t see it this way. They see everything that is wrong with a place. They believe that everything that is wrong is the result of someone else. They never believe that they could be part of the problem. This leads them to the conclusion that everyone else has to implement their idea, because the leader isn’t competent enough to do the job.  This is a sad place to be in. This means that there is no real trust. Without trust you cannot truly lead.

You shouldn’t strive to be both. I have had people tell me that they are both a problem solver and a problem finder. I chuckle every time I hear this. I don’t think it works that way. Leaders are discerning enough to notice a problem, but they wise enough not to go looking for them. Leaders work hard to create systems that hopefully take care of problems before they start. Obviously problems arise. However, leaders don’t waste the time or energy looking for everything that is wrong with an organization. If you are someone who is a problem hunter then I would ask you to allow God to check your heart. I am convinced that people who seek out problems are prone to be people who are emotionally unhealthy with a bend towards critical judgmental ways.

Any solution is better than no solution.  You will deal with problems for the rest of your life.  Don’t be discouraged by this. Realize that it is an opportunity to grow. It is an opportunity to shine. Every problem has a solution. Any solution is better than no solution. I would rather have someone come to me with a bad idea instead of no idea. This shows me two things. #1 It shows me that they took the time and effort to think through the issue. #2 It shows me that they may not have the experience or knowledge to overcome the problem, but they gave it what they had! Both reasons supper encourage me. It tells me that the person in front of me WANTS to be a leader. They want to make the organization better. That they had the courage to step out of their comfort zone and try. That is the makings of a leader who desires to be developed. I will give my time freely to people who deeper desire to grow and are teachable.

Strive towards emotional health. This is huge for me. I am someone devoted to being emotionally healthy. For example, If I give some solutions to a problem and the solutions are not taken then I won’t be offended. The best idea wins, and I don’t always have the best idea. I am ok with that. I don’t hold people emotionally hostage if they don’t use my idea. That is being emotional healthy.

This may sound harsh, but people who are prone to be over emotional, critical, easily offended, or judgmental are not fit to lead.  True leadership must come from a place of humility and emotional health.

I don’t expect people to be perfect. I do expect people to push to be healthy. I said in a previous post that Jesus would rather you be healed then lead damaged. That truth still stands. We are all broken people tasked with doing a job that is way too big for us. Thank God we have Him! He guides us, heals us, and helps us reach our potential! Lead well my friends. Lead well.

If you are reading this then there is a strong possibility you are a leader. Strive to be a Problem solver. Your impact in the world will be a whole lot bigger.

The Influence of a Leader….

When we think of leaders our thoughts often drift to the dominate type A eutrapenqorial leader. You know the type. The ones who have the strength of will, competence, and seemingly bottomless pit of courage to move forward. The person who can be offensive, aggressive, and dominate. The person who people naturally follow because of their level of confidence and command for people’s attention. Even though this description fits a lot of leaders it is not the only type of leader. A little more shocking is that being this type of person doesn’t automatically make you a leader. Sometimes being a type A can come off as an overbearing individual that some people try to stay away from.  Leadership isn’t about a type. It is about Influence.

“Leadership is influence. Nothing more and nothing less. The true measure of leadership is influence.” That was a quote shared by John C. Maxwell years ago. At the time I first read this I didn’t really believe it. I thought leadership was more then that. I thought that I needed to be the type A leader to truly be the leader. I am not a strong type A leader, but I am a leader. Over the last few months I have come to a place in my life where I see the truth of how leadership is nothing more and nothing less then influencing another person to follow you.

Influence defined is the ability to have an effect on the development, behavior, or character of another person. Henry Blackaby says, “Leadership influence is moving people off their agenda and onto God’s Agenda.”  That is the heart of any spiritual leader. To influence people in such a positive way that they can leave their own agenda and move onto God’s agenda for their lives.

The currency of influence is trust. The more people trust you the more influence you will have and the more people will allow you to lead them. When you lose influence you lose the right to lead people. If you cannot influence people you will find that you are a leader in name only and not in reality. According to John Maxwell positional leadership is the lowest level of leadership. Sadly, many of our current leaders never make it past this level of leadership. They are continually stuck in this level because of pride or just plain immaturity.

Losing trust is easy. People can forgive a lot of things, but there are a couple things people have trouble overlooking. Especially if they are a regular part of your life. If you are a person who is prone to being critical, judgmental, incompetent, uncaring, demanding, defensive, condescending, and lacks compassion then you are a person who will find it hard to gain influence. You could contain all the above qualities or just some of them. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. If you are a person who comes off as a jerk then your level of leadership will always remain in the lower levels. The only ones you will have any influence with are the ones you are closest with. This can be dangerous. An immature leader can look at their close friends and say they are a leader, but in reality they fail to lead on a greater level.

Let me be balanced here for a moment. Everyone of us is prone to the above list. Everyone of us has to work through our hurts, pains, and fears or we will allow the above list to rule our lives. However, if you are a person who has the above list in your life regularly then you may have a few people you will influence, but the likelihood of having a greater impact is very small. Remember, Jesus is about impact (Transforming people’s lives). Our immaturity and pride can serverly limit what God can do through us. He wants you to lead at greater levels. He needs you to work leading yourself before he will allow you to lead others effectively. It all boils down to a question. Can people trust you? Gaining trust is hard. Losing it is very easy.

We live in a world were trust is a precious commodity that is very hard to come by. People have been taken advantage of, hurt, or a slew of other situations. People who put their trust in you is a big step for them. Honor it, protect it, and cherish it. Trust comes and goes quickly. If you show that you care, are compassionate towards people, help people in times of need, are there for people, listen more then you speak, and are willing to humbly receive the gift that people offer you then you will gain their trust. The more consistent you are in caring for people the deeper they trust you. The more they trust you the more influence you gain. The more influence you gain the greater you can lead people.

The goal is leading people to the place God has asked you to bring them. I have heard it said that even an introvert will influence over 100,000 people in the course of their lifetime. So if you are not a type A leader or an extrovert then there is hope. Allow God to give you the courage to speak up. Allow God to mold and shape you into the person you know deep down that you can be. In that place you will learn to lead well.

For you type A leaders there is hope for you as well. You are already dispositioned to lead. Allow God to mature you into a leader after His own heart. Realize, even though people don’t say it, you can be a jerk and very unloving. The reason for this varies from leader to leader. However, the solution is the same. Jesus wants to work in you a great work so that He can work it through you. He wants to mature you in your emotional foundation and develop your gifting. Be humble and allow God to work. Don’t automatically assume you know what is best. Understand that God has people who will speak into your life and cut off the deadness of your heart. It’s a painful work, but a needed one. Leadership is a godly and good goal. One I think the Lord honors.

Let me close with this simple thought. Leadership is a sacred responsibility and not to be taken lightly. We need to strive to be the best leader we can be!

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