Pride

In the fire service we use a term called “command presence”, which is a product of our para-military history. It is used in the military to describe senior leaders. We use it to describe an officer’s ability to lead without opening their mouth and when they do speak, people want to listen. They stand confidently, look at people who are speaking; they walk with a certain rhythm that is smooth but not arrogant and you are confident following them. I’ll admit that it’s a little ambiguous and open for interpretation but I hope that I illustrated the point. The challenge when judging if a person has a command presence is being able to separate it from over confidence or cockiness. We all need to be sure of ourselves at some point in our lives; for some it means thinking and acting bigger or better than they really are. We have a wide variety of labels for those people.

They want to talk about themselves and what great things they do. Others will have the skills/abilities to back up their confidence. These are the top sales associates who let everyone know that they are. We all love the person who is confident enough to lead others but humble enough to keep it in check. Pride is a double-edged sword. I’d like to suggest that people get their pride filled in two ways – artificially created in their own minds (writing checks with their mouths that they cannot cash) or it’s given to them by others, through well-deserved praise. And yet, we’ve all seen the person who is given praise (genuinely) and yet they have low self-confidence. They seem to miss the gifts (through praise) that others give them. Like all good double-edged swords, pride can be the source of great strength or it can cut us deeply. We have two roles when dealing with our own command presence – be confident enough to be effective and humble enough to build up those that need it.

“A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.” Proverbs 29:23

When God talks about pride that man has, He is really looking at man’s reaction to the gifts that he has received. The top sales associate will always talk about how hard they worked, how they beat the competition, how creative they got to sell the client or simply how great they are. This makes a man low in God’s eyes. They are focused on worldly attributes without any consideration to who gave them those gifts and opportunities. When things go bad, they want to blame God but when the “world is their oyster” it was all them. God tells us through David that we have it all wrong.

A man in lowly spirit (without pride) gains honor. This is not to mean that we shouldn’t be proud of what we’ve done or confident in our abilities, it means that we should remember who gave us the power to achieve these things. God is at work in our lives every day and we should never forget that. When we pray, we should be thankful for all that He has done. Most of us only “talk” to God in prayer when we are asking for help or need something. Tell God – Thank You. It will help you keep your pride in check. If you are not sure that you’re good enough (low self-esteem) remind yourself that God is with you and that you are glorifying Him in all that you do

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You Can’t Fail

I’d like to end 2015 with a great reminder and another departure from my standard format. Let’s start this week with the verse that is very appropriate for both the Christmas holiday that just past and the start of a new year.

“God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.” 2 Corinthians 5:19

This is why we had Christmas – so God could reconcile with the world. His people, born of sin, could not be with Him in eternal life unless we had a savior. This is great news. But think about what this verse means for you in 2016. God is NOT counting your sins against you! Sin is not measured by severity. It is all sin and we can’t stop ourselves from doing it. Just as we think we are living really good lives and following the commandments, we are still sinning. If you become so confident that your “godly life” is more pleasing to God – you’re sinning. The complaining that you do about your boss or that one family member – you’re sinning. We can’t help it!

There is an old saying, “what would you do if you knew that you couldn’t fail?” We can be so afraid of our selves or our lives that we stop trying. For some people, this fear can be paralyzing. They are afraid to try things or explore new ideas because they are afraid to fail. Others will get so down on themselves because of sin that they give up on getting to know God. They’ll say “God could never forgive me what I’ve done”. God has already forgiven them, you and me! Our sins have been erased through our faith in Jesus Christ; He took them all to hell and left them with the devil. Sin has no place in our lives. God does not and will not count them against us because He loves us as any Father would love His children.

Start 2016 confidently and don’t worry about sin being the anchor in your life. We are all special people in God’s eyes, so go strongly and confidently into 2016; like you can’t fail. Trust in God, rely on Him for guidance and strength and see what happens. Happy New Year!

 

Don’t Be Afraid

Courage is a pretty powerful word. Not everyone has it to the same degree and some people don’t even have it. I think it takes courage to jump out of an airplane or ride a looping roller coaster – I won’t do either. Some people say that firefighters have courage to go into a burning building or enter hazardous conditions – I would do both. I suppose that all of this means that we are each held back by different things. We are held back by fear, in most cases, a fear of the unknown. A new job, a new city and a new friend, a new challenge or facing those things that we already know we fear; they are scary. Many of us would like to quit our jobs and live a life much different than we do today. So why don’t we? Fear. Sometimes fear can stop us from taking chances at work. For example, we don’t speak up when we have an idea that could change things or that might be innovative because we’re afraid to look foolish. I would suggest that fear of the unknown is probably the top reason why people don’t take chances. They simply don’t know how things will turn out so they keep it safe and do what is comfortable. When you stop and think about all of the chances that some pretty famous people took, our lives would be much different without people like Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. They faced fears and took chances. There’s an old saying, “what would you do if you knew that you couldn’t fail?” Would your life be different? I challenge everyone this week to do or try one thing that pushes your comfort level, just a little. Nothing drastic, just push out a little and see what happens.

“…Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. Exodus 14:13

Moses made this comment to the Israelites as he was trying to reassure them when they were afraid and pushing forward. This advice, even from the Old Testament, works today. Do not be afraid and put your trust in God. This world is so very different today when compared to 20 or 30 years ago let alone thousands of years ago. Today, we have so many things to be afraid of: ISIS, Ebola, the economy, diseases, identity theft, computer hacking and Washington Politicians. I wonder how we even function on a daily basis. Stand firm in your faith! God will bring you deliverance and peace when you share your fears with Him. Stay in His word to learn all of the promises that He has made to you. God tells us over and over how He will protect us. Do not be afraid. Reach out your hands and feel God’s presence in your life and then, go forward knowing that He is with you. Our fears are made up in our minds, and we should be confident that we aren’t alone. God is with you today and everyday so stand tall and take a chance on Him to bring you the deliverance you need from your fears.

Having Confidence

Father’s Day was yesterday; I hope that every one of the “dads” enjoyed it. Men have a funny way of expressing this day to each other, especially if you compare it to how women express Mother’s Day to each other. Men will simply nod and smile to each other if it comes up and if we don’t mention it, well, that’s okay too. When it comes to celebrating the day, we’re okay with simplicity. No brunches or special events. A good, or should I say smart, man will treat Mother’s Day much differently. Men are providers, we are “fixers”, we will just do our thing and keep moving. A father’s role is different and so is his reaction to any celebration. Few men seek accolades and often don’t know how to respond to someone who offers them. I notice that women love the attention of a restaurant staff lead birthday song but watch a man and he’ll slowly slide under the table. We’re just funny that way I guess. This isn’t about the differences between men and women; it’s more about how we react to things. The “fixer” in us wants to perfectly plan a course for our lives and then follow it to the letter. When things don’t go according to plan, we lose hope and get frustrated. As men, we view our role as being there for everyone else but when we are the ones that need fixing, we throw our arms up and scream: “why do I bother!” The simple answer is that we bother because we are, by nature, fixers. Next time you feel like things aren’t going as planned or when you don’t have control over the direction (whether you are male or female), just remember, it always eventually works out.

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

Being confident in all things is often known as being arrogant or cocky. No one likes someone who is arrogant; they are hard to be around. Having confidence on the other hand, is being sure of your self. The words, being and having, change the value of the word confidence. “Confidence” is more valuable to others when you have it rather than being it. Overall, I have confidence in my decisions and understanding of municipal government, which allows me to speak with authority. What is giving St. Paul this confidence? Why is he “being” confident? Verse 5 says “because of your [Philippians] partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,” St. Paul is being confident that they have found favor in God’s eyes. He is expressing his confidence (having confidence) that God will not abandon them and will carry them forward until the coming of Christ Jesus. St. Paul isn’t “being”, he is “having” confidence in the Word of God. How do we obtain that level of confidence? Being in God’s Word and accepting that salvation is found in Jesus Christ. Reading the bible gives us an understanding of the plan that men try so hard to control. God is THE “fixer”, He not only orders things in this life, He fixed our relationship with Him for all eternity. He sent us a savior to fix our inability not to sin. Do you have the confidence to go through life knowing that God is at work in it? I do.

Command Presence

In the fire service we use a term called “command presence”, which I’m sure is a product of our para-military history. We use it to describe an officer’s ability to lead without opening their mouth and when they do speak, people want to listen. Leaders with strong command presence stand confidently, look at people who are speaking; they walk with a certain rhythm that is smooth but not arrogant and you are confident following them. I’ll admit that it’s a little ambiguous and open for interpretation but I hope that I illustrated the point. The challenge when judging if a person has a command presence is being able to separate it from over-confidence or cockiness. We all need to be sure of ourselves at some point in our lives; for some it means thinking and acting bigger or better than they really are. Society has a wide variety of labels for these people. They want to talk about themselves and what great things they do. Others will have the skills/abilities to back up their huge self-confidence. These are the top sales associates who let everyone know that they are the best. We all love the person who is confident enough to lead others but humble enough to keep it in check. Pride is a double-edged sword. I’d like to suggest that people get their pride filled in two ways – artificially created in their own minds (writing checks with their mouths that they cannot cash) or it’s given to them by others, through well-deserved praise. And yet, we’ve all seen the person who is given praise (genuinely) and yet they have low self-confidence. They seem to miss the gifts (through praise) that others give them. Like all good double-edged swords, pride can be the source of great strength or can cut us deeply. We have two roles when dealing with our own command presence – be confident enough to be effective and humble enough to build up those that need it.

“A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.”  Proverbs 29:23

When God talks about the pride that a man has, He is really looking at that man’s reaction to the gifts that he has received from God. The top sales associate will always talk about how hard they worked, how they beat the competition, how creative they got to sell the client or simply how great they are. This type of pride makes a man low in God’s eyes. They are focused on worldly attributes without any consideration to who gave them those gifts and opportunities. When things go bad, these types of people want to blame God but when the “world is their oyster” it was all them. God tells us through David that we have it all wrong. A man in lowly spirit (without pride) gains honor. This is not to mean that we shouldn’t be proud of what we’ve done or confident in our abilities, it means that we should remember who gave us the power to achieve these things. God is at work in our lives every day and we should never forget that. When we pray, we should be thankful for all that He has done for us. Most of us only “talk” to God in prayer when we are asking for help or need something. Imagine never hearing “thank you” when you did something for someone or gave them a gift. You wouldn’t stay connected to them very long. Tell God – Thank You. It will help you keep your pride in check. If you are not sure that you’re good enough (low self-esteem) remind yourself that God is with you and that you are glorifying Him in all that you do. My wife has said, “God doesn’t make junk”. We all have important parts to play in His plan, see your role and go on confidently.