Pride

The term “command presence” is used in the military and often describes a senior leader’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 when 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 a high level of self-confidence at some point in our lives but for some, it means thinking and acting bigger or better than they really are. There are a wide variety of labels for people who act like that.

The only thing that these types of people want to do is talk about themselves and tell of the great things they do or have done. A great example is the top sales associates who let everyone know that they are the “top dog”. However, 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 the pride given to them by others – through well-deserved praise. And yet, we’ve all seen the person who is given praise (genuinely) but continues to have low self-confidence. They’ve missed the gifts (through praise) that others have given 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 around us.

“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 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. These people 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 their doing. 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. In prayer, tell God – Thank You. It will help you keep your selfish 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

Live by the Spirit

I have been blessed to work with the same group of people for more than 10 years during these military exercises that I do. I have learned much more about myself and how to work across multiple levels of an organization than perhaps I’ve been able to share. This is the first year that we haven’t worked together so I’m a little nostalgic. I vividly recall a “lively” exchange with one of these old friends as we shared our passions when he said, “We are in violent agreement with each other”. Take a moment and re-read what I wrote – yes we were in agreement. Our discussion brought out our passion for doing a good job. It makes me wonder how many other times I get into violent agreements with people since I am such a passionate personate person.

As human beings, we need to remain in control of our emotions and maintain awareness of how we react to things. I’m not one who usually “flies off the handle” but when I get to that point, I turn into a freight train. Passion is a good thing to have in life – in love, in commitment or to help others, etc. We must guard that passion when we get emotionally involved in issues; there is a difference between a passionate and an emotional response. Self-control starts with peace, patience, kindness, goodness and gentleness as a result of faithfulness. Peace and patience allow you to remain calm in the face of the issue. Kindness and goodness remind us that someone will be on the receiving end of our self-control (or lack of it) and those interactions should be gentle. People will respect you, you’ll respect yourself and you’ll glorify God with the gifts He has given you.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:22-23, 25

There is nothing like starting a week with a little self-reflection. Have you been reacting with passion or emotion? It is good to be reminded that the fruit of the Spirit or the essence of what the Holy Spirit has given us; lives within us. We don’t have to seek these things or learn them; God has given them to us. Jesus lived His life demonstrating them, God inspired the words written in the bible; all we need to do is study and practice them. 

It’s okay to be happy (joy) and to get along with others (peace). Be patient and kind with everyone, even those who require a little extra effort. Your demonstration of goodness and gentleness are God pleasing and witness to your faith in the Word of God, above all. These fruits lead to more self-control and less frustration that will circle back to finding love, joy and peace in your life. God is amazing in how He ordered all of these “fruits” to work in support of one another in our lives. “Since we live in the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” is great advice to us for how to live our lives, especially these days! 

The Whole Story

I watched a TV documentary a couple of weeks ago about Thomas Jefferson’s bible, entitled – The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. He took the bible and physically cut it apart to assemble the New Testament in chronical order leaving out parts that show Jesus was true man and true God – the miracles and the resurrection for example. It was another glimpse into Jefferson’s world view which is not my point. For me, the idea of cutting up the bible into a shorter version is just one way that people are trying to make sense of, “what does it mean?”

Many non-denominational churches don’t want to talk about our sinful nature and our need for redemption. They’d rather focus on the help we can get from God if we are faithful in prayer and performing good works. We miss a big part of the teachings of God, through Jesus and His disciples, if we selectively pick and choose parts of the bible – we miss the whole story! My attention is drawn to the verses below since they speak to the bigger “story” of the meaning of our faith. Please read these slowly and listen to what they are saying to you. The majesty of the bible is that you can read it over and over and come away with something new each time. If you cut away pieces and parts, you will miss God speaking directly to you.

Romans 8:22-30

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

JOHN 14:23-29

 23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.

The Challenge

Its not often that I get drawn into a fad or into something that “everyone’s doing” but this weekend I witnessed an amazing “fad” and I wanted to share it. The “Ice Bucket Challenge” has been bouncing around the world on the Internet and through social media. It is really about raising awareness and money for the disease ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis leads to complete paralysis and results in death within 2-5 years of diagnosis. As of Aug. 17th, the ALS foundation has raised $13.3 million. If you haven’t heard about it, Google – Ice Bucket Challenge but as the name implies, you pour a five gallon bucket of ice water over your head and donate $10 or skip it and you’re supposed to donate $100. After you complete the challenge, you are supposed to challenge three other people. What was amazing this weekend was that a friend from NY challenged my wife. Anyone who knows Lisa knows that she accepted. At first it seemed silly but our kids got into it right a way; one went to the store to get the ice and the other got a towel. I got the ladder down and supervised the ice water making; otherwise she would have been hit with a huge block of ice. We filmed the event, posted it on Facebook along with the challenge for three other lucky people and wrote a $100 check. The amazing part was how doing this silly “stunt” energized a family into doing something special for those that needed the help. The other amazing part was that Lisa did not hesitate one second at the thought of accepting the challenge; she has such a fun spirit. What would move you?

“For those who are led by the spirit of God are the Children of God.” Romans 8:14

We often hear that we are children of God and for most of us it means that we are His. God works in our lives everyday much like a parent is at work in a child’s life. Whether its helping a toddler get dressed in the morning or talking to our adult kids after they get home from work, we are always there for them. God has the ability to do even more for us. He orders moments or people or actions in our lives that give us the ability to live to His glory. The downside is that the devil is also working to put opportunity in our lives so that we might sin. The difference is knowing which one is at work and understanding that God’s spirit in your life is most trustworthy. I have no idea what inspired the Ice Bucket Challenge but it has God’s spirit written all over it. In my wife, I saw that spirit and how it ignited a passion in our kids. There is no doubt she is led by the spirit of God everyday. This challenge was born out of God’s spirit and will undoubtedly do great things for the ALS Foundation. Can you recognize the spirit within you? Take time to find it because the world is a difficult place and letting God work in your life makes it much better.