When I was a child…

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” 1Co 13:11

Have you ever met anyone that is a full fledged grown up in age, but has not been able to put ways of childhood behind them, someone stuck in time, paralyzed, lost in the world?  Of course you have. They are everywhere.  If you haven’t, you likely are that person. I was.

I remember when I became a man.  It wasn’t when I turned 18.  It wasn’t when I moved out, or paid rent on my own for the first time.  It wasn’t even when I got my first real job, or had my first long term relationship.

When I was 23 years old I remember how I viewed the world in great detail. I had been burned, had a serious attitude toward life and justified it vigorously.

There were three principles that were most important to me.

  1. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. Take what you can get.
  2. You can only really trust yourself, everyone else will always let you down.
  3. It’s my life, I will live it how I want! Get off my back!

These three principles became my hiding place in my early adulthood.  They gave me direction (pleasure seeking), protected me from harm (other people) and made me the king of my world (It’s all about Me).  I was a pretty good thinker so I was able to stave off any threat that came along with my witt and ability to argue.  My guards were up and I was a self-preservation machine.  My artistic and deceptive skills allowed me to create a ficade of my life.  I wore whatever mask I needed at the time, and became what I needed, to get what I wanted.  Reality was something to mold, twist and make a slave out of.  Perception was reality, and deception was the way to change reality.

The Crash

And then it all caught up to me at once.  My nightmare fantasy world came crashing down in a pile of rubble.  Like waking up from a dream or experiencing sight for the first time, I realized that the earth didn’t really revolve around me. It was the greatest most painful loss, and at the same time the biggest sense of relief.

I took a long hard honest look at my life for the first time ever. I was ambarrassed and ashamed of the blindspots that everyone else already knew. I was the last to find out. I had been exposed.

I confronted myself, and here is what I discovered were the values I had come to embrace:

  • I must let nothing be my fault as to remain blameless.
  • I must allow myself a way out of any situation in case it gets difficult.
  • I must hold everyone accountable for how they have hurt me.
  • I must expect all those who have caused my problems to pay for their actions.
  • I must be strong and not show any weakness.
  • I must be in control of the situation, or be controlled by the situation.
  • I must convince everyone of my impressiveness so they will respect me.
  • I must expect grace for my actions, and justice for everyone elses.
  • I must hide my flaws so no one can criticize or look down on me.
  • I must not think about my problems or acknowledge they exist, then they won’t.

I realized that I was eating and drinking and being marry to avoid committing to anything.  Committment requires responsibility.  I didn’t trust anyone, because that would mean I needed to be a person that could be trusted, and trustworthiness required responsibility.  I was living life how I wanted because I didn’t want to be held accountable.  Accountability requires responsibility.  I was avoiding responsibility in most every way.

My worldview was leading me astray.  It was causing me to be a person I desparately didn’t want to be.  Somehow it was all backwards.  The Apostle Paul writes in “Rom 7:15  “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

I realized that the worldview that I had embraced, that I thought was serving me, was actually waging war against my soul.  It became clear to me that seeking to serve my own needs left all my needs unmet.  Placing myself as the center of the universe led to me being on the outside looking in.

It was that day that I put the ways of childhood behind me, I became a man. I was about to begin a brand new life of adulthood.

Because Jesus Christ took 100% responsibility for my sin, I was able to became 100% responsible for my life.  Not only my actions and bahavior, but also my thoughts and emotions.  No longer was I going to allow my circumstances to control my thoughts and keep me in emotional imaturity.  For the first time it wasn’t about self-preservation, pride or impressiveness.

I discovered a different set of principles to live by:

  • I must make no excuses for my actions, thoughts and sins.
  • I must embrace reality (truth) and live by it, rather than distorting it.
  • I must committ myself fully to people and responsibilities given to me.
  • I must forgive everyone who hurt me and expect nothing in return.
  • I must be transparent and humble. For when I am weak, I am strong.
  • I must be responsible for only what I can control, and patient with what I cannot control.
  • I must earn respect through putting others needs before my own.
  • I must expose my sin, purge it from my life and experience freedom.
  • I must live fully accountable for my actions.
  • I must face my fears and perservere through the obsticles holding me back.
  • I must surrender in order to have victory.

 Give me a call, let’s chat. 319.930.1045 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Judge a Book By its Color

I just spent four wonderful days at the International Maxwell Certification Conference in Orlando Fla.  The leaders of the John Maxwell Team and Johns Leadership teaching are a magnet for quality individuals.  There were 2600 people from all over the world and I didn’t meet one I didn’t like (and I met lots).  Many dozens if not a hundreds countries were represented.  Every kind of clothing from 3 piece suits, cowboy boots, bright African colors and even high-top sneakers were on display, even a guy wearing a kilt. There was a mutual respect among everyone there.  I made a few friends from around the world that I really connected with. 

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After a few days connecting with dozens of people from every corner of the earth, I saw on a TV in the background some news commentators discussing the Charlottesville incident.   It hit me, I realized that not one person in any discussion I was part of all weekend had talked about racism .  That was so refreshing to me.  I get so tired of the media and Facebook crowd bringing so much bad attention to it (angry or bleeding heart).  I really like Morgan Freeman’s take on it.  He was asked in an interview what the answer to racism is, and he said “Stop talking about it”.  I am so glad that is exactly what happened at my conference.  Maybe everyone should try it.  Morgan would have fit in well.

I have done some thinking about that over the past few days and have come up with a few observations that I wanted to share.

Now I don’t deny that racism is real, active and a huge concern in our country, but I believe that so many people of all color are actively pointing their fingers, maybe in the wrong directions. I believe that a very small percentage of people are responsible for a very large percentage of the problem on both sides.  It seems to be causing unnecessary division among great people who do not deserve to be dragged into the fight.  These are people only in the fight in by association because others are pointing at their skin color, no other reason. When we generalize about like people, it covers everyone and it spills over onto innocent people who aren’t asking to be part of it.

The distinction we need to be making is not between color or ethnicity.  It’s a more of a matter of character beliefs based on ones worldview. We need to slice it horizontally and not vertically. It’s a degree of character, not a degree of color. Last weekend showed me that when you get large groups of people of high character together with a common value for human life, race doesn’t seem to matter much.  There is a freedom to enjoy company, share ideas and learn about other interesting culture. We don’t have to question motives because of an infectious idea. A common bond of unity can only come when we view the world through the eyes of a common Creator who created us in his image.  Ideas have consequences, so we need better ideas if we want better character development.

It also seems that when people with a common disregard for human dignity get together in opposition with people of other races with similar questionable values, the chances of tensions rising goes way up.   People of lower character beliefs come in every color, age, gender, religion, economic class and level of education.

Poor character beliefs is a HUMAN trait based on a bad worldview, not a racial, economic, social, political or national trait.  Poor character comes naturally, high character come from intentional growth.

People of poor character are drawing far too much attention and making the rest of their ethnic group (all colors) look bad by generalizing and assuming.  A thief believes that everyone steals.  A cheater believes that everyone cheats and a person who discriminates believes everyone discriminates. Good people see the good in people, bad people see the bad in people.  So, if you believe everyone discriminates, you may be one of them!  

A much smaller number of people are projecting the problem to be wider than it really is by limiting everyone else to their own inside the box, views, and assumptions.

The idea’s and beliefs that each of us hold about the world and what is true determines how we see people.  The choice to love others or hate others is your choice and yours alone.  No one can cause you to hate unless you choose to.  No, exceptions.  Character is shaped by what we choose to believe.  Poor character IS the problem, and DOES separate us. Color is NOT the problem and doesn’t have to separate us.  We need to know the difference and focus on fixing character rather than fixing other colors.

The next time someone discriminates against you for any reason, know that it is the ignorance in them that is causing it, and not the color of their skin.

Don’t judge a book by its color, get to know the author of all colors.