we have a choice in how we respond

What controls how you respond to circumstances? Your emotions or your beliefs?

You know, we do have a choice in how we respond to the ever changing circumstances of life.

Make that choice!

who or what are you allowing to define you?

Michigan cherry groveHave you ever heard the phrase “They drank the Kool-Aid”? It is a trite phrase that refers to a tragic event many years ago where people mindlessly committed suicide while blindly following a demented leader. In today’s usage it is about people who blindly, or naively, accept (and sometimes come to believe) all aspects of a party line, ideological position, Fox or MSNBC, corporate culture, a certain leader’s viewpoints, or what “society” expects. They lose their unique identity in that of the larger group and stop thinking for themselves and stop behaving in accordance with their core beliefs (if they even know their core beliefs).

People are social creatures, we want to be be accepted by others. We want the approval of others and we want to be a part of the group, team, company, party, or community. Sometimes so much so, that we become someone who we aren’t. We change our behaviors, we mouth the “by-line” of whatever organization we belong to, or want to belong to, as some sort of mystical mantra. We work hard to find out the cultural norms of the organization or community and then we do our best to adapt to them. All the time losing little pieces of who we are – who we were designed to be. We believe that we have to conform to succeed (whatever that might mean). We allow others to define who we should be or how we should act, or even how we should believe.

In some areas of society such as higher education or the public square, you are labeled intolerant, bigoted, ignorant, or hateful if you express an opinion that does not conform to what is politically correct at the time. While we may recognize that type of overt or blatant pressure/reaction in the public square, the same thing is going on in a more subtle manner in the various institutions or groups we belong to. In subtle ways, we learn what is acceptable and what will earn us disapproval. We accept the leader’s sayings as “gospel” – as truth itself and fail to question the truth and wisdom of the sayings as well as the motivation behind them.

The thing is, we are beautifully unique creations made in the image of the living God. We have a source of Truth that we can go to to test what any man or woman says to us is truth. In fact, we have an obligation to test what we are told. In addition to that, if you are an American or a citizen of a free country, you are a free person and not required to “bend the knee” to any other individual, no matter how powerful or influential. We have the Source of Truth, we have political freedom, and we have our own minds that we must learn to use.

The first step is knowing what you believe and why you believe it. You must know what is Truth. You must decide what are your core beliefs – where is/are the line(s) you will not cross no matter the situation? You must determine how you will react when your core beliefs are challenged for they will be – you can count on that happening. You will need to count the cost and be prepared to pay that cost. It may be a broken relationship, exclusion from a group or community, or the loss of a job. However, it is your responsibility to know what you believe and why you believe it and to determine how that lines up with Truth.

Yes, we need wise people in our lives whom we often heed, we need to be willing to have our thinking challenged by others, we need to be ready to change what we think/believe when we are confronted with Truth that is contrary to what we are thinking. A caution – no person is wise all the time. Sometimes very smart and wise people say or do foolish things. So, it is up to you to check what you are told against Truth – never blindly accept what you are told.

Seek Truth – for me as a Christian, that Truth is found in the Word of God, the Bible. It is an external, objective standard of truth. It is what I use to measure what I am being told by others.

Learn to think for yourself and to measure your thinking (and others) against the standard of Truth. Learn to think for yourself and not just being a “herd animal” blindly repeating the mantras of some leader or talking head on TV. Try being counter-cultural for a bit and define yourself according to Truth and not by how others define you.


Quote from Warren Bennis

Quote from Warren Bennis

Great quote from Warren Bennis from Susan Cain’s Facebook page

Know Thyself

“‘Know thy God’: [1 Chronicles 28:9] rather than ‘Know Thyself’ is the categorical imperative of the biblical man. There is no self-understanding without God-understanding.” – Abraham Joshua Heschel

Cherry blossoms in Washington DC
Cherry blossoms in Washington DC

“Good leaders learn their specific personal strengths and weaknesses, especially in dealing with other people, then build on the strengths and correct the weaknesses.” – Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan

“Unless we can bear self-mortification, we shall not be able to carry self-examination to the necessary painful lengths. Without humility there can be no illuminating self-knowledge.” –Arnold Toynbee

One of the things I have enjoyed (most of the time anyway) here at Ambassador Enterprises is the focus on understanding yourself as well as those you work with on a daily basis. If you lack self awareness you are unable to know how to develop your strengths and to correct your weaknesses and thus are less effective.

There are some challenges and difficulties with coming to know ourselves better. First of all, once you get a correct view of yourself, it is almost always never as flattering as the image you have built of yourself. True self awareness can be painful as it shatters some of your delusions about yourself, so sometimes we avoid really confronting ourselves. As Toynbee states above, it requires humility to know yourself.

Secondly, knowing yourself is not really about you. Sounds a little backwards right? Knowing yourself better so that you can grow in your strengths and correct your weaknesses is not really all about you. It is about you learning to work with and to serve better those you serve with in the different spheres of your life. It is about you becoming a more effective member of your community. It about you having a greater impact for God’s kingdom and ultimately about bringing Him glory.

Another of the challenges of learning about ourselves is that we label ourselves and then excuse some of our behaviors and weaknesses. We just say, “Well, I am a WXYZ and that is just the way we are.” Wrong, self awareness gives you the opportunity to start dealing with your weaknesses and to learn how to better work with others. You can change.

Learn who you are, discover how the Lord wired you. There are many good assessment tools out there and one I recommend is the MinistryStyles Assessment – it is very thorough and very helpful. So learn and capitalize on your strengths and work to mitigate your weaknesses. Understand how you relate with and impact others. Become a more effective member of your community and have a greater impact on your world.

Hope you have a great Wednesday!

Exalting Folly

Good morning on this nice, crisp Friday morning. The stars were beautiful this morning on my walk.sunlight - Lauren

“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.”- Proverbs 14:29

Do you have a “hasty temper”? Do you allow anger to get the best of you? If so, why?

There is such a thing as righteous anger, but the anger most of us deal with is when we are inconvenienced or our expectations are not met. This type of anger does not quite meet the standard of a righteous anger. This is a self-centered anger. God calls this folly.

So today, instead of “exalting folly”, speak words of grace and peace into the lives of others today.

Hope you have a great weekend!