Tag: relationships (Page 2 of 2)

The Evil of Drama

dramathe creating and need of attention by a person through the use of personal or interpersonal conflict

Satan loves drama. In fact he is the one who invented it.  There is nothing more drama filled than His rebellion in Heaven and His stunts in the Garden of Eden. Drama, drama, and more drama.

In fact, have you noticed that sin is at the heart of all drama, because sin is at the heart of all conflict. Take personal or interpersonal conflict out of conversations, and some people won’t have anything to talk about.  In fact, for some, drama has become their emotional caffeine as they can’t seem to get through the day without several cups of it. And for some, it’s become their security blanket as they just can’t feel good about themselves without hearing or delivering something negative (true, false, or somewhere in between) about their life, someone, or something else.

It’s drama, and Satan loves every minute and morsel of it. More than that, he loves to see us joining in with it in our lives. Why? Because it’s evil and destructive. It gets us focusing on everything that isn’t important and missing what is. It steals, kills, and destroys integrity, holiness, relational health, self-esteem, and the list goes on and on. Drama adds nothing, but costs just about everything.

Here’s some key destructive things drama does…

Drama minimizes truth and maximizes personal opinion-  People who crave attention rarely value truth. Why? Because truth isn’t often that dramatic. However, personal opinions can create realities for conversation that are more appetizing, self-serving, and attention getting.

Yet, personal opinion can be easily misguided and filled with much speculation. But who cares, right? We’re not trying to be truthful or get to the truth, we are just trying to get attention or relieve our insecurities by lowering the lives of others down so we don’t look as bad as we really are. It’s that why we love a good scandal or to see a public figure fail, whether its true or not?

Drama loves the misguided idea that “everybody is entitled to their own opinion.”  In our culture, we overvalue personal opinion and undervalue truth and the counsel of God’s Word. Everyone maybe entitled to have a personal opinion, but we aren’t always entitled to give it, nor should we always listen to everybody’s opinion. What people are really often saying who use the phrase, “Well, I’m entitled to my own opinion” is “You are entitled to my opinion.”

Drama loves to try to drag people around through personal opinion and drag them into their world of personal opinion.

Drama minimizes direct communication and maximizes gossip-  Drama hates resolution and accountability. What fun would that be, right? It’s a lot more dramatic to talk about people than to people.

Furthermore, drama finds it fuel in the darkness of people talking behind other people’s backs and not being held accountable for their words. Additionally, drama finds its energy in people who are willing to listen to it, and even give it safe harbor. Being a gossip isn’t just about what you say, it’s also about what you listen to. If you find that you are on the receiving end of a lot of drama, it may be because you have become or are perceived as a willing host.

When people who need to be talking directly (instead of through others or to others) are actually talking directly to each other, drama dissolves. That’s why drama loves to play the mediator or the divider. Drama loves to pit people against each other and play both ends of stick. Drama is often two faced and indulges in playing the middle ground.

Drama minimizes self control and maximizes impulsiveness- When our tongues are out of control and undisciplined, it’s because our hearts our first out of control and undisciplined.  People who have little control over their emotions tend to have little control over their mouths. Rather, they feel and say whatever comes to their flesh. And when an opportunity comes to take a hit off  a drama dubby or caffeine up on some negative attention, they just can’t resist.

Drama is impulsive. It’s easily stirred up and excited. It goes from one drama to the next, often without any sense of thought, reserve, or hesitancy. Drama is undisciplined and never does it’s homework. Drama is the emotional drunk who has to have some kind of negative cocktail upon which to sip, heaven for bid, lest they sober up and have to grow up.

Drama minimizes self-worth and maximizes insecurity- People who are into drama tend to be insecure about themselves. Thus, they use drama for at least one of three reasons. 1) To lift themselves up in their own mind by bringing a person(s) down in the mind of others. 2) They need attention and affirmation, so they use drama to draw attention to themselves. They are insecure to the point that negative attention seems better than no attention. They freely open the window for all to look into their daily struggles and that of others solely because deep down, they need the attention. 3) They listen to and host the drama in other people’s lives because it makes them feel needed and they are too insecure to redirect or stop the unhealthy dialogue, walk away, or confront it.

Drama minimizes responsibility and maximizes blame- Have you noticed that when people share their drama, it’s typically always everybody else’s fault but their own. They are the victim to a deep injustice or tragedy for which they bare no responsibility. The government is to blame, their boss is to blame, their friend is to blame, their pastor is to blame, their spouse is to blame. Everybody is to blame but them. And then the person who loves to listen and give safe harbor to drama affirms their delusional conclusions and the two (or more) of them revel together in the drama of victimization. It’s this drama ladened victimization that has led to statements like, “All men are scum.” and other like phrases.

When drama takes responsibility for it’s own existence, it quickly loses its appeal. When the mirror of drama is turned from looking at everyone else to reflecting itself, drama no longer is the great rationalizer and excuse creator.

Drama minimizes holiness and maximizes negative attention- People who are drawn to drama easily become the emotional and verbal garbage cans in which drama junkies place their trash. They are partners in the crime through their open ears and open doors, not because they pulled the trigger necessarily, but because they drove the car.  Unfortunately, the following formula will eventually take hold in their life, “Junk in, junk out”  It’s impossible to feed off of negative attention without it polluting our emotional and spiritual system.  W can love and listen to people without giving support to everything they say nor permission to say whatever they want. This is the key to defusing drama before it darkens you.

Drama minimizes reality and maximizes exaggeration and distortion- When the truth of history (what has really happened) doesn’t present a person in a positive light or get them enough attention, there is a great temptation to exaggerate reality or even completely distort it.

I had a friend in high school completely make up a story that she had been assaulted in a hotel elevator in order to gain the attention of our entire youth group during a summer trip.  Furthermore, we have all experienced those who like to spread lies and half-truths about ourselves or others because the reality of history (what really happened) doesn’t cast a positive light on them. Drama hates reality, because reality isn’t often that attention getting nor titillating, and sometimes it’s outright convicting.

Drama minimizes trust and maximizes distance-  Where some people are attracted to drama for negative reasons, others are repelled by it for healthy reasons. Why? Because drama minimizes the ability for trust to develop in a healthy relationship.  It’s hard to develop trust when drama abounds in a relationship or a person shows they are prone to drama. Drama lives in unhealth. Trusting a person who lives in the world of drama to be healthy with what you share of yourself with them can become difficult. If we want to attract healthy relationships and people we must be willing to leave the world of drama. Healthy relationships and drama cannot exist together.

Drama minimizes clarity and maximizes deception-  The incubator for drama is darkness, where things can’t be seen for what they really are. When drama is exposed to the light of truth and health, it evaporates unless it is kept in the shadows of deception where things are misrepresented and disguised.

Drama loves to talk in generalities with broad sweeping statements that sow seeds of doubt while keeping things inconclusive, undetermined, and unsure. Drama loves to take that which is plain and make it complicated, that which is known and make it unsure, that which is trustable and make it doubted, that which is likely, and make it unlikely, and that which is black or white, and make it grey.  Drama lives and breathes on the complicated, unsure, doubted, unlikely, and grey. Drama sows these seeds of doubt, uncertainty, and mystery in order to perpetuate its existence. For without them, drama dissolves. Just ask the conspiracy buffs. Just ask Hollywood. Just ask religious-spirited people. Just ask Satan.

In our world and culture, where drama is so common place, it’s easy to become numb to its evil. Satan would love nothing more than to steal, kill, and destroy the life out of our living through drama. May God wake us all up to this scheme.

Looking forward to your thoughts.

Taking the Bite out of Betrayal

Betrayal bites. Of all the plots Satan can work into a relationship, betrayal is the worst. At the heart of betrayal is broken trust. Whether it be in the form of an affair, lies, gossip, backstabbing, or walking away from a relationship, betrayal in essence involves the breaking of trust.  You trusted the person to be, do, or carry out something and they did not. Most of the time, betrayal has a deliberate essence to it. Sometimes it is even premeditated.

Unfortunately, trust is not as highly valued as it should be. People make all kinds of promises that they can’t or refuse to keep. They do what they want to do, when they want to do it, and how they want to do it with very little if any concern for its relational effect. Then, they expect this flippant attitude and behavior to be rewarded with trust.  We are truly a disposable, consumer minded society that has placed a high value on convenience to the point where even relationships, commitment, and trust are scene as expendable. Like a membership at a YMCA, we seem to value relationships as far as they serve our needs and a better opportunity doesn’t present itself. Once a relationship stops serving our needs, all bets are off. Not a pleasant reality, but sadly a true one.

Yet, trust takes much time and relational travel to establish, but people expect it to happen over night. Trust should be treasured and built patiently over time.  It’s not instant, nor is it disposable.  Furthermore, it is the product of a relationship going through ups and down together and passing the tests of trust.

With a growing disregard for authority, friendships, integrity, and trust, betrayal has become common place and basically expected. What God hates, Satan has made predictable… betrayal.

So, what is a person to do with this issue of betrayal? Unfortunately it can’t be completely prevented, but here is some wisdom that can guide you in taking the bite out of betrayal.

o.o1 Acknowledge the Hurt – Trying to play the tough guy (or girl) through betrayal is not healthy. Betrayal is gut-wrenching. Make sure you don’t try to bury the anger you have.  Take time to express your hurt to God and perhaps a close friend with whom you can trust. The more you stow it, the more is festers and grows.

o.o2 Retrace the Steps – Typically, betrayal doesn’t happen overnight. Furthermore, what may feel like betrayal could have a very legitimate explanation. To be sure, it will be difficult at best to put together the puzzle of events that led to the betrayal, but doing your best to understand what led to it will help you process it and move forward with appropriate emotions and actions.

o.o3 Learn to Exit Well – Betrayal sometimes occurs when people don’t know how to leave or deal with a situation or relationship. Instead of handling it with clear, direct communication, they hide in the shadows only to make their choices known through others or with no explanation at all. In some circumstances, people will find excuses to exit stage left and use blame to legitimize the guilt they feel in leaving your side. In other circumstances, they will make decisions that force your hand in confronting them and setting boundaries so that they don’t have to take responsibility for the decline or dissolving of the relationship. In essence, they make you say “no” so they don’t have to. This is of course very hurtful, but also serves as a good lesson on how not to do the same to another.

I imagine that Judas discovered early on that there became a point where he no longer supported the cause and/or claims of Christ. But rather then handle that with direct and clear communication, he betrayed Jesus. Add into the mix some greed, bitterness, and temptation and you can begin to retrace the steps of Judas’ exit stage left from the side of Jesus.

o.o4 Reenter with Caution – Betrayal doesn’t always mean the end.  For example, I have seen many couples overcome the worst of affairs and rebuild their marriage stronger than ever.  However, anytime there has been a betrayal, giving back trust and moving towards reconciliation should be done with care and caution. Forgiveness only takes one person, trust and restoration always takes two. Developing discernment and having a healthy relational radar system can go a long way at preventing betrayal.

o.o5 Let God get Justice- When we are betrayed it’s easy to desire revenge. Even when we are at no fault and justified in our anger, revenge is not a good thing.  When it comes to betrayal, trying to even the score will always end up in losing the game.  Does this mean you should not confront the person or seek measures of appropriate discipline or boundaries? No. But it does mean that any actions taken should not be authored from a spirit of revenge.  Aside from any appropriate confrontation or discipline, let God take care of the issues of justice and revenge. He can handle it, we can’t.

0.o6 Don’t Give Up on Trust- There are a lot of good, trustable people out there with whom you can have a betrayal free relationship. Take time to develop trust. Trust can’t be rushed. People who won’t take the time and do the work to build trust probably won’t value it nor protect it once you give it.  There is a difference between being careful and being distrusting. Be careful, but don’t assume that people aren’t trustable.

When People Disappoint You

I know for sure there are many people who I have disappointed. And, there are of course people who have disappointed me. When people fail to meet our expectations it can be disheartening to say the least.  Especially when our expectations have been warranted and worthy.

Because we live in a world where there are no perfect people, people will inevitably disappoint us.  They will say and do the wrong things or not say and do the right things. How we handle these disappointments can define many aspects of our lives.

Here are some things that serve me well in handling those tough moments when people disappoint…

1) Remember, you have been the person of whom another person has secretly said, “Wow, that was disappointing.” Chances are, you didn’t mean to disappoint and may not even be aware that you have. We are imperfect people who live in an imperfect world.  Not everyone who disappoints you means to do so or is even aware of it. So, be careful not to overreact or assume the worst. Depending on the circumstance, it may be very helpful to communicate your disappointment directly to the person.  It’s hard to expect people to meet expectations you haven’t communicated.

2) Don’t look to people to fulfill the deep needs in your life.  Jesus is to be our all and all, not people.  People can’t make you happy, fulfilled, secure, or valuable. These, and many other deep emotional needs can only truly be filled by God. When we look to people to meet needs in us that only God can, we will always be disappointed. Furthermore, we will wear people and relationships out as we try to get them to fill in us what only can be filled by God. People cannot complete us, facebook cannot complete us, and neither can your spouse. Only God can complete you. If you turn to people, relationships, or facebook for your security, worth, identity, affirmation, and value, you will be frequently disappointed and the people around you will be exhausted from the drama.

3) You will probably only have a handful of people in your life that are truly “with” you. There a basically three types of people in your relationship life…   Opportunist, Causist, and Loyalist

Opportunist– These are people who are not “with” you, but rather they are “with” the opportunity you bring to them or represent.  Maybe you have given them an opportunity to be a part of your vision, a staff position, or any number of things. They are with you mainly because of the opportunity you represent or offer. Once the opportunity is gone and you no longer serve as some kind of benefit to them, they will likely not remain “with” you for long. In fact, they were never with you, they were with the opportunity that came with you.  Once you no longer serve as a benefit to them or carry on the opportunity that came with you, they will likely no longer have an interest and move on to other things. Sometimes, they will join up with another person(s) or group who represent a better opportunity. Either way, they are with the opportunity, not you.

This can be very disappointing because we often hope opportunist are really loyalist or at least become them later on. Unfortunately, they often aren’t and never do become them.  That’s why they are opportunist.

All opportunist aren’t necessarily bad people. Not all opportunist are using you. Many of them care about you, but at the same time care more about the opportunity you represent and bring. The disappointment comes when we expect opportunists to behave like loyalist.  The more we see opportunist as opportunist and not loyalist, the less will be surprised and disappointed.

Causist- These are people who are not “with” you but rather they are “with” the cause you share together.  Typically they are against what you are against. Sometimes, they are for what you are for.  Either way, they are “with” the cause, but not “with” you.

The moment you no longer stand for what they stand for or stand against what they stand against, or the cause becomes completed, they will likely no longer have an interest in you and move onto to other things.

The truth is, many people and relationships fit into either the causist or opportunist category. That’s neither bad or good necessarily, it’s just reality. Furthermore, most people will leave our side, distance themselves, or move onto other things in one way or another. Typically, it’s because they were either relationships primarily of opportunity or cause at the heart. When we understand this, it helps us to see and celebrate our relationships for what they are instead of be thoroughly disappointed for what they aren’t.  Yes, we would all probably love the causist and opportunist to be or become loyalist and they could certainly benefit in learning to do so, but that typically is not the case.  This understanding can go a long way to handling the disappointments people cause us.

Loyalist-  These are the people who are “with” you. No matter what you stand for or stand against, whether you are right or wrong, whether you present an opportunity or not. They are with you, above and beyond any vision, cause, opportunity, or alike.

I can count on both hands the people who are loyalists in my life.  Jesus himself during his earthly ministry only had essentially a few loyalists. If you have any loyalists in your life, thank God for them, they are tremendous gift.

Loyalists stand by your side no matter where you are. They believe in you, what God is doing in you, and they want to be a part of your life no matter what. They stay by you when you fail or succeed, rise or fall, hurt or help.

No, these people are not enablers or “yes” people. You can disagree with someone and even disapprove of their behavior and yet still be “with” them. Jesus was often criticized for being “with” sinners… emotionally and physically.  Some of the loyalists in my life have often confronted me, disciplined me, and spoke the truth in love.  In those confrontational moments, I could have walked away, but they didn’t and wouldn’t.

Loyalist are life-timers. Whatever life brings, they are “with” you.

Understand the opportunist is like scaffolding in a building project, they are next to you for a while because of the opportunity you bring or represent that benefits them, but when the opportunity you bring or represent is gone or a better one comes along, they will likely leave your side for something or someone else.

Understand the causist is like a fellow soldier in a mission, they are with you for a shared cause. You either have a shared enemy to battle or goal you desire to accomplish. Once the battle changes, ends, or you change, they will likely either find another cause or continue their cause with someone or something else.

Understand the loyalist is with you no matter what.

To help with disappointment, don’t confuse the Opportunist nor the Causist with a Loyalist. Acknowledge what each of these relationships are so you don’t experience the disappointment that comes with making them into something they aren’t.

It’s Always Personal

So, have you heard the phrase, “It’s nothing personal?”  Of course you have, and probably in the same conversation you also heard something like “Don’t take this personally…”

As a leader, I have heard those words countless times.  And quite honestly, I don’t buy it.

The truth about leadership and ministry is, it’s always personal.  If it has to do with people in any way shape or form, it’s personal.

I’m not saying that some people don’t have some worthy intentions when they drop the “it’s nothing personal” phrase, but let’s be honest. To me, the use of that phrase is often a huge copout and really a way of saying, “What I am communicating is actually personal, I just want you to be o.k. with it so I can be o.k. with it. I want to say it without you taking it to heart so I don’t have to take responsibility for the damage.”

It’s almost as if as long as you preface your statement with “Don’t take this personally…” you can get away with saying just about anything and the person is left to conclude that any offense or check in their spirit they feel in response is out of bounds and a sure sign their emotional pits are sweating with too much sensitivity.  I am sorry, did my jaws dropping or the veins popping out on my neck give it away? You just told me my face looks like my neck just threw up, and it’s nothing personal?

With God, there isn’t one thing He does, says, or initiates that doesn’t relate in some way to people. For God, it’s always personal. Love is personal, sin is personal, faith is personal, and the list goes on and on.

The problem with people and their relationship with Jesus isn’t that their relationship with Him is too personal, it’s that it’s not personal enough.

The problem with Church isn’t that it’s too personal, it’s that some times it’s not personal enough.

The problem within ministry and leadership cultures isn’t that things become too personal, it’s that they don’t become personal enough.

When we face tough conversations that require a bit of truth telling or hard discussions, maybe we should avoid the cop out road of “It’s nothing personal” and go with some better options.

Options like… “This hurts me as much to say, as it may be for you to hear it” or “I need to get something on the table here, but our relationship is so important to me that above all else, I really hope we can work this through” or “I am not sure I/we can say ‘yes’ to this right now, but I hope you don’t lose heart and feel like I/we have left your side or don’t believe in you” or “We need to move in a different direction, and I/we understand how your heart is connected to all of this on so many levels, so I/we hope if possible God can either show us how to move in this direction together or He will shows us the purposes and opportunity He has behind us going our separate ways, yet still connected in Christ.”

Finding the right words during and before hard conversations is tough stuff, but no matter what we do, maybe we need to take “It’s nothing personal” off the list of options. The moment we say, “It’s not personal” or “Don’t take this personally” is the moment we show just how personal it really is.

Why? Cause it’s always personal.

Is it Gossip or Not?

A gossip is a person who creates the smoke in which other people assume there’s fire.  -Anonymous

In the Book of Proverbs it reads… “Words have the power of life and death”   -Proverbs 18:21

For many of us, we underestimate this truth, we underestimate the power of words, and when it comes to our own words we underestimate the damage we can cause in people’s lives simply by the things we say. Often times, we miss realizing how something so effortless and easy as words could be so powerful, but it’s true, words have the power of life and death.

Think about the power of words. When God created the whole word, the Bible tells us that God actually spoke it into being, “…and God said, let there be light” With all creation, the moment God spoke it, it happened.

We underestimate the power of our words. So what happens?  At times we are careless with them, even reckless. We spend our words often as if they don’t count and don’t really matter.  However, Jesus taught the opposite.

Jesus spoke of the importance if words, as a matter of fact, they are so important that…

Matthew 12:36-37 says…
But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Guys like king David in the Bible learned the power of words…

Post a guard at my mouth, God, set a watch at the door of my lips.” – Psalm 141:3, MSG

David realized these things called words are super powerful, and he’d better be careful. Words are powerful in ways that we could never imagine…

In fact…

o.o1 Words show exactly what’s in the heart.

Luke 6:45  The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

You know there are really only two things we need to observe in a person’s life to get a good sense of the condition of their heart, one is there checkbook, (Jesus said where you treasure is, there will be your heart also) the other is the words they say, how they talk, what they say, and what they talk about. Words reveal the secret condition of the heart, people who trash talk, people who say mean things, people who gossip, people who use profanity first have a problem in their heart.

You can’t separate what people say and the condition of their heart, words mirror the heart. That’s how it works.

I remember the first church I pastored, there was this guy who looked all spiritual, everybody had the impression that he was some really great, faithful christian. He carried a bible around at all times, he has to be a super Christian right?  Well, one day he was helping to put some siding on one our buildings and he hit his thumb with the hammer. Out of his mouth came about every cuss word you could think of. Everybody was in shock.  What was deep within his heart was revealed in his words.

Proverbs 10:19 When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.

If you go to church, think about church life. If you work, think about your office life. When you see people getting around their agendas and talking it up, people murmuring about what they don’t like going on and what they are going to do about, and people having little secret conversations about this person or that person, you know, there’s a pretty good chance, some sin is going on as some not good things from the heart are coming out in words.

In college, I use to curse like a sailor, but when God changed my heart, my words changed almost overnight.  Why?  Because words reveal the heart, you can’t get around it, it’s like the guy at the church who hit his thumb, eventually you are found out, your words give you away. As Jesus taught, how we talk, what we say when we talk, the kind of words we choose, and how we use words in life say more about the condition of our heart than perhaps anything else.

o.o2 Words powerfully influence our future

James 3:3-6  When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.  Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.  Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

Here, James is teaching us that how we speak, what we say to our self, and the words we put out actually steer our lives, like a rudder steers a boat.

Jesus taught His disciples about the power of words one day while walking along the road when he cursed a fig tree. When they went back that same way the next morning, the tree had withered from the roots.

And then he told them, Mark 11:22-24 22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

See, there is a very real and biblical sense that your future is tied into how you speak to yourself and to others. Imagine if we were to start speaking towards the kind of future we want to have. The Bible says we reap what we sow.  So, we can’t expect to be speaking words of death to ourselves and to others and then it result in a future full of life.  If all you are speaking is death into your marriage, or your children, or your church, or your work, or your health, or your self-worth, you can’t expect it to translate into a future full of life.

So, instead of letting the confessions of your heart and the words you speak be tainted with death, defeat, and doubt, they need to be anointed with the oil of faith, trust, hopefulness, and love. Words can have a powerful determination of your future. How do you expect your marriage to turn around when all you say to yourself and maybe even to your spouse is, “this is never going to get any better, I just don’t see this thing ever working out?” How do you expect your self-esteem and confidence to get any better when all you say to yourself and even to other people is “I’m too fat”  or  “I am not as good as they are” or  “I have made too many mistakes?”

We need to be speaking the Word of God and speaking from the Word of God into our life. Change your self talk, change the way you talk to others, and you can change your future and maybe theirs too.

o.o3 Words can make or break other people

When it comes to the words we speak, not only is our future at stake, but other people’s futures are at stake.

Proverbs 12:18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

What’s this saying? Our words are on of the most powerful weapons we  have for good or for bad, and the choice is ours.

If you are the kind of person that isn’t careful with your words, do you realize what your gossip and trash talking is doing? Do you have any sense of what your mean, hurtful words are causing?  There is almost nothing more powerful to hurt people, to hurt an organization, and to get in the way of God than gossip, trash talking, and talking negatively about people or things going on.

You say, “Well, how do I know if I am gossiping, or trash talking, how do I know if it is gossip or not?

Here is a way that has been helpful for me… T.H.I.N.K about what you are saying before you say it. If you answer “no” to any of the following, there is a pretty good chance that what you are about to say is gossip.

T-   Is it True?  Do you know for sure that what you are about to say is a fact?  Did you learn it first hand, and therefore it’s not just your own opinion or somebody else’s?  Have you spoken with that person directly and confirmed your assumptions? If not, you may need to just zip it.

H-  Is it Helpful? Is your talking about whatever it is going to help or hurt, make more problems or less problems, create conflict or solve it, or help the situation or make it worse?  Is what you are going to say speaking more about your agenda or God’s? Is it something that God wants you to say, or something you alone want to say?  If what you want to say isn’t going to help God, that person, or the situation, if it isn’t going to partner with the Holy Spirit, you may need to just zip it.

I-   Is it Inspiring?  Does it put that person in the best light and give the benefit of the doubt? Does it believe in the best, does it hope for the best? Does it promote wholesome talk or pollute it? Does it cause others to believe in the best, or does it cause others to conclude the worst.  If it assumes the worst, you may just need to zip it.

N-   Is it Necessary?  Does what you want to say really need to be said? Is it really anybody’s else’s business? Is it necessary for you to talk about?.  Should you be talking about it with other people when you haven’t even gone face to face with that person? If it isn’t completely necessary, you may just need to zip it.

K-   Is it Kind? Does it build, does it speak the truth in love? Are your words the same kind of words Jesus would say about that person?  Are your words motivated out of real love and wanting to see the best happen in that person’s life or the situation at hand?  If not, you may need to zip it.

Sure, there are moments when tough things absolutely need to be said, emotions need to be vented, and difficult situations dealt with. Jesus himself had some very tough conversations and some verbally poignant things to say to and about people. Some, that could even be considered hurtful and mean-spirited. At times, there is nothing politically correct, watered down, nor polished about Jesus and His use of words.  Yet, the over all principal remains…

Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.



It really is true, words have great power.

Just ask the parents of Megan Mier, a 13 year old who was bullied on myspace with words. Message after message was sent to her by one particular boy, messages like, “The world would be a better place without you.”  The words got so bad and destructive that in her room one afternoon, she hung herself with tears in her eyes.

We can use words to harm people or to heal people. Never underestimate the power of words. The choice is ours. Jesus used words to do the miraculous, and He commands us to do the same.

“I can live two months on a good compliment.” –Mark Twain

What I Love and Hate about Facebook

I don’t even know where to begin with this post other than to say, there are some super great things about Facebook, and then some super not so good things about it.  It’s really not Facebook itself that I am speaking of, though the opportunity the platform and technology creates is a significant part of the mix, but rather what people do with Facebook that’s at the heart of my observations.

What I love…

1) Facebook gives an opportunity to connect with people you might not otherwise be able to locate and connect with. 

The way God can be honored by bringing relationships together is amazing. I have made contact with people that, apart from Facebook, would have been extremely difficult to do at best.  What a powerful tool God can use to connect, reconnect, and build some great relationships. I believe God supports how Facebook can be a powerful tool for interacting and connecting with people.

2) Facebook can bring out the best in people and provide a powerful way to encourage and love.  

I have witnessed many people use Facebook as a way to encourage and help people through the power of words and information.  It even seems that Facebook allows the nicer side of people to come out more than they might be willing to show it in person. For those who are more introverted, Facebook provides a way for them to come out of their shell and communicate in ways and levels they may not otherwise. In a positive way, Facebook provides a kind of safety zone from which people can seem to feel more at ease with sharing themselves with people in a caring, expressive way. Furthermore, Facebook provides yet another powerful way to love, encourage, and care for a person anytime, anywhere.

3) Facebook provides an opportunity to put ones faith in Christ on display.

Many people are resistant and shy when it comes to sharing their faith.  However, once again, Facebook provides a kind of context where people can do so in ways that are less intimidating and fearful.  The positive, faith-filled person you aren’t as likely to be in direct contact with people is the kind of person you can feel better at displaying in a context like Facebook. Facebook is a great tool to share your faith and help others see how God is working in your life in an inspirational way.  I am deeply thankful for the many opportunities I have had through Facebook to share and encourage others in discovering and having faith in Christ.

What I hate…

1) Facebook is a place you can easily fake it

Facebook provides an easy context to be someone you are not and to have relationships that really aren’t real.  When you can custom edit and tailor every interaction, you can give the impression you are something that in truth, you really aren’t.  Furthermore, relationships can be more crafted and contrived than real and personal. When your primary connection with that person is on facebook and thus there is a lot of  real life interaction that is left to the imagination, you can make a person (and a relationship) to be something in your mind that they aren’t in real life. Facebook for some people can easily become Fakebook. They say, 60% of communication is nonverbal.  I would guess that means there is a lot of communication that’s missing a lot of communication going on, on Facebook.

2) Facebook brings out the coward in people

Facebook provides a context where you can say just about anything and not be held accountable for your words. It truly can become a campground for cowards.  Just by commenting on another person’s post, you can make insinuations, conjectures, and comments that may not even be seen by the person they are directed to, nor may that person ever be afforded the opportunity to respond. And even if they were, would it even be in their best interest to do so anyways? Furthermore, what is said doesn’t have to be true or based on anything credible.

People who are cowards and can’t say something to someone’s face often say it on Facebook.  Yes, this kind of gossip, slanderous, and preschool way of relating happens in other realms of life, but Facebook has a way of pouring gasoline on it. Where positive things can go viral on Facebook, so can evil things. Satan loves this aspect of Facebook.

For this reason, Facebook is not a healthy place to air personal grievances towards people, promote your disgruntlement, publish your problems with a person, try to handle conflict, or make insinuations, conjectures, or assumptions about others.  I can pretty much guarantee, very little if any relational problems were ever resolved through Facebook. In fact, they were likely made worse. Why? Because nothing face to face ever happens on facebook. Oh sweet irony.

Facebook unfortunately doesn’t often magnify the reality that we are great at relationships, it often magnifies the fact that we stink at them. It’s so easy to hide behind facebook and never truly show our true face. It’s easy to inject a toxic comment, feel the satisfaction of blowing our wad, and then let the status-update circus begin all while we close our laptop, pull the blinds, and open a bag of Cheese Puffs with our legs propped up on the couch.

3) Facebook attracts drama

People who love drama become addicted to Facebook. Facebook is to drama what Jerry Springer is to stupid people. It gives the perfect platform for them to be more stupid and more dramatic than they have ever been before while everybody gets to watch. For some people, they can’t use the toilet without it becoming their status update. Now there is an Instagram for ya!  If they lack attention, they post a “feel-sorry-for-me-my-life-is-so-bad” kind of status.  If they are bored, they find a way to stir up the pot. Every emotion, every attitude, every thought, every problem, every issue is put on public display.

What some people enjoy about Facebook is the fact that for them it’s become an interactive soap opera,where at the least, they can have a front stage seat, and if they want, they can be the daytime star.  No, they would  probably never admit it, but when you see someone who is emotionally glued to whatever is or isn’t happening on Facebook, you know there’s likely some serious drama lust going on.                               

On Facebook, you can live the dream… you can write, produce, direct, and star in your own interactive soap opera. And it’s all free!

O.k., now it’s time for me to end this and… get back on Facebook.

 

 

                                      

 

Building Trust

One of the most important factors in any relationship is trust. The closer the relationship the higher the level of trust required. Trust is a kind of glue in a relationship that strengthens it and holds it together. In the Bible we see both the value of giving trust and withholding trust in our personal relationships. Additionally, we see there are levels of trust, each based on certain dynamics of the relationship. In simple terms, when it comes to trust, one size nor amount fits all.  To one group, we observe in scripture “But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men.” Yet in another place, we read the words of Jesus “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”   Trust is a sacred treasure that, like all things God gives us to share, should be stewarded carefully.  “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”

Typically, most of us fall into one of two categories… we either withhold appropriate levels of trust even when it’s safe, or we give too much trust prematurely.  To be sure, the giving of trust into a relationship is an art and balance that is forever learned.  Regardless of which side you tend to err on, here are some principals that have served me well as I seek to be better at building trust in my relationships.

1) Give trust in steps–  For those who are hyper-sensitive to giving trust, if you learn you don’t have to give all your trust at once, it will help you to feel safe in giving a little bit at a time. Instead of never trusting, warming up to the waters of trust one step at a time can be very helpful and healthy.  God operates under this same principal as His word says, “Those who are faithful with a little will be faithful much.”  God first starts with a “little” before He ever gets to “much.” In fact, people who expect you to quickly trust them and become offended when you don’t, are typically people who aren’t very trustworthy anyways. There are some who may want you to prematurely give them all your trust at once (or lots of it) because they know, if you don’t,  you might figure it out that you probably shouldn’t give them any of it.  People who pressure you for trust (especially early on) are typically people who won’t respect it when it is given. When it comes to giving trust, sometimes less is more.  Small steps overtime are much better than no steps at all. Yet, small steps overtime are also better then one immediate big step. For those who are too free with your trust, taking steps will help you to have the self-control that doesn’t pile on more trust into the relationship than it can handle.  This is contra-productive. The relationship could have handled a smaller amount of trust and grown to build more, but instead too much was given prematurely, the trust was not honored, you are disappointed, and the relationship is worse off than if trust had been allowed to grow over time. Giving too much trust too soon might feel like it builds relationships and makes you a loving person, but in fact, it can make the relationship into a house of cards that easily falls down in ruin.

2) Go out of your way to show yourself to be trustworthy-  I am often amazed at how we expect people to trust us while at the same time we aren’t willing to earn it , intentionally show we are trustworthy, and give trust time to grow. Rather, sometimes we display behaviors and attitudes that erode trust and expect trust to be given in return.  The Bible contradicts this thinking saying, “A man reaps what he sows.” It’s unfair and unrealistic to expect or demand trust from another while either untrustworthiness is being displayed or you are not extending yourself and showing yourself to be trustworthy.  Don’t expect trust to be the outcome given from poor communication, withheld  feelings, flattery, manipulation, violated boundaries, hidden agendas, selfishness, lies, gossip, or division.  These are a few among the definite trust busters of relationships.  Instead, if you want to build trust, take the initiative to do your part in preventing the person or group from having any real reason to withhold the giving of trust over time.  If it’s with your boss, show up on time to work, go the extra mile, don’t participate in the office gossip. If it’s with your spouse, be open and honest, be emotionally available, communicate consistently and frequently,  explain your decisions, resolve conflict promptly and completely, and communicate your activities.  If it’s with a friend, show your devotion, communicate your heart, don’t let assumption go without clarification or confirmation.  In all relationships, ask the trust building kind of questions, “How are we doing?” “Are we okay” “Anything we need to talk about?” “Are we on the same page?” “How are you feeling about things?” “Help me understand, why did you do ________?

3) Put your ultimate trust in Jesus- All our relationships with people  are to be an extension from our relationship with Jesus. The trust we have with Jesus first and foremost is to be carefully extended into our relationships not replaced by our relationships. I find it staggeringly profound that Jesus entrusted himself to no one, that special level of trust was reserved for His heavenly Father.  When people fail us, Jesus does not, will not, and cannot. With this anchor to our soul and well-being firmly secure, we are able to extend portions of that trust we have found in Christ into our relationships so that the work of God can be done in and through them.


Developing Close Relationships

There is obviously bucket loads of things that can be said about the nuances of developing close relationships.  Most people want close relationships, but realize that it is an endeavor that can be easier said than done.  Here are some things that are helping me along my journey of learning to love the Master and master His love as I seek to develop close relationships.

Don’t have unhealthy expectations:  We should never turn to a human being to meet needs in us that only God can.  When we place that kind of pressure on our relationships, we sabotage the very thing we desire to build… close relationships.  No person can complete you, make you happy, heal your soul, nor be your sole strength and security. Leaning on others for how we should feel about ourselves is a classic example of where we turn to people to meet needs that only God can and should.  For certain, close relationships involve the blessings of giving and receiving  as we carry each others burdens and do life together. But understanding the limits of what we should expect and what we can experience in our earthly relationships, and turning to our relationship with Christ  first and foremost for our core needs is critical.  This enables us, ironically, to be free to love and be loved by another. We don’t try to fix nor be fixed, change, nor be changed, rescue, nor be rescued, complete, nor be completed by another. Rather, we can truly love and receive love.  Healthy expectations increase the potential for close relationships.

Discern to Develop: I find it interesting that Jesus had only a handful of people He developed close relationships with.  He was friendly and caring to the masses, but only had a handful of close relationships.  These relationships took time and investment. We see with Jesus that the essential ingredients of close relationships such as trust, honesty, and honor were developed over time, much of it spent together.  Peter, James, and John were among those whom Jesus drew close to Himself.  Were any of them perfect? No, hardly.  Yet we see in Jesus and the counsel of God’s Word, the value of being discerning of those whom we draw closely and to do so over time.

As an example from my own life, I have found 5 commonalities in the awesome people whom I have close relationships with.  I share these with you not to foster a “what’s in it for me” attitude toward developing close relationships. But rather to show the kind of mutually given dynamics that create an atmosphere where close relationships can develop. It’s in giving that we receive.

1) They are careful with my heart: I see in these people the presence of having my best interest at heart. It is truly humbling. They want to see me succeed and care about my well being. When I rejoice, they rejoice, when I mourn, they mourn with me.  They do not take advantage, use, manipulate, or disregard. They are not driven by agenda nor see me or our relationship as disposable or transitional.  They are not malicious, abrasive, nor shady, but rather humble, gentle, and encouraging.

2) They are open and honest: I see in the people a care about keeping things within the relationship well communicated and resolved. What a deep blessing this is. They assume the best and clear up the unknown. The speak the truth in love and avoid concealing issues in the shadows. They are people who assume the best and are willing to lovingly confront with the worst. They are real people, with real emotions, real faith, real flaws, and real lives. They are direct people who value good conversations where truth and truthfulness can flourish.

3) They freely invest their time and energy into the relationship:  I see in these people an undeserved joy in being with me and a sharing of many of my values. This is indeed gold for the soul.  I have found that the people I am closest with I spend the most time communicating with. These are people I don’t have to try to pull into my life and get them to take an interest in me, nor keep it. Their energy for me and our relationship is self-fueled.

4) They honor and respect the vision God has for my life: I see in these people the reality that though we may have our differences, they value what God is doing in my life and want to encourage and support what God is doing.  How good it is to have spiritual support and encouragement. The people closest to me have a thriving, growing relationship with Jesus and value His presence in our relationship.

5) They stay by my side:  I see in these people a knowledge of my strengths and my weaknesses, my failures and my successes, and yet they still desire to remain an intimate  part of my life. What a gift from above.  For them, the relationship goes beyond what they can do, gain, or accomplish with me or from me, but rather is anchored on the deep value they have placed on simply being together in life; emotionally, physically, and spiritually. These are loyal people, even when I am wrong or faltering. Their interest in me and my life remains in all seasons. They are gracious and forgiving, with an earned mutual trust that our deepest desire is to see God work in each others lives and to encourage and protect that, along with the relationship God has given us.

It suspect it would be rather difficult to develop a close relationship without the 5 things I mentioned above. If you have the sense that a person just isn’t willing to bring one of these 5 things to the table, they may not be a person where drawing close will be met with wholeness. Yet, even more importantly, in creating an relational atmosphere where closeness can develop, it is just as vital (if not more) to give these 5 things as it is to receive them. Do not expect to receive what you are not willing to give. Just as you would do well to look for these 5 aspects within the relationships you seek to draw close, you would do all the more benefit to make sure you are willing and able to give in these areas.

Pour Out Your Life  There are always risks involved with relationships. At first, when you are developing closeness with a person, the risks seems to increase. In truth, it actually does. Yet, once closeness is tested and established overtime, the greater risk  becomes not making the most of the relationship through your investment.  With the people who are closest to me, I feel little risk because I know those relationships are secure. It is indeed a mistake to pour yourself out too soon into a relationship, closeness can’t be rushed nor fabricated. Yet, it is equally a mistake not to pour yourself out to relationships that desire it and will steward it.

God calls us by His example to be the one to initiate this pouring out of our lives into people.  We love because God first loved us. Will it always be returned, received, or respected? No. But all the times it is abused, rejected, and disrespected are worth the sacred times when it takes root and grows into a lifeline of intimacy and togetherness imaged by the Trinity itself.   Does God want us to be careful with our lives and the sharing of such? Yes, absolutely. However, pouring you life out into people is never a waste for you. Love is it’s own reward. It can only be wasted by others.

Don’t expect to get a relational return without a relational investment. On the right soil, love gives birth to love, trust gives birth to trust, and pouring out gives birth to mutual blessing. Don’t focus on dry ground encounters, rekindle your hope for a harvest. Pour out your life.

 

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