The Power of Words…​

wordshavepowerHow do words affect you? Are there words that immediately turn you off?  They just rub you the wrong way? That’s how I feel about the word “businessman” being used in a meeting of any kind in the 21st century.  I may be wrong, and I pray to not be so easily offended, but in a day and time like now, if you haven’t gotten it, you never will. Your words matter. They can be demeaning or empowering in the context of work. What’s worst is, I hear sexist words more in Christian settings than in others; why?

The truth is, I actually understand why, but my God, enough of living in the dark ages already.  It is time to appreciate the subtleness of your words.  To me, when a person, generally the person is male and holds a level of leadership, makes sexist phrases, first off, it seems ignorant.  Those who do so seem oblivious to the fact that today, in 2017, there are lots of businesswomen. In fact, there are 32 women in CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies. The top 4 are at General Motors, IBM, Pepsico, and Lockheed Martin. Guess what? 2017 holds the record number of female CEOs in Fortune 500 companies! That says something.

So, why do I get up in a funk about the word “businessmen?” Because the term is sexist.  It just is.  The proper term that should be used is businessperson or business leader. Why? To work to get rid of stereotypes!

Okay, so I will get off my soapbox for now. Please be patient with me, but I do want to share with you why the word bothers me so much.  When I hear the word being used, typically, the person using it has no idea how much they may be overlooking a businesswoman in the room. This woman in some cases may have far more business experience and a greater understanding of how to cast vision, develop strategy, set goals and use the emotional intelligence she has to build high-performing teams. She knows how to drive for bottom-line results just like the man. But when she is sitting in the room, with a bunch of men and every one of them have no problem with the presenter saying businessman and not correcting him, that is a problem.

sexismRecently, I was at a Christian conference focused on business leaders. The presenter was so refreshing. As he spoke, I listened carefully. What struck me about him was his sensitivity in making sure when he said the word businessmen, he also said businesswomen.  He did this throughout his entire speech. Did he get my attention and my respect? You bet he did.

Words matter. Why? Words can empower or marginalize. I hate being marginalized. Maybe you don’t, but I do.

I feel it’s important to say something so that it does not continue. Now, this may not bother you, and that’s okay, but you know that I am bothered and now you may consider that there are probably others around you who are annoyed too.  Don’t just excuse yourself and say, “They are too touchy, or they are too sensitive.”  Just don’t.  If I say something that may be bothering you, tell me. I would want someone to tell me so that I can stop doing it.  If I care, I will stop. If I don’t care, I will make an excuse and continue with the same behavior.

Little things grow into big ones.  Whether the issue is one that no one ever thought would be a big deal like, you know, sexual harassment?  All the things that were said 20 years ago suddenly have come full circle. I bet some of the people affected look back and wish they had never said or did what they did, now careers are destroyed, reputations ruined and families are in turmoil.

If you are a Believer, the world should not set the standard of how you should behave, whether you are at work or at church, you are to set a tone of fairness, justice, and equality.  I think Jesus would.  When I read the Bible, I don’t see Jesus making distinctions between male and female (some will argue differently, and that’s okay).

Just remember the next time you are in a boardroom, a meeting, sitting on a committee, or in some kind of setting where men and women get to play, men and women are playing equally.  They are both needed, and there is no environment where one is competent, and the other is not. Either can be capable just like either may not be capable.  Your words, though, sends a message; what will your message be?

Remember,  “Let us not love in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18)

You Make Life Matter…

 

you make life matterI believe that many of our problems can be averted if we would honestly seek to understand other people.  I think many of today’s issues would go away if we weren’t so angry and ready to pounce on each other. I would like to believe that if people would stop talking so much, insisting on being heard, would stop and think before speaking, maybe, just maybe, they would hear what the other person is trying to communicate.

I tell you what I think. I think that today, many feel that they are more important than the other person. We have easily demonized each other, so we don’t have to listen to each other. We are bent on getting our point of view out there, that we don’t have time or patience to wait to hear the other person.  For some, it’s like being on stage.  The problem with the limelight is that we forget sometimes like it so much, we release all inhibitions.

Just think about this for a moment, every one of us ultimately wants to feel that we matter. We want to feel appreciated. I am God’s child.   I am made in His image, and that makes me feel good about me.  You, too, were made in His image. You are who you are, and that’s okay with Him.  Disagreements happen because we have different experiences that we wish others would stop and try to see. When they don’t, we get frustrated. We want people to change to be like us and they won’t, so we get angry.  We want people to hear us, and they don’t, so we get louder and

Stop arguing and start looking at each other as a child of God.  I am God’s child, and so are you.  I am made in His image, and so are you. You are who you are, and that’s okay with Him, but He loves me too.  Disagreements happen because we have different experiences that we wish others would stop and try to see. When they don’t, we get frustrated. We want people to change to be like us and they won’t, so we get angry.  We want people to hear us, and they don’t, so we get louder and more hostile. Ultimately we shut down any and all channels to communicate and to learn to appreciate each other’s ideas, thoughts, and their uniqueness.

When we refuse to change for someone else, when we then stand our ground, not willing to bend an inch to understand the other person, I think we lose.

be the changeThe truth is, no one has to change anything You don’t have to change your views to match mine; nor do you have to change your way of thinking. You don’t have to change your looks to look like the runway models; you don’t have to change so that you have thousands of friends to be okay and you don’t have to be anywhere near perfect either. You are who you are, made in God’s image. However, don’t forget that the person you disagree with is also made in the image of God. Neither may act like they are, but they are. Their behavior may suggest differently, but God still loves both of them. God loves the entire world.

If we agree that there was only one perfect person that walked this earth, Jesus, maybe we can begin to accept that we are different from others and at the same time, we are just like all others, imperfect.

I can’t change how you see the world, but I will tell you that when the world looks at you, the extraordinary people see a unique person with qualities and attributes that only are given to you. If you say to me that there are those who don’t see you, I say, maybe they are not supposed to.  God sees you. He made you. He loves you. You don’t have to accept Him, but He accepts you.

I pray that I will learn to accept others just like Jesus did. Don’t you?LaSharnda

Dr. LaSharnda Beckwith

 

 

When I am Weak…

 

whenI am weakMost days I am happy. I wake up thanking God for another day to be alive. I honestly don’t take my being here for granted. Over the last year, I have experienced close and personal losses and they made me consider my own mortality.  There have been days that I sit back and say to myself, “God is still on the throne. Don’t lose heart.”

Most of you know I run each morning. The other morning I was outside, pushing through my run, when I promise you, I heard the voice in my head say, “When I am weak, You are strong. ” For many of you, I don’t have to explain what was happening.  Anyway, I kept running and I continued to hear that phrase.  At one point, I said it out loud. I knew that I needed to say it to God.

I have thought about why that statement came to me. Perhaps I was supposed to share this with someone else.  Not too long after that spiritual interchange, I spoke with a person who had contacted me and her actions suggested that she desperately needed to speak with me. I was on my way out of town, so I said to the person, “if you need to see me, you have to do it today because I fly out tomorrow.” The person made it a point to get over to see me too.  As we sat down to catch up, all of a sudden in the midst of our conversation, I thought I saw her eyes tearing up.  At first I tried to tell myself that I was imagining things, but after a few seconds, it became apparent that she was tearing up and finally crying. I walked over to her, gave her tissue and wrapped my arms around her. After more than an hour of conversation and her sharing some of her deepest frustrations and fears, we parted ways. As I walked towards her to say goodbye, I wrapped my arms around her again, but this time, I would not let her go without praying for her.

For days, I thought of this young woman. I left for my trip and thought about her on the plane. I got back home and thought of her again.  As I recalled all that had happened between us the day she came to see me, the phrase “When I am weak, YOU are strong” came back to me.

I am strongYou see, even the best of us will encounter days that are frustrating and disappointing. We will encounter people who will count us out, not take us seriously, reject our dreams and goals and even tell us that we will never be something that we have always dreamed of becoming. That’s why we are hesitant to share our hopes and dreams with others; we are afraid of their judgment and rejection as this young lady was. As I said to her that day in my office, I will say the same to you.  If you have dreams, go for them. It does not matter what other people think; it matters what you do.  If you don’t go for it, you are saying that they are right about what they think of you. If you go for it and fail, you don’t have to be embarrassed, trust me, the next time you will do better. One thing is certain, if you don’t pursue what’s important to you, you can count on never getting it.

Don’t let others rob you of what God has placed in your heart and mind.  Don’t let them stop you from being what you want to be. When people say things that hurt you, remember, “when you are weak, He is strong.”  He will carry your burdens and He will lift you up above the negativity, the fear and the doubters.  Let the doubters doubt you, but don’t you dare doubt yourself or Him. He believes in you and so do I!

2 Corinthians 12: 9 says, “…But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Waiting For You..

waitingI haven’t been able to shake a particular song all week. In fact, the song has encapsulated me.  Has that ever happened to you? A song is so strong that it just stays with you? This particular song was ringing in my ear, almost like a whisper, as I slept throughout the night. I woke up this morning and could still hear it. I went for my morning run, and yes, there it was again. When I returned home, I reminded myself to find that song on YouTube. I did and saved it, so when I got into my car, I could blast it.  Well, when I got into my car, that’s exactly what I did.

I arrived at my office, played the song on my iPhone as I walked from the parking lot to my building. Once I got in the office, I played it again.  The song just got to me; I kept lifting my hands to heaven, worshipping God.  I had to get up and close the door to my office because I became so overwhelmed with emotion just listening to the words and focused on praising God.

lifted handsYou probably want the name of that song, don’t you?  Well, okay, the song is titled “Waiting Here For You.” The words say the same, “Waiting here for you with our hands lifted high in praise. And it’s you, we adore, singing alleluia.”  I guess when you read this line, you may have said the words are no big deal. Well, maybe not, but they were for me today.

Why is this song getting so much of my attention today? Why am I getting so emotional when I sing the words?  When I watch the singers sing? My God, what’s going on?

I tell you what I think. I believe the song activated my “Stop & Reflect” button. It brought me to a sacred place mentally, and I was able to be refreshed.

I don’t know about you, but I get busy, real busy.  I am consumed with getting ready for school to start, travel schedules and speaking engagements. I am writing a prayer to say at Convocation this week also. As I began thinking of that prayer, my heart became full.  Yeah, I know this is weird to some of you, but that’s okay. If you are my friend, you know that I can get this way when it comes to God. If you are not my friend, but you took the time to read this, thank you for reading it.  I know that many do not believe in God.  I know many of my friends are professional people and many of you are too “intellectual” to believe.  I don’t care how intelligent you or I become, how many degrees we earn, or how many positions of influence we hold, I will always, always, give honor to God and make no excuses for my deep love for Him.

It is easy to rely on our own devices, our wit and cunning. It is easy to look to others to help us get the next contract, the next promotion, or whatever next thing there is to get. When we stop that and start believing that all things come from the Father; When we trust Him and show Him our love through our actions, that’s when our lives will change. The reason so many are downtrodden, pessimistic and negative, is because they haven’t learned how to look at God.  When we learn to lift our hands in praise, physically or metaphorically, our minds will be transformed and so will our actions. We won’t take part in silly arguments or fights. We won’t belittle or defame others just because we disagree with them. I think we will change because He will change us.

I will happily wait for Him because I have noticed when I do, I gain a sense of calm. My worries and stressors become small in His presence. Lifting my hands seem to break the chains of stress and worry.  He gives me peace that surpasses my intellect.  He can do the same for you too. I will close this with a scripture for 1 Samuel. I hope you will think about how stressed David was, but also consider how David responded.

Moreover, David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. 1 Samuel 30:6

 

It’s In the Quiet Times…

The_Quiet_Time_-_QT1.jpgLately, I have felt unsettled.  No, I didn’t say that I am not content; I said unsettled. There is a big difference.  For days now I have felt this unsettling in me.  I have been praying for a person for weeks now, so that may be the reason why. I moved last year and just experienced the 1 year anniversary of that, so maybe that’s why. I don’t really know. I just feel that way.

In the rush of everyday life, when we are busy moving here and there, working, socializing, and just living life, the noise of life can be overwhelming. In fact, if we aren’t careful, the sounds can drown out what we should be listening to.

That’s why quiet time is so important. We need to set aside time to contemplate, decompress and live quietly.  At least that’s what I need. I do it each day; usually, early mornings with shorter times. Also, I do a bigger block of time each week just to sit quietly and think. Life can be busy and the important things can be easily missed in our rush to achieve the next thing.  I will admit it, I can’t seem to sit still and be satisfied. If I am not working in my office, I am writing a book or an article or a blog. I do several things at once. I work on several emails to various people while I may be working on establishing some new program or I am setting up some kind of meeting, working some marketing strategy or coordinating some speaking engagement. It’s always something.  I push hard to get things done each day, and I will admit, I don’t have patience with what I perceive as “excuses”  for not doing something. You see, I can’t stop striving.

I have to give myself a break though. I know for a fact, God made me this way. He made me passionate, resilient, persistent and strong. As much as I appreciate the woman God has made me, I also know that I can turn my strengths into weaknesses. The same is true for you too. If you are always working, pushing, striving and achieving, do you have time to stop and enjoy the accomplishment? Do you stop and savor the moment in quiet solitude before you jump to begin again?  These are a couple of the questions I have had to ask myself lately. You see if you have always been the kind of person who believed that doing proves your self-worth, you need to rethink that. You know who proves you are worth something?  God. However, you won’t know it, if you never sit down and take the time to hear from Him.

quiet-the-mind-soul-will-speak-life-quotes-sayings-picturesTurn off the music, turn off the television, put away your computer, put down your phone, sit quietly in His presence and open your heart and your ears. Stop thinking about what you have to do next and be fully present to hear why He has you where you are now.  For the unbeliever, this is foolishness the Bible says, but to you who believe, you know what I am talking about.  1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “But the natural [unbelieving] man does not accept the things [the teachings and revelations] of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness [absurd and illogical] to him; and he is incapable of understanding them, because they are spiritually discerned and appreciated, [and he is unqualified to judge spiritual matters].”

God needs your attention and your time. Not after you are exhausted but He needs to talk to you when you are alert and ready to hear. He may have been trying to get your attention for a while now. Has He?

I Don’t Want To Let It Go!

let goI don’t know how anyone can go through life holding onto bitterness. Do you?  I mean, I get ticked off with people too.  I can understand getting angry, and I even understand not speaking to someone who has hurt you, but not talking to them forever? That’s nuts! You know why?  Because the other person isn’t being affected, you are! At the end of the day, you do not hurt the person you are mad at in the least. Oh, I know you think you do. But you don’t.

Let’s talk about “that person.” You know, the one for which you are holding your grudge. They have moved on. You are stuck.  Why? The person who is holding the grudge (you) is the person hurting. No? Yes, you are. You are the one who continues to recall what the other person did to you. The one who did the hurting tends to forget and move on to the next thing.  If they are narcissists, they are more focused on the attention they can get next rather than stuck watching you. If someone asked them why you don’t speak to them, most times than not, they just don’t care or remember. Hey, but you are the person who got hurt, you didn’t forget, did you? You probably remember the day, the hour of the day, and what you were wearing when it happened!

positive attitudeLet me ask you a question. Do you ever get tired? Tired of recalling those negative experiences? Tired of remembering what someone did to you? I am not saying that you have to be naive and continue to be friends with them. I am saying that you can learn from the experience, move on and be a more positive, productive and happy person.

Do you prefer feeling angry? Do you like thinking dark thoughts? Of course not, those thoughts and feelings are negative and defeatist. When I find myself thinking about what someone has done to me, I tend to over think the situation. I play and replay it over and over in my mind.  I sometimes have to talk myself out of thinking about the situation and that person.  See how much wasted energy these kinds of thoughts bring?  Change your way of thinking when you deal with these kinds of disappointments. Learn to flip that switch. You will feel better when you think positive.

Anyway, I am just trying to say this: You are a better person when you allow yourself to let go.  The best “You” comes through and that “You” not only changes the person you are on the inside, but it also changes those around you too. Well, it may not change the person who wronged you, but Who cares?  When you leave them behind and focus on what’s in front of you, the happy things, life will change.

Forget about things that will hold you down. Forget about people who will cause you to stumble. While you are focused on them, they are busy succeeding, and you are busy getting stuck.  Remember, if you can’t forgive someone for the wrong they have done to you, you can’t expect anyone to forgive you for the wrong you have done either. “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15.

Encourager or Discourager?

EncourageI love being the person who makes another person feel good about themselves. I like speaking words of encouragement to them and then watching them come alive.  I know, probably more than most, just how powerful words can be.

The good thing about a person who likes to encourage is that they do it whether the other person needs it or not. They know how important it is to be sensitive to those with whom they interact.

I am sure I have mentioned before that I people watch. By people watching, I can tell immediately who the Encouragers are and who the Discouragers are.  I want you to think about this. You know just as I do, the value that Encouragers bring. We know the traits they demonstrate; generally, they are happy, optimistic and positive people. We also know the Discouragers; they are just the opposite.  Although they can be negative, pessimistic and unhappy, many times they display more subtle traits than that.  In fact, you may not be able to really point to anything specific; you just feel it.

Discouragers may not ever say one discouraging or disparaging word, but what they can do is not acknowledge any good thing about you.  They may be ones who withhold praise or stay quiet when someone else has something good to say about you. They don’t do or say anything to support you, although they claim to be your friend.

Encourage-1thessaloniansWhich are you? Are you an Encourager or a Discourager?  You may not be comfortable with giving compliments, but you can still encourage others.

I believe one form of encouragement is seen in actions.  We can “love” the way Jesus told us to do when He said to “love one another.” Life is hard and people are facing challenges every day.  People we meet or those we interact with each day are facing things that we know nothing about.  People are facing loss, whether in the form of a divorce or a loss through death. Others are going through the loss of a job, while others may be dealing with grave illnesses, addictions, family problems, work problems, foreclosures, or jail.  These are real life issues and some will share while others will not. You may be the difference in whether they keep going or give up, in whether they succeed or fail.  You don’t have to show sympathy–that’s not encouragement. What you should do is inspire another person with the courage they need to keep on going. No, you may not be comfortable speaking words of affirmation to others, but you can do other things to encourage those around you.

Be careful and watch the words you use with your children and grandchildren no matter how frustrated you might get with them.  If you are upset, always tell them that you love them and then tell them why you may be disappointed.  If you are frustrated with your spouse, do the same.  If you have an obnoxious friend that might drive you nuts, pray for yourself and be intentional in praying for them.  If you have a friend who seems to always achieve & get what they want, to include compliments, don’t begrudge them, encourage them to keep on achieving and thank God for their achievements and blessings.  All of the good that you do in speaking well of and to others, will come back to you.  In the end, God commands us to encourage one another. You want to obey Him, don’t you?

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:11)