God is not Surprised..

God is not suprised 2If you have lived long enough, you have probably experienced rejection and disappointment with people you have trusted. You may recall being on top of the world one minute and deep in the depths of despair another. Because you have been treated so poorly, you may have questioned your own value and worth.  Don’t!

Too many times we turn our attention to people and things. We put too much value into what they are doing to us than into what God is doing in us.  The fact of the matter is, even though you may experience some “great” loss with a person or thing, it was never great; it was necessary. Although you may be going through a tough time because you may feel you have lost something or someone, think of it as a time of renewal because God is doing a new work in you.  The one thing you thought you needed, you will soon find out it was a blessing that you didn’t get it. So, don’t get mad with those who thought they were keeping something from you. No, they were doing exactly as God needed them to do, whether they know it or believe it.  Had whatever you hoped for worked out the way you expected it to, that thing would have kept you from being available for the greater things God has in store for you.

What I have learned through my own disappointments is that when I am disappointed, I question my abilities and I question who I am. Maybe I was trusting my own abilities too much in the beginning. Maybe I had forgotten to let God be first and I had allowed others in His place. Maybe the times I have felt used and alone in the wilderness, was really a time for self-evaluation, not self-criticism. Maybe it was time for God to get my attention so that He could complete a different work in and through me that would take me to the next level.

Remember, disappointments happen to us all. Although we may be surprised by the actions or inactions of others, God is never surprised.  He has my back and He has yours too!

Determine to Live Positive

when-hope-is-gone

Topic: Be Determined to Live Positive
Recently, I’ve watched the most positive people go from 100 % to zero in a short time. I have observed how joy has left them. I have even watched people slip into a state of worry and despair. I have seen people who are generally upbeat, happy, and joyful destroyed by the words and actions of others. Words that anyone would understand as being belittling, denigrating, and disrespectful. I have been left wondering what has happened in a person’s life that causes them to treat people so horribly.
As I have watched these kinds of situations, I have also watched my reactions to bad behavior. What have I learned? To be careful about who I vent and share my deepest feelings. The betrayed becomes the betrayer. Those you think you have something in common with, may not be the ones you can trust. Don’t think for a minute because you are having the same issues as another person that you can share with that person. If you do, be careful. You might end up in a deep dark well trying to crawl your way back up. It is so easy to fall into talking and talking because it seems like you are getting the frustration off your chest.
The positivity you generally feel gets lost in those conversations, and before long, you begin to talk negatively—defeatism sets in—and you will begin to act negatively; no longer experiencing joy and happiness. So, what is the solution? I think I found it in Romans 12:21.
“Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.” This scripture is easier to read than it is to do. I think what I can offer is something I learned from another author who said, “be the best where you are. God is preparing you.” This hit me like a ton of bricks because as a Believer, this should be my daily mantra. Honestly, you can tell if people are out for your best interests. If you pull away from the drama and refuse to allow yourself to get caught up talking and talking, watch how those you confided in react. Don’t get caught up. If you have (I have before) decide to pull away and don’t engage anymore.
Jeremiah 29:11-14 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord…”
Instead of seeking conversations that will keep you depressed, and questioning who you are, seek God’s guidance. Call on Him, go to Him, and pray. His Word says He will listen to you. Who better to talk to than the most excellent Counselor?

Consider it Pure Joy…

Hand lettering Count it all Joy, James 1:2. Biblical background. Text from the Bible Old Testament. Christian verse, Vector illustration isolated on white background

I was sitting in the early morning hours reading my Bible. I do this every day no matter what.  Anyhow, I was beginning to read, yet again, the Book of James.  I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have read my Bible in its entirety, and as many times as I have read the Bible, I am certain I have read James much more. This time I got stuck reflecting on the first couple of verses—

  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of 

                    many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces 

                    perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature

                    and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should

                    ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given

                    to you.”

As I was reading these verses, I had an epiphany and I thought to myself, the reason some people do not succeed in life is because they have not learned how to look at their challenges as learning and growing experiences. They allow their circumstances to define whether they will live joyful and victorious lives. God wants us to be joyful and content regardless of our circumstances because there will always be a lesson we can learn from them.

Let me explain what I mean.  Every time I have faced something in my personal or professional life, in hindsight, I can see where God was maturing me.  Not only did I learn how to cope with a person or situation, I learned how to rely on Him more and less on myself. When I learned to trust Him and not turn to others (who will only gossip or cause you to doubt yourself) He provided me with the insight I needed to not only survive, but to thrive.  Also, when I turned to Him, He allowed me to see that I was growing in some skillset that I would later leverage in my personal or professional life.

“Consider it pure joy…” means not to worry or get stressed over a situation that you cannot control. It means to rest in the Lord and to be still and allow His work to be done in and through you. It means to trust Him and do so with a joyful heart. If you trust Him, you will probably be a lot more positive and relaxed.

During those times when you become frustrated, short with others, and impatient with the situation, know you won’t remain in that condition for long. Why? The Holy Spirit will remind you that faith tested builds perseverance and perseverance causes you to completely mature in all that you do.  If you don’t know how to face your challenges with joy, ask God. He will give you the answers you need.

A Leadership Reality

reality-check-roadI have studied Leadership for a very long time.  Not only have I studied it, I’ve been in leadership since my early twenties.  When I was a young adult, I can recall thinking that I could do the job of those who were in charge. When I was a lower-level manager, I thought I could do the middle manager’s job.  When I was a middle manager, I couldn’t wait to be the senior level manager.  I remember climbing the leadership ladder as if it were yesterday.  Here I am today, with the same enthusiasm for leadership but a whole lot wiser than I was as a young manager.

I started this by saying that I have “studied” leadership for a very long time. I want to emphasize the word “studied.”  You see, what experience teaches you is that there is a big, big difference between studying leadership and actually “doing” it.  I mean leadership in real life can be a lot more than challenging. Leadership can be thrilling, but many days it is crazy! It is especially crazy at the top.

You may one of those people whose goal is to make it to the top of the organization.    There are two tops, however, and all organizations have them. One of the “tops” is where you are a senior leader like the other senior leaders and you deal with the daily grind of your division. The other “top” is where you are a senior leader who is an insider. That’s where all the wheeling and dealing really happens. When you are an insider, you are exposed to the true character and values of the organization. In fact, this is where your character will be exposed (if only to you) and your values will be tested.  It is here where you have to make a decision about what you will or will not do.  I know, you say you will never compromise your values, right?

When you are an insider, you are exposed to the true character and values of the organization. In fact, this is where your character will be exposed (if only to you) and your values will be tested.  It is here where you have to make a decision about what you will or will not do.  I know, you say you will never compromise your values, right?

Those who survive in the real world of leadership and maintain a positive attitude, as well as hold true to their values, are those who are grounded in the ONE who is greater than themselves.  Positive Faith comes from having an intimate relationship with your Maker.  When I get overwhelmed and feel that I am just about at the end of the rope, I turn to scripture.  Here are a few that may help you when you feel the pressures of compromise or when you all of a sudden look up and wonder what have you gotten yourself into.

Positive Faith comes from having an intimate relationship with your Maker.  When I get overwhelmed and feel that I am just about at the end of my rope, I turn to scripture.  I find that scripture helps me when I feel the pressures of compromise or when I, all of a sudden, look up and wonder what have I gotten myself into. These are a few scriptures that I would like to share with you:

  • Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. …
  • Proverbs 18:10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.
  • Nehemiah 8:10 Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength

I love leadership and I love being a leader. I have a lot of experience in it.  I want you to love it too and I want you to know how to prepare for days that may test your core. You can be the leader God has called you to be in your organization where being a leader may equal compromise. How? Be grounded in your faith and let that faith inform your values and ultimately your behaviors.

Positive Faith?

The early morning hours, I got up before dawn like I usually do, and just sat and reflected on Thanksgiving.  As is my habit, I got up to read my Bible and began to write in my prayer journal.  “What would I write today?  Don’t I thank God every day for my family, friends, and colleagues? Don’t I take the time each day and thank Him for protecting them? I always thank Him for so many things in my life.”  Yes, I do these things each day, but this time, I sat in deep thought, reflecting on my life.  I thought about the article I write each month for my column, The Power of Positive Faith, and asked myself “what does that mean?”

Many times people who write aren’t writing to sell books or to become popular. They write to share stories that they feel might make some kind of positive impact on the lives of others. At least, that’s what I do and believe others do the same.  When I share my thoughts about the Power of Positive Faith, I try to think of the things that I feel makes my life better because I choose to embrace the attitude of being positive in just about every situation that might frustrate or anger me.  I am not naive, and I recognize that it is hard to do and I think some people may think that when I write about being positive, I am not being realistic.

I have heard comments such as “you can’t always be positive” or “it’s not practical to think that you can maintain a positive attitude in all situations.” That may be true, but that may not be true also. Many people face difficult challenges and great hardships and, yet, are able to force themselves to look for the light in the dark tunnel.  They seek out hope, and they don’t readily give in to disaster.  Some people maintain the faith of Noah; even when they have to face huge uncertainties, they remain steadfast and sure.

What is faith if it isn’t positive? Faith in God is positive. Faith in humanity is positive. Confidence in yourself is positive also.  So, I see faith as being a positive characteristic.  If I look at faith through my religious belief, I also see it as having a positive connotation attached to it.  To me, faith means to hope, to be assured, to trust, and to have confidence. These words trigger positive images for me.  In a more personal context, my Bible relates faith as being positive. For example, a favorite scripture is found in Hebrews 11:1 which states, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Thanksgiving, gratitude, assurances, trust, and hope all come from a place of positivity. There is power in maintaining an attitude that helps us turn our darkest moments into moments of faith that today, tomorrow or next week will be better. For those who do that, tomorrow is better.

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.”

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?