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.

The Art of the Dance…

blackdancersOver the years of working in government and then in higher education, as well as the years I have lived on this earth, I believe I know of one sure thing that keeps people from being successful, not only at work but in life.  That’s their inability to get along with others. Like it or not, people skills are just as important, if not more important, than technical skills. In fact, you may not need any other skill when dealing with others than to skill of understanding how to get along with people. It amazes me when I see very smart people who find themselves isolated and wondering why. I have had such folks explain how they are feeling at work; they say no one includes them or they feel left out.  When I move away all the peripheral, it becomes clear that the reasons they may feel the waythey do are because they haven’t learned the art of the dance.

That Art of the Dance is a slogan I came up with after watching a few people at work who  said they felt isolated.

There was a person who was highly competent but he could not seem to gain the buy-in of his peers.  It wasn’t that he didn’t get along with one person, he didn’t get along withany of them!  I watched and determined that he did not set out to alienate them, but he did not have the emotional intelligence developed enough to figure out how to get them to accept him.  He was very professional, highly intelligent, very candid, and easily took prisoners as he entered into his counterparts’ areas.  It was his job to check on things; but he was checking on things in his peers’ areas.  He had a job to do and he did it and did it well.  What he neglected to think about was not what he had to do, but how he should go about doing it. Thus, he alienated himself from the entire leadership team.

Look, you may read this and think of someone you know who may have done the exact same thing this person had done.  I found myself doing the same. One day he stopped in my office and asked me how did he had done in a particular meeting.  It dawned on me that he valued input from someone he thought he could get friendly, yet candid, feedback from.  I thought about every response because he was seeking help. I talked to him for an hour and gave him plenty of feedback. Finally,  at one point,  I looked at him and said, “You haven’t learned how to dance with your partners.”  He looked at me and understood right away what I meant.

This is what I meant.  We all come to the party (organization) with different skills, abilities, and knowledge. I think we all come wanting to do a good job and yes, we even want to be recognized for our contributions.  The things we tend to rely on are those skills and abilities, sometimes never considering our delivery; never thinking about the benefits of having high emotional intelligence and most often never watching to see what steps our partners may be taking as we both dance around issues that need to be worked on together.

I don’t care how big we become; I don’t care how much we know, if people don’t think we care, we can ruin our ability to make an impact on them. If you haven’t figured out how to let others get pass your hard core that may come through in the way you speak, the way your act or the way you refuse to interact, they may walk off the dance floor and never return.

Before pushing your way forward, stop and observe.  Watch your partner’s steps and learn how to dance well together.

 

Don’t Downplay Your Blessing!

 

Every-Day-in-Every-WayHave you asked God for a particular thing and He dropped it right into your lap? It just came out of nowhere? Well, that has happened to me on several occasions and there is no doubt that it was God. I love it when I know that it is God who has answered a prayer that no one knew about but me and Him.

One thing that has proven consistent for me has been the Ying and Yang of experiencing a blessing. When I get thrilled and excited about the blessing, something happens; something that tries to affect my joy. I will face some kind of opposition, sometimes passive hostility, from people I thought respected me as much as I respected them.  I don’t know about you, but to me, there is nothing more stressful than to be misunderstood.

I am old enough to know and expect people to talk behind my back, but I abhor finding out what they have said.  Also, I am shocked when the person who said it is someone I respected. Initially, I am really bothered by what I have heard them say; I think about it over and over. Next, I am generally angry but I tend to get over my anger quickly because I refuse to allow anyone to affect my joy. Finally, which should be first actually, I go to my Bible to seek comfort, assurance, guidance, and support.

Recently, I went through this process and when I opened my Bible, I turned to Psalms 2. What jumped out at me was this portion of scripture that read: “You are My Son, Today I have become your Father. Ask Me and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.”  I kept going back to that one part of the scripture, reading what was prior to it and after, but that portion kept speaking to me.  Isn’t it obvious what God was saying? Maybe not to you, but to me God was saying, “You asked, I gave, now go and be blessed, be happy, be effective. You wanted it, you got it.” I felt a sense of release. I told myself, LaSharnda, you are to continue to thank Him and praise Him, only!  I shouldn’t be getting hung up on what others were thinking or saying.  By doing so, I would be ignoring what God had done for me and would be giving more attention to those who had no joy for me at all.  Their silliness would become a huge distraction.

Am I the only one who experiences this? Do you? Has God blessed you with something and instead of celebrating it, you became distracted by the negativity of others. You focused on what they were saying or doing or not saying or doing. Maybe you downplayed your blessing because of them. Please don’t do that.  God has a plan and purpose for you and you already know that. He may fulfill it as He pleases and others may not understand. They may get mad at you for leaving a job they feel you should stay in for longer periods or they may talk about you and not celebrate with you. That’s okay, always remember, ”

God has a plan and purpose for you and you already know that. He may fulfill it as He pleases and others may not understand. They may get mad at you for leaving a job they feel you should have stayed in for a longer period or they may talk about you and not celebrate with you. That’s okay, always remember, “His thoughts are not our thoughts and our ways are not His ways.” (Isaiah 55:8)  His are always greater, better and worth following.  Also remember, if you pray and ask God for something and He gives it to you, whether your friends, family or colleagues like it or not, it’s yours. Don’t be boastful or arrogant; just be thankful, pray for wisdom and if they go low, you take the high road.

What If…?

what-if-300x152What if people would really try to listen to one another?  What if we would truly seek to understand another person’s point of view rather than always trying to push our own? What if we would speak less and listen more? What if we would forgive more? What if each person would live their own life to the fullest and try to enjoy each moment of each day? What if….?

At times recently, I have sat back and wondered why there is so much negativity in the world today? It’s not just on social media and it’s not just with a certain group, it’s all around.  I have considered this a lot lately especially when I see things happening around me that seem to go awry without any real reason behind it going awry. It seems the smallest thing is blown into something big and it didn’t have to be that way if only each person would have simply listened to each other.

I have also thought about the things that make me feel good and behave in a positive manner and those things that make me shake my head and retreat. You see, if I didn’t retreat, I would get entangled in the same arguments I see others entangled in. I would be in the midst of conflict and confrontation which in no way would create a sense of peace. Just think about it for a minute; positive actions most times create positive reactions and negative actions cause, in so many cases, negative reactions.

When we don’t listen to each other, we have decided within ourselves to be passively combative.  Combativeness creates friction, which can come in the form of angry words, nasty actions and ultimately un-forgiveness. Un-forgiveness kills us slowly. Un-forgiveness feeds negativity.  The Bible warns against unforgiveness and tells Believers to “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32).  When I read all the scriptures that tell us to forgive and also to not gloat over our enemies, (see Proverbs 24:17), I wonder if we have forgotten that God has called us to a different standard.   I am convinced that when we are so focused on others and proving them wrong, we lose sight of ourselves.  I don’t think that’s loving and it sure isn’t positive.

When we are focused on living our lives to the fullest; we experience exhilaration and joy; all positive feelings.  Judge Judy says that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason; to listen more than we speak. I agree. If we are to get over negativity, we need to change the “what if” to “what would” as in “What would Jesus do?”  Don’t let that be just something to say, let it be a time of true reflection when you are faced with interpersonal communications and actions.  Jesus can help you change those negative, destructive behaviors to positive attitudes and actions that will change the world.  How do you start: Look at yourself, model a positive outlook, strengthen and share your faith, and pray always. If you want to make a change, I guarantee, He won’t let you down.

 

 

You Are Royal….

 

royaltyIf you know me at all, you already know that I am a Born-again follower of Jesus.  I love how that sounds. It sounds passionate about being a Believer!

Unless you have been under a rock or you just have absolutely no interest in the Royals, you know that there was a recent wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.  I don’t know about you, but I love the Royals. I have followed them with curiosity and admiration for years.  I loved Princess Diana, I remember when the little princes were born and watched as they grew into wonderful men. I remember when Prince Andrew got married to Lady Sarah Ferguson and when they had their daughters too.  I watched each wedding with awe and joy and loved every single moment of it.

I don’t know why, but when I was reflecting on the recent wedding, I found myself thinking about life for the new married couple and I kept reliving the pageantry of the event. How beautiful Meghan looked and how happy they both seemed.  Yet, I can’t help it, but I turn many things into a God moment. The scripture found in 1 Peter 2:9 came to mind, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.“

The beauty of being Born-again for me personally is that at times a particular scripture will just jump up and grab me. I may not have read it in a while, but the Holy Spirit will bring the scripture back to me to speak directly to me for that particular moment. As I thought about that scripture, I could not help but think about the power of my faith.  That faith encourages me to be all that I can be.  I think about the possibilities for my life and I recall all that I have overcome in my life to get where I am now.

1Peter 2-9I am of the royal priesthood and so are you! If you can see yourself as royalty, I know you will approach your goals very differently. On the same note, if you see yourself as mediocre, that’s how you will approach life. When I use the word, mediocre, it is hard to hear because none of us would ever come out and say that we are mediocre; yet we act like that’s what we think of ourselves.  Mediocre means of only moderate quality; not very good.  Whereas Royalmeans fine, excellent, magnificent, stately, appropriate or befitting of sovereignty.  Maybe those words scare you, because they may seem to imply that you think you are better than others, or maybe they make you feel like you are being arrogant or prideful. I get it, but don’t let the word, royal,scare you.

God formed you for Himself and He knows all about you. Pride is a no-no for a Believer, but being proud of whom God made is not sinful.  Know who you are in Christ Jesus, then your entire world will change because your attitude will change for the better.

You still have no interest in Royalty? Are you sure?

 

 

 

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)

The Power of Positive Faith

power-of-holy-spiritI have always used the phrase “The Power of Positive Faith.” As you know, I write an article monthly in TWJ magazine online and the title of my column is The Power of Positive Faith.

Recently, I was running and that phrase came to me.  I asked myself, what does it really mean?  Faith is supposed to be positive isn’t it?  As I thought more about it, I concluded that yes, faith is supposed to be positive, but so many times I have watched people of faith not act positive at all.  So I ask you the question, why?

Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “Faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see.” So if we say that we believe and if faith is one of the foundational principles of what we believe, why is it that our behaviors can be found lacking?  Why is it that we exhibit doubt, fear, uneasiness, fear, anxiety, fear, stress, fear…? You get the picture?

We have faith, yet, at times, we don’t act like it.  I believe in our humanness, of course we will experience some doubt, fear, uneasiness, anxiety, and stress, but I don’t believe that we are supposed to allow these negatives to reside with us nor control us.  I have faced personal tragedies, financial hardships, marital problems, child problems, work problems,  boss problems, and just about anything you can name. So please don’t think that I have no clue as to what you might be going through.I promise you, I do. I have probably faced way more than you could ever imagine and yet, you might not be able to tell that I have because I refuse to allow life’s challenges to define me or control my future.

standinfaithI am also a woman of faith and have questioned God not just once, but on many occasions. In the end though, I say, “Father, help my doubt. Take away my fear. Help me to stand in the face of uncertainty. Lord help me.”  I am not better than you and I have to constantly remind myself of what the Bible says.

The Bible says that the Holy Spirit will give us Power. Power to stay positive and hopeful in the midst of chaos.

John 14.16-17, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever. He is the Spirit. . . he remains with you and is in you.”

Luke 24.49, “ …I myself will send upon you what my Father has promised. But you must wait…until the power from above comes down upon you.”

You see, there will always be trials. There will always be challenges and difficulties. When I have to go through something, I pray and ask God to help me. Do I get frustrated and maybe a little fearful at times? You bet I do. However, I have learned to quickly remind myself that there is someone living inside of me who has given me the power to face, walk through, and overcome.  When I think of the Power of the Holy Spirit living inside of me, those negatives that would have attached themselves to me and caused me to live defeated are quickly swallowed up with phrases that say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ ‘I will not live in fear because “greater is He who lives in me, than he who is in the world.”

If you need a little encouragement today, read the scriptures I have noted below. I needed them recently. When you say them out loud and remind yourself of what the Bible has to say to you about you and your life, these scriptures will help redirect your thinking and hopefully, you will become intentional in being positive in your faith.

Philippians 4:8-9, “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” 

Proverbs 17:22, A cheerful disposition is good for your health;
gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.”

Philippians 4:6-7, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

Philippians 4:13, “Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”

Jeremiah 29:11, “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”

Matthew 15:11, “It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up.”

I pray that whatever it is that you are going through; whatever you have to face, you will remain positive and faithful. You got to go through it, but you don’t have to go through it alone.