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.

When You Are Scared…Trust…

trustI talk so much about how important it is to go for the gold and to never give up. I am especially good at encouraging others to be all that they can be.  I tell you to take your turmoil and turn them into your testimonies of victory. I truly believe in all that I just said to you, but today I want to take a different approach to encouraging you. I want you to just Trust.

Recently, I visited a place near and dear to me. I saw my friends and just loved seeing and interacting with them.  I saw people who make me feel like running the race and never giving up. I saw people who I have known at least 15 years and others I have known less.  One thing that has actually kept me warm inside has been to reflect on these people as I left them behind.  They are still committed to Christ after sicknesses, deaths, hardships and trials; they are still there, serving Him and His people day after day.

What also struck me while I was visiting was the people I met who were going through very difficult struggles in their lives today; struggles with their health and not knowing what to do next. Scared and afraid that life as they had known it would not be the same anymore.  There were those who had family members struggling with personal issues so difficult that it disrupted the entire family structure and there were others who had to juggle several crises at the same time. I can only imagine the desperation they were going through. Losing your good health; being able to move about freely without aid and now you can barely get up from a chair.  Losing a family member, whether to death or to their desire to separate from the family for extended periods;  these are all scary things to deal with.

How can you be positive when you have so much to deal with? How can you stay “up” when everything in you and around you is telling you to stay “down?”  How do you move forward at all when you want to crawl under the covers and never come out? I tell you how, start telling yourself to just take one day at a time and trust God.

I believe the enemy wants you confused about so many things. First, if you are a Believer, he wants you to question God.   When you lose faith and start questioning God, it won’t be long before you start blaming God. Once you begin blaming God, it’s impossible to hold onto your faith, believing that God cares for you (yes, little old you). We begin to think that all the things happening to us, does not matter to God.

Second, we start to pity ourselves and wonder why these things are happening to us.  That too creates negative images in our minds; we are not strong; we are not good enough; we are not smart and the list goes on. There are plenty of voices in this world that will try to tell you that you aren’t good enough, but the voice of God always says that you are loved. When you stop hearing Him and listen to what others say, it is easy to become disillusioned and down.

If you are feeling lost or insignificant in this world, I challenge you to turn to the words of God. He will remind you that you are neither lost nor insignificant. He loves you and cares about all those things that are burdensome to you. You do matter to Him and everything that affects you, matters to God.

“For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”                                                                  (Isaiah 41:13)