It’s Saturday. Start something

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…and so is a plan without goals. Both are necessary ingredients.

Basic steps to making change:

  1. Determine what needs to be changed (and how badly you want it changed–this is a great place for prayer!).
  2. Develop a plan of action.
  3. Set reasonable, measureable goals.
  4. Count the cost (what do you have to add/subtract in your like and is it worth it?).
  5. Tell somebody. Make yourself accountable for encouragement.
  6. Implement the plan.

Today is a great day to get started!

Is there something you would add to these steps? Let me know.

Check out, “Watching Our Words” by Jacob C. Price

jacobblogMy son, Jacob, has written a new blog post entitled, “Watching Our Words,” where he explores the affect of words on our relationships and, as a part of a larger series he’s working on, “Becoming a Young Gentleman in the 21st Century”.

I had the privilege of being interviewed by him for this segment (his first interview), so I hope you will take a few minutes and listen to that at the bottom of his post.

I appreciate you supporting him in this as he hones both his writing and his life skills.  Let us know if you have any feedback or encouragement along the way.

Conflicting Times: Handling Relational Challenges

conflictsConflict happens. There is no way around it. If you care about someone or work closely with someone, you spend more time with them. If you spend more time with them, you have more opportunity to annoy each other or miscommunicate. If you have more opportunity, conflict happens. So, the question is not whether or not you can always avoid conflict, but how to prevent relational casualties when conflict arises.

Here are a few suggestions to help us wade through the mire of conflict management:

1.  Start with YOU.

Chances are, you are at least partially responsible for any conflict you’re in.  Honestly identify your role.  If you’re a follower of Christ, pray that your level of culpability will be revealed.  Humble yourself to the point where you are prepared to repent and make the necessary changes to minimize the potential for conflict over the same issues in the future.

2. Expect the best.

If this is someone you know well and care for, there is a really good chance that what they said or did was not intended to do you harm.  Sure, in anger, we say things that are intended to sting or offend.  Yet, even in those times, it is usually raw emotion rather than a calculated effort to harm you.

A dog that is otherwise a loyal pet, will often snap at her owner if she has been injured.  Her instinct of self-preservation tells her to protect at all cost, even lashing out at someone she normally “loves” (to whatever extent that applies to dogs).

We often act in the same way if we feel personally or emotionally threatened or hurt.  In those cases, we need to show that person grace.  Even criminals are given the benefit of a presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.  Surely those close to us expect at least that much consideration.  Expecting the best takes us off of the offensive and allows us to reflect on what we know about the other person. (Philippians 4: 8)

3.  Forgive ahead of time.

Don’t wait for the apology (which hopefully will come), but determine that the relationship is more important than this incident.  This will put you on a good footing to fight for the relationship.  Even if the other person is not ready to apologize, communicate your hurt honestly but determine to let the offense go.

Any time we harbor bitter feelings, we suffer as much as the person we’re upset with: lost sleep, anxiety, lack of focus on anything other than the offense.  Harboring ill feelings are destructive on so many levels that it is not worth whatever “satisfaction” we get from holding a grudge.  (Ephesians 4:32)

4.  Talk it out!

The most natural thing for us to do when we are offended or hurt is to avoid the other person at all cost.  We wait for them to come to us, which makes reconciliation impossible if there is a stand-off.  Act like an adult, confront the fear, push aside the awkwardness and deal with the issue head-on.  Remember, the relationship is worth it!  Even if you know it’s going to be a lengthy and painful confrontation, the relationship is worth it.  The longer you wait, the harder it gets and the more likely that thoughts, feelings and emotions that weren’t initially a part of the situation will be brought into our thinking which simply makes reconciliation more difficult.

The passing of time following a disagreement rarely, if ever, make the situation better.  Yes, sometimes a “cooling off” period is helpful, but rarely should that take more than a few hours.  Follow the biblical mandate to not let the sun go down on your anger! (Ephesians 4:26; Matthew 5:23-24)

Stronger Than Ever

Working through conflict is rarely easy, but when it’s done and reconciliation happens (which, sadly, doesn’t always happen), you will experience a stronger relationship with that person than before the conflict occurred.  We often find an increased respect and trust in the individuals whose friendship has now been “tried by fire” and proven to be stronger than before.  Yes, it’s hard work, but if it’s a relationship that was worth building in the first place, it is always worth the work it takes to sustain it!

Are there some other steps that you would take in resolving conflicts?  Let me hear them in the comments section below.

 

Saving Daylight, Part 2: Loving Well

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Over the last few days, my thoughts have been consumed by a lovely lady within our church who is nearing the end of her journey on earth.  I’ve thought about the relationship she has had with her devoted husband for 63 years and the love they have shared.  I’ve thought about how over the last six years that I have known them, they have loved well.  What a great thing to be able to say!

Will I be able to say that of the relationships in my life when the time comes to say goodbye?

Saving daylight is not just about time-management as in making sure that the priorities in my life are getting the attention they deserve, but HOW that time is then spent.  How often do we waste time getting upset over pettiness and bickering or giving each other the silent-treatment, even though that relational priority is getting plenty of time?

How often do we get so upset with someone we once cared deeply for that the relationship is damaged to the point we, at best, question whether or not it can even be restored?  How do we get to that point?

Perhaps we seriously need to re-examine the gift of time.

Once time is spent, it is gone forever.  It cannot be re-claimed.  It can only be redeemed.  How are you handling the time you have been given with the relationships in your life?  Are you being responsible or more like an individual who has gotten behind the wheel having had too much to drink?  Are you driving recklessly over all the people you claim to have loved?  If we’re honest, most (if not all) of the problems in our relationships arise because of self-centeredness.  Rather than living according to the biblical directive to “do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but in humility count others as more significant than yourself,” we get upset when the other person doesn’t bow to our expectations (often because they are looking after themselves).

Maybe it’s way past time to hold up the mirror in front of our own faces to see how well we are doing with the fleeting time we have been given in the area of our relationships.  Are we loving well?  Are there relationships in our lives that are damaged or, in our view, dead because of failing to love well…sacrificially?

These are questions I am asking myself.  Am I loving my wife as Christ loves His church: sacrificially, completely and unconditionally?  Am I loving my children, not just by saying the words, “I love you,” which I do constantly, but with quality time and quantity time?  Am I showing them I love them by creating a godly lifestyle pattern rather than simply a long list of cold rules?

This can be a painful process.  We may find that we’ve actually wasted the precious daylight that we have.  If so, change! Ask the important questions:

What attitudes need to be changed in my life?

What habits or practices need to be altered or stopped altogether?

What activities or time-thieves need to be confronted and eliminated?

What relationships do I need to revisit and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, renew.  This may be the toughest one to accomplish!

Daylight is burning, but as long as the sun is still shining in your life, you have time.  Redeem it!  The sun will be setting soon enough.  Don’t allow that last little ray to fade, wondering if you could have done more.

Love well.

(Read Part 1 here.)

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