What’s Your Kryptonite? What trips you up, gets you off-balance? Is it a relationship? Being around certain people? Your attitude or perspective? Jealousy? Competition?
Whatever it is, you’re not alone. We all have multiple disabling forms of kryptonite that seem to transform us and sap our power to represent God well in that moment.
Let’s look at how kryptonite affects Superman. According to CBR.com, green, the most common, kryptonite saps the power of Superman and all other Kryptonians. Red kryptonite turns Kryptonians evil and makes them look foolish and even insane. Pink kryptonite changed Superman to female. Periwinkle changed Superman’s appearance and made him desire only to disco dance with Lois Lane. Once the periwinkle kryptonite wore off, Superman would be embarrassed, but Lois sought to expose him to this kryptonite often as it was fun for her. This reminds me of so-called friends getting someone drunk to entertain themselves at the drunk person’s expense. All these and other kryptonites made the Superhumans vulnerable. With their superpowers weakened and funky new twists, they weren’t able to avenge evil in their usual high-powered fashion.
The effects of our kryptonites are similar in that we are weakened and vulnerable. That is why it’s valuable to honestly evaluate everything in our lives from interactions to motives and outcomes. We need to see what trips us up, so we can avoid potential damage.
Does your commitment to God and living His standard fly out the window when you are in a certain situation or around a certain person? If so, you’ve just accomplished step 1: identifying your kryptonite.
Step 2 is evaluating what typically happens in this situation or around this person. Do you get angry and let hurtful words spew from your mouth? Are you tempted by sinful pleasures? Understanding why this situation or person is a form of kryptonite for you is equally as important as identifying it.
Step 3 is distinguishing reality from personal perception: whether the problem is truly the situation or person or whether it is your attitudes and actions. If you typically sull up and seek to retaliate after critical quarterly evaluations at work, the problem is your attitude, not the evaluation nor your boss. Maybe your boss seems like a jerk with no heart, but it is still your job to follow through on his recommendations for how you can improve your job performance. It may seem that your kryptonite is the boss or the evaluation, but your most deadly kryptonite is your attitude.
Next, honestly evaluate if you experience similar trouble of confrontational feelings in other relational instances. Often it helps to ask other people if they notice these things. Don’t get mad when they tell you that you have a problem with ego, temper, etc. Take this knowledge and tuck it into your belt. By understanding that your problem isn’t just the other person not caring, you’ll be able to address what is actually making you weak. Equipped with this knowledge, you can avoid the kryptonite of self-preservation. God keeps us safe; we cannot preserve ourselves outside of Him.
Step 4 is to recognize whether this trigger situation or interaction is avoidable. Is this something you sought after but don’t have to maintain? In other words, do you have to be in this situation or interaction? Some situations are not avoidable, such as a boss’s evaluation at work. And no matter how insensitive a boss seems while giving your performance review, we all choose how we respond in that uncomfortable situation.
But let’s say the situation or interaction is something you sought to fit in or gain the attention of someone in particular. What are your motives? What are the potential outcomes? If it doesn’t align with how God directs us to carry ourselves and interact with others, stop it! You may not have a cool exit, but that’s not nearly as important as getting out intact before the kryptonite saps your power and renders you more vulnerable to sin.
What if your kryptonite seems to be the unfair criticism of a close family member? In this case, we benefit by focusing our attention on God in the relationship. If the relationship is with a parent or child, what is your God-given role? What does God’s Word say about that role? How does God say we should behave in our role?
This strategy has been a tremendous help to me personally as one of my kryptonites is criticism from a loved one with a warped frame of mind. I seek to honor God in this relationship but also know that anytime I let my guard down, I am subject to attack. I guess you could say that my real kryptonites in this particular situation are my need for approval and my transparency. Typically these things aren’t viewed negatively, but when they are the open door injury walks through, they are a type of kryptonite.
This doesn’t mean that we ought to live vaguely, falsely, and wall up against human relationships. Certainly we are created for living truthfully and connecting with others. However, it does mean that we are to be wise in recognizing patterns that may damage us, others, and our relationship with God. You cannot change another’s perspective, motives, or bad habits, but you can avoid being the victim by not casting information out there to be used against you by a misguided person.
This leads us to Step 5, guarding your heart to avoid the crippling effects of kryptonite. God’s Word tells us to guard our heart with good reason. If we are seeking acceptance, attention, or feel vulnerable or attacked, we are likely behave in a dishonorable fashion. We know that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and rulers of darkness and spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12). The person attacking us is just as much a victim being used by satan as a weapon against God.
We are instructed in Proverbs 4:23-27 to
“Keep thine heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
Put away from thee a forward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.
Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.
Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.
Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”
Just by this one portion of scripture, we know to guard our heart and not engage in offensive speech or behavior. If we know our kryptonite, we are better equipped to avoid situations which render us weak. We are to stay on track with an attitude and behavior that honors God, regardless. That can be tough when seeking acceptance or when being verbally attacked, but it remains our duty as representatives of the God who liberates us from such toxicity. We are not to engage in evil. We are to focus on God and not be distracted by anything around us. We all face attacks, and satan usually attacks through other people that offend or lure us. We must remember this and render satan powerless by not engaging in evil and by praying for the person satan tries to use against us.
To recap, identify your kryptonites. Understand how they affect you. As objectively as possible, be honest about what is the root of your kryptonites, and seek feedback from others. Evaluate if and how you may avoid your kryptonites. Guard your heart to render kryptonite powerless instead of the other way around.
In God, you are strong and able to resist the wiles of satan. You don’t have to become weak putty in certain situations or around certain people. God makes us all able to stand, and He expects us to do just that, in His strength, not our own (Ephesians 6:11-13).
For more on this subject, please read last week’s blog, “Perfecting Patience” and that of 6/26, “Always Ready for Battle.” They are just a scroll down the page. ;-)
Problems, patience, and perseverance—what do these three things have in common? If you thought something along the lines of we all need patience to persevere through problems, you are right. Problems are a part of life, so must patience and perseverance be a part of a successful life.
Some problems are our own fault. Some are not. That’s why James tells believers in the New Testament to count it all joy when they fall into “divers temptations.” The word used here for temptations is translated as peirasmos and can mean problems that are our fault and those that aren’t.
Temptations, in the modern sense of the word, are our fault. The New Oxford American Dictionary (NOAD) defines temptation as “the desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise.” Later in chapter 1, James says, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (verses 13-14). We are tempted by what we lust for.
God created us and knows that we have temptations. He always makes a way of escape, whether it’s the option to swipe off a screen on our phone or to not respond to juicy gossip directed our way. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” God never creates the temptation, but He always gives us a way of escape. His watchful eye never fails to see His children in need, and He responds more quickly and more powerful than any parent in nature. He won’t make our choices for us; otherwise, they wouldn’t be choices. But He always makes a way of escape for us that will never contradict His Word.
Temptations, or trials as we think of the modern use, are not necessarily our fault. The NOAD defines the noun trial as “a formal examination of evidence before a judge,” “a test of the performance, qualities, or suitability of someone or something, a person, thing,” or “situation that tests a person’s endurance or forbearance.” The NOAD defines the verb trial as “test (something, especially a new product) to assess its suitability or performance,” “(of a horse, dog, or other animal) compete in trials.” Trials seem to just be a part of life for everyone.
God promises to be with us to bring us safely out of every trial. “Fear not, for I have redeemed thee; I have called thee by name, thou are mine. When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” (Isaiah 43:1-2).
Regardless of whether the temptation, or trial, results from our own sinful lust or is an unwarranted attack by satan, all trials are training for battle. Just as soldiers train and condition for battle, we are to recognize situations we are in as training maneuvers to correct and fortify us, honing our skills. Though God is never the author of any trials or temptations we face, He is our High Commander who guides and teaches us to endure as we make life-preserving moves on the battlefield. Jesus promised believers in John 16:33, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
God offers us peace in Him we can accept or deny. We can follow His divine guidance or go with our unwise human nature. Our own thoughts and plans for ourselves can never measure up to His love for us (Psalm 40:5). Humans are stubborn creatures. We often have to experience struggles repeatedly before we learn to depend on God and honor Him with our choices. Even domestic animals seem to learn faster than some of us to avoid negative consequences.
Psychologist Edward L. Thorndike created a puzzle box as part of an experiment in 1898 to determine if animals really are intelligent. He placed a hungry cat inside the puzzle box and a juicy morsel outside, out of reach of the cat. In order to escape the box and get the morsel, the cat had to do a specific series of actions: pull a string to release one lock, step on a lever to release the second, and flip a latch upright so that the door would open.
The hungry cat responded by trying its natural strategies of squeezing through the bars, clawing at the door, and meowing for help. When these strategies failed to release him, the cat attempted dozens of actions, until by chance, he stumbled upon the right combination. The real test was to see if the cat would repeat the specific three-step maneuver again, only faster, to show that it learned something. Remarkably, the cat took almost three minutes the first time but always less than one minute every time after. (Psycohology for Teaching, Francois, 124-125)
What can we learn from this as Christians? Will we learn that our relationship with God is the only source for peace, joy, courage, wisdom, and strength to persevere in patience when we face trials? Some of us learn more quickly and easily than others. I relate to the stubborn Christians who learn slowly, as it took my losing everything but my life for me to truly understand my brokenness and dependence on Him.
Psychologist B.F. Skinner originated operant conditioning, where the consequences of a response determined the probability of it being repeated. Simply put, behaviors reinforced with rewards or relief from a negative situation would likely be repeated, and behaviors punished by presentation (physical) punishment or penalty (removal of something desired), would occur less frequently. (Psycohology for Teaching, Francois, 130-135)
I wish real life were as cut and dry as this experiment. In real life, sometimes we get ourselves (or keep ourselves) in the same sticky situation time after time. God often gives us the way out that we need but don’t want. We might be living it up in sin city when God throws us that lifeline. We want to linger in sin longer because we know there is pleasure in sin for a season (Hebrews 11:25). Otherwise, we creatures of comfort wouldn’t seek sin. Sometimes when we resist God’s grace and go our own way thinking we can get out later, God allows us to fall flat on our face, sometimes repeatedly, to learn our dependence on Him. Other times, He knows it’s best to prevent us by circumstances. When things aren’t going your way, or circumstances seem impossible to bear, seek God, ask Him to help you know His will, and acknowledge that you cannot follow without His wisdom and strength. He will not leave you hanging; He promises to guide the steps of those who diligently seek Him (Psalm 37:23, Proverbs 16:9, Job 36:5, Isaiah 48:17). Sometimes we have to learn through our circumstances, and sometimes we see things right away. As long as you seek God, you will be safe.
Do you have a personal mission statement and coordinating goals and objectives? Companies, organizations, and many churches have carefully written out their mission statements, goals, and objectives at one time or another. Many don’t update these as necessary to meet changing dynamics. There is a power in having and maintaining these as a corporate organization, family, and individuals. That’s right; we should prayerfully consider our mission, goals, and objectives as individuals, couples, and families and carefully put them to words.
Often as Christians we understand that we are to represent Christ to a hurting world, but we don’t examine and resolve to follow specifics beyond that vague call. According to Barna Research, sharing faith is increasingly optional to Christians and almost half of practicing Christian Millennials say evangelism is wrong.
Jesus taught that a house without a firm foundation will surely fall (Matthew 7:24-27). If we don’t prayerfully choose and embrace our purpose, we are much more likely to be swayed by the lies that seek to overtake our thoughts and attitudes.
As an English teacher, I became accustomed to developing a yearly mission, monthly goals, and daily objectives for my students’ learning.
The mission was the long-term, overarching purpose, the change they should come away with at the end of the year.
The monthly goals derived from the long-term mission, or purpose, for their being in the class and broke down the mission into what I intended for them to achieve.
The daily objectives were actionable steps we would take to achieve the larger goals.
The mission is one, overarching statement regarding your purpose. You’ll have several goals and even more objectives as they outline the singular steps to accomplish your goals as you live your mission.
As a Christian, my mission affects how I live every aspect of life—professional and personal, so I will have several goals that represent different aspects of my life and are all connected back to my overarching, life-shaping mission to serve others in Christ’s love to connect them to God. I will have goals as a writer, a wife, a mother, etcetera.
How this looks for a Christian might be something like this:
My Mission: To serve others in Christ’s love to connect them to God.
Writing Goal: To write and share engaging content that will initiate or deepen others’ relationship with Jesus Christ.
Physically Healthy Marriage Objectives:
Pray: Dear Heavenly Father, I want to live according to Your will. I know Your plans are best. Help me to understand my purpose and design goals to accomplish what You have for me to do. I seek Your divine wisdom in setting my daily objectives to achieve the goals that will lead others to You. I give You all the honor and glory for all You ordain for me to accomplish. In Jesus Christ’s name, the only name with all the power of heaven, amen.
God reminded the Jews held captive in Babylon, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
God gave the captive Jews some specific things to do while waiting for their expected end:
God allowed the Jews to suffer the consequences of their choice to live apart from Him. Their selfishness and pride caused them to either be driven from their homeland or to suffer famine in their once thriving, now land of hunger. Regardless of the individual situations, there was always a corporate hope for God’s chosen people. The Jews who suffered as a result of their sin could not revoke God’s promises for blessing or punishment. God was still with them, guiding them. It was their choice whether or not to abide in and obey God or further disregard Him and His commands.
Likewise, it is our choice to embrace or reject God’s guidance. Either way, we will live with the direct and indirect results of our choices. Our disobedience never erases God’s promises but keeps us from them, and oppositely, our obedience opens the door for us to experience God’s blessings as fully as He designed.
Some things to understand about the Babylonian Exile: