Tidbits and Blessings Blog
by Jeanie Malone
I’d love for you to join the conversation. Please share your thoughts in the comments section under each entry.
“It is the weak who are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong.” –Leo Roskin
People with unhealthy character impose guilt messages in an effort to control and manipulate others.
These people are angry , lack self-control, and live with many fears.
Regardless of the negative person’s real problems, if I let the negative remarks affect my thinking and my choices, I am a victim as well. God designed us to be victorious no matter our life circumstances. God wants our thinking to be centered around Him because He knows that is how we can live victoriously, regardless of our nitty-gritty details. If we allow the negative attitudes and remarks of others to control our thinking and actions, we are slaves to that negative, and our thinking is not centered around God. This is sin, and in it we will not live victoriously. We are not only designed to live victoriously, but we are designed to be free from the chains of sin. It has no power over us unless we allow it. We can choose to remain centered around God and speak life to the person who is spewing anger and death.
In response to attacks from others, we can scrap and scrounge to fight for ourselves, or we can call for help from a much more reliable power source than ourselves. When David fled King Saul and hid in a cave to stay alive, he praised God. Psalm 57 shows how David felt in his situation, and it shows his powerful response.
King Saul was full of pride and power. When he said jump, strong men jumped. When he set out to have someone murdered, he could consider it accomplished. But he didn’t count on his scare tactics and mental manipulation to fail in his pursuit of David. He counted on tripping up a scared, panicky David. But David had trust in God and prior training to keep his mind focused on where his strength came from. As a young shepherd, he had slain many wild animals responsible for killing livestock and men alike. Then he took down and cut off the head of Goliath, the mighty Philistine whose size, reputation and use of fear tactics were enough to cause all the mighty warriors in the Hebrew army to cower with knees knocking.
“Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me. He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth. My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let thy glory be above all the earth. They have prepared a net for my steps; My soul is bowed down: They have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise. Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early. I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people; I will sing unto thee among the nations. For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, And thy truth unto the clouds. Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: Let thy glory be above all the earth” (Psalm 57:1-11).
David was under attack and had to flee for his life. He was scared and knew he was in danger. His response to his situation no doubt comforted him with God’s presence and strengthened his resolve to stay focused and clear-headed as to not become an emotional and mental victim as well as having to preserve his physical life by hiding in the cave.
Just as David chose a powerful, empowering response to his situation, we can choose this power as well.
King Saul was angry, lacked self-control and lived with many fears. He knew that David was appointed by God to be the next king of Israel. King Saul was jealous of David’s relationship with God. What if David had responded differently to King Saul’s tactics and attacks? What if David had not turned to God and praised God as he did? Do you think the outcome would have been the same?
Think of a situation in your life that is troubling you right now. Identify what the problem is, or the stimulus, if you will. Then consider several options of how you can respond to that problem, and predict to the best of your ability what would be the outcome of each possible response. You likely have prior experience to pull from to help you accurately predict the outcomes of your possible responses.
I learned a powerful concept from Stephen R. Covey’s teachings that he came across in a book in a university library: “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” This concept greatly shifted my paradigm of life, just as it did for Covey. I realized the complete power I had over any response I gave in any situation. I employed this in my relationships as a parent, spouse, daughter, sister, aunt, teacher, coworker, and friend. It was empowering to realize the liberty I had in how I choose to respond to any comment and any situation.
The human endowments that reside in the space between stimulus and response, according to Covey, are self-awareness, conscience, independent will, and creative imagination. According to Covey, the synergy of these endowments is necessary for quality of life.
Self-awareness is defined as “our capacity to stand apart from ourselves and examine our thinking, our motives, our history, our scripts, our actions, and our habits and tendencies.”
Conscience is defined as what “allows us to sense when we act or even contemplate acting in a way that’s contrary to principle.”
Independent will is defined as “our capacity to act.” Covey further says this regarding independent will: “While environmental or genetic influences may be very powerful, they do not control us. We’re not victims. We’re not the product of our choices. We are ‘response-able’—able to respond beyond our moods and tendencies.”
Creative imagination is defined as “the power to envision a future state, to create something in our mind, and to solve problems synergistically. It’s the endowment that enables us to see ourselves and others differently and better than we are now.”
It’s important that we use the creative imagination God gave us to speak life and truth to ourselves.
When George Foreman was training to regain his title as Heavyweight Champion of the World 20 years after he lost the title to Muhammad Ali, he learned to not even hear the negatives anymore. He focused on his goal and worked hard to make it happen. He promised himself that in time he would be the champ of the world. After recapturing his title in 1994, Foreman said when he looked in the mirror he still saw the same old guy turning 50, but he also saw a guy who was able to seize and conquer. He said, “I could never see someone who could not do it.”
The synergy of these four endowments is what produces optimum results. One endowment without the others is out of balance and unable to produce positive fruit. According to Covey, “the development of each of the four endowments and the synergy between them is the core of personal leadership” (59-61, Covey, Merrill, Merrill).
Our responses to people speak as loudly if not more loudly than our original actions. We need to be able to objectively evaluate our attitudes and behaviors and be honest with ourselves as to whether we need to change our paradigms. We need to see if our words and actions align with our principles. We need to recognize our ability to respond beyond our own moods and tendencies. We need to be able to envision and work toward good outcomes, not only for ourselves, but also for others. Clearly we need a lot to be effective communicators seeking win-win outcomes not only for ourselves but for everyone involved. Clearly, it is very possible for us to have, do, and be what is needed. Remind yourself of the example of David or of George Foreman when you feel discouraged or helpless to change the direction of a conversation or relationship. Next week, we will look deeper into how our words drive our attitudes and accomplishments.
I'm tired of running from God and am trying to learn to run to Him instead.