God Time for October 31-November 4
(Spend 5 minutes before you read thinking about one or two things you appreciate in your life)
Monday October 31
For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
Act Like Yourself…
This starts with identity. We have two identities.
Individual identity, “Who am I?”
Group identity, “Who are my people?”
Before we think of who we are, we need to know there is a lot inside of us ready to be like someone else. Our best true self, you can call it. We have the blueprint of the one God created. When we are acting like ourselves then, it is acting like our best, true selves.
So, who am I?
I am the son of an adoring Father who is the King of all that exists. You are the daughter of an adoring Father who is King.
Who are my people?
We are royalty. My people are those who identify with the same loving Father and follow in his ways, trusting in Jesus, our model and teacher, as well as our Savior.
Individual identity and group identity are not identical, but they can’t be separated.
As my identity is developing, how do I respond? It is helpful to think of group identity here, because that takes priority.
We start really developing group identity when we reach middle school age. This is why middle school or jr. high as you might have called it, are remembered not so fondly for many of us. Unless we suppressed those years all together:)
You might remember middle school as an awkward time. We mainly think of puberty issues and such as the source of our non-fond memories and awkwardness. With the latest brain science what we realize now is the main challenge of those years is we are establishing a group identity. Who are my people? Middle School students tend to experiment and go from group to group. Not as much puberty and awkwardness but confusion over who my people are.
This is why we invest in young people at this critical time so they know who their people are. Those who share life with them following Jesus. This is why we partner with parents to give sons and daughters the opportunity to explore who they are in the context of a faith community.
Here’s the thing. In the identity center of the brain we have neurons called, “mirror neurons.” These neurons can’t look at themselves. They can only look at others and activate the neurons that reflect what they see.
Jim Wilder says, “If I live with people who regularly show disgust around me, my mirror neurons will reflect that and I will learn to think of myself as someone who generates disgust. If I live with parents who take delight in who I am and demonstrate that delight regularly, I learn to see myself as someone who brings joy to others.”
Whenever you feel pressure or anxiety, remember you are God’s son or daughter facing pressure or anxiety.
Tuesday November 1
Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.
For Christians, we are called to be like Jesus. So, we look at situations of life as he would. How would his people act?
What would the person God made me to be do in this situation?
What would Jesus do if he were me in this situation?
What would the people of God at their best do in this situation? That’s what it means to act like yourself. Act like the person God made you to be. Jesus is already in you ready to go.
What is it like to know that you have Jesus in you ready and able to grow? “Living with the heart Jesus gave you,” Wilder calls it.
We can compare this heart of Jesus to a seed. The seed has all the potential to become a plant that bears fruit. What does the seed need? To start out, the seed needs tender loving care. Water and nourishment. Keeping weeds away. As the seed grows, there is one need for light all along the way. The plant doesn’t just grow up towards the light, the plant grows more roots to have a steady dose of nourishment. Hardship is not avoided at all cost, because challenges are necessary so resistance can make the plant grow stronger. The plant doesn’t have to go looking for hardship, it will be there as it learns to grow with other plants.
Everything we need to be like Jesus is already inside of us who belong to him. But, much of it is below ground and needs to be wakened.
This is where being a RARE leader comes in. A RARE leader is really good at seeing Jesus in others and influencing that to come out. Most people see only the negative and the weakness in others. We rarely see who they really are, meaning see them like God sees them. Until we can look at other’s through God’s eyes, we will not be able to help them act like themselves.
Today, try to look at people the way God sees them.
Wednesday November 2
Then fulfill my joy and be like-minded, having the same love, being in unity with one mind. Let nothing be done out of strife or conceit, but in humility let each esteem the other better than himself. Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
When we think of how people act in relationships, there are three kinds of people. Wilder calls them predators, possums, and protectors. We might show signs of being all three of these, but one is our main go-to.
Before we look at these types let’s define another word. Shame.
We recall Joy means gladness. When we share joy, I am glad to be with you. Well shame is the opposite. I am not glad to be with you. There are two kinds of shame.
Toxic shame is isolating and it is used by others to lie about our identity, obtain power over us, and will continue until we comply. There is no return to joy in toxic shame.
Healthy shame doesn’t try to isolate us but is based on the truth of our relationships and identity. It is inviting someone back to their best true selves.
Alright, let’s look at the three types.
First, there is the predator.
You are being a predator when you are always justifying yourself and you know no shame. Even if you are given healthy shame by someone trying to help in relationship, you deflect the shame to others, especially those who are vulnerable.
A predator pounces on the vulnerable and weak to grow their own power and indulge their own pleasure. A predator has a lack of tenderness toward the vulnerable.
Second, there is the possum. Possum is short for opossum. What does an opossum do during times of threat? The possum will run away or play dead. Because predators are on the look out for possums to exploit, possums will put on masks to try to avoid being attacked.
Possum leaders try to make everyone happy, but they disappear during times of crisis. Like the officer who hides in the foxhole during the battle instead of engaging with his soldiers and leading them into battle, possums are often emotionally overwhelmed and relationally isolated.
Then third, there are protectors. This is the model of Jesus. This is you as you live out of the heart Jesus has given you. Protectors have a strong joyful identity in who they are as children of God. They welcome others and are especially tender to the vulnerable. They don’t exploit the vulnerable like a predator, but help them grow in joy. Protectors will gently protect the vulnerable from dysfunctional behavior. Protectors help the vulnerable grow in joy. When a group is high-joy they develop protector skills automatically. They naturally resist behavior that threatens the relational bonds. Vulnerable people feel safe when they are with protectors. Emotionally mature leaders are protectors. They see value in people that others do not.
If we act like the Jesus who is within us, we are protectors. Without Jesus, we are natural predators. That is the default position for normal human beings. Trying to protect ourselves at all cost.
High-joy communities develop protectors. How can you impact your environment?
Thursday November 3
1 Corinthians 2
For, “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?”
But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.
We need the mind of Jesus. We need to see things the way he sees them. Jesus didn’t allow others to trigger him into getting upset. Even when we was angry, he would have control of the situation. Two things get in the way of our acting like our best true selves… Triggers and masks.
When we get triggered we turn into someone we are not.
Predators will use attack. They will blow up relationally. They will feel like punching something. Possums will run away. They will shut down relationally.
Both predators and possums overreact.
Protectors don’t get their triggers pulled.
What can you do when you are vulnerable to triggers?
Ask God what happened to get you triggered.
Ask God for a new perspective.
Share what you learn with a trusted ally.
Besides triggers, the other thing that gets in the way are the masks we use to try to fit in. Remember group identity? We start using masks by middle school and many of us never stop. We try to hide our vulnerabilities by appearing strong. Masks help us get what we want.
Here is the problem with masks. Eventually we are confused because we don’t know if people like us for who we are or for our image of who we are. Do they like our masks or us? Eventually we get exhausted by all of this and this kills our joy.
What are your triggers and masks? Think this through.
Friday November 4
So we continue to tell people about Christ. We use all wisdom to counsel every person and teach every person. We are trying to bring everyone before God as people who have grown to be spiritually mature in Christ.
Live out of your identity as God’s precious child. You are special in God’s eyes and he’s got your back. With God you need no mask and he is the only one who matters.
Live in community with God’s people whom you can imitate. People that you share day-to-day life with. You imitate the Christlike behavior of those God has placed in your life.
This is why young people have such a tremendous opportunity for growth as part of a church community. Besides your own family, you are not going to find finer adult models to imitate than those who make up your faith family. When you actually look around you, there are so many people invested in your life.
That’s what we do in Christian community.
We encourage relationship with the generations, and try not to isolate our people into generational niches. Maturity is a matter of growing together as our best true selves.
Those of us who are older have the experience in relationships and the living-life resources that we can share. Those who are younger have the energy and the curiosity that they can share. Together we move forward into a future where God is ahead of us, leading us as we act like ourselves.
Make progress in sharing your life with your faith family.