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Galatians 6

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.

You can’t learn maturity from a book. Maturity is learned on the go. Seeing the behavior of those who are moving ahead of you and who have shown resiliency while maintaining high joy and shalom, and sharing these with you.

All authentic learning is way more imitation than it is information. To grow in maturity is to be a person worth imitating. God is calling us to grow up. Let’s look at the levels of maturity as taught by Dr. Wilder that move us toward being people capable of enduring hardship well.

First there is infant maturity.

Infants are good at letting you know they are upset.

Crying because they are hungry, tired, dirty diapers, lonely, or they are hurt.

But they won’t tell you why. It is your job to figure it out. Then, it is your job to take care of what they need.

In his decades of research and counseling, Dr. Wilder estimates about 70% of men are operating at an infant level of maturity most of the time.

So, folks who live primarily at a infant level of maturity are also leaders in business, education, churches, and schools. They can be the key shot callers in the family. These folks get an “A” for being upset. They are experts at upset, but they receive an “F” for relationship building.

If I am operating at an infant maturity level, my job is to let you know how upset I am, your job is to figure out why and to fix it.

Child maturity moves beyond infant level maturity and I learn to care for one other person. Myself.

Dr. Wilder says about 70% of women have moved beyond infant level maturity to child maturity, but unfortunately, they get stuck there.

Infants move to child maturity when they learn to take care of one person. Themselves. But, they don’t focus on anyone else. So, child maturity is all about manipulation to get you to do what I want. Children are experts at trying to get you to do what I want. Adults stuck in child maturity are, as well.

In child maturity, my job is to tell you what I want.

You job is to do it.

And I am going to use fear, anger, and shame to get you to do it.

I have mentioned Dallas Willard’s definition of maturity.

Your maturity is measured by how you respond when you don’t get your own way.
So, here’s the thing. The vast majority of the adults you are in contact with from day to day have not gone beyond child maturity. Most leaders are infants or children when it comes to maturity. So are many of us at one time or another.

Whenever people get upset, the vast majority of the time they are operating at infant or child maturity level. Just turn on the news at any time and you will see that the response to suffering, conflict and struggle is being done by people operating at an infant or child level maturity.

Do you want a quick test? Watch how people drive. Watch how people act anywhere when they are inconvenienced, even a little.

ME

Was this a bit uncomfortable to read? Do you see some of this in you? God desires for us to make progress.

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Colossians 1

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.

What else?

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.

ME

Make progress in sharing your life with your faith family.

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Philippians 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.

ME

High-joy communities develop protectors. How can you impact your environment?

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Ephesians 3

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.

ME

Today, try to look at people the way God sees them.

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Matthew 5:23-24 

“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

Dr. Marcus Warner speaks of four simple strategies to help us get started in learning to remain relational. He uses the acronym, CAKE.

Curiosity- “I’m curious…”

You can test whether your relational circuit is on or off by your curiosity level. You are interested in what is going on inside someone else and what would help them connect relationally. Opposite of sarcasm. “I’m curious why you’re such a putz.”

Appreciation- When you share appreciation you will see more good. When you criticize you will see more bad.

Kindness- Doing things that create joy in someone else. In the process, your joy grows, as well. Shared joy when you are glad to be with someone.

Kindness- Doing things that create joy in someone else. In the process your joy grows, as well. Shared joy when you are glad to be with someone.

Envelope Conversation- Start with the history of the importance of the relationship. Then discuss a problem you are having. Describe the problems in the most productive and least harmful way. Then, realize your hope that the relationship will be even stronger once the problem is solved.

Recognize your own anger, especially anger in search of a story. Anger looking for a story gets amplified.

Anger is not voluntary. It is part of the fast track of our brain. This is why we develop  habits which make it possible for us to be relationally angry or we can work around it in a healthy way.

One work-around Dallas Willard highlighted is to become the kind of person who did not get angry. He would say, “There is nothing you can do out of anger that you can’t do better without it.”

And if you do experience anger, how do you know you are dealing with it in a relational way God advocates? You will know you have dealt with anger God’s way when there is no collateral damage.

ME

When is the last time you saw anyone in the media and entertainment industry handle anger in a godly relational way? Could this be a trick question?

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Ephesians 4

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Anger is not necessarily sin, but as I recently heard, “it has a short shelf life.” This is why Paul is telling us to get rid of it. The less joy we have, the more anger. And anger becomes a real problem because it quickly turns off the relational circuits. The problem with anger is it can never be tamed, it has to be guarded against.

We need to be able to stay in relationship without being angry. Why? Because judgment is a sin. Discernment is trying to figure something out together, but judgment is when you are self-righteous and condemning. These are the results of staying angry. When you are judgmental you are non-relational. And when you are non-relational, when your RC’s are shut down, you can’t be fully loving. And you can’t relate with Jesus at the time you are angry, so you don’t even have access to what he has available that could help.

Think of the internet. Much of communication via the Internet is not communication at all. Facebook might proclaim they will, …help you connect and share with people in your life,” but that is not usually the case.

The internet is overwhelmingly non-relational and fosters so much anger and judging. This is why when you use the internet thinking you are building relationship you practice very risky behavior. Much of what transpires on social media becomes anger quickly. Society speaks so often about the dangers of practicing “unsafe” sex, but practicing “unsafe anger” doesn’t seem to be on our radar at all. And it can be just as dangerous as unsafe sex in the long run.

ME

What internet/ social media guidelines can you use to practice safe communication?

rcs

1 Corinthian 13

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;”

Imagine an on/off switch on the back of your neck. This is your relational circuit. When the switch is turned “ON” you are in synch with the people around you emotionally. Able to relate. When the switch is “OFF,” your capacity to remain relational disappears. TYour relational circuits or “RC’s” are shut down. Dr. Karl Lehman has identified some tests to see if your relational circuits are shut off.

Signs you have shut down relationally

1. You don’t feel like being around someone you normally like.

2. You just want to make a person or a problem go away.

3. Your mind is locked on to something upsetting.

4. You become aggressive in the way interrogate, judge, or fix people.

5. You don’t want to make eye contact.

6. You feel like it is their fault if they get hurt by something you do or say.

You can relate to others if your “RC’s” are shut off. It just won’t be pleasant or helpful. It will simply bring grief.

ME

When are you most vulnerable to having your “RC’s” shut off?

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Tuesday, October 25

Philippians 4

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 

How do you map out your world? There are two general ways you can do this.

  1. Fear-based people will map their world around problems that need to be solved. Their brains lock in on whatever is scary or potentially bad in their environment. This is what gets all their attention. They will always find something wrong.
  2. Joy-based people will map their world around what is good in their lives. They fix their minds on what they appreciate. Like Paul says in Philippians, “…things want are excellent and worthy of praise.”

When you are a joy-based person, you don’t ignore your problems. You just learn how to solve problems in a way that makes your relationships stronger.

Emotionally immature people will make their relationships the problem that needs to be solved. Like co-dependent people who will actually bond over fear of losing the relationship. In these cases, if the relationship is ended, then real problems do occur. Like prolonged and bitter lawsuits, violence, and yes, even death. “If I can’t have her, nobody will.”

Joy-based life is true life.

ME

Are you more fear-based in your approach to life, or more joy-based? Choose joy

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Philippians 2

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

When you are working together with others what is the key target?

Building relationship?

Getting results?

If it is getting results you will not get results in the long run. You will wear each other out or someone will simply quit.

In business, there is much talk about the bottom line. Is your bottom line making more money or is it building a better team for the long haul? You can’t have both unless you start with people.

Just like most areas of life, if you work on building relationships you have a better opportunity to achieve the results you are looking for. That’s the bottom line. Working together starts with building the relationship.

This has to do with more than simply business. Getting results usually means working on problems. In all of our relationships we do well to remember this: People before problems.

Keeping our relationship bigger than our problems is a key to marriage, for instance. How many marriages get bogged down on issues we are trying to work out rather than cherishing the relationship?

People before problems is a key to raising children. Many a home becomes a war zone of irritation over something as mundane as cleaning your room. Or think of how much time is wasted simply arguing about who is right and who is wrong. We are always trying to get the results we want. Here is a secret to end all that arguing. A simple phrase.

“Do you want to be right or do you want to be helpful?”

If it is more important for you to be right and “win” the argument, than you haven’t really “won” anything. You can be correct about something and damage your closest relationships at the same time.

Instead, we do well to learn that right or wrong isn’t as important as working together with graciousness and forgiveness until we come to results we can agree on.

No, it is more important to remain relational when there is problem rather than for you to get the results you want.

ME

Some people treat life like a series of arguments I have to win? Is that you or someone you know? What affect does this have?