Doormat

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But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also ~Matthew 5:39

Such hard words to live by! It seems like lately, there is a sign on my face that says “Please be rude to me.” All I want to do is be rude right back and why not? There is a smug satisfaction in it! Makes me feel so good that I was able to “one up” someone’s nasty little remark. Yet, when I give in to my desire to be snarky, I have a small voice telling me that wasn’t very Christ-like. Takes all the joy out of it and I am instantly corrected.

Here’s the thing… there is scripture after scripture that tells those who truly belong to Christ that we are to be like Him. In fact, the term “Christian” means “belonging to Christ” as in slave ownership. The term was first used as “Christianos” in Acts 11:26 in Antioch “and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”

So, if you are a Christian what are you supposed to do? Be a doormat and just let people walk all over you?

Not an easy question to answer because we insist on wanting control over EVERYTHING in our life. I find myself saying “I’m not ready to submit to this or that right now,” or “I don’t really care for this person and I am definitely better than them,” or even “I can’t make that sacrifice right now because no one is really watching to see what a great person I am!”

What if God actually has that in His plan for you? What if He is trying to teach you something about yourself and you are getting in your own way of spiritual development? Case in point: Our son got into trouble in High School about a week ago. This is the same thing he got pulled into the Vice Principal’s office last year in January. So a year later, my husband & I are dealing with the same thing. We realized very quickly that our punishment for him last time was not painful enough. This time, we are both sticking to our guns: no car, no phone, no video games. In fact, we have confiscated all of these things.

Yesterday, he wanted to take the car for something and he asked us. When something is painful, we tend to remember it more. It causes us to be disciplined and straightened out. Riding the bus in high school can be pretty humiliating and tough. He basically told us that he did not want that (and personally, I cannot blame him) and thought he should be able to drive now. We reminded him that the choice to disrespect & not obey our rules his own… not ours. Every choice comes with a consequence.

His dilemma got me thinking about God the Father and my response to Him. Do I deal with inconveniences for a few days as a martyr and then go back to tell Him “Hey… that’s just too much for me to bear!”? The honest answer is “yes.” The complaining adds more to my own fleshly desire to stay in my comfort zone and do something that I don’t want to do. It’s beneath my dignity.

Jesus took the beatings and punishment to the point of death and put aside His dignity. What on earth could make me feel that something was now beneath my own dignity? His life was poured out – literally! Why is it that if I am feeling discomfort for a few minutes, I have to go and complain or take offense to another? Why don’t I just suck it up and take it? That’s what the verse above is saying “Suck it up and take it. In fact, turn the other cheek so they can slap you again!” That is the cost of following the ONE and His path will bring you greater peace.

Why does turning the other cheek bring peace? The person who is doing the slapping will get tired of no response from you. They will move on to bigger and better things (for that’s how it goes). No reaction = no fun. Peace also comes from praying for your enemies. Sounds completely contradictory, but when we pray for those who are against us, it is our own self that is changing and bending towards God’s will. This is again, contrary to what our own flesh wants.

The Bible reminds us “I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” 1 Corinthians 15:50. May those be sobering words for us to remember when we want to get our own way, when we want to say that remark that’s on the tip of our tongue or when we want to be the king or queen of our castle.

Do this instead: stop for a few seconds, take a deep breath and breathe in the Holy Spirit. Let His peace that passes all understanding flow through you. Then, turn the other cheek and choose the eternal life that God gives you.

Wives, Submit to Your Husbands

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Discarded signs photo from Ben Ferguson CNN Commentator’s Facebook page

I know… them are fightin’ words! I can’t help it. I read the Bible and actually believe what it says. Before you jump all over me, just read a little bit further. I am about the last person who is submissive. I am known as an outspoken (some might even call me a loud-mouth) woman who knows her own mind. I have been so vocal in some cases to hurt people’s feelings. Many would say that I am just about the last person who should write even a sentence on this topic.

I want to tell you that ever since I understood, I mean REALLY understood the meaning of the word “SUBMIT,” I have been a changed person and have taken to heart what Ephesians 5:22 says. First, let’s start with the word “submit.” It’s taken as a dirty word. Say it to any woman and she will immediately turn her nose up at it. Women are head-strong. We don’t want to be beholding to anyone and certainly not any man. That’s the amazing thing about this. If we say this to women, we freak out. However, if we apply the word “submit” to Christ, any woman will tell you that His submission to God was a beautiful thing (and rightly so).

Christ submitted to the will of His Father all the way to a horrific death on the cross. He went willingly. He knew what He had to do and He did it… in submission to God. You cannot take this verse out of context and only a part of the verse – you need to know the whole thing. Anytime someone reads you a verse, you should automatically look at what comes before and what comes after. So, let’s take a look at the whole thing, including before & after Ephesians 5:22:

21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

Did you catch that?  The first part says EVERYONE should submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. That means we should allow other Christians to go ahead of us, not insist on our own rights and definitely give them the benefit of doubt in situations. Now for the hairy part.

If we are doing this with one another in the church, why are we not doing this for our own husbands? Paul also makes it a point to say do this as you do it for the Lord – in other words, do this out of reverence for God and His order. Do it out of a love for God the Father. Do it because you honor God… just the way Christ submitted to God and was tortured for our sins before He was placed upon the cross.

When we look at the verses in that frame of mind, it truly becomes a beautiful and God-honoring thing. He doesn’t want women to “check their brains at the door” or even be subjected to some brutal tyrant who abuses them. That’s not who God is and your husband shouldn’t be like that either because the next few lines address him!

Ephesians 5:25 says “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Husbands are asked to literally DIE for their wives, whereas we are simply asked to set aside our attitudes for a minute. Which one do you think is the bigger request? Why do we get our panties in a wad over this, then?

I was asked about the Women’s march yesterday from one of my family members. I told her “No, I am not interested in that type of a demonstration.” Ignoring my opinion, she went on to tell me that Madonna, of all people, was standing up for women and also dropping the f-bomb. This is not loving, caring or moving towards positive regard for women. How can it be?

The answers do not lie in what man tells us to do. They lie in God’s words and His established order. Everything that operates outside of that does not operate in perfect love. His directions for us is to submit to one another. I didn’t see that in the march. In fact, I see exactly the opposite… insist on your opinion and insist on stepping on men’s heads to grab what you want. That’s not love. That’s offensive.

Love comes from not insisting on your own rights, allowing people to go first in line, taking the smallest portion of what’s being offered to you. This is not easy to do. As I mentioned at the start of the blog, this is something I struggle with daily. I have to remind myself to submit to my husband. When he treats me with the love of Christ, though, it is really easy to do. That’s the whole secret that Paul lays out for us in Ephesians. If it was easy or natural for men to LOVE their wives, they would show us that love daily and not just on our anniversary or Valentine’s Day. If it was natural for women to SUBMIT, then we would not have a special line in the Bible, telling us to behave that way. It goes against our nature… that’s why we need supernatural help from God!

I chose the photo above to use for today’s blog. It’s a good reminder that after you’ve insisted upon your rights, there is debris and collateral damage left behind in your wake. If they truly cared for one another and for their views, then caring for their own community is the first step. Go out there and help another woman. Go volunteer in your local women’s shelter, Go & attend the new launch of the Community of Christian Business Women (our first meeting is Monday, January 30 from 6:00 to 7:00 pm!!!). Go & show love with your actions. Don’t just talk about your rights, trample on men, and then dump your sign in the streets. You’re not doing anyone any favors.

 

Looking Forward, No Looking Back

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The New Year brings anticipation for many and anxiety for others. What challenges will I face? What will the days bring? We used to stay up to watch the clock strike 12:00 am and celebrate the coming of the new day. Not anymore. There’s really no point to it. Technically, it’s already the New Year somewhere in the world… so just because the ball drops in New York which is still not midnight in Oklahoma or the big potato drops in Idaho, doesn’t really mean much to us anymore.

I have been talking to a few people about the incoming New Year and about children getting ready to graduate or other life’s changes. Many of them have spoken to me about it with anxiety written on their faces. There is a very strong desire to hold on to the past and simply ignore the future. We aren’t really supposed to look that far into the future, for Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” I think this is why my attitude about the New Year is nonchalant. Everyday is a new day – why don’t we celebrate that? Why are Mondays the cause of so much grumbling? Isn’t that a new vista of opportunity?

Along with the New Year’s traditions, people sing the tune from 1788 called “Auld Lang Syne.” For many years, I didn’t realize that it was Scottish. I only thought it was sung by drunk people who were blurring the words together so they didn’t make any sense (yes, that still may be true). The song, translated in English talks about the days gone by and how old acquaintances should be remembered. When I contemplate the popularity of the song around New Year’s time, I am sure that people are thinking about past regrets and others that have slipped out of their lives.

There is definite sadness to that. There are many this year who have suffered, have lost loved ones and have dealt with hard times. I know that the anxiety for the New Year brings some to consider more of the same kind of things for their family and even more changes. That can make anyone apprehensive. Yet, the story of Lot’s wife comes into play here for me. There was something that captured my attention when I first read about this in Genesis. For those of you who may not be familiar, in Genesis 19, Lot (Abraham’s nephew) and his family are told to take their family and flee from the city of Sodom that was going to face utter destruction. In Genesis 19:26, there is one line “But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” What in the world? Why would that happen to her and what made her look back – even though the angels had given firm instructions NOT to look back?

That’s the only line in that story – it doesn’t tell us much about her, what happened next or why she did it. The only explanation I could come up with were that she was still attached. Even though the city was evil in the sight of the Lord, she still liked her stuff. She still had friends there and maybe was thinking about her home and things (I can relate!). It wasn’t until I started to read more of the Bible and learn about what Jesus says about the cost of Discipleship with Him, that the story finally makes more sense. In Luke 9, Jesus tells a man to follow him. The exchange takes place like this:

59Then He said to another man, “Follow Me.”

“Lord,” the man replied, “first let me go and bury my father.”

60But Jesus told him, “Let the dead bury their own dead. You, however, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

61Still another said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first let me bid farewell to my family.”

62Then Jesus declared, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and then looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.

Think about it…there were people who saw Jesus face to face and told him “no, thanks.” They were tied to their family and to their things. They wanted to take their time and follow Jesus when they wanted to – not when He said to do it. In 1 John 2:15, the verse says “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.” Yikes… there is much I love in the world including my own family. This is a sticking point for many of us. What do you put first? Who do you put first? It’s easy to talk about following Jesus, but when push comes to shove, would you do it? Would you look back to the stuff you used to have? The buddies you used to go out with? The shows you used to watch on TV? How about your family? What if your family was not on board? There is a cost to following Christ. Are you ready to pay it? What if you don’t pay it?

The scriptures that bring all of this together are given to us in Luke .There is a price to pay now for following Christ and for walking with Him daily. People will look at you and call you “over-zealous” or even “over-religious.” Some may not have nice things to say at all or even laugh at you or react to you in anger. The truth is that tomorrow is not guaranteed to us. You can die today. We can plan for a whole New Year – think about the next 365 days, but none of that will matter. So what about today? Luke 17 says:

 30“It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. 32 Remember Lot’s wife! 33 Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.” [36]

Chilling thoughts. Not necessarily ones we want to think about on New Year’s Day with the clean up from last night’s celebrations. But Christ WILL come. It’s truth and a given. When He comes, where will you be? Will you go back to thinking about what you have or what you own? Will you be like Lot’s wife, and from the shelter of her husband, from behind him, look back towards destruction?

When you walk daily with Christ, you walk forward towards eternal life. There is a comfort and a peace that blankets you. There is a knowledge that whatever comes your way, you have a Savior who loves you and has died for you. He has taken on death so that when your time comes, you move from this physical state into another state of eternal glory. In the blink of an eye, you will be changed (1 Cor 15:52). From the lyrics of an amazing song by Horatio Spafford “It Is Well with My Soul:”

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

~May that day come without fear or anxiety for you. May it truly be well with your soul. That is my New Year’s blessing and prayer for you.

The Christmas Tree

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Christ on the Cross by Peter Paul Reubens  – 1627

We didn’t plan to start a small controversy. In fact, it was something born out of laziness and not wanting to take the extra effort. It started Thanksgiving weekend when I asked my family to get the Christmas tree down from the attic. At first, I was politely ignored as if I was the senile old aunt that says random things. When I persisted, I was met with sighs and whining about how much time and effort that would take to put up. I thought that putting up the Christmas tree was fun! I thought this was our tradition. I told my husband about it and he crinkled up his nose and said that it really was a lot of effort to get “that thing” down, figure out the burnt out lights, get the ornaments, etc. The final vote was to come from our ten year old daughter. It seems like she’s not getting a vote in the conversation. Here, I thought, is my ally!

When we asked her together about setting up the Christmas tree, she sat down in a chair with a long sigh and said “Oh! That was SO MUCH WORK! Mom, only you & I ended up doing ALL of it last year! Can we just not do it?” Well… there it was. No one wanted the tree up and no one was interested in getting it decorated. I went ahead and decorated our home for Christmas (after all, the other things don’t take up much time and I adore my Nativity sets!). At least it felt like Christmas in our home, even if a giant tree was missing.

At church that Sunday, there was silence when the group leaders asked if prayer was needed or if there was anything new in the group. I smiled and mentioned that we would not put up a Christmas tree this year. That caused a HUGE reaction! One woman puts up 19 (yes, count them… 19) Christmas trees in her house. In fact, she said she was getting rid of 4 of them this year – would I be offended if one of those trees ended up on my doorstep? The answer was “No, of course I would not be offended but if that was something she wanted to do, that’s alright with us.”

You see, it’s not about the tree.

It’s not about the ornaments.

It’s about an entirely different tree. It’s about the tree that Christ died upon so that all of us may live. Just as Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil in Genesis (Gen 2:17), and death entered the world -the second Adam came and died upon the wood of another tree at Calvary so that all may have eternal life through Him. Christ is the focus of Christmas. All other things distract us. The ornaments, the shining things (oh, how I love shining things!), the secular sayings (Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, etc) all detract from who Christ is and why we even celebrate Christmas in the first place.

I have shared with my Muslim friends and family that we will not have a Christmas tree. They also were appalled that me, a Christian, would not engage in the proper celebration. When I told them that the Christmas tree has nothing to do with Christ, it became an even more interesting conversation for Evangelism.

The world is confused about what Christmas is about. It’s about celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It’s about humbling ourselves and accepting what He has done for us through His sacrifice on the Cross.

As we get closer to the day we celebrate Christmas, may this be the truth we cling to. Amen.

Every Nation, Tribe & Tongue

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Crescent Project National Conference – Houston, TX

Last weekend, I had the honor of being invited to speak on a panel of Believers of Muslim Backgrounds (BMB) for the Crescent Project National Conference in Houston, Texas. The conference had about 400+ people in attendance. Fouad Masri, founder was spoke on the first night about how Fear exists not only for Christians who believe the media about Muslims but also for the Muslims in the United States who believe the media about Christians. There is a desperate need for an AUTHENTIC Christian witness to all people.

The panel was both exciting and interesting. I want to walk you through the details. There were only two women (myself and the other woman to my left in the picture) and all others were men. The moderator, Fouad Masri, had us sit in a particular order by country from left to right – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, another from Iran, Morocco, and Palestine. I want to point out that there were many more Believers from Muslim Background at this conference, about 21 of them (but not all were on the panel). This is the most I have seen gathered in one location. When we were introduced according to country, the man from Iraq put his arm around the man from Iran. They said something amazing “Only Jesus can bring these two countries together like this – arm in arm.”

Each of us had the chance to briefly tell our story. There were several questions asked by the moderator, that included why we decided to follow Christ, what made us follow Him, what is the one point we want people to know about Muslims. If you don’t know my story, let me briefly share it with you. I wasn’t looking for Jesus. I wasn’t interested in following him. In fact, I was trying to become a better Muslim. My family is considered to be moderate Muslims or nominal Muslims. In other words, we were Muslim in name, not by practice. We did not pray 5 times a day nor did we uphold many of the pillars of faith.

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After 9/11, I decided that I didn’t know much about what I believed, so I went into a deeper commitment to Islam. I started by reading the Quran (or Koran – different spellings can be found). The Quran brought questions for me – I didn’t have any questions about my faith, but just wanted to know more. The Quran actually was confusing and troubling in it’s treatment of women (Sura Al Nissa). It also contained a whole chapter on Jesus (Sura Maryam) that I didn’t understand – why did Jesus have so much power to do miracles like raise people from the dead? Why could he alone give life and heal?Through prayer, the Holy Spirit led me to a church where the associate pastor helped to connect the dots.  This was not an overnight thing, but was a journey that took over a 3 and a half years. At the age of 35, I accepted Christ and was baptized along with my husband and 3 children! What a huge praise it is and I still thank God for His mercy and grace on our family.

Sometimes I think that people in the United States sell Christianity & themselves short. They think that Christianity is just a religion for “white people.” Revelation 7:9 says “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” Christ didn’t come for just one group! He came as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28) and for the world. 

This was the most amazing part of this conference. To share the gospel of love with Muslims, you don’t have to go across the world (unless you want to) or to the Middle East (unless you want to). You simply can go to the local grocery store, University classroom, or restaurant. God has brought Muslims here to the United States. There are many who are lost, who need Christ’s message of hope  and need an authentic witness in their life. What are you doing to help reach out to them?

God said “GO” in the Great Commission. Are you going? God said “LOVE” in his commandment to us (John 13:34). Are you loving others in the world or just the ones you are comfortable around? God said “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7). Are you fearful?

Today’s the day to change all that. Decide to live for Christ and watch what happens. A world of new relationships awaits… from every nation, tribe, people and tongue…

 

Hypocrites

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In the book “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Robert Louis Stevenson shares the duality of being that exists within each of us. There is a desire to let ourselves out sometimes and not be constrained to social limitations. I just finished reading this interesting book and at the surface, the good Dr. Jekyll is trying to come up with a serum that will help humanity. However, he unleashes out the power of his other being – the one that only wants to live for himself. We meet Mr. Hyde slinking about in the dark shadows of night, after a girl mysteriously is injured. Stevenson was intrigued by the forces of good and evil that lurk beneath the surface. He wanted to explore the possibilities of what might happen if, in buttoned-up Victorian England, someone got loose of the morals that were restricting everyone.

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The book is not alone in understanding that human nature has two sides. There are days that you don’t feel like being nice to everyone or days where the moodiness and emotions get the best of you. These are the days that I have to really be in prayer. I have to ask God to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Some people have told me that it is not good to hold on to your emotions but you should let it all out – after all, we all suffer from these things, so why not be transparent? I wrote about being transparent in my blog here. While I am all for being transparent in what I believe, how I am far from perfect and other things of importance, I don’t believe in allowing my emotional state to overrun good behavior or even my day.

Let me share an example: I woke up in a bad mood one morning and everything seemed to be going wrong. My eyeliner kept breaking and as I moved it up, I realized it was all done. My tea bubbled over in the microwave & I had to clean all that up. The bus came ten minutes early and I had to then drive my child to school… on and on. When I got to the grocery store and things were getting messed up in front of me in the check out line – the attitude (or Mr. Hyde) showed up. I was ready to drive back home, get back into my pajamas and start all over again.

Being an adult and learning how to cope on a daily basis is something that is not taught to adults. Anti-depressant use is sky-high in the United States (one of the most affluent countries in the world). Much of depression stems from lack of control and also from a feeling of helplessness. But guess what??? The Bible has advice on all this – you are NOT in control and will not be, for God has ordained every single day of your life. He knows when you were in your mother’s womb and when you will take your last breath. One of the first verses I memorized from Matthew 6:4 when I became a Christian was “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

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Being two faced shows up in different ways. In the days of the Greek theater, the leading actors were called “Hypocrites.” The tragedy and comedy masks were worn by the actors to portray their emotions. Here is some information from a research paper found online:

The most essential part of the actors’ costumes was the mask. These masks had big holes for the mouth and the eyes. The chorus members also wore masks and all were similar to the other’s, but the hypocrites’ masks were different from each other hypocrite.

The masks are personalized for each character; specific emotions were expressed on the mask so the audience knew if a character was happy, upset, tired, or scared. The masks with subtle variations also helped the audience identify the sex, age, and social rank of the characters. It also amplified the hypocrite’s voice, making it possible to hear him everywhere in the theatron. Because the masks were pretty simple, the audience would be able to pay more attention to the hypocrite’s actions rather than his appearances.

Notice any similarities between how we behave and the significance of the actors actions? Jesus addressed the Pharisees in the same manner on purpose, using terminology they were familiar with in Mark 7:6  “And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;”

I grew up in a family and a culture that required us to behave in public in a certain way. I know many Muslims who behave piously on the outside, while doing things that are not in accordance with the way you are supposed to live according to the religion. I know many Christians who are Christian in name only. I know that the human heart has the ability to do dark things when no one else is looking. The problem with all that covering up is that if you allow the dark part to continue to come out without putting it on check via supernatural ways (i.e. prayer and taking each thought captive in the name of Christ), you will end up like Mr. Hyde. The book ends with the potion not working and Mr. Hyde getting stronger and stronger each time he has transformed and done evil things. Dr. Jekyll was not able to control Mr. Hyde and thus shriveled away.

Hypocrisy is a lie. It is to present yourself in a way that you are not behaving. To take your thoughts captive is to refocus your behavior and not to just tamper down your feelings. Feelings are fleeting. Emotions are unstable and unreliable. You could be hungry (“hangry?”), tired or just not in the mood. To stop the flow of negative feelings, pray. There is great power in prayer and it helps to refocus your energy on to something better than yourself. To help others, to reach out to others and to help them with whatever they are going through in the name of Christ – that is the hallmark of a true believer. It’s not about YOU. It’s about how you portray Christ through your actions.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me ~ Galatians 2:20.

Let’s Talk

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My husband & I are Marriage Mentors. We developed the Marriage Mentoring Ministry at our last church and by the grace of God, are helping to create a new Marriage Ministry at our new church. It is an amazing blessing to work with couples who are either seriously dating, are engaged to be married or are newly married. We are NOT counselors, nor do we give advice. This is how mentoring differs from other things. More on that later in another post.

I have taught Business Communication for Undergraduate Business schools since 1997 – coming up on 20 years! Much of what works well for the workplace can and does work well for the home. It’s just that we tend to be more polite to those we work with than those with whom we live. It’s a fact. Familiarity adds to the casualness with which we approach relationships that are close to us. While we take care to watch our words at work, it doesn’t always happen to me at home. I am mostly talking about myself here… I don’t want to point a finger at you because when I do that, I know that four other fingers are pointing back at me (in my case, that is literally true, as I have one husband and three kids! Ha! Ha!).

I taught a Conflict Resolution course earlier this week to College Interns. They were absolutely NOT interested in the session or me, until I asked them how many of them were in a relationship. Most raised their hands and that’s when they got connected into the topic. Sometimes, we think that this stuff we are learning at work does not apply to anything other than work. When you can link things at work to home, that’s where learning becomes valuable and memorable to others.

Talking to others about personal matters is not easy. In the study of Conflict Resolution, I usually start off the session by asking them to think about how conflicts were handled in their home when they were growing up. Did their parent(s) yell? Were they passive aggressive or always trying to keep the peace? These behaviors can definitely influence how you react to conflict.

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There are several ways you can approach conflict resolution – I also wrote about conflict & perspectives in my blog titled “Bridges, Balconies, & Burquas“. The first is to know your behavioral style. Most inventories (DiSC, Myers Briggs, Jungian, etc) are based on two dimensions: Task & People (horizontal axis) and Direct & Indirect (or in the figure, Outgoing/Reserved). There are free online tests you can take (& I encourage you to take them!) to find out how you fall into these quadrants. No matter what you take, the main questions are:

  1. Do you tell people directly how you feel about certain things or do you beat around the bush in order to spare feelings?
  2. Does interaction with others (maybe 20 min or more of talking) energize you or leave you making a mental laundry list of all the things you needed to get done in that time you just spent?

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Answers to those questions will allow you to figure out which side you land on – if you are energized with interactions with others, you will fall near to the “I” and the “S” side. If you are not, then “D” & “C” are more your style. If you are direct, you will go towards the top half of the circle and if indirect, then “C” & “S” may be more like you. Nothing is etched in stone, but knowing how you like to be approached is a good start to communicating with others.

Lack of Communication is one of the top reasons for divorce in a marriage. It is also one of the main reasons why employees leave (1. My boss & I didn’t get along OR 2. My co-workers & I didn’t see eye to eye). That’s it. It’s really that simple. When we start to see where someone might fall into the style spectrum, it’s easier to understand that them being quiet doesn’t mean they don’t like you – it simply means they are processing information & are being Contemplative! In other words, they are actually taking the time to think about what you just said! How many times do we misunderstand what we just saw in another person and shake our heads? The answer: I just did it today! 🙂

So, before you decide to say “Let’s Talk” to someone, you may want to consider how they like to be approached, how they view the world (=differently than you) and also what you may need to do in order to come to a good resolution. If we thought things through on a daily basis, maybe we wouldn’t waste so much energy in assuming a negative situation. The Bible says “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.(NASB – Philippians 4:8). That is a great place to start. In addition, Proverbs 15:1 says “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” When you watch your words and think for just a second before you speak, it can make a complete difference in the way you approach others and in return, how others approach you.

If you would like to learn more about the DiSC assessment or any of the things I wrote about, I would love to hear from you!