Why Are You Changing?

Human being are dynamic creatures. Every one of us changes in response to situations and circumstances. It is part of how we were designed to adapt. Particularly in response to relationships. To some degree, all relationships challenge our perception of self as competent and worthy of approval. But marriage is unique in the depth of vulnerability and commitment. Marriage will make very clear to you all the things you are clinging to for a sense of wholeness. Your spouse is the one who sees you with  your guard down. It is your spouse who knows your struggles and weaknesses. Knowing your struggles and weaknesses and brokenness, it is your spouse that carries with them the potential to hurt you more than anyone else. Similarly, anything you do that disappoints or hurts as your brokenness interacts with your spouse’s gets reflected back to you by our their reactions. It is in that way that we get almost constant feedback about our adequacy. Because of that, the marital relationship is a reminder that you are not as perfect as you think you are. Hence the reason for God’s desire that those who are married to not separate (Mark 10:9). It is not a curse, but rather a blessing so that you do not miss potential for growth. There tends to be two typical responses: Change for self-protection. This can take many forms. Some people attempt to become exactly what their spouse wants in an effort to earn approval and love. For me, this was a way of life for a long time, until I burned out from trying so hard. Others develop coping strategies...

Understanding Your Identity

Before I understood the importance and power of identity and its relationship to my spiritual life in Christ, I drew a sense of significance from the statements “I am liked” and “I am a pastor.”  These were not just simple descriptors, but rather statements of being that represents facets of my source of identity. My desire to be liked and my role as a pastor worked in conjunction to provide for me a foundation. What I did not understand was that these identity statements were competitors for my allegiance with Jesus. The idea of not being able to serve two masters extends beyond money (Luke 16:13) and to any source of being that you adopt. Here are other ways our passion for self turns into statements from which we draw significance: I am right. I am successful. I am different. I am loyal. I am obedient. I am happy. I am strong. I am content. Which statement(s) resonate with your experience working out your relationship with Christ? Can you think of any additional statements? Jesus was the word made flesh, and in his flesh he knew exactly what his identity was. In addition to stating things like “if you have seen me you have seen the Father”, “I an the Father are one”, and affirming that he was the Son of God, Jesus spoke these words to the Jews who questioned him: “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” – John 8:58 Jesus was equating himself with the title spoken by God to Moses in Exodus 3. From that identity, Jesus’ flesh was secure in his significance and purpose. There was no...

Make Yourself Available

  The ability to ask open-ended questions and listen with presence is a skill. Good questions have power, not just to garner information, but to change perspective and build influence. Everyone has relationships in which influence must be built and maintained: spouses, children, leaders, teams, students, etc. Questions are a necessary component to growth in all of these areas. All too often, attempts to build influence become prescription. Telling another person what they need or should do without giving them a chance to evaluate or explain. Another mistake is to continually tell people what you need from them. This sends the implicit message that the other person, whether it is spouse, child, employee, or volunteer, is there to serve you. Now you have stolen joy from the relationship and created obligation. Both of these are attempts to build influence that are centered in self and the need to maintain control. Recently, a client was having trouble finding a way to effectively maintain connection with a leader without seemingly like they were meddling. In this situation, the person being led reacted very negatively to feeling like they were being managed. One solution to this problem was to ask a simple question: What do you need from me? With these words you can demonstrate compassion and a desire to serve the other by putting their needs alongside your own. Asking this question communicates your availability without bruising the other’s ego. They may be more likely to ask for help if they know that it is not a sign of weakness to need help. Additionally, this question places ownership for the circumstance or task on the other person’s shoulders, where it...

Gain Perspective. Live Well.

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