Lean Forward

AA018413There are a lot of times in life where we sit back and observe other people’s lives and make judgments based on the perspective we have. Why did she do that? Why doesn’t he do this? More often than not, our view of the situation is only a partial view. Sure, we may have “heard the story” from one of the people involved, but that’s just it, only one of the people involved. As they say, every story has two sides.

For some reason we find it very easy to jump in on other people’s lives and pass judgment, offer unsolicited advice, etc. BUT, we almost always hate when they do it to us.

Why are we prone to picking other people apart? Even worse, why do we so often do it behind their backs? It’s not constructive. It’s not healthy. And it’s not helping anyone.

Before you get concerned I’m saying this to you and not myself also, relax, I’ve been that jerk. All of the insecurities that bubble up in me from time to time, have made me look for the shortcomings in others to elude the judgment myself. Totally immature and unproductive.

Can you imagine if our position in life went from “sit back and judge (or gossip)” to “lean forward and encourage (speak life)”…what would our relationships look like? What if your goal was to build up coworkers instead of tearing them down with attitudes, accusations, etc? What if their stance towards you reflected those same “life giving” attributes. Can you imagine how much productivity in your office (or church, or sports team, etc) would go up with everyone looking for the best in each other versus picking out the worse? Encouraging the strengths in each other instead of amplifying the weaknesses.

Sure, it sounds utopian to believe we could all just flip the metaphorical switch and turn off the inherent human nature to judge and gossip, but we have to start somewhere. We seem to be getting more and more cynical as a society. When will enough be enough? When will we raise the standard back to a place of dignity and valuing others for who they are?

I want to challenge you to do this. Lean forward. Engage a stance of speaking life. I promise you, if you will begin to live out this principle on a daily basis, at work, home, church, wherever, your environment will change. You have the ability to inject life into situations and circumstances that no one else can. Don’t wait for someone else to take the high road. You map out the course for them to follow.

Written by Andrew Pino

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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Embracing Feedback

mirror-with-ornate-frameLooking in the mirror is so much a part of our routine we rarely even stop to think about the process. We simply do it to observe our look – how we look to ourselves and how we look to others – as we start the day. Maybe we notice that dark splotch of skin that we want to cover, or that random acne that somehow still manages to pop its way into our lives, or the dark circles that tell everyone how tired we are, or even the cow lick of hair that will only go down with high performance gel. You know, the kind that they use to seal the seams of the space station closed. At any rate, at the end of all of it we get to see where the little imperfections are and adjust to take care of them so that we can look our best.

If we are really being honest, most of us would probably choose to swap out that frequently used bathroom mirror for the Evil Queen’s in Snow White. It’s just more pleasant to have the thing tell us what we want to hear and if it ever comes down to the point where it doesn’t, then we just eliminate the threat. The fact of the matter is that some of the best leaders are those who have learned to see value in and embrace feedback. Feedback is the messages and signals that sometimes only the bravest or even most aloof around us actually dare to communicate. This feedback is invaluable because it actually, like the mirror, exposes something about who we are and how we come across that can build and encourage people, tear them down, or simply create an atmosphere counter to the one we desire to set.

We both love and hate the feedback of putting our hand on the stove because the nervous response immediately prevents further injury while at the same time causing a good deal of pain. But the feedback is invaluable all the more. Scripture tells us that mercy and truth kiss, which means that how we give or receive feedback is almost just as vital as the message itself. For those who expose something in our character, personality, or interpersonal relationships with others, we can often throw the baby out with the bath water because we don’t like the packaging. For all of us, its important to realize that “iron sharpens iron” and God specifically has placed people in our lives that will love us enough to articulate the image of how we are seen and where the imperfections lie. Hopefully, we won’t jolt at the audacity, but rather welcome the necessary information. When we learn to honestly evaluate the message and embrace the process, then we get a better picture or image of ourselves and begin to recognize how God uses everything to make us more like Him. We become better team builders, better leaders, better parents, better spouses, and better employees. Begin to love that God loves you enough to not leave you where you are, but to continually shape you into his image.

Written by Jonathan Stells

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