Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category


BE COMMITTED TO THE RELATIONSHIP.

Good relationships don’t happen overnight and they don’t happen by accident.  If you want to get beyond shallow, superficial relationships you’ve got to be committed to it. 

You or someone you know is in a relationship right now and are hanging on by less than a thread.  Do not give up.  We have a miracle working God.  The same God that raises the dead can raise a dead relationship if you’re willing to be changed.

But it takes a commitment.  The Bible says this in Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times.”  The word, “all” means even when it’s inconvenient, when you don’t feel like it, even when they don’t deserve it, even at personal cost.  That’s what real friendship is all about.  When you’re blowing it and you’re making a mistake, a friend doesn’t quit on you. A friend is in your corner when you’re cornered.  And they see you through when everybody else thinks you’re through.  They are there when you least deserve it. 

Here’s the bottom line: You need people in your life to do the three thing I’ve written about in this series of blogs. But the only way you’re going to get these kinds of people in your life is you have to be that kind of person.  You can’t expect other people to treat you this way if you don’t treat them that way. 

Probably the best known Christian psychologist in America, Larry Crabb, wrote in his book Connecting, which I read in seminary and highly recommend, “When two people really connect something is poured out of one and into the other that has the power to heal the soul of its deepest wounds and restores it to health.  The one who receives experiences the joy of being healed.  And the one who gives knows even greater joy of being used to heal.  Something good is in the heart of each of God’s children that is far more powerful than everything bad in the world.  It’s there waiting to be released and work its magic.  But you have to be connected.”


WATCH YOUR MOUTH!

Use your words to build people up.  Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

When I was in college the janitorial company I worked for was hired to tear down a wall in an apartment and then clean it up.  I had never done anything like that before.  I didn’t know how to start so I asked supervisor for instructions.  He said, take this sledge hammer and hit this wall until there is nothing left to hit.  I had more fun that day that is lawful in the state of Mississippi!  It’s fun to tear things down. 

Sometimes with our words it’s like a sledgehammer, no planning, no thinking.  We swing away and all of a sudden we look around and all we’ve got is a pile of rubble, relational rubble.  When you just swing away with your words and tear people down inevitably your relationships are going to suffer.  Words are the single most important tool given to man by God.  Without a doubt! 

One of the reasons we’re not constructive with our words is we don’t realize how powerful this tool is, our mouth.  We say things without thinking.  People remember them.  The things people have said to you in a thoughtless way it may have been as far back as grade school or college or when you first started working.  You still remember some of those things.  That’s how powerful words are.  So when it comes to your mouth, think of it as a power tool and be very careful with it.

Here are directions for the use of a power tool I bought several years ago. I was struck by how it related to the use of another power tool that God has given us – our mouth. 

  • Know your power tool.
  • Keep guards in place.
  • Be careful around children.
  • Store idle tools when not in use.
  • Don’t over reach
  • Never use in an explosive atmosphere.

It fits how we are to use this mouth which is an incredible tool to build people up.

How can I start using it more carefully so instead of destroying with it, I’m building and constructing relationships with it? 

1.  Stop excusing.  Stop saying, “I didn’t really mean to say that.”  or “It’s just that blood sugar dip before lunch.  That’s all it was.”  Stop excusing and realize that what you say is impacting everybody around you.         

2.  Talk less.  If it’s a power tool – you don’t have to use it as much.  Talk less.  One of the reasons we get in trouble is we just talk too much sometimes.  We talk before we think.  We need to talk less and…

 3.  Listen more.  If I listen more I can understand people’s needs.  One of the small lessons of life that makes an incredible impact on the way you and I use our words. 

 4.  Start building.  Think first of all, “what do they need?”  How can I use a word of encouragement to build them up?  How can I use a word of challenge to make a difference in their life?  How can I use my words to build the people that I love the most?


It doesn’t matter what age or stage of life you are in.  If you are a parent and you want to know how to better connect with your children.  If you are engaged or married and you want to know how to better relate to that other person, you can use these principles.  If you are a teacher or an employer or employee, no matter who you are, if you need to get close to anybody in life, you need these principles.

I want to give you three tips that you can use to build better relationships.

1.        LIVE BY THE GOLDEN RULE.

In other words, if you want to connect with people, you’ve got to start with their needs not your own.  The Bible says in Philippians 2:4 “Look out for one another’s interests not just your own.”  Your default mode is to think about your needs, your desires, your goals, your ambitions, what you want in life.  As a result we have many, many millions of people disconnected because everybody is self-centered and not being considerate other people’s needs. 

Let me share with you two very basic truths about life.  First, you are not the center of the universe.  I know that’s shocking, but the world does not revolve around you.  You’re very special in God’s eyes.  You were created for a purpose… but the world does not revolve around you.  Don’t be expecting the whole world to come saying, “How can we meet your needs?”  

The second basic truth of life is God has promised that when you focus on meeting the needs of other people, He guarantees He will meet yours.  This is one of the most basic principles in the Bible.  Why?  Because He wants me to learn to be unselfish and generous like Him.  Colossians 3:13 says this, “You must make allowances for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you.  Remember God forgave you so you must forgive others.” 

A woman wrote to Dear Abby, “I’m 44 years old.  I’d like to find a man my age with no bad habits.”  Abby wrote back, “So would I.”  My wife got the only man like that (Just kidding, of course!). There are no people with no bad habits, no faults.  We have to make allowance for each other’s faults.

When you are trying to make a connection with a person, you’re trying to be considerate of their needs; I’m not saying that you don’t see their faults.  You just choose to overlook them. 

Tip #1: Treat your friends the way you would like to be treated.


The unhealthy desire to please other people

Much like a drug addict is addicted to his or her drug of choice, a people pleaser is addicted to the approval of others. Psychologist Harriet Braiker calls it the “disease to please.” This is a very hard concept for the Christian because we are called to be servants.  However, what I believe we need to keep in mind is that ultimately, the recipient of our service is God not man.  Yes, God has called us to serve our fellow man but that service is to bring glory to God… not other people and certainly not ourselves (which is the case with a people pleaser).

People Pleasers are all trying to prove they are valuable people—trying to stop that inner voice within that says they aren’t. It is like there is a tape playing in their head that says, “People will love and accept me if I please them.” And here is the myth behind people pleasing: “You are somebody when you please others.”

A pleaser believes that if there is a failure to please it will result in rejection and that rejection will confirm their deepest fear that their life has little value.  As a result, they go about trying to make everybody but themselves happy.  They…

a. Avoid conflict at any cost

People-pleasers equate conflict with being displeasing. They don’t want to be the source of displeasure. So they stick their finger in the air to see which way the approval wind is blowing before they decide the path of least rejection.

b. Are extremely self-critical

It’s at a very young age most of us learned that people pat you on the back when your actions please them.  Therefore, at some point during childhood, we make the decision to be as perfect as we possibly can be in order to please people; this leads to a life that is filled to the brim with activities at which we feel we are good at doing. Eventually we all essentially run out of gas.  We give out and then we give up.  Because it really isn’t about pleasing people anymore; it is about me trying to meet my ridiculously high standards. I can’t even please myself. I become a prisoner to the approval of others and I wind up absolutely miserable. 

I don’t want to simply remind you of these destructive patterns, some of which you know all too well, I want to give you some suggestions for breaking these harmful life patterns.

TODAY’S SUGGESTION: Become a God-pleaser

Obviously, I’m not trying to be a people pleaser! No, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant. Galatians 1:10 NLT

Remember high school? I heard something that is true about that time in our lives. Most of us spent most of our high school years trying to please people that we have not seen since high school and may never see again.

Yes it is easy to see all of this looking back, but what if we could get a hold of it now? What if we, instead of worrying so much about what others think and feel about us, concern ourselves with what God thinks of us (and we might be surprised how loving and forgiving God can be).  It’s worth thinking about.

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“Jerry Fletcher is a man who sees conspiracies everywhere. But if you keep doing that long enough, sooner or later you’re going to get one right…”  That was the teaser line used for the 1997 movie, Conspiracy Theory, starring Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts. I would offer to the end of that teaser: “…however, sometimes you don’t get it right because you are not filtering life through a proper lens.  Sometimes growing up in a dysfunctional environment, or a single traumatic event will cause an individual to respond to life from a skewed perspective.”

That’s what this series of blogs is all about.  We are looking at what some have called, “Stinkin’ Thinkin;’” Those unhealthy relationship patterns that leave us wondering, “What’s wrong with me!” I would like to pick up today with the pattern of…

2. Mistrust toward others

a. Isolate yourself

The story you tell people is that you are a loner or that you prefer to keep to yourself but the truth is that you don’t trust people. And the safest thing to do is to put up walls and stay to yourself because your mind tells you that the only person you can trust is you. I use the words stay to yourself but I could have said protect yourself because that is exactly what people do. They protect themselves by staying away from other people. Mistrust can cause people to isolate themselves from other people but it can also encourage some people to be:

b. Codependent upon someone else

There is a negative side to this one. There are people who are in abusive situations and they will defend their partner and refuse to acknowledge any of their faults even though the relationship is destructive. But that is not all there is to codependency. There are people who trust only one other person and so they pour their life into that person and receive love and acceptance primarily from that one person. The whole world ultimately revolves around this person. They make this person their life source and will do whatever it takes to stay close to them. Codependent people tend to be jealous and aggressive toward those who get in between them and their partner. Other relationships are neglected because other people cannot be trusted. People can be codependent with their spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, or even just a friend. Parents can even become so focused on their children that they ignore their spouse. Do you know anyone like that? Mistrust toward others.

Please allow me to suggest as an antidote to mistrust: SEARCH FOR PEOPLE TO TRUST.

Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can really find one who is really faithful? Proverbs 20:6 NLT

It is hard to find people who are trustworthy. But start trying. Take a risk!

Some of you know that I recently moved to a new location.  I have decided that I am going to take my own advice here.  Each time I go to the store, post office, doctor’s office, or church, I tell myself that I could be crossing paths with my new best friend.  That’s what happened with Andy and Marlene. We met them at church.  I discovered that Andy makes a slap-yo-mamma good seafood gumbo! What a great couple who are so encouraging to us.  It happens over and over around the world. Disconnected people find true friendship. I encourage you to take the risk, be friendly and you will attract friends.

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Well it’s my birthday again today.  I say again because it seems like it was just yesterday I was celebrating the day of my birth last year!  While I usually share articles dealing with counseling issues here, today I want to ramble a little and share some of my thoughts about life as I know it pertaining to birthdays.

First of all I have noticed a tendency over the past several years to get a little melancholy on my special day.  Not sure what is behind this but I suspect it has something to do with the people who at one time I was close to who are not in my life anymore. 

I have, of course, lost some to death.  This past year my brother-in-law Hal Fletcher, who has always inspired me, lost his battle with cancer on December 10, 2010.  I will miss seeing Hal at family gatherings.  I also lost the third lady in my life that I thought of as grandmother.  Lucille Bowman Cooper Denham, “MaMa” passed away on July 1, 2011, at age 98 She made a great pot of gumbo.  Thirdly, a loss that is still very painful, my sweet sister, Lanae McCormick passed this summer.  She was in the habit of bringing joy wherever she went.  To say that she will be missed is an understatement.

I have also lost some friends because of relationship breakdowns.  My prayer is that somehow I can restore as many of these relationships as possible.

Then there are those dear brothers and sisters in Bushnell, FL. who I will miss seeing on a regular basis.  While I know the move to Mississippi was God’s plan for Larke, me, and Wahoo Church, it has been one of the hardest transitions of my life.

On a brighter note, as I look around, it occurs to me that I am blessed light years beyond what I could ever feel worthy of.  I am surrounded by so many friends and family members who mean the world to me.  I am married to my best friend.  I have four wonderful kids who make me proud every day.  And grandkids… don’t get me started!

I sat down recently and made a list of my goals for the coming year.  I share these with you because, well, that’s what we are supposed to do.  I ask you to pray for me and hold me accountable by asking me how I’m doing with my goals (I will gladly reciprocate if you would like).  Here they are:

  • To maintain at least 10 counseling relationships.  Counseling is my passion.  I love helping people find God’s answers to the difficulties in life that we all face.
  • To read at least 2 books each month.  I read slower than most so I am being a realist here.
  • To improve my writing skills.  I want to be a better blogger. I would also like to write a book.
  • To write and record at least one song per month.  Got to get back to my music.
  • To read through the Bible.  Currently using the One Year Bible on my IPhone You Version App.  This is a great Bible program for free.  I like that it is portable.  I can read it in line at the WalMart Pharmacy (There is always a line at WalMart Pharmacy!).

One final thought: I don’t think it is coincidence that I woke up with a song in my head that I haven’t heard or thought of in years.  This song is what I want whatever time I have left to be about:

One day Jesus will call my name

As days go by, ‘hope I don’t stay the same.

I wanna get so close to Him that it’s no big change,

On that day that Jesus calls my name!

 


4.  BE CAREFUL WHEN SELECTING YOUR FRIENDS

 This is very important.  Self image is heavily influenced by relationships so you need to select your relationships very carefully.  The company you keep has a dramatic effect on your self esteem and on your confidence. 

 1 Corinthians 15:33 “Bad company corrupts good character.” Parents tell their kids that all the time.  If you want to soar with the eagles, you can’t run with the turkeys.  You’ve got to select your friends wisely. They have a big influence on your life. 

 Charlie Brown is the world’s greatest loser.  It is very clear why he’s such a loser.  Lucy!  Lucy is always telling Charlie Brown what is wrong with him, why his idea is dumb.  In one cartoon she said, “You, Charlie Brown, are a foul ball in the line drive of life.  You stand in the shadow of your own goal post.  You are a miscue.  You are three putts on the eighteenth green.  You are a seven-ten split in the tenth frame. You’re a missed free throw, a called third strike.  You are a dropped rod and reel in the lake of life.  Do you understand me, Charlie Brown?  Have I made myself clear?”  With friends like Lucy, who needs enemies?

The Lucys in your life will damage your self- image with their insults and their put downs. This may sound negative but it would seem there are some people who see as their mission in life to put you down.  You can’t insulate yourself from these people but you can limit your exposure to them.  Choose the right friends.

5.  HAVE A PROPER FOCUS

If you want to be confident, you need to find a cause greater than being self-centered.  A worthy goal will give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning.  Make something of your life.

Matthew 16:25-26 “For anyone who keeps his life for himself shall lose it.  And anyone who loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be if a person gains the whole world, yet forfeits his own soul?”  Jesus is talking.  He’s saying we discover ourselves when we give ourselves away. 

Self confidence is definitely not self-centeredness.  There’s a difference.  Self centeredness leads to insecurity.  You need to be self confident without being self centered.  How do you do that?  You give your life away to a great cause, a great purpose.   

Invest your life.  Don’t waste it, don’t spend it.  Invest your life in a cause that is greater than yourself. 

6.  DEVELOP A DEEP TRUST IN GOD

 Jeremiah 17:7-8 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and has made the Lord his hope and confdence.  He is like a tree planted along a river bank with roots reaching deep into the water, not bothered by the heat, nor worried by long months of drought it stays green and goes on producing fruit.” 

Life is difficult.  It’s tough.  This passage happens to mention two kinds of difficulties.  Heat and drought.  Heat, I think, are the sudden crises of life.  Heat comes on suddenly.  The accident.  The cancer.  The death.  Somebody walks out of your life.  The earthquake.  How do you handle it when the heat is on in your life?

Then there is drought.  Long periods of time when you must go without something you feel you need.  You’re out of work.  You’re out of income.  You’re out of energy.  You’re doing without.  How do you handle those kinds of things?   

Notice three words:  trust, hope, confidence.  He says “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and has made the Lord his hope and confidence.”  He’s talking about a relationship with God.  When you trust in God, you’re having a relationship to God.  The result is you won’t be bothered by these things.

 This guy is like a tree and he keeps on blooming even in the middle of heat and in the middle of drought and the reason he is not bothered is that his roots go down into the Lord.  He has faith in God. 

 What is the source of your confidence?  Perhaps you are trusting in your career.  You’ve got it made, you’re on the fast track, things are going great.  When you’re hot, you’re hot!  But when you’re not, you’re not. 

To have unshakable confidence, you must put your confidence in something that can never, ever be taken from you.  And there’s only one thing that can never be taken from you, your relationship sith God through Jesus.  It can never be taken.

That’s how you grow in confidence.

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