Lifelong Learners Grow Emotionally and Relationally

learn1They may be pleasant and intelligent people. Very often, they are Christian people.   There are some people who have developed their thinking processes quite well. There are some who have the capacity to grasp intellectual complexities and make sense of them.

Yet, some of these same people never seem to grow up emotionally.

Yet, there are people whohave just never been able to progress or move ahead in terms of allowing the Gospel to make a difference in the way they handle their emotions.

Lifelong learners are willing to learn and grow. Learning, however, is not limited to mental, cognitive growth. A commitment to be a lifelong learner is not just a commitment to read more books.

No, we make the commitment to grow relationally and emotionally.

A few years ago, I read Peter Scazzero’s The Emotionally Healthy Church. A good book.   This particular paragraph in the Introduction (p. 17) caught my attention:

The sad truth is that too little difference exists, in terms of emotional and relational maturity, between God’s people inside the church and those outside who claim no relationship to Jesus Christ. Even more alarming, when you go beyond the praise and worship of our large meetings and conventions and into the homes and small-group meetings of God’s people, you often find a valley littered by broken and failed relationships.

5 Marks of Mature Behavior

maturityEmotionally immature people can do great damage to others. This is compounded when these same people perceive themselves to be spiritually mature.

I’ve seen this far too often.  A few examples:

1.  Years ago, a “spiritually mature” person explained to me over lunch why he didn’t have to forgive a family member for the way this person had treated him.  (He had accused this family member of swindling him in a financial deal.) This “spiritually mature” person concluded that he did not have to forgive this person because Jesus did not address situations exactly like his.

2.  A person who saw himself as “spiritually mature” was not on speaking terms with a person who had been a longtime friend.  This “spiritually mature” person would not speak unless spoken too.  He would deliberately move to the other side of a room if it appeared he would be in close proximity of his former friend.  This became obvious to others.  On one occasion, he was confronted about the problem that existed between the two and denied there was any problem.

So how does a person seeking maturity behave?

A maturing person seeks to behave appropriately (instead of allowing raw emotion to dictate one’s response).

A maturing person seeks to grow and display the virtues of Christ (instead of yielding to one’s own fleshly appetites).

A maturing person desires to display love (instead of yielding to one’s moodiness or impulsivity).

A maturing person takes responsibility for her emotions (instead of justifying foolish, self-absorbed behavior).

A maturing person is known for integrity and truthfulness (instead of being known for manipulation and a self-seeking attitude.)

I like the following thoughts by Peter Scazzero:

It’s taking people beyond outward changes and moving into the depths of their interior life in order to be transformed.

We look at this process in two broad strokes. First, we say that every Christian should have a contemplative life. Simply put, that means that each follower of Christ needs to cultivate a deep relationship with Christ—without living off other people’s spiritual lives. That requires slowing down and structuring your whole life in such a way that Christ really becomes your Center.

Secondly, emotionally healthy spirituality means that emotional maturity and spiritual maturity go hand in hand. It’s simply not possible to become spiritually mature while you remain emotionally immature. And emotional maturity really boils down to one thing: love. So if you’re critical, defensive, touchy, unapproachable, insecure—telltale signs of emotional immaturity—you can’t be spiritually mature. It doesn’t matter how “anointed” you are or how much Bible knowledge you have. Love is that indispensable mark of maturity. Emotionally healthy spirituality unpacks what that looks like (“The Spiritual Importance of Becoming an Emotionally Healthy Preacher,”   

Question:

How would you describe the behavior who is serious about maturing?

 

Monday Start (Resources for the Week)

Quick-StartCoffee!

World’s 10 best cities for coffee.  Some I guessed.  Some I would have never guessed!

Roots

My friend Allan Stanglin (Amarillo, Tx.) has written a nice post in which he describes his gratitude for the congregation in Dallas where both of us find our roots.

Books

Scot McKnight comments on a number of new books which are worth noting.

Time and Productivity

This is a good piece regarding how to stop procrastinating.  Offers some practical suggestions.

Spiritual Formation

See this fine post by Scot McKnight entitled Spiritual Formation Movement – a Challenge.  In the post, he interacts with Andy Stanley’s new book, Deep and Wide.

Meetings

If you lead meetings, do everyone around you a favor and listen to this podcast by Michael Hyatt.  I learned several good practices here.

Longest Return (See this video!)

“Mission (Texas) Sharyland High special teams ace Sean Landez returned a Mission (Texas) Edinburg North High field goal 109.9 yards for a touchdown during Sharyland’s 48-7 rout of Edinburg North.” (Yahoo Sports).  See the complete article here.

Monday Start (Resources for the Week)

StartPorn

“It eats you from the inside out.”  Excellent article from The Christian Century regarding ministers and porn.

Writing

“Every Writer is a Mentor” by Jeff Goins.  Good post!

Questions

Tim Keller’s five questions for the biblical text.  When I agree or disagree with Keller, he makes me think!

Books

Top ten most read books in the world posted by Mark Wilson.

It’s Not About You

This is a very good article by David Brooks to recent college graduates.  A keeper!

Mentoring

Margaret Feinberg has written an excellent post “4 Keys to Finding the Perfect Mentor You’ve Always Wanted.”

What is your impact on others?

How Are People Left When You Leave Their Presence?” by Michael Hyatt.  Well worth reading!

Monday Start (Resources for the Week)

startHelpful for anyone serious about growing.

On the Job: You Are Never Too Old to Improve.  Appeared in USA Today.  Some great suggestions!

Do the extra!

Seth Godin can say so much with few words.  Don’t miss Do the (extra) work!  Also, last week my son-in-law, Cal, passed on this wonderful piece by Godin, Waiting for all the facts.

Confessions of a former preacher.

Don’t miss these two very good posts by Dan Bouchelle.  See Why Burnout? and Willingly Walking into a World of Pain.  Good insights into ministry.

Missional.

See Ed Stezer’s post Finish the Mission: To Our Neighbors and the Nations.”  Ed Stetzer makes me think.

A Question About Dads

dad heartI’m curious.

Many people grow up with memories of a father relationship that was less than adequate.  I’ve heard many stories of some fathers being emotionally and/or physically absent.  Other fathers regularly made critical remarks to their children and had no significant relationship with them.

In your experience, how does emotional absence and even disconnection, by a father, impact a young son or daughter?

Ministry Inside.95

talkWhat is the #1 way many ministers sabotage their ministry?

A loose and undisciplined mouth.

Years ago, I was teaching a Wednesday evening class at our church.  The class was about to begin.  A woman was still talking as I attempted to start this class.  I said something about her to the group, thinking it would be funny.  Everyone laughed.  Well, almost everyone.  She did not laugh.  In fact, the next day she called me and wanted to visit for a few minutes.  My words had hurt her.  They brought up memories of earlier humiliations in her life.  Now, in front of everyone, her minister had embarrassed and humiliated her.

I felt awful.  To get a quick laugh, I spoke without thinking.  I really wished for a do-over.

Trust is everything in ministry.  Ministers are people who have a great opportunity to help someone learn what it means to live as a Christ-follower.  Yet, that trust is diminished when people witness that our speech is undisciplined.  If we are not careful, we can speak in ways that are inappropriate, thoughtless, and even un-Christlike.

4 Assumptions You Can Make About Your Day

assumptionsJohn Dickson tells the story of some young men who got on a bus in the mid-1930s and attempted to pick a fight with one of the riders. This man was sitting in the back of the bus by himself.

At first they tried a few verbal taunts. He said nothing.

Then the insults got more intense. He still said nothing.

Finally, the bus came to a stop.

The man stood.  He was much bigger than what the boys had realized.  He reached into his pocket, handed the boys his card, and quietly walked off the bus.

The boys crowded around the card eager to read it. The card read:

Joe Louis, Professional Boxer

As many of you know, Joe Louis was the world heavyweight champion from 1937 to 1949 and is considered by many to be one of the greatest boxers ever.

These boys had made some assumptions about the man at the back of the bus.  They didn’t realize that the man was actually the great Joe Louis.

Some of us make wrong assumptions about others, about life, and even about God.  For years, I made so many wrong assumptions.  I passively thought that life would finally be very good if I were just given the opportunity I wanted.  At times, I assumed the negative.   Sometimes I started the day thinking that the day’s problems and obstacles would prevent me from having a good day.

I want to share with you four assumptions you can make that will actually help you this week.  These will help you as you live, work, and relate to others, whether co-workers, friends, or family.

Today, let me encourage you to consider the following.

1.  Assume that you will experience interruptions and distractions.  You will need to decide how you will deal with the interruptions.  It could be that the interruptions are more important than what you have planned.

2.  Assume that you will need to extend grace to others.  Sometimes our expectations of people are unrealistic.so unreal!  After all, don’t you need the grace of God on a daily basis?  Instead of being shocked, remember that some people are going to drive rudely.  Some people are going to be too abrupt with you.  Some people are not going to follow through on their commitments.  Wake up each day knowing that if this is a normal day, there will be the opportunity to extend grace.

3.  Assume that you will have opportunities today.  Many people go through their day totally focused on frustrations, obstacles, and barriers.  Why not look for opportunities?  Is there an opportunity for you to grow?  Is there an opportunity for you to stretch?  Is there an opportunity to serve someone?

4.  Assume that you have enough time to do what really needs to be done.  As you think about your time, you may wonder how you could possibly squeeze anything else in.  However, it might be useful to think about how much time you are spending on Facebook, Twitter, your? blog, your website, etc.  How much time do you spend chasing down meaningless information on the Internet?

Question:

What else can you assume about life?

 

Ministry Inside.94

I read a very good article in The Wall Street Journal entitled “The Peak Time for Everything.” Basically, the article explores the importance of matching the tasks you need to do with the energy level of your body.  The author suggests times of the day that may be better suited for a particular task given where the energy level of the body normally is at that point.  For example, the author suggests that when it comes to doing cognitive work most adults tend to perform better later in the morning.

I have found the following practices to be helpful as I attempt to manage my time:

1.  My best study is done very early in the morning.  I often awaken early and get much reading and preparation done before I ever go into the office.

2.  One of the first things I do upon getting to the office is form my to-do list.  I may add several new items to what was unfinished from the day before or the list may be totally new.

3.  I write on a large white board in my office a few items that I refer to as “blocks.”   That is, I intend to spend a block of time working on a particular project.  For example, I may be thinking about a meeting or a talk I am to give in a month or two.  I might choose to spend a 30-minute block of time working on this item.  (Otherwise, what is pressing or seemingly immediate will usually consume my time.)

4.  I typically write most e-mails and make most phone calls in the afternoon when my energy is lower.  In fact, I save tasks that require less energy or creativity for the afternoon.

5.  Each day, I want to do something that adds energy to my life.  Typically I go to the gym four days a week in the late afternoon to work out.  This practice makes a huge difference in my energy level.  Also, I am energized by reading, visiting with friends on the phone, and enjoying conversation (normally by phone) with family members.

Questions:

What are some of your daily practices that impact the flow of your day?