So… I saw Bad Moms, and I laughed.

In case you don’t have any clue what movie I am talking about, here is a promo shot:

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First, I’d like to admit right out of the gate I didn’t walk into this movie with naive expectations.  The trailers gave a pretty good indication that there would be some inappropriate humor.  Second, I am not planning on giving away any spoilers.  There were definitely some parts I thought the movie could have lived without, not only for the story line but even in the presentation.  Sometimes it could go too far.  Third, there were some parts of this that were REALLY unrealistic when you are talking about any group of moms.  Lastly, there were also a LOT of truths.

Overall, I laughed and I laughed hard.  At one point I laughed so hard (as I was taking a sip from my straw) that I pushed air through the straw, which caused a small tidal wave in my cup, and that resulted in my drink landing in my eyes.  Which just caused a whole other fit of laughter for myself and those sitting around me.  I laughed until I cried and my stomach hurt.  Yet, there were some moments that I nodded in solidarity.  There were moments that were uncomfortable.  And, yes… as I said before totally unnecessary.

What I want to write about (and I’m up for conversation too) is WHY a movie like this not only resonated with moms but was drawing us in like moths to a flame.

My first thought is probably the most obvious, there is an enormous amount of pressure on moms to be it all, do it all, and do so perfectly.  Whether it is the perfect birthday party, bento box lunches, or simply making it to every school and sport activity… we feel the pressure.  We notice so much of what is around us, like the mom who has the perfect hair and make up in the parent pick up line… when we were struggling to get out of the house with a bra under our pajama shirt.  We see the kids with the perfectly styled hair, accessories, and sparkling white sneakers…. and we just spent the last 40 minutes looking for eyeglasses or a belt.  Other moms dropping their kids off early, and we are 10 minutes late because we had to go back home and pick up the flute that was left behind… or because our darling child took 15 minutes to brush her teeth.

How do these moms do it?  We cast shade in their direction, but really we are asking ourselves… why can’t I do it?

I think there are a number of moms who have run the scenario through their head of just saying no.  No to the requests by the husband, kids, school, coaches, etc.  An opportunity to just walk away from the pressure and enjoy life again.  To make the choice of not being the perfect mom anymore, and instead be the bad mom.

This brings me to my second thought, as you watch the trailers you see a group of women having fun. We are not talking bunko party fundraiser fun, but the kind of fun we had as teenagers  and young single adults.  The fun we had when we didn’t care what others thought, where it was ok to be silly, and there was an expected freedom in the general knowledge we were going to make mistakes and bad choices.  It takes us back to a time when we didn’t have to be an adult, and could just let loose and be free.

With motherhood came some sort of unwritten code of conduct, that we couldn’t be silly anymore.  We began to take everything too seriously, including ourselves.  Let’s face it, books and the advice of television “experts” reinforced this.  Reminding us over and over again that it was time to grow up, put away childish things, and get our heads out of the clouds.  As we did this, many of us sent fun sailing away for good.  We stopped smiling, we stopped laughing, and we stopped being silly.

The movie Bad Moms called out to that free spirit inside of us, that desperately wanted to laugh… and laugh hard.  So, it pulls out all the stops.  The women let loose in a way we couldn’t, and we live vicariously through them.  They say the things that roll through our minds & do the things we secretly wished we could.  (Ok, maybe not all of the things they say and do, but you get the point).

I also believe this appeals to Christian women so deeply because of the bar that is set for our expected behavior.  If other moms are feeling the pressure to be perfect in their every day life, Christian moms understand the additional expectations put on the Christian mom.  To have perfect children that love Jesus, quote the bible, volunteer with the elderly, and gladly donate all their birthday money to the missions fund.  To be women who are serious about the study of the Lord, leading small groups, inviting women over to mentor and pray together, to dress in simple clothes, and be ever diligent in our choices of entertainment.  There is a pressure that all of our time should be so seriously focused on Christ, that we can’t let loose and laugh until our sides hurt.

Confession… I saw the movie on opening night.  It’s taken me almost a month to admit I saw it, because frankly… I expected to be judged for it.  I was worried about what my church friends, my readers that look to me for wisdom, the women or leaders who are reading through my blog trying to decide if I would be the right speaker for their next women’s event… what would these people think of me?

I learned something from the movie though… my eyes were opened to how long it had been since I had laughed so much and so hard.  I realized how seriously I take myself and made the decision not to.  I embraced that silliness is okay and even healthy for my kids to see.  I made the decision that I wanted to laugh more, but with those whom I am the closest to… not a theater full of strangers.  I want that girl posse who has my back, in the most biblical way possible… and who will be silly with me.  Women who know how to laugh, smile, and stop trying to be something that is impossible to attain… perfect.

All of those parts of the movie that I thought were unnecessary, they don’t have to be part of my life.  But the good stuff… I welcome it.  We are all GOOD MOMS despite our imperfections and the times we muck things up… because we are LOVING MOMS.  In the end that is what matters.  The Lord didn’t call us to a life of misery, but of fulfillment and joy as mothers… and laughter.  So much laughter.

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I’m Asking for Trust, Not Power

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I’ve spent a little over a year doing some self examination, particularly in the area of leadership.  I came to a realization today, and jumped right to the keyboard to share it.  What I realized was my greatest struggle in leadership (now, and in the past) has always fallen in the difference between POWER and TRUST.   This applies to my management background and even within my ministry work.

Men, generally speaking, are looking for power and authority.  They climb the corporate ladder because they want to be top dog.  This isn’t true for all men, and this doesn’t negate that they work really hard and make sacrifices to get there.  It is that drive to “be their own boss” that makes men want to elevate their position or even start their own company.   Even in the church there is usually a progression:  Youth Pastor => Associate Pastor => Head Pastor.  In ministry it is common for a man to work his way up too, he may start out as an usher and then become head usher.  This forward movement is normal for men.

Women, I contend, have a different motivation.  Most women are not looking to be in power or have ultimate authority, but instead they want to be trusted to get the job done.  Women will stay in the same role for years, even a lifetime, if they find the job fulfilling.  In ministry, you can see this displayed in Sunday School teachers or Women’s Ministry leaders who have happily been serving for decades.  For many years the predominant use of women in the church came down to very domesticated roles, like rocking babies in the nursery, teaching Sunday School, singing in the choir, decorating the church, secretarial, and acts of hospitality (coffee on Sunday mornings, or food for the sick).  Historically, that is a fairly accurate role… but as time passed and women became educated and entered the workforce, there was a shift.

Women have become innovators and inventors, they write software, perform surgeries, run multi-million dollar organizations and corporations.  They have become college professors with doctorates, leading experts in many fields, politicians, business owners, and entrepreneurs.  Women have contributed significantly to the world through art, music, and literature.  When they raise their hand to volunteer at church, they are looking for a way to use those talents and skills to help the church in it’s vision.  However it is pretty common to usher her toward the children’s ministry director or hospitality team.

After my first was born, I chose to become a stay at home mom.  In nearly seventeen years, and multiple churches as we moved, there has not been a single conversation regarding my professional background among church leaders.  Not one.  Yet many of those skills would benefit any church or organization I have worked with. 

Not a single one could tell you that I was the fasting rising, and youngest manager in my company.  Nor, that my numbers were the best in our region (and in some instances our state).  They wouldn’t know that I wrote training manuals on how to more efficiently execute certain positions in the company, and was moved to a training location to prepare future managers.  That I managed a staff off one hundred people, nearly a hundred thousand dollars per day in sales, and nearly half million dollars in inventory on any given day.  I have hired people, trained people, and fired people.  I have negotiated commissions, raises and contracts.  I have experience in marketing campaigns, organizational structuring, etc… etc.

I don’t list this as a source of pride, but simply a fact… a short resume of experience that goes continually untapped in multiple arenas.  I know that I am not the only one, I am not the only woman who has sat in the pews from week to week and knows deep down she could be doing more. I’ve talked to women who have approached their Pastors offering up their experience, only to be brushed aside. 

I spoke with a woman recently who lamented that her church hired a young barely experienced guy for a job that she had thirty years of experience in.  She would have VOLUNTEERED to do the job, but she had no clue her church was even hiring.  When I asked her if the church knew she had experience in that field, she said YES.  Apparently on numerous occasions she volunteered and every time was told her services were not needed.  She wasn’t even given a chance.

I know that feeling.  I’ve offered my services and been told “no thank you”, I have been mirco-managed too.  I also know what it is like to be in a leadership role with the total support and trust.  As I reflect upon those experiences I realized it really had nothing to do with being in authority, power, or being the top dog.  Knowing that those whom you are working or serving with TRUST you is the game changer.

If a woman in your church has experience running a multi-million dollar organization, her gifts are better utilized on a finance committee, building committee, or even on staff versus putting out coffee and donuts each Sunday.  The woman in your church who has been a hiring manager is a great person to include on your Pastor/Staff search committees, creating clear cut job descriptions, and listing your job postings.  A woman in your church who has a background in hospitality is a great person to consult when the church wants to throw a large event to ensure nothing is overlooked.  My great aunt was an accountant for a major corporation, and served as the treasurer of her church for decades. 

It would be irresponsible to not consider that some of these women who left a given field may NOT want to do the same job in the church.  Or, they may be happy to be consulted with for major projects but have no interested in full time commitment to a particular role.  This is especially true for our retirees who are using this time to travel and spend time with their growing families.  However, even some of our retirees are happy to share their experience and knowledge, so we can’t discount them either.  In as much, you may find the corporate CEO who never had a family of her own is happy to rock babies every chance she can get.  We shouldn’t assume the best place for women to serve in the church.  Instead we should be proactively placing them based on their experience, spiritual gifts tests, and speaking to them in regards to their area of interests. 

Women in church leadership want the staff members to trust that they are capable to do the job and to allow them to lead, not without accountability of course… but with support.   Women want the church leaders (and this includes women’s ministry leaders, and other subministry leaders) to talk to them about their professional or educational background.  Then work together as a team to find where you are best suited to serve.  I recently read that there is growth in the number of women who are leaving the church, and I can’t help but think this may be the reason why.

Generally speaking, when you give a person a job or a role within a church that uses their gifts and talents… they become invested.  They will remain part of the body long term.  However, when a person feels overlooked, unappreciated, or undervalued they tend to leave and find a place where they are.  If we want to slow down or even stop the departure of women from the church, we need to be proactive in connecting them to the church in a meaningful way.

#Write31Days – Post 9 – False Spirituality

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The lights come on, the camera is rolling, there is beautiful music being played, voices fill the air with their melodic song, and then the speaker delivers a powerful message.  We leave from that place invigorated and inspired to change our ways, to pray more and read the Bible every day.  We agree to hold each other accountable, to volunteer more, and to give more as we become better stewards.  Our lives are so affected and changed that each week we will invite more and more people to hear this person, this godly and spiritual gift from heaven.

This may go on for weeks, months, years and even decades.  Then it happens, one day we turn on the news and that gift is being splashed across the screen.  The person we held in such high regard has been accused or even arrested, or has stepped forward to admit and unexpected truth.  We try to deny it, but ultimately the truth always comes out.  We have to face the fact that this person, whom we held in such high regard, was nothing but a phony.

When I was a child, I remember watching television with my grandmother on Sundays.  There was one particular show she would watch, where a beautiful woman would come on stage… she would sing with such beauty and emotion that tears would stream down her face.  Her husband would then take the stage and preach a message that was convicting and life changing.  They were inspiring people, until the day his fraud was exposed.  People who had supported their ministry were devastated, and many became like me… a hardened skeptic.  I don’t fall for “shows” anymore, and I have learned to watch for the signs of hypocrisy and being disingenuous.

There are people who are REALLY good at faking it.  They may appear to have it all together, the perfect husband, kids and home.  They can spout out bible verses, speak in glorious ways that make them sound learned and wise, they pray out loud using fancy words and phrases, and they know the right lingo that will create an illusion of being holy and righteous.

Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

Luke 12:3

Sometimes I will see right through a person, from the start.  Yet there are other times where it isn’t quite that obvious.  I may be suspicious, but without any evidence.  Or, the person might be really good at hiding their true self.  Humans are incapable of hiding truth for that long though, eventually we begin to see signs that things are not quite how they are being presented.  Then over time, particularly as the person becomes more comfortable with you – or confident in their ability to deceive – they truth beings to come to surface.  We can see through the facade.

The man who acts like a loving and caring father out in public, but verbally abuses his children or wife.

The pastor who gets caught in an affair or misusing tithes and church funds.

The woman who comes off as a sweet and kind woman at church, but in her home she screams and treats her family like they are nothing.

The ministry leader who prays for spiritual purity in the youth, while he is grooming certain students to be abused.

I am not talking about the person who gets caught up in a singular bad decision, where they lost good sense because of the temptation in front of them.  We are all sinners and have the capability of atrocious things.  I am talking about the person who is consistently and purposefully this way.  They put on a good show for others (and maybe they think it’s impressing God) but in their heart they are truly not changed, in their homes they are the exact opposite of what they preach or teach.

These are people who have a false spirituality.  They know all of the right words, all of the traditions, and how to present themselves in a way that sells their best characteristics.  But inside they are corrupt, manipulative, and deceitful.

Would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.

Psalm 44:21

God knows the heart, and He will shine light on the darkness.

For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.

Luke8:17

These are people who will even try and garner your sympathies as they wallow in their own sin, but it’s just for show.  They are not really interested in changing themselves, they just want to make sure you can’t speak against them.  It’s a guardrail that they put up to protect themselves.  It allows them to speak their truth (sometimes harshly) by tagging on a “I am not perfect” clause as they critique you.  They will claim deliverance from this or that sin, so that after they have torn you down … they can build you back up in as their own image bearer.

People with false spirituality are not trying to make you look Christ-like… hardly!  What they are trying to do is to mold you to look more like they do, they are doing it for the glory.  They shout “LOOK AT ME!  Look at what I have done.  Come, be just like ME!”… and God is not part of that equation.

So, how do we spot “false spirituality” –

  • Pray for Discernment – ask God to give you the wisdom and the knowledge to see through those who are frauds.

  • Pray for Transparency – pray that God will reveal their hidden truths to you, or the public as a whole.

  • Be Observant & Listen – you will begin to notice things that don’t feel quite right, or they will say something that will cause you take pause.  The more you are around them, the more frequently this will happen.

  • Look to Others – let me be clear, I am NOT advising you to gossip about a person.  What I am saying is see how others act around them.  Are there people who seem to have modeled themselves to be just like this person?  That’s a clue.  Just as much on the other side, do you notice that the wise people in your church or community are avoiding them like the plague!  That’s a clue too.

  • Who Do They Credit – when there is blessing or praise to be given, who does this person credit the glory to?  If they are constantly looking for the pat on the back, the attention, the credit, the glory … be careful.  “Look at what I did…” is just as bad as “Thank you Lord for allowing me this success….”.  In both cases, this is a person who is working in their own strength, on their own agenda. 

No one is going to be perfect, and if you are not careful you can discount just about anyone from being in your life because they are failing or sinful SOMEWHERE.   A genuine person isn’t going to put on the act of spiritual superiority, they are more interested in trying to address their own sin issues than trying to solve everyone else’s.

I recall a woman I was speaking with was sharing a ministry vision, she wanted to create a website where Christians could essential log their community service hours.  She wanted the world to see the good that Christians are doing, so they would see that we are not hypocrites and that we are actively striving to make a better world.

In theory, that sounds good.  But is that biblical? Is that actually a ministry?

Not really.

It was just another way to get a pat on the back for doing a good job.  It was another way of saying “hey, look at me and what I do!”  It didn’t allow God to get the credit, it was a place where instead each person would be able to get the credit they felt they deserved.

“So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

Matthew 6:2-4

This is also an great example of “false spirituality” because it gives an appearance of godliness.  When we boast about ourselves and our accomplishments for God, we are actually boasting only of ourselves.  If we truly wanted God to have all the glory, we would leave our names out of it entirely.  We are warned that as the days draw closer to Christ’s return, false spirituality is going to be on the rise as much (if not more) than sin and decay in the world.  When we encounter false spirituality, we must flee from it so that we are not corrupted by it.

But know this:  Difficult times will come in the last days.  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of godliness but denying its power.  Avoid these people!

For among them are those who worm their way into households and capture idle women burdened down with sins, led along by a variety of passions, always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of truth.

2 Timothy 3:1-7

 

New Year, Real Solutions

MBA

I was recently reading an article where the author talked about not making resolutions, but instead focusing on real solutions.  That has stuck with me, during this two week-ish break.  I really do want REAL solutions in 2015.  No more dreaming and not taking the steps, no more excuses, no more adding entirely new notions to a resolution list… when I have other things in my life that require real solutions.  I need to own the problems and difficulties, and honestly ask myself… what is the real solution for this.  Not the “ideal world” solution, not the “if things could be my way” solution, and definitely not the “if money was no object” solutions.

Truth this, none of that is a reality.  It’s a fallen world.  I will never get all things my way.  And, money creates more problems than it generally solves.

The real solutions lie in looking at the big picture and the small picture.  It involves action, research and progress.  It involves prayer, accountability, and encouragement.  It requires attainable steps, measurable success and more importantly it requires divine direction.

For example, my battle with weight.  (Ah the cry of the women folk)

If I continue to only look at diet plans and exercise programs, I’m going to have some success.  But, I won’t have measurable success, until I look for the real solution.  That real solution lies not in my medication, exercise program or diet plan.  The real solution lies in understanding my illness, trying to determine the triggers, looking to others who have walked this road before me & are healed, and actually doing all those things I keep saying I need to (like getting my allergy panel done).

Real solutions is not saying “I would like to” or “I need to” do something, it’s coming up with the action plan to get that momentum started.

Real solutions may take you outside of your comfort zone, and may require you to do and say things that are not pleasant … but need to be said.

Real solutions require….

REAL ownership of your life.

REAL accountability to others.

REAL action steps.

REAL timelines and deadlines.

REAL purpose.

… and the best part… Real solutions contain real HOPE.

WHY SO ANGRY?

MBA

Getting on my soap box, again.  But, sometimes, you just have to flesh out those thoughts in your head.  Getting them out, before you lose them.

This morning, I caught my youngest in a lie.  I knew she was lying, but I didn’t know how to prove it. I resorted to my tried and true tactics, but she wasn’t budging. “Not me”, was in the house.  Finally, I had to put it to her plainly.

“I know you a lying.  I know you did it.  I just can’t prove it.  So, until you confess….. ” and thus came my most brilliant of ideas.  And about 30 seconds later, full confession.

I issued the consequence, explaining (as I have done with every one of my kids)…. “If you would have told me the truth, I would only have grounded you for one day.  But, because you lied to me repeatedly, you are grounded for four days.”

And so the ensuing temper tantrum would begin.  Huffing and puffing around the house.  Not slamming things, but surely setting the down and closing drawers harder than one should.

I turned her to face me and said “Why are you angry with me?  I didn’t lie to you.  I gave you multiple chances to tell me the truth.  You chose not to.  It’s ok to be mad.  But, who should you really be mad at?”

She looked at me, like a doe caught in headlights, speechless.  I continued:  “The only person you should be mad with, is yourself.  You broke the rules in the first place. Then lied to cover your tracks.  You are mad at me because you got caught.  You should be mad at yourself for breaking the rules in the first place.”

She paused.  Her attitude improved.

Then, as I drove her to school… the woman behind me began a tantrum when I stopped for the school bus, instead of trying to whip through as the stop sign was being slowly extended.   Even if I had gone, there is no way she would have gotten through…without breaking the law.  But there she was, in my rear view mirror, waving her arms and smacking her steering wheel, gesturing toward the bus.  The bus retracted it’s sign, and I started to drive.  The road is a 40mph zone, I was averaging about 43-45mph…all the while she was close enough that if I popped my hatch back it would hit her car.  She followed closely like this, the entire length of my drive, gestures flying, Lord knows what she was saying.  She was ANGRY.

Why?  Why so angry with me?  I was following the law when I stopped.  I was actually going a little above the speed limit.  I wasn’t going below.

From my own experience of frustrations when driving, I can take a pretty good guess as to why she was so upset.  She was probably running late.

But was that my fault?  Or the bus driver’s fault?  Or any other driver she encounters fault?  No.  Yet she was spewing her venom towards me.  If I am right, and she was late, then really who’s fault was it?  Her own.  Something happened that morning that prevented her from leaving early enough.  Did she over sleep?  Get distracted?  Was she unprepared to walk out the door?  Couldn’t find her paperwork, keys or sunglasses?  It could be any number of reasons, but ultimately the fault lies with her.

If you think about all of those times you have gotten angry & even allowed your anger to spill out on others, how often was the situation actually THEIR fault?

My guess is probably fewer than we’d care to admit.

I was late, not because of the cars on the road, but because I misplaced my keys.

I didn’t turn in my assignment on time, not because the teacher didn’t give us enough time to finish, but because I wasn’t organized.

I wasn’t able to get my work done today, not because there was too much to do, but because I was distracted by personal phone calls.

My water got turned off, not because they are horrible people, but because I didn’t pay my bill on time.

My car was repossessed, not because the dealership is full of jerks who just want my money, but because I wasn’t budgeting.

My kids were late to school, not because they dragged their feet, but because I didn’t want to get out of bed until I HAD to.

I ended up in jail, not because the judge was unfair, but because I committed the crime & deserved the consequences.

I have to pay this speeding ticket, not because the cop is meeting a quota, but because I broke the law.

So many things that make us angry, when we look down deep… are really rooted in our decisions.

There are so many self help books, groups and movements about dealing with your anger.  But, how many of them actually address WHY we are angry in the first place?  Taking some personal responsibility for the choices we made, verses projecting our anger toward others will help us to diffuse that anger.

It is easier to be angry at someone else, and blame them for everything.   It is harder to look at yourself in the mirror and say “this is your doing, how are you going to fix it?”

Ecclesiastes 7:9

Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.

 

 

 

TO BE CORRECTED ……. (Part 1/2)

MBA

Recently, one of my best friends sent me a vague text stating that she was angry.   During the course of the discussion, I realized that I disagreed with her take on the situation.  Even more importantly, from a spiritual standpoint, I didn’t agree with how she was responding to the situation.  As her friend, and a Christian, I decided to correct her. After all, isn’t that what we are told to do?

2 Timothy 4:2     Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

I wasn’t mean, but I also didn’t beat around the bush.  You see, this was a behavior that I had seen before.  As I recognized this pattern, it was like a veil was lifted & I suddenly saw some situations from her past in a new perspective.  Her response of anger was a pattern of behavior.  It wasn’t healthy for her, or any one around her.   I knew that I needed to say something.  This correction, however, was not well received.  I thought I had handled it well.  I wasn’t mean or harsh, but I also didn’t beat around the bush either. Instead of appreciating my correction, what I got was the silent treatment.  The deafening silence continued for days; leading me to try and clarify my point.  I was also trying to fix her being upset with me.  The more I tried to fix it, the worse things got. Then, my mind started getting the better of me.

Galatians 6:1   Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

Satan had gotten a hold of my ear.  Twisting the scenario around.  Tainting my thoughts and opinions of her.  To the point that I was even playing out scenarios in my head of what our next conversation was going to be like.  Fortunately, despite everything going on in my head, my heart and my friendship… I was seeking God.  I was digging into his word about friendships & accountability; and the more I read, the more my heart softened.  I wasn’t letting Satan mess with my mind any more.  I was reminded that I loved my friend.  I wanted to open her eyes to something she may not have been recognizing in herself.  I wanted to help her.

Proverbs 17:17     A friend always loves, and a brother is born to share trouble.

How do we correct our Christian sisters?  First, I would recommend reading Matthew 18:15-17.  I am grateful for the clarity in God’s word on the subject.   We need to first speak with them, privately.  Then if they don’t listen, we come with 2-3 others.  If they still do not listen, you take it to your church leaders or body.  Oddly enough, this was the easy part.

Second, there were some important things I realized (in retrospect) that would have helped.  Hopefully my sharing them will be beneficial should you find yourself in this situation.

  1.  She admitted she was already angry.  This was definitely not the right time, her emotions were on high alert.  She was not going to be able to hear me.
She was on the defensive.  Poor timing.

    2. Say it, then zip it.  If you do speak to your friend… say what you have to say, then zip your lips. Your friend may need time to process what you say to her.
And what may not even seem like a big deal to you, may be a big deal to her.  Stop trying to make your point, or smooth things over. Give her space.

3.  Wait. Pray. Speak, only if led to.   Unless what your friend is about to do is going to cause immediate harm to her or others, wait to speak. When we wait, we
then have time to reference scripture and pray.  Ask God if you should say something, how you should say it and when.Let God lead your correction.  God
may end up leading you to keep your mouth shut altogether or just for the time being. 

*Written for the TC3 Women’s Ministry Devotion Blog

BLESSINGS OF MENTORSHIP

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Early in my walk, as a Christian, I really didn’t have a mentor.  I did have a few people in my life I could ask questions of… and they didn’t look at me as a fool.  They understood that I was growing.  But, I didn’t have anyone who took me under their wing and helped guide me on my walk.

Now, much later in my walk, I have several mentors in my life.  I recently was meeting with one of them.  We were talking about the book of Revelation and the churches listed in Chapters 2 & 3. We were discussing how these different churches mirrored our current world….. the attitudes not just of countries but even of our churches today.

The church in Ephesus had the head knowledge but not the heart knowledge.  They kept up the beliefs, the traditions, etc…without understanding why.  It was empty.  They were on auto pilot.  Serving Jesus without loving Jesus.

It was then my friend, and mentor, mentioned how important it was that we have mentors in our walk from very early on.  Without a mentor we can allow ourselves to get caught up in the rules, the deeds, the work of our faith without actually having real faith.  We know all the things we should do and shouldn’t do, but yet we don’t really understand the why and more importantly the WHO behind it.

As we continue to grow in our knowledge, without a mentor to guide us, we can end up just like the church of Ephesus.  We will have the head knowledge without the heart knowledge.  And then eventually we become like the pharisees.  We stand firm and strong in our righteous knowledge, without loving the least of these…. the poor in spirit, the broken, the lost.

Mentors help us to see the bigger picture.  They help us to learn from their wisdom and experience that our impact on others has to start from a place of love.  Loving them in spite of their faults, not excusing them.  But understanding that we have to start from a place of love and not condemnation.

When you first love a person, taking the time to get to know them and understand them, you build your credibility with them. They learn to trust you.  Trusting that you really care for them and this isn’t just your attempt to add another success story to your book of people’s lives that you have changed.

In your attempts to share the Gospel, a mentor reminds you that it is not your job to change them.  But to love them.  The Holy Spirit will change them.  Your greatest testimony comes from your example.  We have all know of people who were considered “great” and looked up to, and the moment the truth of their depravity came out… it contradicted all the good they had done.

A mentor tells you to focus more on making yourself better, your walk better, your testimony better than trying to change others.  In fact, dear one, YOU are not as big of a part of their testimony as you think.  In fact, you are quite insignificant to the transformation that Christ does in them.

My mentor told me that she can tell relatively quickly when someone has been mentored or not.  You can see it in their attitude towards others.

If you don’t have a mentor, maybe it is time to find one.  In fact, you may need more than one.

Wondering how to find a mentor?

1) Pray.  Pray that God will reveal the person to you.
2) Let Go.  Let go of all the preconceptions of what a mentor should be.  Do not base it on age, years as a Christian, family size.  I remember once a woman in the church came to me for advice on marriage.  She was much older than I was, and I was caught off guard.  I found out as we talked, that she had only been married a few years.  While I was significantly younger than her, I had 10+ more years of marriage experience than she.
3) Be Open.  Be open to having just one mentor, or more.  God will bring those whom you need, don’t turn away wisdom because you “already have one”.
4) Talk to your Pastor or his wife.  If you need mentorship in a specific area, they may know just the right person for you.
5) Don’t Give Up.  You may try out a mentor relationship & it just isn’t working.  That is ok, you can change mentors. But make sure you are changing them because it’s not the right fit… and not because they are saying things you don’t want to hear.