Tag: words (page 1 of 2)

5 Words that Made me Stop

I’m a “J” on the Myers Briggs. That means I like quick decision-making and closure. I’m impulsive. A “jump first, ask questions later” kind of girl. Can anyone relate?

So a few weeks ago when I sensed a prompting (that I thought was from God), I was ready to act on it. Like immediately.

This nudge involved speaking a loving question into a friend’s life, but it was about a painful subject .

And then, this morning, before I did anything (this is one reason why morning quiet time is crucial for me! :)) I read 2 Samuel 2:1 “David inquired of the Lord”. The sentence sounded familiar so I checked in Bible Gateway. Sure enough I had read a version of  that same phrase 9 times about David! But this morning I didn’t just read it, I heard it as an additional reminder to me from God.

These 5 words stopped me in my tracks.

Inquiring of the Lord is a check-in with our divine Mentor of sorts. For me it meant praying about my prompting. “Lord this is what I THINK you want me to do. Will you confirm it in my spirit if so? Will you give me Your words if it is Your will?” And then I was still. (Always VERY hard for me!)

The way the Lord answered was to encourage me to put myself in my friend’s place.

Are the words you feel prompted to speak true? Yes.

Would they feel helpful or life-giving to you if you were in her place? Yes.

Are they necessary? No, they are not necessary I guess. I’m sure You, Lord, could find another way to talk to her, but You tapped me, and You remind me “put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” (Eph. 4:25)

After “inquiring of the Lord” and really trying to listen for His response, I prayerfully wrote a note to my friend. Thankfully she received it with gratitude and reflection.

However, there have been times when I thought I was responding to a prompting, only to be blasted by the receiver, causing me to slink away like a scolded puppy. There have been other times when I haven’t spoken up in spite of a prompting and have regretted it as I watched a friend walk into ruin.

Bottom line? I think all we can do is our part – be attentive to the Holy Spirit and carefully inquire of the Lord before we speak. Then have the courage to either speak up or keep our mouths shut with courage as He leads us.

What has your experience been with nudges from the Holy Spirit?

 

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Me and Mr. Trump

Kellyanne Conway (Trump advisor) : “Judge Donald Trump by “what’s in his heart [not] what’s come out of his mouth.”

Jesus: “…out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”*

Some people are so easy for me to judge. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel. I compare myself with them and feel comfortably self-righteous.

“Bam! I’m better than THAT!”

“Pow! I’d never say THAT!”

Their speech, like gangrene, is so ugly and offensive it’s easy to recognize that they must have heart disease.

But then I read more of my Bible and I’m reminded:

The heart is deceitful above all things …” Jeremiah 17:9 as in “MY heart is deceitful above all things…” There is hidden heart decay that I don’t want to face. And then…

“…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23

That means I have heart a disease, and so do you. Even though my words may mask the condition of my heart more than others, there is pride and lack of love, and selfishness pumping through the chambers.

This weekend, John preached on the power of our words, and included an oral check-up. Some of these questions**may help you assess the condition of your heart, but then what? How do we do cardiac care?

Proverbs 4:23-24 says,

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Romans 12:2

We may hear this a lot, but do we really pay attention to it? It can be really uncomfortable, but what if we ask:

Will this…

movie…

relationship…

activity…

book…

Twitter/FB/Instagram feed…

contribute to my spiritual heart health or heart decay?

As a result will my heart be beating more in sync with the heart of Jesus and because of that will my words be more like His words? Or will I be more prone to crass language, gossip, criticism, cynicism…?

 

*Luke 6:45

**

  1. Would people say you talk too much or hold too much inside?
  2. Which is harder for you, receiving criticism, or offering it?
  3. Are you more about asking questions or giving answers?
  4. When is the last time you misrepresented/exaggerated/deceived/lied to someone?
  5. Sometimes we confuse swearing with bad language (gossip/anger/pettiness etc.) Which is more of a temptation for you?
  6. Words + faith…Is your faith a state secret? Do people see what they hear?
  7. When was the last time you resolved a conflict & strengthened a relationship?
  8. What would one who knows you say is truer: Grace over Truth or Truth over grace?
  9. In a typical conversation do you walk away feeling like the other person learned more about you, or you learned more about them?
  10. Who are the last 2 people you affirmed/blessed in a way they remember?

The Small, but Important Shifts that Will Make You a More Effective Helper

My sister-in-law Susan, is a young widow of a year and a half.  She is outside trying to stay ahead of the fat, heavy snow that is falling fast and piling up faster. She struggles on her own to shovel her walkway with an injured back, when a neighbor and his young son walk up, with shovels in hand.

“Can we help?” asks the little boy.

The father gently corrects him. “No son, remember, that’s not what we say. We say “We’re here to help!”

What a brilliant shift!

If someone says, “Can we help?” what’s our go-to response?  “Oh no, that’s ok.” Right?

But in the face of an enthusiastic “We’re here to help!” it becomes a community activity.

It’s fascinating to me how little tweaks in what we say can make a big difference. 

Most of us have had someone ask “How are you doing?” in a season when we want to hurl things at them and scream “I’M A HOT MESS OF PAIN HERE AND WANT TO DIE, CAN’T YOU SEE THAT???” However, it’s so natural, we ALL ask the question without thinking about it. When you know people are going through a hard time, consider alternatives like:

  • “I’m so glad to see you (or to hear your voice).” Then stop and just listen.
  • “I can’t imagine how hard this is for you, but I’d like to better understand what you’re going through.”
  • “I love you.”
  • Give them a hug and say, “I’m here. I can’t imagine what this is like for you, but I’d love to take a walk and listen.”
  • “What’s on your plate for today?” Often if you ask people what they’re doing, they’ll tell you how they’re feeling.
  • After someone dies, over the long-haul when others have stopped asking, say “What do you miss most about ________?”

And sometimes it’s not the words, but the silence that matters.

I’ve written before on some other practical suggestions, and if you want a terrific book on this, check out What Grieving People Wish You Knew about what really helps (and what really hurts”).

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When You’re on the Receiving End of a “Crucial Conversation”

I wrote Monday about the most impactful message we heard when we went to Willow Creek’s Leadership Summit this summer.    I came home from the summit inspired, informed, and motivated to apply all of the things.

However I wasn’t expecting for anyone to apply anythings to, well… ME!  Within 24 hours of our return, not one, but two different friends individually decided they needed to have a “crucial conversation” with me. Continue reading

How to Have a Crucial Conversation

Recently we met for dinner with a young couple we love whose marriage is in crisis.

Another friend’s teenage son entered rehab.

Two had to fire employees.

One needs to break up with her boyfriend.

AAAAARRRGGGHHH!  For the love of world peace!

In each of these situations a crucial conversation (or series of them) was called for.  Conversations where emotions ran high.  Sometimes there was a difference of opinion.   Perhaps there was hard truth that needed to be clearly, but gently communicated.

John and I often repeat something our friend Nancy Beach once said: “Leadership is a series of hard conversations.”  I think that might as well be “LIFE is a series of hard conversations.”

In August we took a large group from our church to the annual Leadership Summit at Willow Creek.  The most pertinent talk for many of us was called “Crucial Conversations” by Joseph Grenny.

He said, any time you find yourself stuck, there are crucial conversations you’re not having, or not having well. Continue reading

How to Make a Difference Today

I’ve been a little “off” lately.  A bit of a cranky pants.  And as I examined why, the thing that I noticed was that I’ve really been neglecting the soul rhythm of time in God’s Word.  So this morning I started on a new Bible reading plan, breathing in Genesis 1.

And two things clicked together – God’s words for me, and words for others

First, when I read… I read, pray, & meditate (RPM).  Actually it’s not usually in that order, but RPM is catchy :).

I read the passage and meditate on it.  And what I mean by meditate is that I try to pay attention to verses God quickens my spirit to, and specifically I ask “What does this passage teach me about God and about myself?”

Then I pray the passage into my life. Continue reading

Kingdom Conversations

One of the amazing blessings of my life is that John serves on the World Vision International Board and I get to tag along as he travels with them.  Seeing new places and learning about new cultures is enriching, but I also get to spend time with remarkable, godly people I admire!  This week we’ve been in London and Windsor with these friends.

One of the things I notice is the power of a mantra my friend Sharon repeats often: “Words matter.”  Too many, too few (a compliment left unshared), life-giving words, words of gratitude or complaint.  Our words can be the thermostat that sets the temperature of a conversation.  If God is noting the temperature I set with my words, I’m wondering how often it would be set at “foot in mouth”, or “insensitive”, “self-centered”, or “gossipy”.

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Sitting at lunch yesterday my friend Helen didn’t just let the conversation drift.  She asked the seven women around the table, (all of us new acquaintances) to share what one of our passions is.

After the first person spoke, another woman at the table suggested that we pray for each person after they shared.  What could have been nice chit-chat became a lovely, richer time of fellowship because these two women took the opportunity to set the temperature of our conversation, creating a God-honoring environment.

Whether it’s our friends on the board here, or mentors elsewhere, some of the things I’ve observed about Jesus followers who know that words matter are:

  • They listen really well.  They are present and will sift through the extraneous and pick up on the important heart issues.
  • They ask good questions.
  • They find things to affirm.  Their speech is “seasoned with grace.”
  • Even when asked for advice, they limit what they say. (This one is a huge one for me to learn from!!)
  • They model what Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.”

What is it that you think makes the difference between conversations that lift our minds and those that lower them?

One More Gift…or Two

At our house the carols have been sung, candles lighted, cookies eaten, snuggling done by the fireplace.  The tree has been given multiple compliments so that it feels secure in its loveliness, and bags of festive crumpled wrapping paper and shiny bows carted out to the trash.

Yes, the gifts have been opened and oohed and aahed over, but there are a few more…A couple I didn’t get delivered to friends and tennis coaches, and Christmas cards still to mail.  Maggie’s fiance, Austin arrives today and his gifts are still waiting under the Christmas tree.

All this gifting focus has prompted me to think about several other gifts that are there every day, but may sit around un-given or unopened in the new year.

Continue reading

The Other “F Word”

One afternoon when Katy was in kindergarten she got off the bus and informed me that she had learned “the f-word.”

“Fart.”

She later told us she had also learned the “sh-word”

“Shut up.”

Honestly, in our family the real “f-word” isn’t fart.  And it isn’t another word that might come to mind.

It’s “fine”.

To my mind, “fine” may be the most terrible word in the english language.  And words matter as my friend Sharon always reminds me.

Continue reading

Word Fatigue

The other day in our small group, one of the women was describing the feeling of heaviness, helplessness, and lethargy she felt upon return from a year in Africa.  I said it sounded like she had experienced “compassion fatigue” – the sense of overload you have when you’ve seen too much suffering, heard too many stories of loss and spent time with people in despair, too many requests for more money.

Visiting a church recently, I felt like I experienced a similar phenomena.  “Word fatigue”.

Continue reading

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