Don’t get offended.

“I mean this in love and in no way intend this to come across as negative or critical, but…”

Ever have someone start out a conversation this way? Not the easiest statement to hear someone else say to us. Well, don’t feel too bad, it’s only natural to put up an emotional wall, or get verbally defensive when someone we know well confronts us with an issue.

Whether they say it in love or not, or whether it is even well-intended or meant to hurt us, I think we can learn to glean value from any kind of confrontation, rebuke, even attack.

Granted, some verbal attacks are purely worthless and should be discarded immediately. In fact, I sometimes think the reason many of us get defensive when spoken to this way is actually because of a lack of GOOD DEFENSE.

Now hear me, I am not saying that it is good to “get defensive”… not at all. What I propose to you is this: If we have built healthy boundaries (read any book from the amazing series BOUNDARIES by Henry Cloud and John Townsend) in our Circle of Relationships (ask ME for a copy of this helpful tool ), we won’t have to “get defensive” when bombarded, attacked, or lovingly addressed in a proper way.

You see, if you have built healthy DEFENSES ahead of time, you don’t need to GET DEFENSIVE at the spur of the moment!

You can listen to that person, chew any meat they may have given, and spit out the bones. And if someone gives you ALL BONES, well then you can spit the entire mess out and get a good breath mint later!

Jesus didn’t need to get defensive when verbally attacked by his critics, because he already had healthy defenses built before hand.

Some of these defenses relate more to a healthy view of ourselves and a confidence of who God is in us and the fact that if He is for us, we have nothing to fear.

In fact, if you find yourself getting defensive often, that indicates you probably have not built good DEFENSES up in your inner man. And in fact, you may find inside your soul many conflicting sources pulling and pushing you to really fly off the handle emotionally, psychologically, physically.

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Now I would be a hypocrite to make it sound like I am such a well-adjusted human being that I have never, ever become defensive. The exact opposite scenario is closer to the truth. You see, I found so many unhealthy emotional triggers inside of me when I first started my spiritual journey – I was one of the most defensive people on the planet. I discovered part of the reason had to do with being a very caring person – I was sensitive. But sensitivity without a healthy defense system on the inside will produce a lot of pain. I had to “toughen up” as others say.

But truthfully, it had nothing to do with getting tougher, but with getting fortified with a good set of boundaries and inner foundational truths. It took years and still I am growing in that area even to this day.

I wish I could go into greater detail with this, but if I did, this would not be a blog entry, but a book. And for more detail, you are going to have to wait for THE BOOK – “The Life” ha ha.

So all I can tell you is this – you and I need our source to be God inside of us in order to build healthy defenses on the outside. Then and only then, when the time comes for someone to “share a personal word” with us, we won’t get defensive anymore, but instead, with peace and calmness we can gently listen to the person(s) and filter the information properly with a smile, and even say, “Thank you so much for sharing that with me. I will take it into consideration. Have a great day!”

Sounds easy, of course it is not. But with His Life inside of us, it is more than POSSIBLE!

Until next time,

Jeff Saxton

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I Got Your Back

“I got your back.”

I was listening to Jim Rome the other day on his syndicated radio sports talk show.

He was interviewing an athlete and said, “Hey bro, I got your back.” You know what he meant by that, right?

That’s how dudes tell each other they are loyal to them. I think it probably comes from the military idea of watching out for the other guy. You know, you are clad in your soldier garb, helmet, rifle and all – sitting in the foxhole in the jungle with the enemy firing all around. Your fellow soldier buddies are on all sides, shooting. It’s your turn to jump out of the foxhole and run over to the bullet-ridden army jeep that has extra ammo cases and retrieve them.

While you are literally running for your life, your fellow soldiers are supposed to “give you cover” or shoot at any and all possible enemy locations. In this way, they “got your back.”

I love this notion.

There is something ethical, moral and even spiritual about friends who “got your back.” That’s really what a true friend is – someone who has your back; in the midst of negative or critical comments or gossip, your friend is somehow able to say, “Yeah well I love that guy anyway. And I got their back.”

How do you feel when you find out a supposed “close friend” does not have your back? What do you do when a friend has perhaps turned against you in some way, or betrayed you in some manner?

Julius Caesar was totally shocked when his closest friend, Brutus, stabbed him in the back along with the Roman Senate. For some reason, in my mind it is easier to forgive Brutus for a political betrayal – after all, it wasn’t personal – just business! 🙂 I find most upsetting are the betrayals in which the motive is centered in jealousy, greed or fear.

When I see someone act like they are a close friend to someone, and then when not in their presence they clearly do not have their back, I really have a hard time with that. There are those who use friends like tools – they have their back for as long as they are useful to them in some way, but the minute they are no longer needed, suddenly they no longer have their back and they are dropped like a hot potato – put right back in the box of “I don’t have your back anymore”.

This is messed up. Right?

People who cannot keep any close friends often do this kind of thing – I think its a personality disorder. There are many “wolves” who stalk lonely women looking for someone to “have their back.” These guys come along and treat these women like they are queens, and then they drop them in the “I no longer have your back” box. Some men can juggle several women all at the same time in this way.

If you have a problem with this, I would take a good hard look inside – is it possible that you see others, including close friends, as a means to attain some kind of personal gain? If so, you know this is really a selfish way to operate. You don’t have anyone’s back.

Someday you will be in the foxhole and the crossfire will be more than you can bear. You will look back at your buddies and to your shock, you will be all alone with dead bodies. And guess what? They weren’t all just shot by the enemy – some you turned on and shot in the back when they were busy trying to protect your back.

And when the ammo runs out, you’re gonna have to get up and run. Good luck making it out of there alive.

Something to think about.

As always. 🙂

Jeff

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A Loyal Friend – Part II

This is the second part of my blog about “Loyalty”.

The truth is, gossip is so easy to slip into. We all fail in this area at times, I’m afraid. And the hard truth is, as we spend time together in certain social circles, we become intimately aware of each others weaknesses and failures. If you don’t believe this is the natural course of friendships in the world, just watch the next entry of “Desperate Housewives”.

I think the problem comes when we stop seeking to speak the best about the absent member of the group, clique, or church, and begin to enjoy the meaty morsels of the latest “dirty laundry” instead of praying for that person or people.

IF WE DON’T PRAY FOR EACH OTHER, WE WILL SURELY PREY ON EACH OTHER.

Some groups require that you gossip in order to continue being part of them. They will cease inviting you if you are not a partaker. Guess what, whoever is absent is probably going to be one of the topics of discussion.

Some people feel empowered by tearing down others. I must confess… I think such people are arrogant bullies that need to be taught a lesson on respect.

Have you betrayed a friend lately? Why not make it right, and at the least, change the subject next time the gossip crew gets things going.

Think about it.

submitted for your approval

Jeff

A Loyal Friend

Let’s be honest – loyalty isn’t exactly considered to be the unpardonable
sin in 21st century America. It would seem that people value and promote
occasional calculated acts of disloyalty as needed for, say… a job
promotion, a romantic interest, getting an “in” with a higher social group –
even in the church community.

There seems to be a disconnect in the minds of many “Christians” who claim
to love God and yet wouldn’t think twice about betraying a close friend.
Disloyalty is even considered a “moral” in and of itself – if it leads to a
so-called “greater good.”

It seems way too easy to betray another person. All you have to do is open
your mouth and talk. Proverbs 16:28 says, “A perverse man stirs up dissension,
and a gossip separates close friends.”

The Bible clearly condemns stirring up dissension through gossip or any other
means. The fact is, Proverbs says anyone who would do this is a perverse
person.

Truth be told, it is hard not to betray others. It’s easy to be disloyal. It
takes effort to remain loyal – especially when you may have a good excuse for
not remaining loyal. We have all been guilty of hanging with close friends
and then suddenly finding ourselves running the gossip train all night long.
It feels good, it makes us happy about ourselves, and let’s face it, talking
about others can be hilarious – in the “right” company.

A great friend sees you at your worst, and still thinks the best of you.  If
we look down on someone for whatever reason, we have just entered the
hypocrite zone – a place we dare not enter, and a place once entered that is
nearly impossible to ever leave without a serious reality check and a deep
work of spiritual contrition.

Next blog entry – I will continue with A LOYAL FRIEND –  PART II