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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The Greatest

In Luke 9:46 we have recorded a rather hilarious event that took place among the disciples. Apparently they felt it was necessary to establish a pecking order among themselves early on. This of course resulted in an argument – and the ones who were the most outspoken basically “got dibs” on the titles such as “CEO, CFO, P, VP ” and other key “VIP” titles.

There is an entire study on the phenomenon of how and why people choose to rule over other people in sociology. It’s simply human nature – we need a leader, and leaders need to be followed.

I remember one person on my high school who was always running for some kind of office at school. I know people “say” they do this so they can better “serve” the group or body at large, but many times one gets the feeling they are on some kind of power trip and feel the need to lead. Politicians call themselves “public servants” but many times they seem to want others to do the serving while they “lord it over” them.

Stories like “Lost ” or “Lord of the Flies” remind us that people naturally look to dominate and usurp one another as they gather together.

It’s no wonder the disciples were doing this too.

It’s funny especially in light of the previous few verses where Jesus just got done warning them that one day men will come and arrest and imprison him. Hardly the ideal situation for these disciples who yearned for “greatness”.

The great thing about “greatness” in the kingdom is that it is very attainable from a practical standpoint. But the way to eternal greatness is counter intuitive to say the least.

If you seek true greatness, you must seek to be the least – the floor mat for all of your friends and acquaintances to walk on and upon. I’m not saying you must be a pushover – but in terms of humility and how we position ourselves on this planet, Jesus is asking us to serve others, to seek his greatness and not our own, to build up others as if they outranked us, and to remove all pretense and false humility since God sees that anyway and he is not fooled.

Is this the greatness you were looking for? If not, there are plenty of opportunities to become great in this world. Enjoy them. It might be the only greatness you will ever see in your eternal life.

Until next time,

Jeff

Risk

Ever been to Vegas?

I have. I don’t gamble. I really don’t like casinos. The entire scene is a tad bit off-putting for me. I like some of the cheap food and the amazing shows. I wouldn’t say my dislike for Vegas has anything to do with strong moral objections. I mean, in every city in the world there are places that most folks would find morally objectionable. On the other hand, we are living in this world and sometimes we find our calling right in the midst of a sinful environment. Jesus expects us to learn how to live a pure and ethically clean life while simultaneously reaching out and being a light to a dark world.

Kind of a tricky deal.

Vegas has taught many people lessons about risk. Yet when you think about it, choices we make every day have an element of risk. When we vote, send our kids to school, apply for a job, join a church, shop for a new or used car, or purchase a home, we are putting ourselves in a position of risk. Life involves risk taking. Even simple things like drivng our car to work involve a certain amount of risk.

When it comes to our faith, we may face choices that involve risking our comfort, reputation or even friendships. Although I greatly dislike being put in a vulnerable position, I also realize that great success cannot occur without stepping out into the unknown. When Jesus told Peter to walk on the water with him, Peter was afraid. I guess I am more like Peter than I want to admit. At least Peter took that first step or two and walked for a few moments.

Maybe it’s time to walk across the neighbor’s pool.

Baby steps.

iBillboard

2000 years ago, Jesus didn’t have the luxury of employing a public relations firm to help market his brand.

But can’t you just imagine if he did?

I can just see Andrew leading the way as the Twelve members of Christ’s entourage come walking into a top ad agency’s stylish boardroom with glass walls and multi-media screens. Wouldn’t it be hilarious to see the disciples dressed in snappy formal attire, carrying iPads and iPhones?

And of course, Peter would interrupt his younger brother Andrew and open the meeting. “All right, all right! Let’s get this party started! What can you do for our leader? He needs a new mission statement and maybe a good logo. What about a TV commercial?”

Of course, there would be one stick-in-the-mud detractor – Judas. “Hold on a second, big guy! We ‘re not going to talk about anything until we first look at our budget. And I would say, we are not exactly in the black, if you know what I mean.”

As we know, Jesus did not choose to market his message, as the world usually does. He did not hire an ad agency nor did he employ the services of public relations experts. He chose not to put up posters and billboards to advertise his cause.

Jesus was prepared to “go public” with his message in a personal and self-less way. He did everything out of a heart of love and compassion.

We can be true representatives of God in this moment and time by simply allowing Christ to love others through us. When we show the world our God is full of compassion, they will listen to our message and watch our lives.

They will take note of us just like a billboard on the side of a busy highway. We will be lights – set high on a hill, shining his light to all.

That’s just good advertising from God’s point of view.

Until next time!