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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Are you beautiful?

Are you beautiful?

It’s good to be beautiful in America.

It has been said that a beautiful person can achieve great success in our society, even without being talented. Looks is sometimes the deciding factor in hiring certain employees in many organizations.

Every day, someone in charge of hiring is looking over various applications, and choosing the less qualified person because of their looks. Age of course, is part of that as well. But if you are older yet beautiful, you still have a great chance. People who work in retail treat you better when you are beautiful. They smile, feel better about you, and sometimes they will bend the rules and give you what you ask for, because your beautiful.

When your beautiful, everyone wants to be your friend. When your beautiful, you don’t have to pay as much as the others; and in some cases, you may not have to pay at all.

When your beautiful, they give you the honored seats, the attention and focus. When your beautiful, they will treat you with respect. When your beautiful, they will roll out the red carpet. When you are beautiful, they will make you a star.

If we are not careful, we will treat people this same way in our churches.

Do we pay special attention to the beautiful people, while giving the less beautiful people a passing glance, or patronizing word of greeting? Do we make the beautiful people the guest of honor in our presence, while taking a step back from the unattractive?

I am sure God understands our discomfort, or reticence to embrace the ugly people; especially the dirty, smelly, ugly people. On the other hand, how many angels have we dissed because they were ugly?

“But Angels are beautiful in the Bible!”

Uh, right, but they apparently also enjoy sneaking around incognito in eclectic costumes and acting like strangers in need. (Hebrews 13:2)  Lot comes to mind here; as two angels who came to him masquerading as men.

God loves beautiful people. He calls us to be beautiful. Here is the problem – God doesn’t look at the outside, and He doesn’t care about the outward appearance (I Samuel 16:7  “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart”), God wants us to be beautiful on the inside.

You may be an outwardly beautiful person. You may be dressed to the nines, or trendy and stylish. There is nothing wrong with that. If you want to succeed in this world, it is only wise to look your best. You may be blessed with an attractive body and face. That is certainly not a crime – God gave you that “blessing”. But the problem is – we are mistaken if we think our outward appearance is what pleases God. It’s not.

Your inner beauty is truly BEAUTY DEFINED from God’s point of view. Your inner beauty is what is attractive to God.

Proverbs says a beautiful woman who shows no discretion is like a pig with a ring in its snout. (Proverbs 11:22)

You might be beautiful on the outside, but are you filled with envy and jealousy and greed? You might be hot, but are you also full of selfish thoughts and lustful passions? You might be smokin’, but are you full of hate and anger and bitterness?

Do people give you honor and praise for your outward looks? Watch out! Looks can distract us from the God who is unimpressed with your pretty face.

Was Christ really outwardly as beautiful as artists typically depict? We do know that he was not especially attractive on the outside. (Isaiah 53:2) So then why do we call him beautiful? Because of his heart! His unbounding love! His compassion! His empathy! His tenderness! His care!

If Jesus came to our church this Sunday as he looked when he walked the earth, he would have come as a relatively poor person, with no physically drawing looks, and most likely wearing quite humble clothing.

We might miss him. We may not greet him. Some would not talk to him. Others maybe cordial, but perhaps also suspecting. But he would be beautiful! The most beautiful of all!

So the sum of it all is this – Be attractive to God!

Be truly beautiful in your heart.

That’s REAL beauty.