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Prone To Wander Myth

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 What if your heart is no longer 'prone to wander?'  What if God is more interested in releasing a noble goodness He's already placed within you, rather than pressuring you to be more 'holy?'  Discover the book by Jim Robbins.

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Monday
Mar262012

Rescued through a promise, not obedience.

Even if most Christians believe their relationship with God began with grace, they often mistakingly believe it must be maintained by obedience or our capacity to keep the fires of faith stoked. 

For many years, I twisted believing into a work, fearing that God would save me only if I kept up a certain level of faith.  I based my eternal salvation on what I could maintain, rather than on what God promised.

God's promises act differently than ours.
A promise is the future peering into the present:  a sighting from a future God has already accomplished.   It's the difference between an acorn and a tree:  The tree already exists and God sees the tall tree right now.  God is present to that full-grown promise.  Yet at present, you can only see the acorn the tree sprouted from.  God has tossed the acorn from the future into the present in order to remind you of the tree.

*Truth flows from the future into the present.

The fact is, our relationship with Jesus has always been rooted in a promise God made, not our obedience [rule-keeping, law-based performance] and not our faith-keeping.

 

Before he had done anything good or bad...
Paul reminds his own Jewish friends, who thought they were qualified by their Jewish obedience to "thou shalts," that God chose their ancester Jacob to carry foreward the promise of his forebears, Abraham and Isaac, before Jacob was even born - before Jacob had the chance to do anything good or bad. 

God chose Jacob "When they [Jacob and Esau] had not yet been born, and had done nothing either good or bad - so that what God had in mind in making his choice might come to pass, not because of good works but because of the one who calls...  [Romans 9:11-12]

Yes, we choose our having been chosen, but when God saves a person from death into life, it is never about that person's obedience:  It is always about God's choosing them. 

Rescue and obedience have nothing to do with each other:
God made a promise to rescue.  He heals and saves because he wants to, not because you've done well this week:  An emergency room doctor doesn't treat and heal only those who have done less bad during the week than the others who have come for his care. 

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the road to heaven is paved with God's intentions. 

Trust the Promise, not your obedience. 

Wednesday
Mar212012

Are you costume jewelry or tarnished silver?

As Dwight Edwards, author of Revolution Within suggests,

Costume jewelry is essentially worthless metal covered with an attractive coating.  So many believers see themselves in that way - sinners through and through, yet covered by the blood of Christ...

Tarnished silver is a much truer image of who we are after conversion. 

In "good and noble heart" vernacular, the Christian's heart or true tendency is pure and untainted now, the old diseased heart having been removed and replaced by a completely radiant heart containing no trace elements of sin. 

That noble heart may be surrounded by a tarnished layer called, "the flesh" - sinful residual programming leftover even after our old heart was removed; but that tarnish does not penetrate to the level of the new heart.  Why? Because your new heart [unblemished silver] is no longer compatible with sin [tarnish].  In fact, your heart propels sin away from it.  The unfiltered radiant wattage of your new heart dispels the darkness of the flesh.  ["Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it, right?]

 

Related posts:

Video:  "THE PRONE TO WANDER MYTH."

Blog:  "Your Heart Is Not A Ship Off-Course."

Blog:  "Sin Is No Longer A Heart Issue."

 

 

Wednesday
Mar142012

Your new heart is as holy as it ever will be.

Your new nature is fully-completed. 

Your heart is not growing in holiness because it doesn't have to; it is already as holy as it ever will be.  A bucket overflowing can't get any more full.  Even among Christians who believe God has made them new creations, giving them his righteousness, there's a great deal of confusion over this issue.  

Most Christians think their heart is somewhat holier now with a moderate level of improved goodness, but probably isn't thoroughly, 100%, good.  So they mistakenly believe their nature will continue to improve with time.

This view short-changes the biblical view of our new nature.  As a Christian, your nature is no longer fallen or in need of improvement: It is as steadfast towards God as Jesus' heart is.  Your heart no longer possesses false convictions about God, nor harbors any deceit.  Nor is your heart easily mislead or self-centered. 

Replaced
The old heart that did possess false convictions, deceit and mistaken conclusions about life was replaced.  Not tweaked, not altered or improved.  REPLACED.  It's gone. 

After surgery, Jesus didn't leave the removed heart just lying around your interior world like a rotting organ left in a trash bin after surgery:  That old nature is gone.  Flash-obliterated:  Burned up by his righteousness.

Your completely-new heart only possesses the noble DNA of Jesus and his convictions.

The real question is,

"Then why do Christians still sin?" 

The answer is because the life in our new heart has yet to reach the creases of our mind, our choices and convictions.  The process of sanctification has nothing to do with our hearts growing in goodness:  Our hearts couldn't be more true and noble than they are now.  Rather, sanctification has everything to do with our actions, convictions and relational patterns coming into alignment with that new heart and its goodness.

[There is also our flesh, but that too is no longer your identity.  And the Spirit wages war against the flesh, not you.]

Jesus does not give approximations or half-solutions:
Our new hearts don’t simply possess a purity like Jesus had:  They possess the actual purity Jesus had, his DNA.  Our purity is not an approximation of what Jesus possessed:  It IS the purity Jesus possessed.

 

Wednesday
Mar072012

Sin is no longer a heart issue.

Bottom line:  Your heart is no longer compatible with sin.  Sin cannot penetrate your heart.  Jesus now lives within your heart, and he isn't compatible with sin.

Your new heart in Christ deflects sin rather than absorbing it!

A friend and I were reflecting on a sermon we had recently heard in which the pastor was urging  people to be more honest in their relationships and toward God. The pastor concluded that the reason people (he was speaking primarily to Christians) are not as honest as they should be was because of a deep-seated condition: “It’s a heart problem,” the pastor said.


So, as my friend and I sat smoking cigars (some of my best conversations have been over a good cigar), I asked him: “What did you think about the pastor’s statement—that it’s a “heart problem.” Is he right?


While my friend paused to think through it, I asked another question: “Is it a heart problem or a flesh problem?” As we talked through it, we agreed that it was, in fact, a struggle with the flesh, or old programming, not with the heart.

When I told my friend that his heart was now pure because of Christ, he  immediately felt a sense of pressure lift from him. Christians may be slow to live from their hearts, but sin is never a “heart problem” in the believer: sin is a flesh problem. As Christians, we don’t reject our hearts: we reject (consider as dead) our flesh through Christ’s cross.

[Excerpted from Jim's book, RECOVER YOUR GOOD HEART.]

Tuesday
Feb282012

Your heart is more faithful than you think.  

On another forum, I recently posed the question:  "As a Christian, do you believe your heart is still 'prone to wander?"  -- still in danger of being unfaithful to God, in other words.

Reader:
"Yes - by experiance I do believe that although I have a new heart, my old man battles against it.  Therefore Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.  I believe that it is a constant choice to offer my heart up to God. That HE might take and seal it afresh and anew for the courts above.  If my heart was not prone to wander I believe that I  would not have to choose this day who to serve."

 

Jim:
When God gave you a new heart, why would he give you one that was still prone to wander?  Wouldn't that leave us exactly where we were before?  It would serve him better to give us a heart that was now steadfast and faithful to him.  Otherwise, that "changed heart" or new creation really isn't all that changed. 

You might be surprised to learn that it's not your new heart that wanders -- it's your flesh; and in fact Paul says your flesh no longer represents the true you.  You can still sin, or course; but your new heart no longer wants to.  Your heart/will is already dedicated to His will because Jesus actually replaced that wandering heart with his own heart and purity.

Although your flesh is at war with the Spirit, your heart is not.  This actually isn't a new message at all:  It's the classic Christian doctrine of "regeneration."  In my book, I point out folks from Martin Luther to J.I. Packer who talk about this surprising biblical truth.

We no longer have to daily recommit our heart out of fear that it will wander off.  Jesus didn't have to do that.  He worshipped God with all his heart certainly, but didn't feel anxious about having to constantly renew his faithfulness to God.  His DNA is now in your heart.

..........................................................................................................................

[Note:  As we talked more, the other person and I seemed to be tracking more together; yet I realized that there's often the acknowledgement of a new heart without understanding the quite radical implications of that new identity.   We often want to cling to the dirt in our lives far more than we want to celebrate the radical goodness Jesus has given us.]

Tuesday
Feb212012

Kids Are Not Cattle 

Thursday
Feb162012

What's the opposite of grace?

The opposite of grace is reciprocity.
You owe God nothing: Obligation isn't a part of grace. Love is, but not obligation.

The opposite of grace is pardon alone. 
The version of Christianity we have today is cruel: It amounts to pardon without palingenesis [i.e. regeneration].   [- Pull that puppy out at your next gathering and you're sure to impress. ] 

"Palin" means "again." "Genesis" means 'birth.' Grace without restoration is cruel; like releasing a man from prison without giving him new internal desires and capacities. Grace has gone beyond forgiveness (pardon) to giving the Christ-follower a new and supernaturally-good heart.

The opposite of grace is rationalization.
Rationalization and self-defense only inhibit our ability to receive.

The opposite of grace is self-improvement.  Growing into a new God-given goodness and radiance, yes.  Even professional mastery, yes.  But efforts at improving our core nature, no.  Why try to be loving when God has made you loving? 

New behaviors [outward signs of an inward renovation] will flow when we cooperate with God as he releases our new super-natural goodness. 

"When you clean the inside of the cup, the outside will also be clean."  - Jesus. 
[Behavior follows heart.]

Saturday
Feb112012

Louder doesn't mean truer: Why your false desires shout false things.

"But it feels like I really want that.  How can I enjoy my good and noble heart when I still want the things that trip me up?"

What happens when you hear the message that your heart has been made good and true in Christ, yet your desires pull you in the opposite direction?

  • That desire that seduces you?

  • That pseudo-addiction you "can't help"?

  • The anger at your kids that seems so...automatic?

Here's the problem
We've been taught that powerful feelings and attachments must be true of us.  The louder those feelings shout, the more true we think they are.  We've allowed feelings to be the cornerstone of our identity, rather than God's redemptive assessment of us. 

We mistakenly think that:

If I feel I want that other woman, it must be true that I want her.

If I can't let go of anger, it means my anger must be stronger than my patience.

If I can't let go of control, it means I must be a controlling person who can't let go.

It's destructive circular thinking:  "Because I experience a powerful pull, I must want that.  Worse, I must be the kind of person that wants that."

Here's the lie:  "Yeah, the 'good and noble heart' is a nice ideal; but you're not there yet.  There's no real power in it."

We've forgotten what God knows about us:  That those dishonorable desires are no longer us.  We have a new set of desires waiting to be released within our new hearts.  More accurately, the Holy Spirit is right now in the process of releasing those new and noble desires within us.


Here's how God might answer your doubts:

"You are my son [daughter] in whom I am SO-pleased!  Yes, you may have those wayward desires, but they are no longer you.  You have them, but they no longer have you.  Celebrate the new power, new resources, and new desires I'm now releasing in your good heart."

 

Monday
Feb062012

Parents: We are not Correction Officers

I hate to see children who are rigidly controlled like cattle, poked and prodded; or like lab rats, rewarded or punished based upon an adult's perception of successfully meeting expectations.  Control and compliance, the handmaids of shame,  assault my spirit to the core and this is an issue I am currently researching and writing about. 

I thought I was doing much better at stepping back from over-correcting my kids, refusing to control their every decision ...until I tried this little experiment:

Experiment:  Try not to correct your child for a day, or even one hour.  [Unless, of course, there's a safety issue involved.]  Try not to say, "no" or evaluate their behavior.  Don't pressure them to conform to your expectations.  Just connect with them

The experiment was all too revealing for me.  Though I think my parenting has changed for the better in the last few years, and I'm much more conscious of trying not to unnecessarily control my kids, the experiment showed me just how ingrained and reflexive my need to correct them was. 

It's also draining and takes an enormous amount of energy to control others -- energy that could be used to connect with them rather than getting them to comply with our often rigid expectations.

 

TRY IT

  • Just one day.  Or even one hour. 
  • No corrections, except for safety concerns:  Just connect with their hearts. 

Try it and let me know what you discover.

 

Related resources:

Wednesday
Feb012012

Video: "Relating Without Control"

Most of our relationships end up being "If ___, then" relationships, based upon control and compliance. We offer love and delight only when our expectations are being met. It's hurting our families and our kids.

        

Wednesday
Jan252012

It's not about trying to act like a Christian.

If you chase externals, you get either a pharisee or a defeated Christian.

"External manifestation of "Christlikeness" is not, however, the focus of the process [spiritual formation]; and when it is made the main emphasis, the process will certainly be defeated, falling into deadening legalisms and pointless parochialisms ... We know now that peculiar modes of dress, behavior, and organization just are not the point."  - Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart

 

It's not about acting like a Christian, even though loving actions are important.

Willard continues,

"...to strive merely to act in conformity with his [Jesus'] expressions of what living in the kingdom of God from the heart is like is to attempt the impossible."

 

For example many Christians, under a pressure to be holy or under a false sense of conviction from the pulpit, try then to act loving:

"Love, we hear, is patient and kind.  Then we mistakenly try to be loving by acting patiently and kindly - and quickly fail."  - Willard

Willard says that, rather than conjuring love and attempting to act in loving ways, we need to "advance in love itself - the genuine inner readiness and longing to secure the good of others."

My own suggestion is that the way in which that inner readiness is developed is to:

  • Recognize that in your new nature, it's already there.

  • Celebrate with God's Spirit as he nourishes and releases that already-present love.

  • Learn how God uniquely awakens and nourishes your heart:  Music?  Solitude?  Conversational prayer?  Scripture study? Art?  A good hike in the woods?  Meaningful conversation with others?

 

"the letter of the law kills, the spirit gives life."  [2 Corinthians 3:6]

 

Related resources:

  • "And please, try not to sin!"

  • My book, Recover Your Good Heart, goes into much more detail about living from the good and noble heart Jesus has given the Christian; and what the Bible has to say about it.  It debunks many of the myths we've been given about our hearts, so that we can live the life Jesus invites us to.

[Also in Kindle and AudioBook/MP3 formats.]

Monday
Jan162012

How would you answer these questions about your heart?


Here are a couple questions to help you determine if you believe your heart is your ally and not your enemy:

1.  Can you trust the desires of your heart, or do you think those desires will lead you astray?

2.  Do you believe your heart is as pure as Jesus' heart?

3.  When you sin repeatedly, is your first reaction to feel powerless, defeated?

4.  Would you refer to yourself as a "sinner?"

5.  Do you think sanctification [holiness] is something that will happen to you someday, or has already happened?

 

Answers:

1.  Yes, I can trust the desires of my heart.  [Not the desires of my flesh, but the desires of my heart, my new nature.]  The timing for the fulfillment of those desires often requires discernment and long-suffering; but Jesus intends on honoring the noble desires of my new heart.

2.  Yes, my heart [new nature] is as pure as Jesus' heart.  Why?  He gave me his own goodness.  His holines is my new nature.  Otherwise I wouldn't be able to "love others as I have loved you."

3.  No.  I may feel conviction, but not condemnation.  Frustrated, but not powerless.  My sin is no longer who I really am.  Even better, my new heart has the power to overcome sin's allure because it no longer wants what sin promises.

4.  No.  I am a saint, restored to a glory that even unfallen Adam and Eve didn't enjoy.

5.  No.  Jesus has already sanctified my heart, my true nature.  I can still sin, but it's no longer in my heart to do so.  The cause of my sin is no longer my heart, but rather a foreign invader called "sin" cooperating with my flesh. I am no longer striving to be good.  I'm simply trusting the Spirit to release the goodness he's already place within my heart.

 

HOW DID YOU ANSWER?

If you had contrary answers to any of these questions, you may have heard the same message about your heart that I did for many years:  "Your heart is prone to wander."   It's not true.  Not any longer.  Being a "new creation" means that Jesus has removed the ruined heart and replaced it with a noble and radiant heart.  

In Christ, your heart becomes your ally, not your enemy.

 

Related Resources:

 

Friday
Jan062012

Our glorious restoration: Better than what Adam and Eve once had.

The opposite of grace is self-righteousness and self-improvement. 

"Self-righteous" doesn't mean being holier-than-thou or a goodie two-shoes.  It means having to make a flawless case for yourself - to justify everything you've ever done or thought.  Self-righteousness is a declaration that you've never wounded anyone, never withdrawn love, never acted in a way that violates any relationship you've ever had.

It is a claim to moral perfection, or at least superiority; because you can always point to someone who's screwed up more than you. 

Who in the world would want to make that case for themselves?  Self-justification is exhausting and Jesus wants to release us from the terrible burden of self-righteousness and self-improvement.

Christianity is a release from the self-improvement, comparison-based ["I'm not as bad as that guy, but better than this guy"], sliding-scale of "being good."  How do you ever know when you're good enough?  It's an impossible burden.

The only person whose righteousness and goodness is self-authenticating is Jesus.  The rest of us get to borrow his goodness. 

 
I think any time we want to put human goodness [rather than Christ-given goodness, given to those who want to know him] on the scales of justice, we badly misunderstand Adam and Eve.  We assume that because they blew it, they must have been just like usThe were not.  Before their Fall, they had hearts that had never known sin.  Can you image what it must have been like to:

  • Never feel selfish,

  • Never feel doubt,

  • Never feel like God owed you something or was holding out on you,

  • Never have an addiction or lust for an empty substitute? 

  • Never desire anything more than what God has already given?

  • Never withhold love from anyone at any time?

  • Never feeling unloved?

 

The tragedy of ruin:
Our ruin [the Fall that every human since has inherited] was so dramatic because of the heights from which we fell.  We fell from the stars, dropping through cold space, plumetting through mesosphere, stratosphere and bird-winged sky; sinking like a chain-wrapped corpse to the bottom of the deepest ocean trench, a mile below the water's surface where darkness creates blindness. 

Adam and Eve became specters of their former selves.  They let the Thief in through the window.  Put themselves and their children in front of the oncoming bus.  Humanity's inherited ruin is so deep because our former glory was so stunning.  We fell far because we were once so much more.

And that's what is nearly impossible for us to conceive.  That's why we want to cling to our pre-Christ, soiled goodness.

Here's the astounding news.
When God gives you a new heart, his indwelling goodness, he restores you to a glory exceeding what Adam and Eve possessed before the Fall:

“For God is not merely mending, not simply restoring a status quo.  Redeemed humanity is to be something more glorious than unfallen humanity.” – C.S. Lewis

Read that again. 

A person who trusts Jesus' rescue and is restored by Jesus' work, has a capacity that Adam and Eve did not -- even in Adam and Eve's pre-Fall, unblemished and shame-less state.  And that person has a more glorious-than-unfallen-nature right now.  Not just in heaven.  Now!

Living in that truth will bring a genuine sense of humility and deep gratitude to the heart.  In Christ, the degree of our restoration has surpassed the degree of our ruin.

 

Friday
Dec302011

You are just as holy as Jesus.

"You, Christian, are just as holy as Jesus." 
This is an audacious claim, isn't it?

In fact, it's so bold as to feel blasphemous, like an insubordinate and arrogant soldier who doesn't know his place.

But it has to be true if you are to be obedient to Jesus, to love as he loves ... "Love others as I have loved you." 

  • You can't love well without his actual goodness having become your actual goodness.

  • You can't love your abuser like Jesus would, if you have even an ounce of self-righteousness in your heart.

  • You can't love your spouse, kids or friends, without any self-interests, without any expectation of benefit to you, without Jesus' stubborn affection for them.

But here's the difference between us and Jesus: 
Though we as "little Christs" now have the same nature [or "heart"] as Jesus, our actions don't always follow.  It takes time to trust your new goodness, to let it come out and play.   It takes time for the body to follow the heart; for the old habits of our former selves to succumb to Christ's death.

But be confident of this:  Those latent and discouraging habits of mind and body represent a person who no longer exists.  The old has gone, the new has come. 

Your new heart is just as holy as Jesus' heart - because he gave you his own heart.  His good nature is now in you, as you.  You, noble friend are the lighthouse.

Wednesday
Dec142011

Your heart is your ally, not your enemy.

Most Christians believe that their heart is an opponent; a cancer to be beat, or an unruly dog to be tamed.


Usually, they've ended up with that belief because, though their beliefs came from the bible, they weren't biblical.  The belief that their heart is still corrupt and wicked even after Jesus has taken up residence there, was often formed, not from a composite and whole picture from Scripture, but from select passages ripped from context.

Until about 8 years ago, I too had developed what I thought was a biblical assumption about my heart and its motives:  concluding that my heart would lead me astray because it was attracted to sin.

Here are some of those select passages and even worship songs upon which many Christ-followers have built a theology that assumes their heart is still wicked:

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me."  [Ps. 51:19] 
[You might remember the Keith Green song here.]

"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure."  [Jeremiah 17:9]


"Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.  Bind my wandering heart to thee."  [Hymm: "Come Thou Fount']

Cherry-picking selected passages and forming a complete theology would be like eating each ingredient of a cake by itself:  First, eating the raw eggs, then eating the half-cup of salt, then eating the raw flour.  The whole and completed cake tastes nothing like the individual ingredients separated-out.

Your heart is your ally now:  aligned with God's own spirit.  Your heart is your advocate, not your adversary.

Here's a modern translation of what Luther affirmed over 300 years ago:

"For faith in Christ gives us the Holy Spirit, who gives us new hearts, and stirs those hearts so that we may now willingly pursue God's best."   -Martin Luther

Your heart is your ally, not your enemy.

 

Related posts:

Video:  The 'Prone to Wander' Myth

Podcast:  God Without Religion, with guest author, Andrew Farley.

 

 

Wednesday
Nov302011

Video: "THE PRONE TO WANDER MYTH"

I just finished producing this video.  The video exposes one of the most damaging myths in the Church today.

Monday
Nov142011

How we talk to our kids: An alternative to constant evaluation and judgement calls

In order to be responsible parents who want their kids to grow up into caring and responsible adults, many of us, including myself,  tend to sabotage our best efforts by the way we talk to our kids.  Much of our conversation with our kids is laced with appraisal and evaluation:

"Good job! with that art project. [positive evaluation]

"That was an unkind thing to say to your sister!"  [negative evaluation]

Much of our talk is centered around value-judgements.  As Alfie Kohn, author of Unconditional Parenting asks, Why do we call an art project a "job" in the first place, and why is it necessary for it to be declared "good" or "bad" necessarily?  Is that even helpful for the moral development of a child?

Here's the caution:  Relentlessly attaching a value-judgement to a child's efforts - either in order to offer "encouragement" on the one hand, or to offer criticism - can leave a child with the impression that their efforts are what win your approval. Even positive reinforcement can prove to backfire when attached to specific events or behaviors we want to see more of.  It replaces intrinsic motivation ["I'm doing this because I know it's the right thing"] with extrinsic motivation [I'm only doing this to get more of dad's approval because he seems most happy when I meet his expectations."]  See the difference?

 

Yet, as Kohn suggests,

The happy news is that it's not necessary to evaluate kids in order to encourage them." 

 

It's about heart first.  Then the behavior will tend to take care of itself.
If we are demonstrating our delight in our children on a continual basis [rather than when they meet expectations], regardless of their actions [positive or negative], they will be developing a healthy sense of their value and our unconditional acceptance of them.  However, even offering praise as a means of reinforcing a positive behavior can quickly be interpreted by the child as, "Mom seems most happy with me when I'm behaving well and meeting her expectations."  Here, we end up punishing them with praise, because that praise gets attached to specific behaviors, rather than reinforcing our ongoing, unconditional delight in them.

And if our children feel that nearly every conversation we have with them is a judgement call on how well they're doing, or failing to do, what are they likely to conclude?  "I'm not enough for mom or dad."

What's wrong with evaluation?
What's wrong with evaluation, declaring certain things "right" or "wrong?"  Nothing.  We certainly want our kids to develop strong inner compasses and the strength of heart to act lovingly and respectfully towards others.  But the better question is, "How do we get them there?"

Relentlessly evaluating our child's every act and motive may, in fact, backfire.  It could cause them to become overly obsessed with their effort, with their behavior, and conclude that pleasing us is contingent upon meeting our expectations.

 

Kohn offers two examples as alternatives to evaluation:

{1}  Describe:  Give feedback on what you see.  Rather than, "You're such a great helper!" you can say, "You set the table!  Boy, that makes things a lot easier on me while I'm cooking."

{2}  Ask questions:  Rather than, "Good sharing, Michael" we can ask, "What made you decide to give some of your brownie to Deirdre when you didn't have to?"  Asking questions helps the child self-reflect, which is what we really want.  Conversely, if we simply declare something right or wrong, we shut down that opportunity for the child to reflect on her actions.

 

Tone follows mindset:
But notice that our tone and intent can distort even our best intentions, whether we choose to describe or ask questions.  The important thing is that our mindset changes from, "How can I get my kids to behave?" to "How can I offer them the safety of my unconditional affection for them?"

 

"The fact is, you've had five husbands"
Remember Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan woman, the serial monogamist?  Notice, in this case, that he doesn't evaluate her behavior.  He tells her what he knows, but, strangely, doesn't condemn it:

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

 17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

   Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

Jesus could have said, "You're living an immoral life and your promiscuity is displeasing to God."  But he doesn't approach her that way.  His talk is not laced with evalution.  His goal is to offer her life, not condemnation.

Because Jesus offers his insider knowledge of her lifestyle without judgement, she is able to tell the townsfolk, without shame, "Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did!"   How would she have felt safe enough to publically declare his knowledge of her promiscuity without first experiencing his non-judging presence?

Remember, the goal is to offer life to our kids, co-workers and spouses.  Connection without condemnation.

Tuesday
Nov082011

How "If____________, then______________" has sabotaged your relationships

Most Christians, most people in fact, live with what one educator calls, ""Compliance Acquiescent Disorder  (CAD)."  An individual with this disorder, "defers to authority,"  "actively obeys rules,"  "fails to argue back,"  "knuckles under instead of mobilizing others in support,"  "stays restrained when outrage is warranted,"  and so on.  Compliance Acquiescent Disorder goes far beyond a proper sense of authority and mutual respect.

I just spoke with a mother today, who told me that her daughter [a responsible kid] was put into time out by her teacher for sharpening her pencil while the teacher was on the phone.  The mother was incensed.

Norm Diamond, who coined the term, Compliance Acquiescent Disorder, was speaking of an educational environment that prizes compliance over almost everything; but C.A.D is an accurate term for what has happened to most of us.  (1)

Most of our relationships: 

  • parent - child,
  • boss - employee,
  • teacher - student,
  • spouse - spouse

operate around an "If __________________, then ___________________" dynamic:

If you behave well, I"ll reward you.  If you misbehave, there will be "consequences."

If you put in over-time at work, you'll receive a bonus.

If you don't complete your homework, you will be penalized."

If you don't meet the expectations I have for marriage, then I'll withdraw as well.

 

At the expense of our hearts
Because we've gone to schools, worked in jobs, and learned parenting habits where compliance ["Just do what we tell you, whether it's reasonable or not"], always operate around "If ___________, then________," we've gotten used to pleasing others even at the expense of our own hearts.

We've caved,  knuckled under, and refused to challenge the reigning assumption that controlling others and being controlled by others is normal.  It is not.

Our jobs have taught us that workers produce more when there are "carrot and stick" incentives for performance, forgetting that most people want to do good and meaningul work, and don't need to be prodded or "managed" in order to do so. (2)

Our schools have taught our children to comply with every expectation of the teacher -- whether reasonable or not, whether actually good for them or not -- even when it is an assault against our child's will and dignity.

Our inherited parenting habits have taught us to shut down anything messy, anything disruptive, loud or unexpected; oftentimes simply because it's inconvenient for us, or we're just plain stressed. 

"If ___________, then _________________" is everywhere, and it's killing our hearts.  Worst of all, law-based distortions of Christianity have taught us that God only blesses people who comply with his will; and that pleasing him is a matter of getting things right.

 

(1) From Feel Bad Education, by Alfie Kohn

(2)From "Drive-The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us," by Daniel Pink

 

Friday
Nov042011

It's about connecting, not control.

What if, rather than ask,

"How can I get this person to do what I want them to do," we asked,

"How can I connect with this person?"

Getting people [including our spouse or kids] to comply with our rigid expectations will inevitably lead to controlling them. 

Control always leads to shame. 
Why?

Because the one doing the controlling [expecting compliance] assumes it's their right to do so.  It sets the two parties on unequal footing.  The receiving person's dignity is seen as dispensable.

Are expectations a good thing?  Yes.  To live without them is to live without values and to assume our own dignity is indispensable. 

But demanding compliance at the cost of another person's heart isn't acceptable.  God himself is gracious with latitude:  He allows, even welcomes, self-will - the capacity to make uncoerced choices without the threat of disappointing him.

It's helpful to ask:  "Does the person's heart matter more to me than their behavior?"

 

The controlling dynamic centers around "IF...THEN..."

"If you do this, I'll be happy with you.  If you don't meet my expectations, I'll be disappointed with you."

"If you comply with my expectations, I will reward you.  If not, you'll suffer the consequences."

THIS IS NOT THE GOSPEL.  Instead, God says, "I will bless you on your worst day."

 

A better way

Jim Collins, author of "Good to Great" and other leadership books, offers an alternative:

1.  "Lead with questions, not answers."

2.  "Engage in dialogue and debate, not coercion."

3.  "Conduct autopsies, without blame."

 

I would add a couple others:

  • "Give feedback about failed expectations as information, not condemnation."  [remove the emotional sting]

  • "Put the heart of the other person first.  Worry about behavior later."

 

It's about connecting, not compliance.

Wednesday
Oct262011

Podcast: "GOD WITHOUT RELIGION:" PART 3 - author Andrew Farley joins Jim Robbins

This is the final episode, part three, of the podcast mini-series, "GOD WITHOUT RELIGION." 

Drawing from Andrew Farley's new book, God Without Religion,  Drew and I dig deeper into the confusing mess that religious compliance and performance has made of things:

 

  1. Discover why it can't be your old nature that causes you to sin, or that tempts you.

  2. Learn why we often mistake the voice of sin for our own heart's voice, believing our heart is still "prone to wander."

  3. Explore why, even when we sin, as Andrew Farley points out, "There's something in us, that's not us;"  and why relaxing in your new and noble nature will set you free.

 

To learn more about "God Without Religion" visit Andrew's site:  www.andrewfarley.org.

  CLICK TO LISTEN.

 

 

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To hear Parts 1 & 2 of this podcast series:

To hear Parts One and Two of the "GOD WITHOUT RELIGION" podcast series, go to the podcast page; or download them in iTunes.