“7 Habits of Highly Effective People” (Stephen Covey, 1989) is about two ways to live.
We can be
a proactive person focused on what the things within our control, or
a reactive person governed by issues of concern over which we have little control.
Proactive people move positively, in faith, making life better within their circle of influence. Reactive people get angry, frustrated, blaming others, as they complain about things in their circle of concern, but outside of their influence. (Glad I picked that book up again!)
On this Monday morning, are you going to choose to act or are you going to let the chaos of life drive you?
While watching a network news program last night, it became clear to me that I MUST make a proactive choice for my spiritual and emotional health – turn it off! The 24/7 stream of crisis and chaos makes me feel helpless and stirs up anger. But, I have a choice.
Christ Jesus, whose Spirit lives in those who are His, offers us a different way to live. “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7, NLT) We are not victims of circumstances. God will help us to face them, to deal realistically with them, and to take control of turbulent emotions with discipline. Easy? Never.
Without the fullness of God, alive and active in me, I cannot live proactively as an ambassador of Christ and His kingdom. Paul lays it out plainly – “Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6, NLT)
To Whom do you belong? Are you a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus? Well, then, it’s time to act like it. What are the PROACTIVE choices that we can make today and always for Christ and His Kingdom?
First, make earnest, fervent, God-centered prayer the first response, not the last resort.
Seek His wisdom and insight. Rest in His powerful promises of life – to the full now and in eternity.
Second, work for solutions, not just comfort.
Most of the time what we really want is to restore our ‘comfort zone.’ Perhaps unconsciously, but none the less, persistently, we try to ‘fix it’ in a way that makes us feel better. God wants us to be people who invite Him use us to change what needs to change, to reconcile what needs to be reconciled.
Third, learn the value of acceptance.
Acceptance is not ‘learning to like’ a terrible situation. It is not agreeing or supporting. It is becoming spiritually and emotionally aware, understanding what we can and cannot do. For the Christian, acceptance includes strong faith that trusts God lead in the process of change – first in ourselves, then in our world.
This week our choices will either add to the plague of hatred and anger or make us ‘ministers of reconciliation’ as we are proactive followers of Christ Jesus. (By the way, nobody does this perfectly.) The word from the Word are taken from John’s Gospel. May we hear them, not as a slogan, not with sentiment, but in faith as a commission to bold lives that seek peace. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35, NIV)
Reinhold Neibuhr penned a prayer that has come to be called the Serenity Prayer.
In these troubled times, let’s pray this way – sincerely and often.
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that You will make all things right
if I surrender to Your will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with You forever in the next.