“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
As you read through the above Scriptures, where do you recognize yourself? Invite the Holy Spirit into your mind, will and emotions. Ask Him to sift out all that is not of God. As leaders, people who are in a position to influence others (for good or evil), it’s important for us to pause and see where we have been hijacked by the darkness that surrounds us. Emotional Intelligence in Christ is a timely practice as we observe dark behaviors closing in. How aware are you of your identity in Christ and what impact does that relationship with Jesus have on your ability to discern and manage your emotions and behaviors in a way that honors God? Guard your heart, Jesus let us know what could happen as wickedness increases:
“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:12-13).
Today we will lean into three actions that we can take daily to support our heart’s purpose in Christ:
- Stop Complaining: “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life” (Philippians 2:14-15). St. Paul is very clear about his instruction here knowing that holiness requires surrender which results in peace. When we complain, we remain stuck in our situation, as we focus on an undesirable situation. It’s a faith crises moment which impacts our ability to lead like Jesus. Complaining actually shrinks the brain and makes us less intelligent, incapable of tuning into solutions that God often puts in front of us. The Lord calls us to something in order to accomplish His Holy Will in our lives. The call to do everything without complaining and arguing is SO THAT we become blameless and pure, children of God in a dark generation. This is a job for Jesus. Ask for the grace.
- Starve Discouragement of your attention: If you want something to die you stop feeding it. Thoughts of discouragement will diminish as you stop feeding them by giving them your attention. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:6-8). Do the above SO THAT: Verse 9 says that when we put the above wisdom into practice (our behaviors), the God of peace will be with us. Notice St. Paul uses the words: every situation. This is a life style invitation and a solution to overcome discouragement. Discouragement actually comes from the word courage. It means to lack courage (heart). Jesus speaks directly to this at the end of John 16:33 when He says: “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” The phrase: take heart means to take control of your mind so that you can be brave. When you consciously starve negative phrases that the devil often plants into your mind of your attention they eventually die. Again, a job for Jesus. Ask for the grace to think the thoughts that will help you become a brave leader in dark times.
- Sever (remove, separate) yourself from corrupt talk: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:29-32). St. Paul again uses a strong phrase: Do not let ANY unwholesome talk come out of your mouth. Hmmm, that is for sure a job for Jesus. God calls us into the practice of watching our mouth SO THAT we can become imitators of God (Ephesians: 5:1).
Transfer your learnings: Read through the above three action steps again. Which one do you feel the Holy Spirit is inviting you to focus on at this moment in your leadership? Perhaps you may feel that all 3 Action Steps are timely for you. Take one a week and read over the Scriptures daily associated with the action step. Invite the Holy Spirit to help you Stop Complaining, Starve Discouragement of Your Attention and Sever Yourself from Corrupt Talk. Remember the 3 S’s: Stop, Starve and Sever so that you become blameless and pure, children of God in a dark generation.
Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to outshine the darkness by removing from my leadership behaviors: complaining, discouragement and corrupt talk towards myself and those around me.