» LEARNING SOME OF LIFE’S UNCHANGING LESSONS FOR LEADERS
Life is full of lessons. Life has its pains and joys. We all love to minimise the pain and extend the joys. Some of the pains and joys in life are short-lived and some are long-lived. It is in our best interest to learn how to make the pains short-lived and the joys long-lived. There are two major pains in life; the pain of discipline and the pain of regret. When circumstances beyond our control inflict pains on us then we call on human endurance to handle such. Life is full of its own type of drama. Many believe life is a form of drama wherein the scripts have been written for us to act out, while others believe we are capable of writing out our own scripts. Another belief is that there are scripts written indeed but the creature needs to be developed to fulfil the script written. Whatever belief system is in you is a function of your world view, peculiar upbringing and the environment where you were formed. Nature and nurture, as they say it, have their effects on our perception of reality in our lives. With an experience of life close to half a century and almost 30 years of that as a born-again Christian, most of the lessons learnt have been in the areas of ‘navigating’ through life’s processes so as to stay on course with, the perceived, God’s will for my life. Life is also full of decisions. A decision not to decide is still a decision. Sometimes ignorance can be bliss and at other times it can be very costly. Knowing when and which will be one of the secrets of a wise life. For every good thing in life there is usually a price to pay and a position to take for the privileges to be enjoyed.
SOME LIFE LESSONS ABOUT DECEPTION
No one is immune against deception. Deception is the gradual persuasion to believe a lie. Error is usually some truth taken out of its proper boundaries. The content of the heart affects the understanding and application of truth. The fact that deception has to do with a gradual persuasion, and truth itself sometimes has the element of a gradual unfolding, it means that, when the receiver is not poised to embrace a complete picture, there is every possibility that deception can trail anyone in pursuit of truth. There is a spirit of truth, an attitude of being teachable (meekness) and a willingness to accept truth and its demands of faith. All these need to characterise our lives for us to avoid deception. James, chapter one, has some things to say about deception. Being a doer of the Word and not just a hearer is one way to avoid self-deception. Receiving with meekness is the way the Word can save our souls, if we choose to lay aside the filth found in the human soul. Apostle Paul in the book of Galatians says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; whatsoever a man sows, that he will also reap”. (Gal 6:7) Accurate discernment is the antidote to deception. Humility and willingness to be corrected will help prevent deception in our lives.
SOME LIFE LESSONS ABOUT MOTIVES
What motivates you will eventually determine what you do. When our motives are inaccurate, we eventually stop doing what is right as whatever motivates will determine our source of frustration and possible confusion. Many serve God purely for what they can get from Him. Usually what they want from Him has a lot to do with their material needs. Little wonder their service towards Him diminishes when they have material provision in some degree of abundance. If the church in Jerusalem thought their comfort was the highest priority, how would they have handled their persecution and having to be scattered? Would they really go everywhere preaching the Word? When your motive in relationship is to use not build people up, you tend to abuse the relationship. It is the motive that was wrong in the first place. Motives do not usually become obvious until things go wrong and the real motives are exposed. When the Bible says “the heart of a man is desperately wicked. Who can know it?” One of the unknown things about each heart is the inner motives. You cannot tell your heart motives until conflicts expose them. Whenever you have a conflict, ask yourself this question, “why am I feeling like this and why am I thinking these thoughts?” If you sincerely answer these questions, you will begin to know your true motives. If you let the truth of God’s Word confront the true state of your heart, you are ready for the truth to set you free. Many can boast of their goodness but a faithful man who can find? Wrong motives affect the effectiveness of right deeds. Many loose their rewards simply because their motives were not pure. Ask yourself, ‘why do I give or pray publicly?’ The issue of motive was what Jesus was addressing in Matthew 6 when He talked about giving, praying and fasting. Our motives can also be revealed through the words of our mouth and our giving. Our motives reveal the content of our hearts. We are instructed to guard our hearts with all diligence in Proverbs 4. Do not stop doing a good thing if your reason for doing it is wrong. Rather change your reason for doing it. Heart checks should form a major part of taking your spiritual inventory from time to time in life’s journey. This is because the single most important element in a person’s future is the content of the heart. What you continually focus your attention on will enter your heart. As the content of your heart changes, your motives will change. Change the focus of your attention and your motivation will change.
LIFE LESSONS ABOUT FOCUS
Our focus has a lot to do with our vision, expectation and what we pay attention to as we function in life. The scripture says “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” What are we seeing? What are we looking unto with our mind’s eye? Having an eye for a better tomorrow seems good but it is better if the future expectation is based on the Word of God. Jesus was more focused on doing the will of the Father than on His convenience. Whatever we focus on will determine our strength. Many focus on being successful but that will not stand the test of time. If Jesus, for the joy set before Him endured the cross and despised the shame is sat on the right hand of the Father, we also can look at pleasing the Father as our goal even if it means the cross. A broken focus means broken strength. Whatever you focus on will influence the direction your life will go. Focus on Christ and eternal realities and you will have the strength to endure. Stay focussed on any task at hand and see to the completion of the project before you. Remember that distraction is always a drainer for the resources available to you in life. Stay focussed and rightly so!
LESSONS ABOUT THE PROCESS WE GO THROUGH IN LIFE
A lack of understanding of the process we go through and the phase we are in has been a source of frustration in many lives. Life is in phases and men are in sizes. It is beneficial to know your size and phase at all times. Process happens when we handle our challenges with the right attitude, learning the right lessons, developing character and making necessary adjustments as we move on in life. John Maxwell explains that success is not quite complete without our development in the following areas; Relationships, Equipping, Attitudes and Leadership. Learning to recognise the phase and the process will help us make the right decisions in life. Life’s decisions are major keys to experiencing the necessary changes in life. Sometimes we need to make the decision to choose our relationships and our challenges. To obey God we need to choose to obey. Whatever we go through is not what determines the outcomes in our lives. It is our response to our circumstances that eventually determines the outcome in our experiences. We need to choose or we may end up being losers. God’s will in our lives is not primarily in location or vocation but an internal dynamic. An inner attitude of faith and a willingness to honour God by becoming what He wants us to be defines an inner dynamic that will produce His will in our chosen vocation or location. Whenever any wrong is committed, repent and refuse to allow guilt to become your major motivation. honours God’s Word will be honoured by God. The Wisdom of God will promote and give life and honour to all who seek God in His Word. The Word promotes the one who yields to God’s wisdom; it lifts and positions them for greatness in life. The secret of walking by faith is consistency in fellowship with the Word of God. The more you do what the Word says, the more your know what to do in the Word. Many are hearers not doers so they know enough to complain and argue. Doers of the Word keep knowing what to do in the Word. The revelation of the Word of God is for those who are committed to doing the Word.
LESSONS FROM THE NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF LIFE
It is important we learn the right lessons from the negative experiences we have in life. Contrary to what many might think there are inevitable conflicts, some rejections and some genuine fears that we all face and must be willing to confront. This is so that we become better and not bitter. Our willingness to deal with issues in a correct way can mark the beginning of real growth or our unwillingness can mark the beginning of some decline in life. The right lessons draw us closer to God, enlarge our capacity to love and do not condemn others. We need to internalise the lessons and then commit ourselves to doing the right things to bring about healing, deliverance and wholeness to us and the people involved with us. One great lesson in life is to learn not to put your trust in the arm of flesh; yours or others. Conflicts, offences and rejections all have lessons to teach us. Even our legitimate fears have hidden lessons for our lives. Are we willing to let God show us these lessons? Rejection for example is actually part of our growth process. Though it may be the sense of the others not placing the right value on us, there are still lessons, none the less. Nobody has the right to minister rejection or intimidation to you unless you gave them that right by the choices you made. Rejection is usually a sign that your self esteem has been battered in the past or some wound in the soul has not been healed. The building of God loves and values people including you. No body has the permission to reduce you unless you give them the right to do so. Also learn to pass your tests in life. When God’s promotion is beckoning, tests show up to prove our readiness for the next level in God’s dealings in our lives. Tests include tests of faithfulness in small things, the offence test and the Lordship test. (See the message “Issues of the Heart”)
LESSONS ABOUT VALUES
You will not rise beyond the value you place on God and your relationship with Him; yourself, your gifting and your opportunities. Have a healthy value system that governs your choices and lifestyle. Be a person who honours others and have a realistic assessment of yourself and circumstances. Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought but at the same time do not think of yourself as not having value. It is the most self defeating thing to do to yourself. Receive corrections without feeling rejection. It is a privilege to serve God and through Him serve others and help them fulfil their destinies in God. Do not play ‘God’ over others. You are not their God and do not have the right to define their lives. It is only the authority God gives you, and their recognition of such, that enables you to speak into other people’s lives. You cannot love people more than God loves them. Just love them according to the grace you have received from God. Your value for God, for people and for yourself will directly affect the quality of life you enjoy on earth and I dare say in heaven. Increase in value will lead to increase in rewards and blessings.
LESSONS FROM WALKING BY FAITH IN THE WORD
The revelation of the Word is a gradual unfolding into the life of those who are committed to God through His Word. If you do not work the Word it will not work for you. The Word is our access to God, His wisdom, His power and His goodness. The Spirit of God will regularly inspire and grant revelations in the Word for those whose desire is to do the Word. Whoever the esteem and the healing of the wound do not lie with another person but with us and our relationship with God. Correction should not be seen as rejection and everyone who has been hurt by others tends to want to hurt others. Hurting people usually hurt others. We need to know the root cause of the feeling we are getting from an offence, rejection or our fears. Sometimes we need to grow up and get past the feelings and at other times we can see someone trying to hurt us deliberately. We learn that the fallen human race is in need of forgiveness. Your experience presents you with the opportunity to become God’s agent of forgiveness. Our fears remind us of our deep need for God and help us to be in touch with our humanity. Our fear of God gives us the ground to overcome all other fears. Those who will fulfil God’s purposes for their lives need to take note of the following. Have the right orientation to life; be a student of life and a student for life. Meekness has to do with strength under control and being teachable. Learn from the experiences in life. Suffering has a lot to teach us in the aspects of obedience. Also cultivate the right lifestyle; the lifestyle of faith. Believe and act on God’s Word from the heart. Finally, always settle every matter by seeking God’s perspective of the matter. He will show you how to interpret your circumstances in the light of His will for your life. It is obvious that life’s lessons are not going to end until life itself ends. So keep learning and growing and remember to pass some of the lessons you learn to others to make this life better for others too! These few lessons are written for the purpose of learning and remembering unchanging lessons in life.