3 Traps of Performance-Living

performancePerformance-living is a mindset that says what you do determines your value.

It is a lie.

This lie tempts you to save yourself as you give in to its demands. Do you feel weary? Burdened? Exhausted? Then you may have a bad case of performance-living.

And it’s very demanding, a taskmaster, demanding that you get your own straw to make bricks and meet the quota (Exodus 5:6-9). Push, push, hurry, hurry — and look good as you try performance-living.

It has at least three traps.

1. Performance-living: Achieve!

Performance-living ties your achievement to your value as a person. The more you achieve, the greater your value. What about people who aren’t smart like Steve Jobs? Do they have less value because they aren’t “Person of the Year”? The psalmist says,

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18, NIV

2. Performance-living: Beautify!

It links your looks to your value. The lie is only the young and beautiful matter. Haven’t you used makeup to cover a blemish? Or perhaps Root Rescue to hide gray? Or gone on a diet or exercised to lose weight and tone up?

Believing beauty determines your worth is a treadmill of anxiety and it’s exhausting. The apostle Peter writes,

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4

Beauty is a gentle and quiet spirit. Not liposuction!

3. Performance-living: Be Perfect!

graceWant anxiety? Derive your value from perfection: well-behaved kids, a gorgeous home, a fulfilling career, and. . .lead a small group, keep a prayer journal faithfully, and read the Bible in a year, every year.

This is what God wants, right? Perfection? Doesn’t Jesus say, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48)? Here Jesus means growth into maturity of godliness. He doesn’t mean super-woman performance-living.

When you “succeed,” performance-living becomes pride.

When you “fail,” performance-living turns into anger, fear, and depression, resulting in all kinds of untoward behavior unbecoming of a Christian woman. Your thoughts morph into ugliness too.

Gospel-Centered Solution

Exchange performance-living for grace-living. Grace-living is believing and acting on the truth of the good news that God loves you and values you. Your value isn’t dependent on what you do. God determines your value, and aren’t you more precious to him than a sparrow?

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31

The gospel isn’t something you do. Grace is a gift of God. There is no score card. No boxes to check. No to-do lists.

Your value is anchored in Christ’s accomplishment, not yours. Refreshing, isn’t it?

Sharing hope with your heart,

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Body Language Talks Loudly!

body languageBody language and tone of voice — Isn’t is hard to believe that these are far more important in communicating your feelings and attitudes than your words?

Clear communication matters in every relationship you have. The clearer your communication, the stronger your marriage and your friendships, even your interaction with a Starbucks barista. There are three main parts to any message: your body language (especially facial expression), your tone of voice, and your words.

God values loving and truthful communication. Did you know all talk is really heart talk?

“Christ recognized that all talk is heart talk. . . .our words affirm our inner condition,” says Joe Stowell in The Weight of Your Words.

Everything you say — your words, body language, and tone of voice — reveals the desires and motivations of your heart. Your heart is the immaterial part of your being; it is your “control center.” Your beliefs, values, desires, and motivations reside in your heart and are exposed though your words as well as your actions, emotions, and thoughts.

CRAZY FACT: Your words are the least important part of your message! Only 7 percent of your message is verbal. Facial expressions are the most important (55 percent), followed by tone of voice (38 percent). These percentages are based on well-known research by Dr. Albert Mehrabian, professor emeritus, UCLA.

In this article, you’ll get two important insights

  1. Why body language is super important.
  2. How to give a clear message.

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Why Body Language Is Super Important

Body language is visual. It is the most important part of interpersonal communication. A person’s eyes are especially important. Read more about the eyes. Some examples of body language:

  • Crossed arms
  • Raised eyebrows
  • Shoulder shrug
  • Pursed lips
  • Smirk
  • Pointing finger
  • Staring
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Rapid blinking
  • Shifting from foot to foot
  • Drumming fingers
  • Covering mouth with hand
  • Smiling

The examples are nearly endless. What would you add to the list?

Two pictures:

A while back I talked with a teenage girl who didn’t want to talk to me. I asked a few easy questions about school and after-school activities, and she answered politely. Her tone of voice was generally friendly, as were her words. How how could I could I tell she wanted to be anyplace but my office? She looked to the side and she looked down, but never made eye contact. I asked her straight-out: Did your parents make you come? “Yes,” she blurted, her eyes on me, finally.

Another time I met with a twenty-something woman who had a story to share. She stammered. She looked down. She twisted a tissue in her hands. Before she said a word, I knew her story was difficult and painful.

One reason I prefer to meet with counselees in person or by Skype is to see their nonverbal communication. Some biblical counselors call it “halo data” — vital information you see and even hear, such as a sigh or a clearing of the throat. It gives important information so that — in Christ’s strength — I can counsel well.

If I didn’t see my counselee’s body language, I’d have an incomplete message.

How to Give a Clear Message

Have you played the game “Match the Pair”? Cards are placed faced down, and you turn over two at a time. When you get a matching pair, you get a point. You use visual cues alone to try to win the most pairs.

In regular communication, body language and tone of voice matter greatly, as you know. To give — and receive — a clear message, you need to match up all three parts of communication: body language, tone of voice, and words.

Mary Kassian says in Conversation Peace,  “All three parts of the message must align and be consistent to the for the message to be believed.” For example, if you use friendly words, but your brow is furrowed and your voice sounds snarky, then your message will be disregarded. Your communication confuses more than it helps.

To give a clear message, be sure to match up the three parts of a message.

Think of a recent time you experienced a communication mishap. Did your tone of voice match your words? How about your facial expressions and body language? Did they line up with your verbals?

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With your mouth, you can tell the truth or lie, encourage or complain, boast or speak humbly. What you say reveals what’s going on inside the deep part of you.

Would you like to start saying what you mean and improve your relationships with others and with God? Contact me to set up a time for a free 15-minute phone consult. May you continue to experience God’s smile on you.

Sharing hope with your heart,

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Top 3 Reasons for Anger!

anger

Anger: Some women bottle it up; others let it blow. The important question: What’s the best way to handle anger?

You’ve experienced anger, haven’t you? We all have. The reasons for anger outnumber summer dandelions. Like a dandelion, it has a root. Just as weeding can rid dandelions from your yard, you can learn the best way to let go of your anger.

In this article, you’ll get these two practical helps to grow hope in your soul:

  1. Identify 3 main reasons for anger.
  2. Discover the how to zap anger at its root.

The last thing you want is a place for the devil. The word devil come from the Greek diabolos, which means “one who makes malicious false statements; a false accuser; a slanderer.” It is the a title for Satan.

His main goal is to deceive people, including Christians. He wants to convince you to reject the truth and believe lies.

‘In your anger do not sin.’ Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:26-27, NIV)

3 Main Reasons for Anger

Hurt: Tami’s husband is MIA — “in the worst way,” she says. “He’s here but not here. I’m so hurt I could scream.” After dinner, he disappears into his man cave, where he reclines in a La-Z-Boy and flips cable channels. He has next-to-know conversation with Tami or their two young school-aged children during the evening. She cleans up after dinner, helps with homework, and gets them ready for bed — and seethes.

A normal response to a hurt is anger. When hurt, do you stuff your anger? Do you yell or slam doors?

Lack of control. When your life gets squirmy, you may feel out of control and angry.

“What are you? Stupid?” Suzanne yelled into her cell. Her teenage son had forgotten to pick up his little brothers from soccer practice. A single mom, she depends on her eldest for help. Her mocking putdown reveals her feelings of lack of control. She didn’t get what she wanted so she got angry.

Can you think something you got that you didn’t want? Perhaps a parking ticket? A poor performance review? A snub from a friend? What was your emotion?

Godly indignation. Sometimes — but not often, if we’re honest — you and I feel anger when we hate what God hates. God hates hypocrisy. He hates evil. God hates the trafficking of children. God experiences anger yet never sins. His anger is holy.

Here’s a scene in the Bible where Jesus displays anger:

Jesus goes into the synagogue on a Sabbath where there were Pharisees and a man with a withered hand and “looked around at them [the Pharisees] in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus” (Mark 5:6).

What’s something you hate that God hates? Does it make you angry? This is godly indignation.

How to Kill Anger

Hold on to your godly indignation and let it propel you to good — this is holy anger. My husband and I hate the suffering of families in poverty. Our anger has led us to support a child through World Vision and to organize a food drive to stock a local food pantry. But. . .

Uproot ungodly anger. It ends up hurting you and the people around you. It also grieves the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).

Unresolved anger can become bitterness that poisons your relationships and you. The sure “cure” for anger is forgiveness. Let’s look at forgiveness from two angles.

When you’ve been wronged, you can become angry and sin. Or you can choose forgiveness. Forgiveness isn’t easy. It costs you. It cost God (Colossians 3:13). When you forgive someone, you no longer hold the person’s sin against them. Forgiving doesn’t excuse their behavior or pretends the wrong never happened. However, you choose to let it go.

Your also deal with your hurt in a godly manner. It is wise for Tami and Suzanne to seek God’s perspective and determine to obey the Word in spite of how they feel. Both women need to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) to their family members.

Tami could let her husband know how his disappearing act hurts her and the family. She can be confident that God will work in her husband’s heart, convicting him of his need to ask forgiveness (2 Timothy 3:16). Suzanne could lovingly remind her son that she counts on him to help out and if he’s unable to follow through on his commitment than he needs to let her know so she can make alternate arrangements.

In addition, Tami needs to ask her husband’s forgiveness. She has anger toward her husband that she need to confess. Suzanne needs to ask her son’s forgiveness too. Angry words cut like a knife.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19)

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)

3 Parts of a Message

Did you know that the words you say are just one part of your communication? Your body language and your tone of voice make up a far larger part of your message than your words. Would you believe that they account for more than 90 percent of your message?

This is an essential you need to know — that I need to remember too — in all of our relationships. My next post focuses on the three parts of the messages to give — and how to say what you really mean.

Please subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss it! When you subscribe you also will get my complimentary e-Book “3 Steps to Putting the Past in the Past. . .and Keeping It There.”



Sharing hope with your heart,

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3 Ways to Escape Temptation

temptation

You can escape temptation. Knowing this brings hope, doesn’t it? Here’s an escape plan.

If someone offered you houseboat a few yards above Niagara Falls, would you buy it? Of course not.

Would you let your teen attend a Prom with a known drug user? No again.

These are obvious risks. You wouldn’t feel tempted to “give in.” Temptation is an enticement to make an ungodly choice because you think that you will gain something: pleasure or another benefit. At times you have succumbed to temptation, haven’t you? We all have.

In this article, you’ll discover three ways to overcome temptation.

  1. Understand how temptation works.
  2. Know true change is possible.
  3. Draw near to God.

1. Understand How Temptation Works

Why do Christian women sometimes lose the temptation battle and–

The short answer: You have an enemy who wants to snooker you into believing the lie that giving in means more happiness for you. It doesn’t. Maybe for a very short while you experience fleeting happiness. Soon guilt weighs you down and you feel shame, fear, even depression.

When you understand how temptation works, you are more likely to escape it.

Once a beautiful angel named Lucifer, Satan desired exaltation above God (Isaiah 14:12-14). God then kicked him out of heaven along with angels who sided with Satan. Satan now “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He is strategic and intelligent but not all-powerful. He is a defeated foe with two basic plans.

Plan A: Interfere with your following Christ in the first place.

Plan B: Tempt you to be an ineffective Christian by doubting God’s goodness and power.

Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’: for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he himself tempt anyone (James 1:13).

2. Know True Change Is Possible

You can hope to overcome temptation. Hope isn’t wishful thinking. It is the confident expectation of good.

This confidence depends on God’s nature and his Word, not circumstances. It assures you that sin no longer rules (Romans 6:14). It guarantees that God has the ultimate victory over sin and death (Romans 8:35-39). 14). It strengthens you in the midst of difficulties.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

God knows when you’re tempted and he promises to provide a way of escape. Isn’t this comforting? You aren’t the first one to face trials like yours. Others have–successfully. You can choose a new, godly response. You need not fall back on old sinful responses.

As a well-known biblical counselor has said, “Paul makes it clear that to say ‘I can’t’ is not an option when God says one can.”

3. Draw Near to God

A while back, while loading groceries in my car, I noticed sunglasses in the corner of my cart. I had failed to the item on the check-out counter and didn’t pay for it.

My teenage son said, “Mom, let’s go back in and pay.” I was already running behind schedule and was tempted to zip away, rationalizing that the cashier should have seen the sunglasses so it was her fault, not mine. What would you have done? I returned to the store and paid.

Temptation itself is not sin. Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert and didn’t give in to the temptation (Matthew 4:1-11).  When temptation is resisted there is no sin.

Jesus told the devil, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

‘You shall worship the Lord your God
    and him only shall you serve.’”

Jesus’ words remind me of this verse in James:

 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7)

What a comforting promise! Satan’s Plan B — to tempt you to be an ineffective Christian by doubting God’s goodness and power — doesn’t stand a chance against the Lord. You can be victorious in Christ when tempted to gossip, right? Or yell at your kids. Or get drunk. Or give in to fear.

When tempted, resist!

This escape plan sounds to easy to work, doesn’t it? I challenge you to keep track of the times you’re tempted, what you did to resist the devil (or failed to do), and what was the result. God is able to keep you from stumbling.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24-25)

Sharing hope with your heart,

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