Roll Up Your Sleeves – Living & Leading in a World of Constant Change, Part 10

Well this is it! #10 or 10 in this special series about the observation of four young men who take another life altering journey together in my forthcoming book Roll Up Your Sleeves.

Over the past 2 weeks we have covered our One Unshakeable Truth plus these 9 concepts.
One Unshakeable Truth – Everyone has unseen battles they are fighting. Be kind.
#1 Change is not the same as transition.
#2 Personality matters.
#3 Role clarity counts.
#4 Principles set the pace.
#5 Purpose is power.
#6 Process matters.
#7 Endings let us begin again.
#8 Seasons come and go.
#9 Self-counseling doesn’t work.

Today is #10 Pray first: Before life gives you more than you can stand, kneel. The more you kneel along the way, the easier you’ll stand the test today.

Everyone gets tested by something. For some of us it’s dealing with technology end equipment. For others it’s having to fool with finances or budgets. Dealing with politics, both inside and outside of work, can push some people over the edge. Many of us have a challenge with that “other generation” – whoever they are and whatever they’re thinking. The list is endless. During times of transition, the things that test us can elicit a response we do regret later. When change hits, you may have noticed feeling more anxious or worried, reacting to little things that didn’t bother you before. If you’re like most of us, you wish you could do something to better manage those behaviors that did not work.

“To whom should I go for some self-help.” – Ashley Brilliant

I have found that the most ineffective way to change your behavior is to try to change your behavior. By this I mean, attempting to force yourself or persuade yourself into changing how you think or what you do. Most self-help books recommend this type of direct approach through using a step-by step technique or applying a clever psychological scheme or the classic line from the well-intended but emotionally unaware manager – “just don’t do that.”

These external motivation techniques might work short term, but behavioral changes that really stick only happen when a person looks inside, reframes their personal context and starts to see themselves playing a role in a bigger spiritual (not religious) purpose. Even when this type of spiritual transformation happens, it still takes personal effort to stay there and to grow into it. In my experience there are three things that help new behavior stick : monitor your actions by keeping a written record, make a commitment to someone who will support you and pray first more often.

Research
Researchers from Baylor University looked at the data of 1,714 volunteers who participated in the most recent Baylor Religion Survey (1). They found that people who pray to a loving and protective God are less likely to experience anxiety-related disorders — worry, fear, self-consciousness, social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behavior — compared to people who pray but don’t really expect to receive any comfort or protection from God. The findings add to the growing body of research confirming a connection between a person’s perceived relationship with God and mental and physical health. In fact, a recent study by Oregon State University found that religion and spirituality result in two distinct but complementary health benefits. Religion (religious affiliation and service attendance) is linked to better health habits, including less smoking and alcohol consumption, while spirituality (prayer, meditation) helps regulate emotions.

Application
When I’m working with a client, after taking time to be totally prepared with my materials and notes, I say this prayer, which was offered to me by my friend and colleague Cliff Eslinger – The Consultants Prayer, “God get me out of the way so these smart people can get what they need from You today.” We are both amazed at the outcome when God honors our request and He usually does.

Almost every morning I begin my day in my big brown recliner. I sit there, read my Bible, especially The Proverbs, and say a prayer. There is a small lamp table beside my La-Z-Boy. Under the glass that covers the top of the table there are a few things I’ve gathered over the years: A printed copy of Psalm 16:1-11 and Philippians 4:7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.” Below that scripture verse I wrote this: “Problems can either be mine or God’s – they can’t be both.” I try to take a look at those every day.

I’m sharing all today not to call myself up as an example or to impress you, because anyone who knows me knows I all too often lose my temper especially with technology, can quickly judge people who in my opinion “don’t get it” and leave the ones I love feeling ignored or discounted with my silence and the list goes on – just ask my wife. My reason for my being so transparent is to let you know if I can pray first almost every day, anybody can.

Journal entry: I also hope that if you start your day in a different way – I don’t mean jogging instead of sitting in a lounger – that this email might intrigue you to give “pray first” a try and see if you might find the more you kneel along the way, the easier you’ll stand your tests today in your leadership and life.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it.
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His will.
That I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
Amen.
~ Reinhold Neibuhr

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