Working Well Under Pressure - Assessment

What does it mean to “work well under pressure?”

Does it mean letting people take advantage of me?  Does it mean refusing to set boundaries with anyone?  Does it mean saying, “Yes!” to everyone regardless of my capacity and availability to meet their request?  Does it mean ignoring or refusing to admit my own limitations?  Does it mean sacrificing my health and well-being in order to please other people by meeting their demands? 

This topic of “working well under pressure” came up in conversation recently.  It gave me pause to think about what the phrase means to me.  After giving it some thought, processing my perspectives and doing a little research, I’ve come to the conclusion that my definition of this phrase means assessing the following questions in light of any request or demand someone presents to me:

Pressure Response Assessment

1.     Is it the Lord’s will for me to meet this request for this person at this time?

2.     Is this person’s request reasonable?

3.     Do I have the capacity to meet their request?

4.     Am I available – do I have the time in my schedule – to meet their request?

5.     Does their request have value or serve a purpose that I value? 

6.     Does their request violate my beliefs and values?

7.     Am I the appropriate person to meet their request?

8.     Is it good for me to meet their request?

Considering each of these questions and answering honestly to myself will give me a clearer perspective on how to respond to the person’s request.  If I don’t take the time to consider these things, then I may be hurting myself, the person who made the request or someone that I love.  For example, if I don’t have the time, then I may be over-extending myself which could result in physical and mental stress leading to illness as well as strains on my other relationships. 

If I don’t set boundaries with others,

then I’m hurting myself and the ones i love.

Every time I make a decision, I am saying yes to one thing and no to everything else.  So even if I have trouble saying no to people, when I tell someone yes, I’m still saying no to everyone and everything else.  This means people-pleasers, and everyone else for that matter, say no far more often than they say yes.  And at some point, this boundaryless behavior will catch up to the people-pleaser and cost him more than he wants to pay.

It is a sign of emotional maturity and psychological health to be aware of our own limitations and weaknesses, to set healthy boundaries with others, and to prioritize our health and well-being.

It is loving to know who we are, to know our limitations, to know our strengths and our weaknesses and to delight in our humanity.  In a godly context, working well under pressure means placing our burdens at Jesus’ feet and only taking up His burden and His yoke, which is different for each of us based on how He created us. 

It’s part of the joy of being saved to include the Lord in deciding how we will respond to the requests and demands that other people try to place on us.  We get to be in relationship with a perfect God who knows our hearts, the hearts of others and the future.  We get to make these decisions with Him and rely on His wisdom and knowledge to lead and guide us.

Our first priority is to love God.  Our second priority is to love ourselves as God loves us.  Our third priority is to love others as we love ourselves.  We cannot honestly love others unless we first receive God’s love for us and learn to love ourselves like He loves us. 

Our first priority is to love God.

We are not loving God, ourselves or others if we are boundaryless.  People-pleasing is not love.  Boundarylessness is not love.  Codependency is not love.  Over-achieving, over-responsibility, and over-performing are not love.  These things are all grounded in fear, not love.  All of these things are about earning, manipulating and controlling acceptance and love, which is no love at all. 

There is no freedom found in manipulating and controlling people.  There is no honor in it.  Of course, there’s also no honest risk-taking or vulnerability, either.  Both of which are scary, unpredictable and have no guaranteed outcome.  To love is to risk – exposure, vulnerability, the outcome, rejection.  But it is the only way to truly give and receive love because it honors the other person’s free will choice to respond however they want to my invitation, my vulnerability, my willingness to take a risk on them.  An honest response to love is so worth taking the risk!

An honest response to love is worth taking the risk!

Wounded Lions are Still Lions

Proverbs 28:1 says that “the righteous are as bold as a lion.”  

I think about that verse a lot.  I want to be bold like a lion.  Sometimes I am.  But often, I am not.  I’m wounded and it’s a challenge to be bold when I’m recovering from soul wounds inflicted by an enemy intent on destroying any semblance of righteousness in me.

But the Lord reminded me recently that wounded lions are still lions.  Being a lion is in my supernatural DNA.  It’s not something that the enemy or any human being can remove from me.  I am a lion.  Even though I am wounded, I remain righteous because of Jesus.  His sacrifice on the cross and subsequent resurrection are what make me like Him – a righteous lion, bold and courageous, pure and blameless. 

God continues to heal my wounds.  And in the meantime, I walk as lion, albeit it’s a bit of limp more often than not.  But make no mistake, even wounded lions are still lions.  My identity and destiny are safely tucked away and hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3).  Nothing can separate me from the One who calls me His own, loves me beyond my capacity to comprehend and takes infinite delight in me. (Romans 8:38-39 and Zephaniah 3:17).

Because I am a saved and a daughter of the King of Heaven, my pride and coalition is the Bride.  To break it down: a pride is a group of mostly female lions and a coalition is group of male lions.  Those of us who have accepted Christ as our Savior are made righteous by His sacrifice.  And as I mentioned above the righteous are as bold as lions.  We who are saved are also referred to as the Bride of Christ.  Thus, we who are as bold as lions – both male and female, both coalition and pride – are the Bride. 

We are bold, radiant, pure and holy because of Jesus!

Motherhood, Karate and Kingdom Character

What on earth can those three things possibly have in common, you might be wondering.  It’s a lot simpler than you think! I have several friends who have confessed to me the trials of motherhood.  They feel unappreciated by their families and unimpactful in the world.  They wonder how constantly wiping bottoms, changing diapers, feeding mouths, doing laundry and running countless errands can possibly be worthwhile.  They feel bogged down by the seemingly mundane, monotonous, never-ending chores of motherhood.

To be sure, there are moments of joy and recognition that these mothers drink up like a cool glass of water on a hot summer day in the dessert.  But they believe most of their time and work is uneventful, uninteresting and unimportant.

They couldn’t be more wrong.  When I think of the value of what they do, I think of the Karate Kid movie, circa 1984.  In particular, I imagine the scene where Daniel is complaining to his karate teacher, Mr. Miyagi, that he hasn’t learned any karate and that all he’s done so far is free labor for Mr. Miyagi.  Then Mr. Miyagi has Daniel show him the motions for painting the fence.  Daniel moves his arms up and down in the motion Mr. Miyagi told him to use for painting the fence.  Mr. Miyagi then teaches Daniel that this motion is a defensive block in karate.  Mr. Miyagi goes on to reveal to Daniel that washing the cars and waxing them in the specific motions also built up strength in Daniel’s arms and built neural pathways in his mind for these very specific moves that are also defensive movements in karate. 

These seemingly mundane actions were actually powerful moves Daniel needed to know to protect himself in a fight.  And he learned it all without even thinking about it or trying to learn, just going through the monotonous motions until it became like second nature to him, until he could do the motion instinctively.  He also built up the increased strength to provide power to sustain and enforce the motion.

Motherhood is similar in that the tasks mothers do for their children build up character, wisdom and understanding in their children which builds a strong foundation for their children to stand on throughout the rest of the child’s life.  The chores of motherhood build up strength in their children that will protect the child in life. 

  • When mothers wipe bottoms, change diapers, wipe up spit-up and do other cleaning-the-kid tasks, they are teaching their children that God cares about their messes and will clean them up and make them new again each time they turn to Him. 

  • When mothers feed their children, they are teaching their children that God knows their needs and provides for them. 

  • When mothers comfort their children when they are crying or hurt, these mothers teach their children that God is compassionate, a comforter, that he cares about their feelings and that he is always with them no matter what they are going through.

  • Another thing that mothers teach their children by the mother’s behavior is how to treat other people.  When a mother is compassionate, attentive, responsive, honorable and affectionate to her child, she is teaching her child how to interact with people. 

  • She also teaches her children social skills by how she interacts with other adults and how she speaks about the other adults when they are not around. 

I could go on for a very long time about all the powerful ways that mothers reveal who God is to their children through the mother’s actions.  But I believe that you get the idea from this sampling of examples.

Everything a mother does impacts her child and teaches her child about God and about relationships.  Nothing a mother does is insignificant, unimpactful or unimportant.  It is all critical in teaching the child in the way they should go (See Proverbs 22:6).

In the books of Kings in the Bible, many of the kings of Judah and Israel are introduced in this way:

1)     the king’s name

2)     the king’s age

3)     how long the king reigned

4)     his mother’s name

5)     where she was from and

6)     whether the king did good or evil in the eyes of the Lord

What I believe this tells us is that it was the mother who influenced the character of the king.  That is no small thing.  The impact of the king’s character affected the entire kingdom over which he ruled.  When the king did evil, the people were oppressed and under attack from their enemies.  But when the king did good and served the Lord, the people were blessed, the land was blessed, they had victory over their enemies and the kingdom flourished. 

Now that we are under the New Covenant, we are sons and daughters of God, royalty in the Kingdom.  Whether we do good or evil in the eyes of God has an impact on our spheres of influence and on all those connected to our lives.  Our character matters.  And it’s our mothers who have the greatest opportunity to lead us in the ways of the Lord.  In God’s eyes, motherhood is very big deal. 

For any who know me, this may seem like a strange article from a daughter who was abused by her mother.  But it’s not really.  I know full well how much my mother influenced my character, shaped my relationship skills and informed me about who God is.  My mother’s teaching in all these areas was evil.  I’ve had to learn how to trust the Lord and allow Him to do a mighty work in me in order to realign my character.  I’ve suffered many evils from my mother’s teachings.  I have much to grieve for all that she stole from me.  I’ve had to fight more battles than I care to recall in order to be where I am today.  I needed my mother, but she rejected me. 

I believe that a good and godly mother can have the same powerful impact on her child’s life that my ungodly mother had on mine.  I believe this because it’s inherent in how the Lord wired us as mothers and children.  Mothers teach.  Children learn.  It’s who we are and what we do.  The choice mothers have is in what and how to teach their children.  The choice children have is when they become adults to examine what their mother taught them in light of the Lord’s love.  If it is good teaching, the adult child can choose to keep it.  If it is bad teaching, then let go of the bad teaching, process the harm, forgive the offense and let the Lord heal the wound.

I want to be sure to clarify that I do not wish to put any undue burden on mothers to be perfect.  Not one of us is.  We all make mistakes and do sinful things.  The important thing is cling to the Lord in all things – in motherhood, in forgiveness, in teaching, in learning, in growing and in becoming more like Him.  My purpose in sharing my thoughts on motherhood, karate and Kingdom character is to honor the value, importance and vital impact that mothers have on their children, the world and God’s Kingdom.

Here’s a poem I wrote as I pondered writing this article and the heart of the value of motherhood:

 

I charge you, women of Yahweh

To arise each day

With a holy fire

Burning in your eyes

Set your face like flint

To paint the fence

With Mama Bear vengeance

Fight for the hearts of your children

 

Though your work may seem mundane

Do it for His holy name

 

Even if no one sees

Know that He is pleased

 

Your efforts are not in vain

You bring glory to His name

 

So, wax on and wax off

You Kingdom Mommas!

Squirrels are Destructive and Other Random Curses

Eschewing the call to subdue while enjoying the fruits of what someone else subdued

I sat on a park bench sipping my hazelnut latte and enjoying a peach tart pastry when I noticed a squirrel a few feet away from me sitting back on its haunches and gingerly sniffing the air.  As I watched the squirrel inch closer and closer to me testing the atmosphere to discern if I would feed him or chase him away, I saw a woman walking her dog nearby.  She saw the squirrel and shouted to me, “Squirrels are destructive.”  Instinctively, I rebuked the curse she spoke and blessed the squirrel.  I was affronted by her quickness to curse the squirrel while walking her dog, which can be destructive and is a descendant of a wolf, which is currently considered by many to be destructive, as well.  It seemed hypocritical and lacking in self-awareness. 

I thought to myself how odd it was for her to enjoy the fruits (having a domesticated dog) of what someone else took the time to subdue (a descendant of the wolf family) and to shun someone else (me) for interacting with a currently unsubdued species (squirrels).  I was perplexed by her lack of vision and lack of compassion for wild animals.  She obviously enjoyed domesticated animals, but she didn’t seem to understand that dogs (wolves) were not always tame.  Or that many “tame” and “domesticated” dogs can be destructive and even violently aggressive toward humans.

Her lack of vision led to me consider the scripture says that “where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18 KJV).  I began to consider that when we perish from our lack of vision, then all that we govern and rule over also suffers.  We were created to rule and reign and subdue the earth.  When we shirk our God-given authority and responsibility, then not only do we suffer but so does the earth and everything in it.  That’s not to say that God doesn’t care for the earth and provide for everything that He has created.  Instead, it is to say that we have a part to play in bringing His Kingdom on earth and when we don’t fulfill our role, there are consequences.  And those consequences affect more than just the human race.

The consequences increase when we curse those creatures and people that God has brought into our lives and placed in our paths for us to minister to, speak life and love over, and reveal who God is by how we treat those creatures and people.  Our love for God must be measurable in how we treat others.  Otherwise, our love for God is merely hypothetical and intellectual, not honest and heart-felt.  We must love what He loves, if we love Him.  And He has compassion on everything that He created (Psalm 145:9).

Dogs can be destructive.  Wolves can be destructive.  And, yes, squirrels can be destructive.  But so can human beings.  Even with merely words, humans can wreak havoc on the world and on the souls of others. 

Our response to destructive behavior reflects our vision for bringing a Kingdom solution to the brokenness we see in another’s behavior, whether that other is an undomesticated squirrel or a human being.  I hope and pray that as I mature in my faith that I am able to bring Kingdom wisdom and solutions to the destructiveness evident in the world around me.  I want to be someone who brings light, love, mercy and redemption to the broken.

I challenge you today: let us be depart from the way of cursing and causing destruction with our words and actions.  Let us be champions of all that are yet undomesticated and currently unsubdued.  Let us manifest the love of God to those who are unsaved, unrepentant or have in some way chosen to be our enemies.  Let us live to express our love to God in how we treat all that He has created, especially those in whom He placed His image – humankind.  Let us bring His love into every circumstance and situation, even to the wild animals that struggle to eke out an existence around us even as many of us ignore them and fail to walk in the authority that God gave us. 

Although I am stunned and grieved by this woman who cursed the squirrel and my interaction with the squirrel, I pray for God to bless her.  I pray for God to pour out His favor over her life, her family, the work of her hands, her dog and all that is in her life.  I pray that she comes to know the saving love of Jesus and that her eyes are opened to see His beauty all around her. 

I also pray for my own growth in self-awareness and that the Lord lead me to repentance where I in my ignorance and rebellion have cursed others.  I pray the Lord increasingly tenderizes my heart toward all He has created and especially all humankind so that I may pray for them, bless them and speak life and love into their lives.  May I overflow the love that the Lord has extravagantly poured out over me.  In Jesus name, Amen.