Monday, March 31, 2014

2 Proven Ways To Deal With The Controllers In Your Life

Posted by Michael

Few things can be more irritating that someone who tries to control or micro-manage you at every turn. Life can be incredibly frustrating when you work with or live with a controller. Remember, controllers aren’t necessarily bad people (they may be great leaders, for example) , but they may have bad boundaries. When healthy boundaries are in place, it’s possible to co-exist with the controllers in your life. The most important thing to remember when dealing with a controller is to avoid becoming reactive by remaining proactive. 

That simply means that controllers bring out the worst in us when we react in one of two ways:

1)We cave in.

Sometimes it feels like the best way to get a controller off our back is to give in and let them have their way. This approach never brings peace with a controller, it just whets their appetite for more control. If they feel that they can walk over you at will, they often do. Healthy relationships have a give and take. We won’t always win and we won’t always lose. That being said, we should always weigh in with our input or opinion. When we yield to a controller in an attempt to “keep the peace” we lose ourselves in the process, and our co-workers or family members are the worse for it.

2)We rebel.

If you don’t struggle with the first point, then you likely struggle with this one. Many of us despise being controlled, and push back at the first sign that someone is trying to manipulate us. We go out of our way to show them that we will not be controlled, even when it causes us to make decisions that we would not normally make. When we go to an opposite extreme of an issue to prove to a controller that we will not be controlled, they are still in a sense controlling us. We are not being ourselves. We are being whatever the other person doesn’t want. 

This is where proactivity comes in. The only way to stay sane around the controller in your life is to decide ahead of time what you value and how you plan to make decisions. When you know what your priorities are and how you are going to act, you cut down the risk of caving in to a controller, or rebelling against them. Being proactive is the best way to ensure that you are fully you. You, bringing your strengths (and weaknesses) to your workplace and family is what they need the most. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Finds - March 28

Posted by Michael

Hoping to find a quiet place to read this weekend?

But you are not sure what to read???????

Look no further!  Check out these blog posts and random readings:

Words of wisdom from Matthew Paul Turner to his kids, if we would only say and hear these words everyday….

                               You are strong, you are brave, you are good, you are loved.

Not a fan of Pope Francis? You will be after you read through his Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel)! It’s an encouragement and challenge for all Christians covering a range of topics. It’s well worth reading through in part or if you are more ambitious, in full. 

                                             Evangelii Gaudium from Pope Francis

Honest words from an authentic leader. If you aren’t reading Carey Nieuwhof, you should be.

                                                 A Leader's Everyday Struggles

A wonderful post on worry by a talented counselor and a good friend.

                                                                   What If

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Inspiration In Under 37 Seconds (Part X)

Posted by Michael

As the week drags on, we can all use a bit on inspiration, today's comes from possibly the greatest novelist of all time, Leo Tolstoy:

                                                         “All, everything I understand,
                                                     I understand only because I love.”

And yes, I also think he looks a little like Phil Robertson....

Photo Courtesy of

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Knowing When To Confront (and when not to!)

Posted by Michael

There are few things that any of us dread more than confronting a family member or co-worker. These stress-filled collisions can often become emotionally charged and highly uncomfortable. Many people will offer up the biblical mandate to “turn the other cheek” as a way to avoid confronting someone about something painful in their life. Jesus’ teaching on “cheek turning” is often misused and stripped out of context (but that's for another post). The simple truth is that there are times to confront and times to avoid confrontation. If you are unsure which situation you are in, consider the following points:

When To Confront:

1)When the damaging behavior in question has become repetitive.

Life is filled with hurts and slights, both given and received. We all make mistakes, but when “mistakes” repeat themselves over and over, they are no longer mistakes, but a pattern of behavior. Ignoring someone who is consistently toxic in the way that they treat you isn’t mature, it’s being a doormat. Picking up the slack for a co-worker who is having a bad week can be a good thing. On the other hand, constantly carrying the weight of other people's responsibilities only enables them, and leaves you exhausted. This doesn’t mean that you go to battle every time someone hurts you. People who fight everything tend to cause more problems than they resolve, but when inconsiderate actions become a trend, it’s time to step in and address it.

2)When you are invested in the relationship.

There are lots of unhealthy people in the world, luckily you don’t have to deal with all of them (it only seems like it some days!). You don’t have to address every injustice you see around you. Confrontation only works when it happens in the context of a relationship. If I don’t know that you care about me as a person, why would I care what you think about my behavior? When we have a relationship, I am less likely to feel attacked when confronted. Also, most confrontation comes at a cost, emotionally and sometimes even relationally. Confronting someone is only worth the price I pay if that person is someone I care deeply about or interact closely with on a daily basis.

There are also times to avoid confrontation:

1)When I’m simply trying to vent my anger.

Anger is a healthy and common emotion. It’s even normal to feel angry when I am confronting someone who has been mistreating me. If anger is the only thing driving my confrontation, however, things will go poorly. Anger is my body’s way of telling me to have a closer look at something. There may be something that I legitimately need to address. It’s also possible that I just need a good night’s sleep.

I hope these thoughts help as you navigate the stress of confrontation and the ups and downs of your everyday relationships!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tournament Madness

Posted by Michael

It's official, thanks to Zack Hunt over at The American Jesus, there is now a bracket for everything. Check out the link below and let me know what you think, and yes, I have already submitted my picks....

American Jesus Madness 2014

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

3 Warning Signs That You May Not Be Growing

Posted by Michael

Growth is a good thing, but it's also an easy thing to lose sight of. Here are three signs that you may be stagnant in your personal or spiritual growth:

1)You are very comfortable.

                                             Growth and comfort rarely go together.

 There’s nothing wrong with comfort, it is very often needed, and always welcome when it comes. Growth usually entails facing new challenges and entering new territory in your life, these experiences although beneficial are seldom comfortable. If you have been extremely comfortable for a long time, odds are you haven’t grown in a while.

2)You are in complete control.

Just like comfort, a healthy amount of control in life is a good thing. Complete control is another matter altogether. For me to be in complete control in my life means that I am not having to face anything outside of my knowledge base. I am not having to deal with any new or unpredictable experiences. Complete control means complete predictability. Growth, however, occurs when we are forced to face something new or unexpected.  New and unexpected challenges force me to think and act in new ways, and that leads to growth.

3)You are primarily focused on the growth or behavior of other people.

Being preoccupied with how others are acting or how well they are doing in life means that our attention is pulled away from our own growth and behavior. 

                            It’s not bad to help others, it’s just that helping others 
                                        isn’t the same as growing ourselves.

The only person on the planet you have the power to change is yourself, and that change can only come by examining yourself and being honest with what you see. Spending all of my time thinking about others can keep me from having a good look at myself.

If you can avoid or abandon these three growth poisons, you will likely be on your way to moving forward in the direction you want for your life!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Inspiration In Under 37 Seconds (Part IX)

Posted by Michael

Today’s inspiration comes from tennis great Arthur Ashe, who made an incredible impact on and off the court.    



                                                               "Start where you are.
                                                                Use what you have.
                                                                Do what you can."

Wherever you are is the perfect place to start to make this day (and your life) what you want it to be! Great change is often birthed from humble beginnings.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

2 Ways To Avoid The Dreaded Guilt Trip

Posted by Michael

Each of us has our own emotional Achilles Heel, those certain buttons that people can press to make us cave in to their demands. One of the toughest emotional attacks to endure is the ever popular guilt trip. Most of us hate to be wrong, and we really dislike feeling that we have failed or let someone down in the process. Someone at work or in our family that is set on getting their way can use these things against us by making us feel guilty (even when we've done nothing wrong). If you have a boss, co-worker, friend, or family member that loves to send you on a guilt trip, there are 2 important things to remember, that will allow you to battle back and retain your sanity: ask and avoid.

1)Ask yourself this question: Have I done something that is morally wrong?

Guilt trips owe their power to false guilt. False guilt is the feeling of guilt that comes to us even when we haven’t done anything morally wrong. Many of us have come to believe that it is our job to make everyone happy. We don’t tend to say this out loud, but we believe it nonetheless. Add this to our tendency to blame ourselves first when things go wrong, and you have the recipe for a crushing guilt trip.

It's not your job to keep the people you love or work with happy.

Not only that, it’s impossible, so let it go! When feelings of guilt arise after a talk with someone, stop and ask yourself, “Have I done anything morally wrong?” If the answer is “no”, then remind yourself that these feelings of guilt are just feelings and are not actually true. Before long those feelings will fade away, as feelings often do. As an example: it’s morally wrong to steal money from your co-worker when they are out of the office, it’s not morally wrong to say no when they ask if you can work their shift for them next Saturday.

2)Avoid long, drawn-out conversations with the guilters in your life.

People who are trying to guilt you into doing something for them love to have long conversations with you about how hard their life is, and how much they need you to come to their rescue. The longer the conversation, the more chance they have to find the chink in your armor that will allow them to flood you with guilt. The more they can get you to talk, the better able they are to trip you up!

 When your realize that someone is not accepting your polite refusal to work over today, but is continuing to push, the conversation has stopped being relational and started being manipulative.

 The best way I have found to deal with this sort of manipulation is to become a good politician (is that an oxymoron?). Good politicians are not drawn into conversations they don't want to have. They do this by having set talking points that they repeat often during their campaign that highlights their strengths and minimizes their weaknesses. It doesn’t matter what you ask, they stick to the talking points. This tactic also works when dealing with the people in your life that try to guilt you into submission. Here is an example of what one such conversation might look like, and how you can handle it:

Your supervisor: Can you please stay later today and pick up the extra work that needs to be completed, no one else is able to, and I’m not feeling well.  (you know that she probably hasn’t asked anyone else…)

You: I actually worked over some last week, but am unable to today.

Supervisor: I only ask you because I know that you are such a good worker and care so much about our clients.

You: Thank you, I really do take my job seriously, but I can’t work over today.

Supervisor: Well, I know that you wouldn’t want your co-workers to think that you aren’t carrying your weight….

You: I can’t do it today, but I hope you are able to find someone to pick up the extra hours.

Supervisor: Well, I guess I’ll just have to do it myself, maybe my migraine won’t get much worse…..

You: Ok, I hope the rest of your afternoon goes well.

Stick to your message. Keep the conversation polite, but simple and short. Don’t get drawn into justifying yourself or talking about what other workers might be thinking or doing. This doesn’t mean, of course,  that you can’t help out and work over from time to time, it just means that you need to avoid making decisions because you feel guilty. Practice these two techniques and you will avoid the dreaded guilt trip and will find yourself over time a great deal more confident!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Inspiration In Under 37 Seconds (Part VIII)

Posted by Michael

Today’s quick burst of inspiration came from the lips of former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.  Enjoy!

 “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

I hope today finds you facing fears and accomplishing more than you ever dreamed possible.....

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Listening To The Right Voice

Posted by Michael

In Mark’s mini-biography of Jesus, he recounts a story of Jesus returning home after a time of ministry. At this point Jesus had healed several people, cast our demons, calmed a storm, and taught crowds of thousands in several cities. His fame was growing, and word of his travels had no doubt reached his hometown long before He made his way down the dusty paths into Nazareth. What met him at the outskirts of the town wasn’t the hospitality of a warm welcome home but, doubt, resentment, and veiled insults. (Mark 6:1-6). “Hey isn’t this the amazing carpenter that’s going around healing the sick?... Maybe he could heal my table….I bet his parents are so proud, well Mary anyway, we don’t really know who his father is do we?” When faced with the choice between all that Jesus was doing and teaching on the one hand, and who they had always assumed him to be, they chose to live in their closed-minded assumptions.

People have assumptions about you as well.

They assume they know you because of your education or lack of education. They think they have you all figured out because of your divorce. Remember that bankruptcy you went through? That’s all they need to know. The clothes you wear, the car you drive, the neighborhood you are from, it all adds up the person they believe you to be.

But you are more than their assumptions aren’t you?

You are more than your past mistakes. More than your diplomas. More than your bank account. More than the broken relationships that you have endured, and those you are responsible for. God knows that you are more. He made you and either has or wants to pull you out of the dark places you’ve created for yourself. God knows the truth about you, and loves you fully. But do you? Do you know how deeply you are loved and forgiven, or are you living on assumptions about yourself as well? If the voices in your head that condemn you and cause you to doubt are too loud, I hope that you will be able to listen for the still, small voice that assures you that He loves you right where you are, and that you do not have to walk your path in life alone.