Theological Essay: Repentance – The Obligation & The Gift

 

Repentance is a dense word that carries theological significance, obligatory action, and requires grace from God.  Living in the twenty-first century where words like tolerance, multiculturalism, pluralism, relativism, and unity are used as trigger words to silence anyone with an opposing opinion, or fact, or truth claim.  Thus, there is an obligation placed on us as the children of Light to interpret and proclaim the Word of God anew in each generation.  In fact, almost 2,000 years ago a man named Paul said that times would come when people “will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers, and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).  Additionally, a Jewish leader writing in the 1800s stated, “With the passage of time, the hearts of men degenerated even further, until the point where the “dwarves” of our time—who are too delicate to accept reproof—no longer have the willpower to force themselves to do anything.”[1]  Today in 2018 we are living in such a time when correction and reproof is seen as an attack on one’s identity, and where spoken words are interpreted as physical attacks of violence, and where the elite of our nation become the social engineers proclaiming to the people—“speak your own personal truth.”[2]  However, “personal truth” is simply a fancy way of saying, “speak you own personal opinions.”  Thus, when personal opinions and alternative facts are given elevated status because someone “feels” that it is true, we have then come to a point in our culture where we must define anew the words we speak in order to bring clarity and reveal the truth.  To be clear, truth with a capital T is: (a) absolute and objective, (b) verifiable and corresponds with reality, (c) necessarily restrictive which differentiates itself from error or non-truth, (d) discovered—not created, and (e) truth is descriptive and substantial which makes it inescapable.  Truth does not require belief in order for it to function and exist.

Yet, let all the world open their ears to hear and know, “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination” (Proverbs 28:9), and because of this, repentance is to be witnessed and experienced as a way of life, whereby the heart that has been regenerated by God’s Spirit continues to pursue and please His Maker by continuously turning one’s heart, mind, and affections towards the God of Glory wherein one’s treasure is truly secure (cf. Hosea 6:1-6; Romans 5:1-5; 8:5-13; Matthew 6:19-21).

From a theological standpoint there are two particular aspects of repentance (metanoia); namely, turning from sin, and turning to God (Mark 1:14-15; Matthew 3:2, 8).  The NIDNTT notes these two distinctions by saying that two different words are used to describe the act of turning, and these are found in Acts 3:19 and 26:20: metanoeō (“to repent”) describes the turning from evil (i.e. sin), and epistrephō (“to turn”) the turning to God.[3]  Both of these two Greek words have their counterparts as niam (“to feel sorrow”) and shub (“to return”) in the Hebrew Old Testament.[4]  These two actions of turning are witnessed by Paul within the context of our required response, “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:11).  It is the work of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit who enables us to have a steady contemplation of our newness of life by a careful consideration so we may determine that we are indeed (1) dead to sin, and (2) alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Both the Old and New Testaments clearly nuance the inner change of the heart, the mind, and the will that is associated with repentance and returning to Yahweh (Isaiah 29:13; Jeremiah 4:1-4; Joel 2:12-13; Micah 6:6-8; Acts 2:33-39; 3:26; 5:31-32; 10:43; 13:38-39).  Let us think and reason clearly, because the call to repent implies that a violation has occurred.  If you violate someone’s person or property it is natural to admit one’s guilt and to seek restitution by restoring that person’s property, as well as to seek reconciliation in order to restore the broken relationship—thus property and relationship are restored.  When the law has been broken and we stand before a judge, if we simply confess and say we are sorry it does not provide the justice required.  If the judge is upright the law must be upheld despite one’s confession of guilt.  Seriously, think this through…if you break the law and stand before a judge and confess that you are sorry, your confession is not sufficient enough to render you innocent.  Yet, the Most High Living God renders us innocent through the finished work of Jesus Christ, because “God made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Therefore, every human being is under the violation of God’s law (Romans 3:9-26), and this necessitates a guilty verdict because God is Just and Holy, and the law has been broken and violated.  However, the satisfaction for sin is not given by repentance, but it is given by the sacrifice of Christ’s shed blood on the cross who paid our debt-price through the grace of God at Calvary, and it is this which atones for sin (Hebrews 7:27; 9:12, 26, 28; 10:1-4, 10, 12, 14).  This is an important distinction because we do not have six Solas (Sola Repentus) as part of the Reformation essentials, we only have five Solas.[5]  Additionally, the Westminster Confession of Faith states, “Although repentance be not to be rested in, as any satisfaction for sin, or any cause of the pardon thereof, which is the act of God’s free grace in Christ; yet it is of such necessity to all sinners, that none may expect pardon without it” (WCF 15.3).[6]  This necessity for all sinners to repent is why the prophets became teachers and messengers of repentance.  The call to repent is a call to examine ourselves in light of the character of God, and to use God’s Law as the standard and measure of all measures.  Since no one is righteous in and of themselves (Psalms 14:1-3; Ecclesiastes 7:20; 9:3; Romans 3:10), the obligatory command to repent is given to all, but the forgiveness of sin rests upon those whom the Father chooses to draws near to Christ Jesus (John 6:37, 39, 44, 65).

Therefore, repentance must be seen as a biblical command given as a means of grace, which involves a heart change through confession of sin as well as the forsaking of sin (Proverbs 28:13; e.g. Isaiah 29:13; Jeremiah 12:2; Matthew 23:1-3).  The call to repent is a command given by God to all peoples (Acts 17:30) that we should humble ourselves, confess and forsake our iniquity, pray and acknowledge our utter need for the Living God to deliver us out of our transgressions by granting us forgiveness of sin and reconciliation as we cry out with all of our heart and soul to God for salvation and deliverance.  Yet, God who gives life and breath to all things is the One who circumcises the heart (Deuteronomy 30:6), writes the law of God on the heart and inner parts (Jeremiah 31:33-34; Hebrews 8:7-13; 10:16), gives a new heart and a new spirit (Jeremiah 32:37-41; Ezekiel 11:19-20; 36:26-28), is the one who grants repentance and the knowledge of the truth (Acts 11:18; 2 Timothy 2:25b-26), and is the one who reconciles us back to Himself through Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17-21; John 6:37, 39, 44, 65; Acts 2:39, 47; 13:48; 16:14).

Repentance before Conversion

Individuals who are the image-bearers of God have natural inclinations of the moral law that is structured within their conscience, and the social fabric they find themselves in, and therefore may have feelings of sorrow and guilt in offending or violating the rights of others.  This natural guilt and sorrow which may lead to repentance, does not mean that the repentance offered is acceptable to God, namely, that the repentance offered does not lead to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10; Hebrews 12:14-17).  Although repentance is obligatory upon all, it is also a gift of God that must be granted through the Spirit of Christ for repentance to be efficacious.  On a personal note, there were many times that I confessed my sin and asked God for forgiveness and sought to reform my life before I was regenerated by the Holy Spirit.  During this repentance, I was sorry for a time and a season, but I did not understand the severity of sin as being a rebel against God, nor did I have the awareness of how our impure thoughts separate us from God (Isaiah 26:3-4; Psalm 10:3; Micah 4:12; Romans 8:5-8).  Not growing up in a Christian home, but always believing that God was real, there were many times that I had conviction about some of the bad or dumb things I had done.  Therefore, people may have sorrow and remorse, and seek to reform their lives, but unless there is saving faith (which is a gift of God) and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ, who provides the satisfaction for sin, that repentance and remorse has not led to salvation.  William Ames writing in the 1600s says, “Repentance is not true and sound when it does not turn a man from all known sin to all known good, or when it does not continue in strength and actually renew itself continually from the time of conversion to the end of life.”[7]

You who have a belief in God, you who desire to know spiritual truths, or you who want to be involved in what God is doing in this world should continue to press within and press into God until you can stand before God and know with blessed assurance that you belong to the Family of Heaven—the Household of God and that your name is inscribed in the Lamb’s Book of Life for good.  However, what should be noted is that although this repentance did not lead to salvation it can be part of the drawing process of leading us to God by breaking up the fallow ground of the heart (Hosea 10:12; Jeremiah 4:3) and the preparing of the good ground to receive the Word of God (Luke 8:4-15; James 1:21).  Although it is true that we were chosen before the foundation of the world by God’s grace, yet until we are regenerated by the Holy Spirit we are strangers and enemies to the household of God.  Although saving faith is a free gift of God, we should not lose heart if we lack the full assurance of our salvation, because we are commanded to “be even more diligent, to make our calling and election sure” by “giving all diligence to add to our faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, to brotherly kindness love (2 Peter 1:1-11).  And if we lack wisdom or any of these things let us ask of God who gives to those who ask, seek, and knock (James 1:5-8; Matthew 7:7-12).  Let me repeat this again, if you lack the full assurance of your salvation—you are required to continuously pursue God and lay hold of Him which all of our strength (Isaiah 27:5; 64:4-7; Acts 17:26-28; Hebrews 6:18), and when our strength fails us we are required to continually call out for God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness and to be filled with faith in Jesus Christ – until it is received (Luke 11:5-13), and when it is received you will know that you know—for the Spirit will bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God (Romans 8:16).

What this means is that acknowledging, confessing, and forsaking our sin is part of our responsibility to God, yet it is also not enough because saving faith in Christ, which is a free gift of God (Ephesians 2:1-10), is a prerequisite for the forgiveness of sins by repentance because it is only God who can truly pardon our sin by Jesus Christ His Son.  Thus, regeneration and genuine faith are bestowed and freely given as Sola Gratia (only by grace), Sola Fide (only by faith), and Solus Christus (Christ alone) in order for repentance to be efficacious, namely, for repentance to be effectively granted through the legal act of justification.  Herman Bavinck states, “The new life implanted in regeneration yields, in relation to the intellect, faith and knowledge and wisdom; in relation to the will, conversion and repentance.”[8]  Reformed thinkers have noted that, “there is no repentance without regeneration.  Neither is there regeneration that does not manifest itself in repentance.”[9]  Therefore, “faith and repentance are fruits of regeneration.”[10]  Louis Berkhof notes that the scriptural view of repentance “conceives of real repentance as always accompanied with true faith.  The two go hand in hand, and are but different aspects of the same change in man.”[11]

To be clear, regeneration is the sovereign act of God through the Word of God by changing the inner and governing disposition of one’s heart, mind, and soul.  To be clear, regeneration is also called being born-again, or being born of God (John 1:12-13; 3:3-8; 1 Peter 1:22-25; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, 18) and is “according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself” (Ephesians 1:3-14) which enables us to have saving faith and godly sorrow which produces repentance leading to salvation as part of our conversion.

Repentance in and after Conversion

John Calvin in his magnum opus, The Institutes of the Christian Religion is clear to point out that true repentance is the fruit of true faith when he says, “Those who think that repentance precedes faith instead of flowing from, or being produced by it, as the fruit by the tree, have never understood its nature, and are moved to adopt that view on very insufficient grounds” (3.3.1).[12]  Calvin adds, “Since Christ confers upon us, and we obtain by faith, both free reconciliation and newness of life, reason and order require that…for repentance being properly understood, it will better appear how a man is justified freely by faith alone, and yet that holiness of life, real holiness, as it is called, is inseparable from the free imputation of righteousness.  That repentance not only always follows faith, but is produced by it, ought to be without controversy” (3.3.1).[13]  Although faith and repentance should be linked together as seen in various passages (Mark 1:14-15; Acts 19:4; 20:21) they are distinct.  You cannot have true repentance without true faith, but you can have true faith that leads to true repentance. To describe this, one cannot truly repent of their sin without first believing and trusting that God is both able to pardon and receive such a confession and turning away from sin.  However, when true faith exists (through regeneration) then the character of God’s holiness and holy law is revealed, and this leads to a clear recognition of our sin and of our insufficient ability to be reconciled to God by our own strength.

In seeking to describe the work of repentance it is important to note the inner personality aspects that are involved; namely, the intellect, the emotions, and the will which all constitute the processes of movement and action within the being of each person.  Louis Berkhof describes the intellectual, emotional, and volitional aspects of our being as various elements of repentance.  The intellectual element of repentance refers to a change of view of our personal guilt, defilement, and helplessness exemplified as the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20).[14]  The emotional element of repentance refers to a change of feeling manifesting as sorrow for sin (2 Corinthians 7:9-10).[15]  Lastly, the volitional element of repentance manifests as the actual change of purpose, or an inward turning away from sin and a disposition moving toward God for pardon and cleansing (Psalm 51:5-10).[16]  These various elements simply provide language to the inner workings of what takes place in the whole person as they turn away from sin, and turn to God.

The foundational doctrine of salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 1:3-14; 2:1-10) is central for understanding the role and work of repentance.  Additionally, when rightly understanding that saving faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8) because of spiritual regeneration (e.g. born-again, born from above) it naturally leads that “godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).  Therefore, we cannot receive saving faith apart from God supernaturally giving us a new heart and a new spirit (Jeremiah 32:37-41; Ezekiel 11:19-20; 36:26-32) in order for us to bring forth the fruit of obedience, or what John the Baptist calls “bearing fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:8).  In fact, in these sections from Jeremiah and Ezekiel—it is only when God gives a new heart and a new spirit that the people of God are able to walk in His laws and statutes (c.f. Deuteronomy 30:6).

The Christian reformed doctrine of total depravity suggests that all facets of the human personality (e.g. cognition, reasoning, language, behavior, emotions, volition or will, etc.) have been corrupted to such a degree that no human being is able by their own effort and volition to autonomously choose God in order to generate salvation for themselves.  Therefore, other religions which purpose that repentance is the only necessary means (Islam and Judaism in particular) of satisfying a Holy and Just God place the work of salvation or deliverance into the hands of the individual.  God does not receive the glory if we simply save ourselves, would we not rather rejoice over ourselves if that were the case?  “Judaism emphasizes the redeeming power of teshubah (repentance), which is nothing else than man’s self-redemption from the thraldom of sin.”[17]  This is not to say that Judaism does not recognize the sovereignty and grace of God, but with 2,000 years of not having a sacrificial system as part of the religious institution, repentance has morphed into a status that has removed the sacrificial atonement and blood-sacrifice that is needed for sin (cf. Hebrews 7:27; 9:12, 26-28; 10:1-4; 10, 12, 14).  However, total depravity does not mean that humanity is so depraved that they are unrestrained in their depravity, thus everyone is not a Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Mussolini or a Mao, but that the totality of one’s being has been affected, corrupted, and held captive to the power and effects of sin[18] (c.f. Genesis 4:7) brought about by Adam’s rebellion against God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3).

In linking the concepts of original sin and total depravity with the need to be reconciled to God through regeneration we are led to consider the nature of repentance and its place in the Christian life.  The biblical call to repentance is given afresh in each generation, because the command to repent is given to all people (Acts 17:30-31) at all times (Matthew 4:17).  The first preaching of Jesus was a call to repent (Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:14-15), and in each of these cases the call to repent that is given by Jesus Christ in the Greek text is found in the present tense, active voice, imperative mood, and in the plural which signifies that all people at all times are to actively repent continuously; namely, those who hear the call to repent are to mandatorily live a life of repentance which means to continuously turn from sin through the intellect, emotions, and volition and turn towards God.  This call to repentance is not portrayed in such a way that it might be a good idea to repent, or perhaps that it would help you in some form, but the call to repent that Jesus makes is a command declaration that all people at all times must repent.  Martin Luther who in 1517 posted his 95 Theses at Wittenberg begins in his first Thesis when he said, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent,” he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.”[19]  Martin Luther is absolutely correct in stating this, because of the present tense and active voice in the Greek text (Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:14-15), because the child of God that has been set-apart by God (John 1:12-13) does not practice sin as a lifestyle (1 John 3:4-9), but is commanded to pursue communion and abiding with God through denial of self and submission to God’s will (1 John 3:24; 4:4, 7, 12-16; 5:1-3, 20; John 15:1-17; Matthew 11:28-30; Luke 9:23-27; James 4:6-10) by living a life that continuously turns away from sin (1 Corinthians 10:13), and in turning away from sin turns to God as his refuge, rock, shield, and great deliverer (Psalm 18:1-2; 27:5; 91:1-16; Romans 6:13).  Therefore, it is crucial that every child of God immerse themselves in the Word of God, because it is Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) which provides us with the necessary knowledge for that which is well-pleasing to God as well as that which is abhorrent to the Most High.

When we think of repentance in this way it is not that repentance provides satisfaction for sin, but that repentance is the natural response of saving faith that is involved in a change of heart and mind towards one’s sin against the Holy and Just God of all creation.  In the work of salvation with the conversion of the rebellious sinner God receives all the glory.  Soli Deo Gloria!  God rescues us from the tyranny of Satan and translates us from death to life (John 5:24; 1 John 3:14), from the power of darkness to the kingdom of His Son through the washing of regeneration by His Holy Word and Holy Spirit.  The state of regeneration—of being born of God, produces saving faith in God which leads to godly sorrow that produces repentance leading to salvation.  True repentance is just as much a gift of grace from God as faith is (Acts 11:18; 2 Timothy 2:25b-26; Ephesians 2:1-10).  Nevertheless, you O man, and you O woman are called to “strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather healed.  Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord…Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.  But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is Faithful and Just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him (God) a liar, and His Word is not in us” (Hebrews 12:12-14; 13:15-16; 1 John 1:7b-10).

 

 

 

References:

____________________________________________

[1] Menachem Mendel Levin. Cheshbon Ha-Nefesh. Translated by Shraga Silverstein. New York: Feldheim Publishers, 1995, p.45.

[2] This was uttered by Oprah Winfrey at the 2017-2018 Golden Globe awards.

[3] Verbrugge, Verlyn ed. New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (NIDNTT): Abridged Edition. Michigan: Zondervan, 2000, p.367. Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics. Abridged in One Volume. Edited by John Bolt. Michigan: Baker Academic, 2011, p.538.

[4] Kohler, Kaufmann; & Schlesinger, Max. Repentance (Hebr. “Teshubah”). Retrieved from http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/12680-repentance on December 27, 2017.

[5] Sola Repentus is a fictitious creation that is not part of the five traditional Solas of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone), Sola Gratia (Grace Alone), Sola Fide (Faith Alone), Solus Christus (Christ Alone), Soli Deo Gloria (Glory of God Alone).

[6] Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms with Proof Texts. Georgia: Christian Education & Publications, 2007, p.65.

[7] Ames, William. The Marrow of Theology. Edited by John D. Eusden. Michigan: Baker Books, 1997, p.160.

[8] Bavinck. Reformed Dogmatics. Baker Academic, 2011, p.536.

[9] Genderen, J. van, & Velema, W. H. Concise Reformed Dogmatics. Translated by Gerrit Bilkes, & Ed M. van der Maas. New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2008, p.600.

[10] Ibid. p.600.

[11] Berkhof, Louis. Manual of Christian Doctrine. Michigan: Eerdmans, 1999, p.245.

[12] Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Translated by Henry Beveridge. Massachusetts: Hendrickson, 2007, p.386.

[13] Ibid. p.386.

[14] Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology. Pennsylvania: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2012, p.486.

[15] Ibid. p.486.

[16] Ibid. p.486.

[17] Kohler. & Schlesinger. Repentance (Hebr. “Teshubah”).

[18] Billings, J. Todd. Union with Christ: Reframing Theology and Ministry for the Church. Michigan: Baker Academic, 2011.

[19] Nichols, Stephen ed. Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses. New Jersey: P&R Publishing Company, 2002, p.23.

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Accounting of the Soul

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Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disqualified.”

2 Corinthians 13:5

 

But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.  The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.  My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.  Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.  Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you.  Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you.  Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established.  Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil.”

Proverbs 4:18-27

 

 

Chesbon Ha’Nefesh is the Hebrew phrase that literally means “accounting of the soul.”  “Chesbon” is a Jewish technical term that is used in the field of accounting, which implies a thorough and exacting examination of all accounts received and paid, and “Ha’Nefesh” refers to “the soul.”  These two words combined refer to the Biblical examination of oneself, namely the need to take a careful examination of our souls.  For the purposes of this work, I am mainly interested in conveying to you various ways to take an accounting of yourself in order to grow and develop your spiritual life with the Lord.  However, these principles can be extracted and used in other contexts of life; e.g. parenting, mentoring, counseling, business, leadership, and personal reflection.

The accounting of our souls represents a structured and comprehensive examination of our life.  With the key fueling questions of WHAT and WHY?  What is your worldview, why?  What do you believe life is about…why?  What else, why? What else, why?  What are your strengths, why?  This examination includes, but is not limited to: our (a) worldview, (b) beliefs, (c) identity, (d) values, (e) strengths, (f) weaknesses, (g) capacities, (h) environment, (i) purpose in life, (j) goals, (k) motivations, (l) family history, (m) personality traits, (n) roles, (o) careers, (p) physical health, (q) personal relationships, etc.

Your life is a systemic whole, which means that your feelings influence your thoughts, and your thoughts influence your feelings.  Your decisions influence both your thoughts and feelings, and vice-versa.  Similarly, people who study micro-expressions understand that certain eye movements and facial expressions correlate with certain affective and cognitive states.  Thus, our systemic nature of heart, mind, soul, and will become evident via our thoughts, words, and behaviors.  Within the context of our lives and discerning where we are going – it is the decisions, thought-patterns, and emotional feelings that we tend to regularly experience which will influence us in the future of how we live, move and have our being.  Therefore, habits can be changed, emotional and thought patterns can be changed, beliefs can be changed, identities can be changed, and unhealthy behaviors can be changed completely in union with the grace of God and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

To complete this examination properly we will have to become aware of the various distinctions taking place inside of our being.  Namely, you will become intimately aware of your fears, prejudices, assumptions, beliefs, emotional states, internal dialogue, and decision making processes.  What you must realize is that the core drivers of your behavior are your thoughts, beliefs, desires, emotions, environment, and will.  It is necessary to become aware of how these other levels of ourselves can be altered in order to influence new positive outcomes that are congruent and in harmony with God’s Word.  This can be one of the most difficult parts of our spiritual growth, because it causes us to look at the good, the bad, and the ugly.  David cries out, “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression” (Psalm 19:12-13).  Again, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 13:23-24).  What is crucial to understand is that we must come to understand and know within ourselves, and say with Jeremiah “O Yahweh, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. O Yahweh, correct me, but with justice; not in your anger, lest You bring me to nothing” (Jeremiah 10:23-24).  Taking an accounting of ourselves is never done completely within one examination, nor is it done correctly in our own strength.  It is obligatory that we openly confess any and all sin and forsake it (Proverbs 28:13), and genuinely seek and trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit to open up new areas that need cleansing, healing, and reconciliation so that all members of your being are set apart and sanctified for the work of the Lord (Romans 6:11-19; 2 Corinthians 7:1; 2 Timothy 2:20-21; Titus 2:11-15)

Sin has distorted our perceptions, our beliefs, our values, our identities, and our relationships.  Although this work will take time and conscious effort to know and excavate who you are, what you stand for, why you are here on earth, where you are going…….and why.  The reward and fruit of knowing who you truly are in Christ enables you to say with Paul that “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

So if you are committed to honor God with your life, and letting your profession and confession of Jesus Christ is Lord be the ruling standard of your life, then you are obligated to count the cost, deny yourself, and pick up your cross (Luke 9:23-26, 62) in order that you may honestly “seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness” (Matthew 6:33), and turn toward God and ask, seek, and knock for the desire to change, and the strength to endure because Christ Jesus is truly our life, our strength, our peace, our wisdom, our redemption, our sanctification, our joy (1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 2:14; Deuteronomy 10:21).  Since our thoughts and emotions are primary drivers for behavior it is crucial to redirect our hearts and minds to God again, again, and again in order to create new habits of the heart and mind so that we may seek God as our source for everything.  Below is the Biblical foundation for the need of going through “the way” towards an accounting of your soul, and of your life.  True humility is an accurate understanding of who you are in God’s plan, as well as your own weaknesses.  The verses that follow present a Biblical foundation for the need to take an “Accounting of the Soul.”

 

2 Corinthians 13:5Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disqualified.

1 Corinthians 3:10According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.

1 Corinthians 11:27-29Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.  But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

1 Thessalonians 4:4That each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor.[1]

Galatians 6:2-4Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

James 1:23-24For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.

Lamentations 3:39-41Why should a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?  Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to Yahweh; let us lift our hearts and hands To God in heaven.

1 Timothy 4:16Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

Proverbs 4:18-27But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.  The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.  My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.  Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.  Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you.  Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you.  Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established.  Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil.

Proverbs 5:21For the ways of man are before the eyes of Yahweh, and He ponders all his paths.

Proverbs 14:8, 15The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, but the folly of fools is deceit. The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps.

Proverbs 25:28Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.

Proverbs 20:5Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.

Proverbs 20:27The spirit of a man is the lamp of Yahweh, searching all the inner depths of his heart.

Psalms 26:2Examine me, O Yahweh, and prove me; try my mind and my heart.

Psalms 119:59I thought about my ways, and turned my feet to Your testimonies.

Psalms 139:23-24Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Deuteronomy 4:9Only take heed to yourself (lit. souls), and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren.

Luke 17:3-4Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, I repent, you shall forgive him.

Luke 21:34-36But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.  For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.  Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.

John 3:19-21And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.  But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.

Job 13:23How many are my iniquities and sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin.

Ezekiel 20:43And there you shall remember your ways and all your doings with which you were defiled; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight because of all the evils that you have committed.

Malachi 2:14-16Yet you say, for what reason? Because Yahweh has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion And your wife by covenant.  But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.  For Yahweh God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence, says Yahweh of Hosts. Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.

 

Let us consider these verses well, because the Word of God is not simply poetic speech to be admired, but it is a Living Word that is designed to be implanted within us in such a way so as to take root and grow, and to bear forth much good fruit (James 1:21; 1 Peter 1:22-25).  Therefore, let us take heed to ourselves…Do we truly call out and desire to be cleansed of every wicked way?  Do we sincerely desire to please God in all things?  Why or why not?  These questions and others will serve as guide-posts for our spiritual growth.  The accounting of our souls enables us to examine what we actually stand for.

 

Basic questions to initiate examination.

Who are you? – Identity

Where are you from? – Origins

What do you hold as important, or who do you hold as important? – Values

Why are you here on earth? – Purpose in life, passion

Where are you going? – Future, vision, hope, faith

What is life all about? – Worldview(s), beliefs

What can you contribute? – Capabilities, capacities, strengths, weaknesses

What has shaped who you are now? – Culture, environment, family history, genetics, past

What are your priorities in life? – Life organization

These questions and others are designed to be asked over and over, this isn’t about simplistic answers to check off the box.

 

We each go through life and inevitably absorb our cultural values and norms on an often unconscious implicit level.  The media (i.e. music, television, movies, Web, video games, social media, etc.), our peers, our family, and our schools are all involved in the formation of our psyche and because of this we accept certain beliefs, values, and worldviews at an unconscious implicit level.  What I mean by this is that most of our beliefs, values, and worldviews are outside of our conscious awareness.  Additionally, if you were to question yourself it would likely reveal only a superficial knowledge about yourself.  This manifests itself when we truly begin to question ourselves on “why” we believe what we believe, or “why” we value what we value.  How often do people go through life without coming to realize what is really important, what they stand for, and why they are here only to have a heart attack, stroke, or be diagnosed with cancer – which opens them up to question themselves and what is really important in life.

From examining my life and learning from the lives of others, I have come to discover that all life is about relationships, communication, and perception.   Relationships with God, family, friends, co-workers, children, colleagues, money, career, health, government, guns, various groups, food, ourselves and of course the list can go on.  Since communication (verbal, nonverbal, and internal dialogue) serves as the primary interface for connecting with our relationships; then it naturally follows that perception is the primary filter for (a) what we see and (b) how we see it, (c) how we generate meaning,  and (d) express ourselves [i.e. communication] in our relationships.  So yes, in a very abstract sense all life is about relationships, communication, and perception; however, in a practical and concrete sense life is about much more than this.  Having researched the fields of biblical studies, leadership, and psychology and meeting many people from all walks of life, it has become clear that leadership and life are inextricably wedded together.  The leadership I am referring to is “self-leadership;” therefore, we must effectively learn how to utilize our “will” that has been regenerated in order to “seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).  Thus, as we submit our will to the will of God as revealed in His Word (James 4:1-10), and His Inspiration given through the Holy Spirit we learn to participate in the handiwork of God in our lives (Ephesians 2:10).

Life, here on planet Earth, presents its inhabitants with myriads of problems and life experiences.  As a result of these experiences and problems, we create self-schemas which provide the scripts and rules we use that frame our perceptions to make sense of ourselves, our place in the world, along with the roles and functions we accept and internalize as part of our identity.  In many ways our self-schemas serve us well, and at times they don’t because limited notions of ourselves and others can often continue to perpetuate behaviors, stereotypes, and beliefs that do not awaken and honor the dignity of every man, woman, and child into their greater potential(s) of why we are here on this planet to begin with.

Now what does all of this have to do with life, relationships, communication, and perception?  In short, it has to do with our personal ability of leading ourselves under and in union with the Lordship of Christ Jesus, while being able to effectively engage with the world and the situations we find ourselves in, and in such a way so as to live, move, and have our being in the “new life of God” while also being a light, encouraging others, and building up the Body of Christ so that the Lamb of God may receive His due reward.

Therefore, we go about leading ourselves and submitting our will to the will of God in the context of actively and consciously seeking to submit all of our energies and being unto the Lord of Glory, Jesus Christ.  We cannot submit ourselves unto God unless we are actively seeking to consciously do so.   This is where we consciously lead ourselves in union with the grace of God, to “present ourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and our members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Romans 6:13b).  In short, this means living a life of holiness in thought, word, and deed and being obedient in the two great commandments, namely, to love Yahweh our God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and by loving our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:28-31).  Thus, as we lead ourselves in union with Christ by actively denying ourselves, picking up our cross, and seeking “to guard our heart with all diligence” (Proverbs 4:23) we “by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body” (Romans 8:13) “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).  Examining ourselves and leading ourselves is not something we do apart from the grace of God, but it is our reasonable service to present ourselves as a living sacrifice, and to not be conformed to this world system (cf. Romans 12:1b-2a).

 

 

 

 

[1] The term vessel has been a matter of debate among scholars, the two implications is that one should know how to posses or master oneself (cf. 2 Timothy 2:20-21), the other interpretation is taking one’s spouse as the vessel (cf. 1 Peter 3:7).

Raised with Christ-Messiah

 

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

~ Ephesians 2:4-7


What does it mean to be raised with Christ?  Is this something that only happens when we pass from this life to the next through what is commonly called physical death?  The answer is a simple—no.  A revelatory notion in Scripture is that we can indeed be dead [to the life of God], when in fact our physical bodies are still alive [in this world].  Whereby Jesus says, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead” (Matthew 8:22); or Paul when he says, “But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives” (1 Timothy 5:6).

So although we can be dead [to God] and yet alive [according to the flesh]; yet, we can also be dead according to the flesh [i.e. old man—Romans 6:6-9] and also alive with God.  For we are to be “united together in the likeness of His [Jesus] death” (Romans 6:5), because “If you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13).  However, although we are still in the physical body, we are not in the fleshly consciousness of setting our minds on earthly things (Romans 8:5-6; 2 Corinthians 10:2-3).  This is what it means to actually experience what Christ Jesus says when “we are not of the world” (John 17:14, 16), but “we are in the world” (John 17:11).  To not simply believe that we are strangers upon this earth, but to actually know our identity in Christ so strongly that our faith is fixed upon the Rock that is unshakable (Psalm 61:1-4).

When we think about being raised with Christ it should be made clear that we can be raised with Christ now while we live in the flesh, although we do not war according to the flesh (2 Corinthians 10:3).  What does this mean?  It means very literally that there is an aspect of you sitting in the heavenly places in Christ—now (Ephesians 2:6; Philippians 3:20-21; Colossians 3:1-4).  Thus, this spiritual reality is what Paul groaned for and earnestly desired in order to be clothed with (2 Corinthians 5:2-4).  Therefore, we too should deeply desire to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, now in this moment.  This refers to our ability through the grace of God by having our “senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14), and by “yielding the peaceable fruit of righteousness by being trained” from the Holy Spirit via our life experiences to “be transformed by renewing our minds” (Hebrews 12:11; Romans 12:2).

To be raised with Christ refers to the work of God moving through our lives, which manifests in such a way so as to literally “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).  But “how” do we seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness?  We do this by actively and consciously pursuing God, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:6).  How do we acknowledge God in all of our ways?  We do it by “guarding our hearts with all diligence” (Proverbs 4:23).  How do we guard our hearts with all diligence?  By seeking to acknowledge and prioritize our lives by seeking Yahweh with our thoughts, emotions, will, words, actions, that is, with our entire being at all times by mustering as much strength and intensity (Isaiah 64:7) as we can to love Yahweh our God and to seek His counsel and strength.  Let us not simply come to the cross of Christ, let us also get on the cross and be crucified, namely, we must die to ourselves (2 Corinthians 5:14-15; Galatians 5:24).  Additionally, we do this by walking in the Spirit (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:16, 22-25) seeking to embody spiritual fruit in order to love God and humanity in truth (Mark 12:29-31; John 13:34-35; Galatians 5:6, 13-14), and to worship God in the beauty of holiness by means of spirit and in truth (Psalms 29:2; John 4:23-24).  However, to be raised with Christ, it is the Father who draws us that we may die with Christ (John 6:44; Romans 6:1-4; Colossians 2:20; 3:1), because it is the Father who has delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14).  Once we have truly been “born from above” or regenerated by the Spirit of God we are now truly free to serve God in the newness of life by seeking our true Life from above which is hidden with Christ in God.

But how do we live this life where God comes first in ordering our thoughts, emotions, words, and actions?  From my experiences in life it comes from two specific changes in one’s being.  First, it comes from literally being “born from above” (i.e. born again) – which is revealed by knowing, growing into, and daily experiencing who you truly are in Christ, which is the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:9; Titus 3:4-7).  In a word it is by having a new life and a new identity.  Second, it comes from a renewed will (Psalms 16:8; Romans 12:1-2) that longs to please Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous Light (1 Peter 2:9).  This “renewed will” is not divorced from this new identity, but it naturally seeks through careful study to imitate our Heavenly Father’s characteristics and holy attributes embodied in Christ Jesus—no matter the cost or sacrifice.

 

 

Peace be with each of you.

 

 

Credo

 

In the Wisdom of the Scriptures it is seen that “The way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).  Here in the West we pride ourselves on the false notion of autonomy (which literally means self-law), and yet autonomy without being our brothers and sisters keeper is why we see such disregard for human life in the economic, religious, scientific and political arenas. When we see significant inequality of wealth, murder, rape, dehumanization philosophies of evolution, abortion, and political figures who are wicked shepherds serving themselves we must ask ourselves…is this path we are on – sustainable?  The “good way” and the “ancient paths” call out for us to distinguish between Right & Wrong – and to pursue justice, righteousness, truth, compassion, humility and selflessness; because inherent in these qualities represent the seeds that if sown upon the good ground will yield sustainable relationships, families, communities, businesses, and societies.

Unfortunately, many in the Christian faith have erred in believing that the passage in John 3:3 is about being “born-again” or “born-from-above” in order to get into Heaven.  The context of the verse according the Greek language reveals another story.  It speaks about receiving spiritual life from above (i.e. born-again) in order to CONSCIOUSLY experience and participate in the Kingdom of God NOW!  “Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3).  The Greek gives a Subjunctive Mood, which means that this is a conditional statement that is pertinent upon the condition of those who have not been born-again; additionally, and because they are not born-again the Present Tense is used which means that they cannot at this moment in time see and participate in the Kingdom of God.  Therefore, to state this verse in positive terms “Amen, Amen, I say to you, when one is born-again, he sees the Kingdom of God.”  I have met hundreds of people who have given witness and testimony to the reality of receiving new life from God, a new identity, purpose, meaning and power.

In fact, to experience and walk in the “newness of life” (Romans 6:4; 7:6) is such a joy and rapture in the freedom of the spirit that no amount of money, fame, sex, drugs, food, or sleep could ever compare or be traded for this new life.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ;s behalf, be reconciled to God.  For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

Therefore, the sustainable solution to positively transforming the world is found in receiving new life from God, and new life from God is found in Christ – the Word of God made flesh – Who will take up residence and make a home within you (John 14:16-24) and within the one who comes to Him will by no means be cast out (John 6:37).  Understand this, that life is a precious gift that is to be cherished, honored, and ultimately redeemed.  New life from God does not destroy your personal identity and personality and purpose — it completes and fulfills it!

 


 

Here is “Creed” by Steve Turner:

*****

Creed

“We believe in Marxfreudanddarwin
We believe everything is OK
as long as you don’t hurt anyone,
to the best of your definition of hurt,
and to the best of your knowledge.

We believe in sex before, during, and after marriage.
We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe that adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy is OK.
We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything is getting better
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated
And you can prove anything with evidence.

We believe there’s something in
horoscopes, UFO’s and bent spoons;
Jesus was a good man
just like Buddha, Mohammed, and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher
although we think His good morals were bad.

We believe that all religions are basically the same–
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of
creation, sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.

We believe that after death comes the Nothing
Because when you ask the dead what happens they say nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied,
then it’s compulsory heaven for all
excepting perhaps Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Khan.

We believe in Masters and Johnson.
What’s selected is average.
What’s average is normal.
What’s normal is good.

We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between warfare and bloodshed.
Americans should beat their guns into tractors
and the Russians would be sure to follow.

We believe that man is essentially good.
It’s only his behavior that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth that is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust.
History will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth
excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.

We believe in the rejection of creeds,
and the flowering of individual thought.

“Chance” a post-script

If chance be the Father of all flesh,
disaster is his rainbow in the sky,
and when you hear

State of Emergency!
Sniper Kills Ten!
Troops on Rampage!
Whites go Looting!
Bomb Blasts School!

It is but the sound of man worshiping his maker.”  (i.e. himself).

____________________________________________________________

 

Consider these words well from the “Creed” by Steve Turner, and mark well the perfume of hypocrisy and the lack of coherent logic.

 

 

Peace be with each of you.

 

Quote

If you carefully read the Holy Scriptures you will see that the Image and Likeness of God must be restored within us—and it is restored with eyes that can see, ears that can hear, a mouth to speak as a trumpet, a new heart that can understand, a renewed mind to know the will of God, and a new spirit which was created according to God – in order to serve the Lord of Heaven and Earth, and His creation with all of one’s very being.

~ Ra Lovingsworth

A Theory About Life & Leadership – Part 4

Well this is going to wrap up some of the ideas and concepts I have been germinating over the years.  This post will refine some concepts and clarify potential confusions, as well as update the Emergent Leadership concept to my initial title of “Risk to Lead Theory” (RLT).  Although the name Emergent Leadership does correlate with the concepts I have been seeking to convey, the notion of taking a “risk” in order to “lead” better signifies this theory structure.  Risking in order to lead presupposes that we take a risk in being “real” and “genuine” in a world where honesty, compassion, and honor are not highly prized values.   The leadership I am referring to is first and foremost “leading yourself” to walk, talk, and breathe the values you espouse – and extending this out into all relationships and encounters you may have with others along the path of life.

I also changed the name of “Inspiring Communication” (IC) to “Reviving Communication” (RC) in order to avoid the inherent confusion of “Integrating Character” (IC), hence the double IC-IC.  Additionally, I also changed a sub-factor within Integrating Character, namely, “diligence” was replaced with “commitment.”  I changed this because I consider “commitment” to be more foundational, while also encapsulating the essence of diligence within itself.  For example, to be committed to someone or to something means that (a) you will naturally take the time and care to properly understand it or them, (b) you will organize your life in such a way to tend and cultivate what you are committed to, and (c) you will follow through on your commitment despite various costs and difficulties.  Therefore, commitment entails understanding, attentive care, and sacrifice.

This question is for any leader in any field, and can be translated into any situation…

How can you train someone for a leadership role in the absence of commitment?

Just think, how can you maintain a marriage in the absence of commitment?  How can a teacher effective teach their students, if their students lack sufficient commitment to mastering the material?  The reality of this principle is so pervasive if we think to consider its applications.  How can you educate a community to better themselves if they are not interested in help?  How can you effectively help get someone off drugs or alcohol if they are not committed to the change?  How can you effectively teach and train disciples in the absence of their commitment?  Commitment is central to our lives on many levels.

 

Now I am going to give a brief recapitulation of this theory in its practical context of life.

Integrating Character (IC) is the core foundation for which we build our lives.  Honesty is the most fundamental aspect of humility.  There is a saying in 1 Peter 5:5 that says, “Be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  The potent power of being honest with ourselves gives us the ability to examine who we are, why we are here, where we are going, what life is all about, what we stand for, what we don’t stand for, what our goals in life are, what our dreams, desires, failures, motivations—thus the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Unfortunately, the American culture does not support such a radical honesty, because if we were to step outside of ourselves and take an accounting of our souls we would be surprised.  Now I recognize there are different depths of this accounting, because for those of you interested in spiritual and moral transformation we must go deep down the rabbit hole (pun intended).  This would include taking ownership and eventually mastery of our emotions, our thoughts, our words, and the energies that are processed through our body-temple.  This is no small journey, but this journey of self-leadership begins with radical honesty with ourselves and seeking to see others and this reality for what it is.

Once we begin the process of investigating our intentions, motives, and why we speak and do the things we do – we need to add the element of commitment.  We must commit to this path, because without doing so we will simply give off the perfume of hypocrisy.  You have inherent value, and this gift of life that you have been given is most precious and deserves your deepest commitment and passion.  In our discovery of “coming to ourselves” (cf. Luke 15:17) we should exercise vulnerability because we honestly recognize our weaknesses.  Every human being on this planet has issues, no one is exempt from this reality.  In fact when you begin to look deep into the eyes of humanity, the inherent suffering that each of us have is clearly witnessed.  Therefore, vulnerability and compassion enables us to extend this open hand to others, in the silent honor that all the pretenses we hold up—just need to be dropped.  Let go of the facade, let go of the pretenses, the false projections—it is unbecoming.

So with our honesty and our commitment to refining our character by integrating ourselves so that we are whole beings living consistently in all situations, relationships, and communications.  The vulnerability to properly engage others respectfully will open our eyes and give us the resilience needed to successfully adapt ourselves by constantly learning, growing, and giving.  The aspect of resilience naturally leads into Adapting Competence (AC), because we must continuously seek to learn from the experiences we have in life.  You take yourself where-ever you go!  If you find yourself repeating unfavorable patterns in your relationships it would be wise to take heed, and examine yourself.

Adapting Competence contains the elements of Emotional Intelligence (EI), knowledge management, continuous learning or Kaizen, and various cognitive thinking styles.  These aspects relate to the cognitive and emotional building blocks that are necessary to (a) properly evaluate information [i.e. knowledge management and cognitive thinking styles], (b) understand and regulate our own internal states [i.e. EI], (c) properly understand boundaries and levels of relationship engagement [i.e. EI], and (d) to continuously grow [i.e. Kaizen].  Adapting Competence encompasses much more than these aspects because to flesh out Emotional Intelligence in its various categories and sub-categories is enough to keep us busy for some time, because it paints a usable model for examining ourselves and our relationships – so to not reinvent the wheel a link has been embedded to give you a good overview of the model.  Another reason why we need various cognitive styles is because language can be used to edify, tear down, or deceive—thus its necessary to learn reasoning skills, cognitive fallacies, and communication skills.

Reviving Communication (RC) simply means to bring life into your communication and into the relationships you find yourself in.  What are you passionate about?  Why?  Why?  Why?  We should be able to answer each of these “Why’s” because we should know what we stand for – inside and out.  We communicate this via our vision of the big picture, the overall strategic intent, and how this relates systemically to the rest of life – and we do this by being able to communicate on various levels from the global and abstract to the concrete and specific.

 

Risk to Lead Theory (RLT) is about you becoming self-defined by leading yourself and extending this humility and confidence in such a way so as to embody respect, honor, and dignity for each human being and their uniqueness.  You take the risk first, in order to lead the situation in such a way to create the space for psychological safety to take root for others to open up so they can express themselves more completely.  We all know the feeling of “walking on eggshells” but when you take the risk to lead—you create the tone, tempo, and space for greater possibilities to emerge.

 

 

Peace be with each of you – as you learn to harmonize the energies of your life…..

 

 

Risk to Lead Theory

A Theory About Leadership & Life – Part 3

In reflecting on this model of leadership and life it is crucial to keep in mind that life is not simply about skills of influence in order to generate the results you want in life—it is fundamentally about developing your character and the character of others. Therefore, in the visual model the core structure from which all other “building” takes place is by working on your character, namely, the aspect of yourself that serves as the filter of perception whereby you classify meaning, motivations, and intentions.

If you were to know all the models of influence and have some degree of mastery over them there are still two major caveats of consideration. (1) The tools of influencing others are readily available, but without the proper intentions, and motives, and mission in life these “tools” will serve as manipulation tactics and strategies for unsustainable ends. This has several layers of un-sustainability, namely, (a) people usually know when they are not appreciated or valued, and (b) in treating people simply as a means to get what you want cannot and will not be a perpetual strategy for goal acquisition. Additionally, (2) without proper development of one’s personal character in utilizing these tools then when it comes to the long range of what life is about, and what every human being is responsible for and who we are responsible to – we should recognize that in the end…..death is inevitable. Thus, the life that each of us have in these bodies will come to an end, and it will not matter what we have acquired in life, but what will matter is the “seeds” we have sown into the hearts and minds of others as well as into ourselves. Some of you may think, my goodness Ra why this gloomy death talk…Well the emerging field of positive psychology has shown through research that contemplating our inevitable deaths will actually increase our gratitude and appreciation for the life we have now, and can free up the cognitive and affective resources needed to truly reflect on what is most important to us, and what we are seeking to create (Frias, Watkins, Webber, & Froh, 2011). I wanted to frame this final part of Inspiring Communication (IC) by embedding within it the core aspects of our personality and character development that is much more significant in terms of being able to generate sustainable results—both personally and socially.

The primary characteristics of Inspiring Communication (IC) with (a) vision, (b) strategy, (c) systemic, and (d) the ability to communicate on various levels – all have a wealth of literature already written about each them. My goal is not to provide a comprehensive definition and knowledge base for each, but my goal is to provide a working knowledge that can be used in a practical manner for everyday life.

In short, vision is the ability to generate the end result goal. Strategy is the ability to discover the bigger questions that must be asked in order to “define” the vision. Systemic refers specifically to the various levels and inter-relationships of life such as the various levels and inter-relationships of: ourselves, family, business, culture, society, global, etc. The ability to communicate on various levels comes by becoming self-defined (i.e. by consciously knowing who you are, what you stand for, where you come from, and where you are going) and embodying the systemic nature of life. For example – when we think about our own lives we can see that we have several roles that we manage (i.e. spouse, parent, career, etc.) and that embedded within each role we have our own expectations, desires, outcomes, feelings, beliefs, etc., that we bring—–and remember within your mental space that so does every single person you meet [with varying degrees and commitments of course—see Integration: August 2012].

Vision requires that you develop your imagination, your ability to think symbolically, your ability to make connections between seemingly unrelated concepts [see Adapting Competence]. Vision is the development to know where you want to go and where you are going, and this concept of vision has been extracted primarily from business phraseology and translated into developing a personal vision, a family vision, to a study-group vision, to a church or non-profit vision, etc. Although the concept of “visions” has been around for millennia in seeking to discover or knowing a path that a person or people group should take. However, vision and strategy are closely linked together because developing a strategy requires you or a business to ask the big questions. These questions are “big” because they do not focus on the fine details or tactics of direct implementation but refer to the overall course and direction in life or in business. From a business perspective this means defining what business you are really in, what you can be the best at, how you can meet the needs and desires of your potential customer base, and how you are different than any competitors. In your personal life, strategy refers to you asking yourself key questions about yourself.

As noted in previous postings such as “Blinded by Vagueness,” “Potential Tyranny of Generalities” and “Shared Meaning” is that when we don’t invest the time to really question our business or our life of what we stand for, why we stand for it, etc., then we tend to go through life responding to events on an auto-pilot, or what social psychologists refer to automaticity (Bargh, 1982; Bargh & Chartrand, 1999; Moors & De Houwer, 2006). The commitment, resilience, and discipline required to master oneself are well-worth the struggle, rather than going through life mindlessly.

Please keep in mind that each layer of Emergent Leadership builds on each other; therefore, the internal locus of control and resolve mentioned in Integrating Character (IC), and the skill building of Adapting Competence (AC) are integral components of Inspiring Communication (IC). To know where you want to go in your life and/or business is necessary, because once you have committed to a direction and potential possibility you can begin the process of strategy-mapping which will help you to define how the vision will be realized. The systemic element of Inspiring Communication (IC) is to flesh out the finer details of your vision and strategy for mapping the vision. Understanding the systemic nature of relationships is so crucial, because as family system therapy recognizes that the standard reason why a child acts out is because the parent either models the behavior for the child, or the child does not receive what they need from the parent (i.e. problem solving skills, attention, etc.) and then they find coping mechanisms in order to solve their problems which often turn out to be negative. Those who have dogs that are out of control simply need to learn a few skills in order to restore the proper boundaries and roles in these relationships.

The ability to communicate on multiple levels is obviously necessary for any parent, leader, or politician. Think about it…When you want to gain agreement you focus on the big picture and use ambiguous words such as: hope, change, positive results, taking responsibility, etc. These particular words all of us can agree are both good and edifying. However, when you begin to closely examine what these words actually mean in context of how they are directly applied we can often see that the finer details of what people mean when they say “change” or “positive results” may have different meanings than you initially believed them to be. To communicate on multiple levels requires you to understand where people are at, namely what are their roles and responsibilities. As a leader, you don’t want to discuss your personal problems with your spouse to other employees. What this refers to is having discernment in maintaining proper boundaries between roles, and not directly to communicating on multiple levels.

Communicating on multiple levels means that you are able to address the various dimensions of a person. You can speak to the heart, and/or the head, or to possibilities, or to loses, or to pressing needs, changes, purposes and missions, what is not-permitted, etc. Therefore, to communicate effectively is to recognize potential objections and acknowledge them up-front, and it also requires you to understand the needs of others. Keep in mind that we each have the same needs, but we just seek them out in different ways. For example, we all need certainty and to feel appreciated, but we each have different degrees of these needs, and we often seek or receive them in differing ways. However, since people are usually untrained experts at reading others, and generally know when they are not being valued or understood—it is necessary to develop one’s character to step beyond the boundary of oneself and have true respect and dignity for all people. When you genuinely honor another person – they usually sense it.

Understand where you want to go and why, define the strategies (big picture) and tactics (details) for getting there while keeping in mind the systemic-relationships that influence you, your business, your family, your community etc., and then communicate in such a way to others that clearly defines that you care about each of them individually and what is required of you and them to actualize the vision.

 

In the coming post(s) – I will refine this model more by changing its name, refining a few concepts, and bringing greater clarity as to how this model integrates into everyday life for each of us.

Peace be with you.

 

 

References

Bargh, J. A. (1982). Attention and automaticity in the processing of self-relevant information. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43(3), 425–436.

Bargh, J., & Chartrand, T. (1999). The unbearable automaticity of being. American Psychologist, 54(7), 462-479.

Frias, A., Watkins, P., Webber, A., & Froh, J. (2011). Death and gratitude: Death reflection enhances gratitude. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 6(2), 154-162.

Moors, A., & De Houwer, J. (2006). Automaticity: A theoretical and conceptual analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 132(2), 297-326.

 

Emergent Leadership