When it snows…

Snow

I am really ready for winter to be over. I’m ready for spring and warm weather and no more snow! So, you can imagine my reaction a couple days ago when I discovered that the forecast included a decent amount of snow. Right now, I can look out the window and see a good 8-9 inches already on the ground and the snow is still falling.

You could expect my attitude to be a little negative. But actually, I surprised myself this morning when I looked out the window and didn’t find myself frustrated with the snow and disappointed because of the cold weather. Instead, I saw beauty in the snow on the ground and covering the trees. And I was kind of glad it had snowed after all.

To be perfectly honest, this sort of surprised me. I started thinking about why my attitude toward the weather had changed. I realized the reason was because my perspective had shifted.

I know it’s easy for me to desire a certain set of circumstances for my life. It could be the weather, or my plan for the week, or something regarding the people I’m with. And when life doesn’t match those circumstances, I immediately assume that’s a bad thing. In this case, I had wanted the weather to be one way, and it went the opposite. But that didn’t have to define my attitude. I may not have control over my circumstances, but I do have control over what I do with my circumstances and how I view them. In this case, I was able to appreciate my circumstances and enjoy the weather even though it wasn’t what I might have wanted or thought was “best.”

How I look at life will, in many ways, actually define my life. If I choose to be negative when things don’t go my way, then my life will be pretty negative overall. If, on the other hand, I choose to shift my perspective as my circumstances change, I can learn to work with my circumstances and appreciate them for what they are and not get frustrated because of what they are not. Instead of comparing the weather to what to I want it to be, I can instead view it for what it is – a beautiful testimony of God’s creativity.

And next time it might not be something as small as the weather. What will I do when life hands me something unexpected or unwanted? My perspective and my attitude are completely up to me.

It sure is neat how something as small as snow can teach me something that big.

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Influencers: Leaders vs. Rulers

Influence. If you think about it, everyone has influence in some sphere of life. It’s just a fact. But that fact should make you stop and think. What am I doing with that influence? How am I using and managing that influence? How am I acquiring that influence?

There are two ways to use your influence. You can be a leader, or you can be a ruler. The difference between leaders and rulers is huge and extremely fundamental. At an Institute for Cultural Communicators training event this past spring, president and co-founder of ICC, Teresa Moon, spoke on the differences between leaders and rulers. Let’s take a look at a few of the differences that she pointed out:

  1. Leaders have followers; rulers have subjects. This is big! The primary difference between leaders and followers is the people they are influencing. Leaders have followers, people who want to follow and be influenced. Rulers, on the other hand, have subjects, people who have no choice but to follow and do what they’re told.
  2. Leaders are given their influence; rulers create their influence. Leaders are given their position by their followers. The followers want the leader to lead because of something in them – their character. Rulers force their position on their subjects. Followers choose; subjects are chosen.
  3. Leaders care about their followers; rulers use their subjects. Leaders are who they are not because they want influence but because they care about people and want to help them. That’s why followers choose them as leaders to start with. To contrast, rulers are only interested in influence and view their subjects only as means to an end. Rulers don’t care about their subjects as people, but merely as “things” to exert influence on.

Ultimately, leaders reflect the heart of God and His love, whereas rulers use force, which isn’t in accordance with what God calls us to.

From this comparison, it’s pretty clear which we should desire to be! Like I said at the beginning, we all have influence in some way. We must, therefore, choose whether we’ll be leaders or rulers. It’s easy to want to be a leader, but harder to actually practice it. I can definitely attest to this. Normally I’m fine with being a leader until things don’t go exactly how I want them to. Then I start to turn to the practices of a ruler so I can get things done the way I want them. It’s not always easy to be a leader! But it’s the right thing.

I encourage you to analyze your actions in light of leaders versus rulers. Strive to be a leader, no matter how hard it might be. When you find yourself tending toward the habits of a ruler instead of a leader, identify the circumstances encouraging this behavior so that you can best adjust your perspective, attitude, and actions.

If we all have influence in some way, then we must choose to be either a leader or a ruler. Choose to be a leader. Yes, let’s be leaders.

Who’s In Control?

“‘Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? … Therefore do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” … But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.[‘]” – Matthew 6:25-27, 31, 33 (NKJV)

I love this passage of Scripture! Here, Jesus states quite clearly that we are not to worry. But although we all know we’re not supposed to worry, actually not worrying is a whole other story. I want to share with you a few thoughts on worry from the perspective of God’s sovereignty, in the hopes that it will encourage you to truly not worry and trust in God.

Why do we worry? I recently realized something very interesting. Normally, when we worry, we’re worrying about something that we don’t have any control over. If we can control it, then we don’t typically worry about it. For example, I may be stuck it traffic, worrying that I won’t get home in time for something. I can’t control anything about the situation. But if I had left late, not giving me enough time, I wouldn’t be worrying. I’d probably be irritated at myself, but not worried. If we have an alternative course of action, we normally do that instead of worry. So when we have no control, we start worrying.

But what does worry communicate? If we want to be purposeful in our communication, we ought to identify what we’re communicating when we’re worrying.

To be blunt, worry communicates a lack of faith in God. You see, since we worry about things that we can’t control, in essence we’re saying that we think we should have control in that situation. But clearly we don’t. That means it’s in God’s domain. So if we’re worrying, then we’re saying that we don’t trust God enough for Him to take care of the situation and we think we should have control instead of God.

But here’s the good news. God is in control, regardless of whether or not we see it or understand what He’s doing! Remember, God sees the big picture; we don’t. We’re humans; God is perfect. God is sovereign! He holds the world in the palm of His hand. This is where faith enters. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” We can’t see the big picture, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It just means we have to have faith. We must trust in God and His sovereignty.

So when you’re tempted to start worrying, remember this: you’re worrying because you’re not in control, which just means God is in control. That’s actually a really good situation to be in!