The Skill of Awareness

The Skill of Awareness

Awareness is an essential skill required for healthy relationships.  Awareness is required in three dimensions: Self-awareness, Others-awareness, and God-awareness.

Self-awareness requires us to be aware of our personality traits, temperament, tendencies and talents.  It is also important to be aware of those areas where we need to improve and grow as people, because our weaknesses as well as our strengths can impact our relationships.  There are lots of helpful tools to help us grow in self-awareness (personality tests, evaluations from co-workers or supervisors, professional counseling, etc).  But one of the best ways to grow in self-awareness is to sit down with someone you love and trust and invite feedback.  Ask those closest to you: “What is it like to be on the other side of me? How do I typically come across?  What are my relational strengths, and where do I need to do some work?”  The purpose of these questions is not to beat ourselves up, but to make ourselves more aware, so that we can get better as people.  The better we become, the better our relationships can become.

     Others-awareness requires us to be aware of the personality traits, character qualities, temperament and tendencies of other people in our relational world.  This helps us to better understand why others say what they say and do what they do.  Learning the stories and background of other people can help us better understand who they are and how they relate to others.  This can help us build stronger and more healthy relationships with the important people in our lives.

     Finally, there is God-awareness.  Ultimately, the goal of our lives is to be so aware of God’s loving presence in our own lives that we are able to love others with the love that God provides.  In the Old Testament, God promises “I will be with you.”  But in the New Testament, God promises “I will be in you.”   It is the loving presence of God working within us that enables us to love others.  But we must be aware of that love and allow it to flow through us.  One of the important purposes of the Church is to help people become more aware of God’s love in their lives, and commit themselves to love others with the love of the Lord.

If we want healthy, happy, God-honoring relationships, we need awareness in all three dimensions (self, others, and God). When we become more aware, we become better at loving others, and that’s the whole goal of life!  Listen to the sermon “Reality Skill: Awareness”

Pastor Mark Miller

 

Love Is A Skill

Love Is A Skill

 

Love is a skill we develop, not a feeling we feel.  It is true that there are many wonderful feelings that can inspire love and accompany love; feelings of affection, admiration, connection, euphoria, joy and gratitude.  These are wonderful feelings.  But the feelings themselves aren’t love, because love is not a feeling.  When you read the Apostle Paul’s famous definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13, you quickly realize that he describes love in terms of behaviors and attitudes, not feelings.

The Biblical idea of love is that we behave in a loving way toward the people in our lives.  We choose to be kind, patient, encouraging, honest, forgiving and gracious.   These behaviors are not feelings, but they often do produce feelings and reinforce feelings.  The goal of true love is to treat people in a loving way even when we do not particularly feel like doing so.  This is a level of emotional maturity we should all seek to attain.

Ultimately, life is about loving relationships.  Love is “the main thing” in life.  But love is a skill we must learn to develop and practice.  Let’s devote ourselves to developing the skills that love requires.  Then the feelings will come along for the ride.

Pastor Mark Miller

 

The Value of Work

The Value of Work

This past weekend was Labor Day weekend.  A holiday we often associate with the end of summer vacation and the beginning of another school year.  But originally, this holiday was a time to celebrate the value and goodness of work, or labor.  After being declared an official holiday in 1894, Labor Day was typically a day set aside to reflect upon the positive ways that work enhances our lives, families and communities.  Parades, speeches, and other observances were designed to remind us all that when we engage in meaningful work, when we labor with diligence, when we serve with excellence, everyone benefits.

    The wisdom of the Bible reinforces this idea.  Christians are encouraged to do their work as unto the Lord.  To do all things “in word or deed” in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:17).  The Christian view of work is not that it is a curse, but that it is an opportunity to demonstrate love for God and love for others.  Through work, we help to solve problems, meet needs, and serve others.  Through work, we alleviate suffering and create new opportunities for human flourishing.   Through work, we demonstrate how we are created in the image of God who is always working (John 5:17) to advance His Kingdom purposes.

     Christians should be known for working diligently and demonstrating excellence.  The Christian who shows up to work with a good attitude, encourages co-workers, takes personal responsibility, meets deadlines and provides a full day’s work without complaint is declaring the glory of God without ever preaching a sermon or quoting a Bible verse. 

      For those who are students in school, getting a good education is their job. The Bible encourages us to “study, to show ourselves approved” (2 Timothy 2:15).  To pay attention in class, to do the homework with diligence, to take on assignments with a commitment to excellence becomes a means of shaping our character and preparing us for a future career.

      Those who do not have a paying job still have work to do.  Whatever responsibilities or challenges we face in life become part of our “work.”  To develop ourselves, to build our character, to volunteer our time and invest our energy in worthwhile pursuits; these are all part of the work we are called to do.

     May we be willing to do hard work, and work diligently with a good attitude.  Because when we embrace our responsibilities with a commitment to excellence, God is glorified, others are blessed, and we become instruments of grace and goodness to all those around us.  Do the work, and enjoy the blessings that result.  Listen to the sermon, “A Labor of Love”.

Pastor Mark Miller