What Can We Do When We Discern Weakness?

This is an excerpt from my new book 'Leading Like Jesus'... To download from Amazon click here "What can we do when we discern weakness or things that need attention in the lives of others, including our spouses, close friends, co-workers, or spiritual leaders?

  1. See the good.  Look for their potential and their calling from God.  Ony when we appreciate their strengths can we properly evaluate their weaknesses.
  2. Pray for them.  Pray for God's love to fill your heart for them.
  3. Make sure there is no unhealthy dependence on that person in you.
  4. Forgive them if they have offended you.
  5. If you are unsure about something that seems wrong or troubles you, don't ignore it.  Ask kind, but probing questions.
  6. Don't hesitate to ask help from godly counselors.  They are there to help guide your responses
  7. If you feel uncomfortable or uneasy about someone, pay attention to those feelings until you understand why they are there.  This could be God's way of catching your attention.  By paying heed to inner promptings, we grow in discernment and confidence in hearing the voice of God.
  8. There are many wonderful ministries and movements in the Body of Christ, but not all share the same vision and values.  Discernment allows you to distinguish the difference between those you are called to appreciate, and those you are called to closely associate with.
  9. Don't gossip to others about your discernment of sin or character weakness in a person's life.  If it is causing disunity, division, deception, or damage to others around them, first pray for God's love for the person, pray for their heart to be prepared, then go directly to the person and speak lovingly, but truthfully, about what you discern.  Follow the steps of Matthew 18:15 - 20, "Go alone to the person, if they don't repent go with someone, and if there is no change, then go to their church leaders about the situation." "

The Power of "No"

The excerpts below are from a great article from Psychology Today, titled The Power of No.  I highly commend this article, found on the Psychology Today site: http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201310/the-power-no

Here are a few carefully chosen excerpts:

“As a general guideline, five situations benefit from increasing strength to say No.

When it keeps you true to your principles and values. It's a beautiful thing - emotionally, spiritually, and even professionally - to be generous, to be supportive. But, as sociologists Roger Mayer, James Davis, and F. David Schoorman point out in their classic studies of organizations; integrity is as essential as benevolence in establishing interpersonal trust. It is a requirement for effectiveness...

When it protects you from cheerful exploitation by others.  It's remarkable how much some people will ask of you, even demand from you, things for which you yourself wouldn't dream of asking. Protect yourself best from the many who feel entitled to ask by being strong enough to say a firm, clear, calm No....

When it keeps you focused on your own goals.  When her boss criticized her for the second time as a "Chatty Cathy" whose work was late because she wasted too much time talking, Amy felt hurt and unfairly evaluated. Was it her fault that people loved to stop by her cubicle? How was she supposed to turn away Marsha, whose aging mother presented so many problems, or Jim, who wanted her thoughts on the best way to proceed with their clients? Her colleagues needed her support; cutting them short would hurt their feelings and her relationships...

When it protects you from abuse by others.  Sadly, our most important relationships often invite our ugliest communications. In part that's because the people closest to us arouse our strongest emotions, and in part it's because they are the people we fear losing the most. Fear can sap the strength we need to say No, just when we need that power most...

When you need the strength to change course.  The invitations are in the mail, but the impending marriage is a mistake. The job looks good to the rest of the world, but it's making you sick in the morning. Your family has sacrificed to pay the tuition, but law school feels like a poor fit. When you find yourself going down the wrong road, No is the power necessary to turn yourself around....

The problem is getting ourselves to do it. Accessing your own power requires overcoming one huge obstacle: the cost of dishing out No.

Dishing It Out

Simply, No is not a warm send. It's tough to deliver, largely because we have a gut sense of how it will be received - not well...”

What follows in the article is sage advise about how to say no – and the cost of doing so...to read the complete article go to the link above.


15 Things To Say "No" To

  1. Say no to negative chatter about others
  2. Say no to emotional entanglement in relationships
  3. Say no to life without margins
  4. Say no to compromising your values
  5. Say no to pleasing people
  6. Say no to being made responsible for the choices of others
  7. Say no if you can't follow through
  8. Say no to the destructive thoughts of your inner-voice against your own self
  9. Say no to people who are not good for you
  10. Say no to jealousy
  11. Say no to being a slave
  12. Say no to bad eating habits
  13. Say no to self-absorption
  14. Say no to lack of accountability in your life
  15. Say no to "great opportunities" - to stay true to family and calling

Things You Shouldn't Say to Cancer Patients

My wife, Sally, has cancer.  Actually, I should say, she is overcoming cancer... and doing a great job of it too.  She is finding joy on her cancer journey.  She looks for joy.  She chooses joy.  And she gives joy to others.  She has bad days and is honest about them when they come, but, her focus is on the good things that God does for her in the midst of her journey.  She and I both pray for a miracle but we also keep our focus on the goodness of God. Sally and I are grateful for the support of loving friends.  We have a very caring family (though a long way from where we live in Cape Town – they are in the United States).  We are loved and cared for by an incredible spiritual family too.  Friends, family and co-workers have made the emotional load of cancer much lighter to carry.

I have learned that there is an emotional weight for both the cancer survivor, and the spouse/care giver.

Some people understand that weight, and help lighten the load, while others say or do dumb things to make the load a little heavier.  Fortunately for Sally and I, we have had very little of the latter,  but friends have told us stories... I thought you would enjoy these all too real faux pas.

What not to say...

1.  “My___ (sister, nephew, auntie, etc.) has cancer".  Having someone else in your life with Cancer doesn’t help to comfort this       person nor does it help you connect emotionally with them... especially if your person didn’t survive!

My advice:  Don’t mention others you know who have cancer.

2.  “I had cancer and I found this amazing herbal remedy that helped so much.  I think it cured me!  It only cost $150 a bottle.” Vitamins, supplements and proven helps are a blessing if they are a gift.  But ask if you can give them.  Don’t promote or propose weird solutions or remedies that you or somebody else you know used.

My advice:  Don’t give medical advice.

3.  “Did you know that cancer is caused by a root of bitterness?  Is there anybody you need to forgive?  Forgiveness releases healing from cancer.”  At this point it would be hard not to feel bitterness toward you!

My advice:  Ask them to leave.

4.  “God will heal you if you have more faith.”  Enough said.

My advice:  Ask them to leave.

5.  “Wow, you lost your hair.” Duh.  If someone says something awkward about losing your hair they normally accompany the statement with rude staring.

My advice:  Be gracious and change the subject.

6.  “Did you know cancer is caused by eating processed foods?”

My response:  “Then bring me a steak from free-range beef.”

7.  “I brought you a gift.  I just love jig-saw puzzles.  I think you will love this 5000 piece puzzle of a herd of 500 Zebras!  I think it will be so relaxing for you and take your mind off...well, just enjoy it.”

My advice:  Don’t give gifts you are not sure will be helpful or wanted.  Especially Zebra puzzles!

8.  “God told me you don’t have cancer!”

My advice:  Don’t say that.  Pray for that, but don’t say it.

9.  “Drink five glasses a day of wild-grass smoothies mixed with Mongolian mushrooms.  Tastes great and it works wonders.  It does give you gas and bad constipation and stomach cramps, but it works.”

My response:  “Wild what?!!!”

Good to know:   Don’t hug a person on chemo or allow anyone to visit them who has a cold, flu, etc., or who has a family member who is sick. Chemo treatment weakens the immune system and makes a person more vulnerable.  A cold or flu can throw off the chemo treatment schedule and put a person at greater risk for the chemo not to have its intended impact of killing off cancer cells.

What to say...

Below are some things our friends have said or done for us that are a huge blessing.  Just this morning my friend Archie told me his daughter Kaylee prays for Sally every day!  Here’s a few suggestions...

1. Tell the person you care for them and you love them.  It nourishes one’s heart. 2. Say you are praying – if you are.  It always encourages us to hear that. 3. Ask how they are doing.  There are stories to tell! 4. If the person has lost their hair, compliment them on how cute they look, and move on to another topic. 5. Listen a lot. 6. Talk about life.  Laugh.  Catch up on family, and be yourself.  Talk about movies you’ve seen, books you have read, people you know in common.  Talk about everyday life. 7. Bring a meal – but ask what kind of food they like ahead of time. 8. Write encouraging notes, SMS’s/text messages, and send uplifting scriptures. 9. Give them flowers.  They fill a bedroom or house with beauty.

If you want to know more, here are three books that have been very helpful to us:

The Chemotherapy Survival Guide, by Judith McKay and Tamara Schacher.  This book was written by two oncology nurses and was immensely helpful and medically very informative.  Describes what chemotherapy is, preparing for treatment, preventing and coping with side affects, eating right for recovery, getting the support you need, relieving stress, preparing for and managing care, and living life after cancer treatment.

Caring for a Loved One With Cancer, by June Hunt.  Fifty very practical, 1-2 page chapters filled with ideas about how to care for a friend or family member with cancer.

Healed:  Strength for Care Givers and Cancer Fighters, by Angela Peterson.  More from the faith angle but without condemnation.  Uplifting.