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Paul Hayden

Managing Yourself from the Inside Out

July 12, 2021

Lately, many people I meet are apprehensive about the future. I can’t blame them. We feel like we have never been this way before. And we know that the world and or our country has never been this way before. There is a 'whole lot of shaking going on,' inside and outside of people, weighing them down like a cement life jacket. The 'what if' of the future is staring us in the face. We wonder if anyone knows what to do about it or what can be done about it. Pressure and intimidation are always there. Add this to the disappointment of dreams shattered, and it can be overwhelming.

Here is a story that catches how many people feel. 

As a sergeant in a parachute regiment, I took part in several night-time exercises. Once, I was seated next to a lieutenant fresh from jump school. He was quiet and looked a bit pale, so I struck up a conversation. "Scared, lieutenant?" I asked. He replied, "No, just a bit apprehensive." So I asked, "What's the difference?" He replied, "That means I'm scared, but with a university education." As for now in the United States, some feel it's the fall of the Roman Empire except with Wi-Fi. 

Today, let’s explore the concept of managing ourselves from the inside out. Did you know the Chinese symbol (they use symbols in place of words) for crisis is the word opportunity? The Chinese see a crisis as an opportunity. They see a crisis as a classroom, teaching us something about life to be learned. Adversity is a way to opportunity. I say it this way. When we miss God, we learn about God. God’s grace recognizes consequences but refuses abandonment. 

Think about this. The person who has no inner life is the slave of his surroundings. Managing your inner thoughts is when we don't get intimidated, stay calm, and uncompromisingly depend on God to make a way where there seems to be no way. Frankly, I would rather be proactive with God than reactive without God. Whatever doesn't kill us has the power to make us stronger and conceivably better.  

Many times, a crisis is a test. There are many kinds of tests. For example, there is the discouragement test, the purity test, the finding God and asking God to help test, the attitude test, the character test, the patience test, and the trust test. You receive a promotion when you pass the test. Don't walk out of the class. Don't quit on God or yourself too soon. Promotion often comes after the most significant spiritual battles in life. Instead of thinking, "Why me?" think, "Why not me?"  

Sometimes we get apprehensive about what other people think of us. Sometimes decisions we made that contributed to our problems are embarrassing to us. Hint: Don’t worry about what other people think about you. What others think about you is none of your business. Most times, if we all threw all our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we would probably take ours back again. Some people would love to have your worst days.

Are you worried? Corrie Ten Boom once said: “Worry is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength." Worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due. Nigerian educator Babatunde Olatunji says, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. What is today? Today is a gift. That is why we call it the present!” You open the present in the present.

The Bible states: “Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn a life around." Proverbs 13:12. Most folks look at the unrelenting disappointment part but miss the second part. The Hebrew wording says that a "sudden break will come." Let's not forget that God can make sudden breaks come and restore our hope and lives again. When you get down to nothing, God’s up to something.

So how do you manage yourself from the inside out? In challenging times, our inner life, and our inner way of thinking, are crucial for having peace in unpeaceful times. Our best friends or our worst enemies are our thoughts. A thought is better than a doctor, a friend, banker, or the government. But, unfortunately, a thought can also do us more harm than a brick. So choose your thoughts, but choose wisely.

Think about it. What apprehensive people are looking for is peace. The Apostle Paul, who knew by experience what apprehension could do to a person, reveals the way to peace beyond all understanding and misunderstandings in the Scriptures. 

“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious - the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” Philippians 4:8-9

Here's your takeaway. Real peace is the deliberate adjustment of our lives to the will of God.

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Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com