Friday, August 28, 2009

Part 8a - The Crossroads of Life

You are young; free. You have your whole life before you. You stand at the crossroads of life and you have to CHOOSE which path to take:
  • Do you want to go to college?
  • Do you want to get a job working most nights or tryout for the team?
  • What will my attitude be towards the school name change?
  • Should you take the harder AP course?
  • Who will you date? Will you date at all?
  • Will you drink, smoke or do drugs?
  • Will you have sex before marriage?
  • What will you stand for?
  • How will I contribute to my community?

All these questions and more were suggested in Covey's book. The paths you choose today will affect your future forever. It will shape you future. It is both frightening and exciting to have so many opportunities and directions to take your life. In his letter to the Romans, Apostle Paul explains there are forces at work in our lives that influence our decisions.

5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what
that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their
minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man[e] is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind[f] is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. - Romans 8:5-8

There is the dark force, that resides in everyone. By reading and hearing the news each day, we can see the horrific things people do to each other because they live to please their sinful nature; their instincts based on natural desires. God says people who are controlled by this nature live in bondage, their true image of themselves and who they would become is tarnished and it leads to death (not just physical death, but a hostility toward God and the loss of dignity as a human being.)

Earlier in the chapter it speaks of how one can break free from the bondage of the dark force and truly become free to be human; one becomes ALIVE as God intended.

1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,[a]
2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the
law of sin and death... 9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature
but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not
have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in
you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of
righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is
living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your
mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

So how does this help us make decisions? When one becomes ALIVE by the Spirit of God, one desires the things God desires. As one spends more time getting to know what is on God's heart; what His agenda is for humanity (which can be read in the Bible, experienced among other follower's of Jesus and in conversation with God in prayer.) One begins to make decisions based of the truth; the principles God has revealed to us to live a joyful and abundant life; a life of peace.

So, when those decisions come a school, friends, sex, alcohol, school, jobs, etc. , know what Jesus would do will help us make the right choices which will get us where we want to be and do in the future.

The 7 Habit training says to create a personal mission statement. It is like a personal motto pr creed that states what your life is about. In my junior or senior year in high school I was challenged to come up with a life verse. I did a lot of reading and searching in the bible. Philippians chapter 3 kept coming to mind as I was doing my search. I memorized verses 5-12 to really let it sink into my head. Then, verse 12 capture the depth of my being:

12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made
perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of

This became my life verse; my personal mission statement. It became the organizing principle; my center. The "press on" I could relate to because I am an athlete. In verse 13 it qualifies the intensity of this pursuit by saying, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead... ."

What was the pursuit? Not to follow my natural desires, but to take hold.

Take hold of what? To take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Wow! Jesus took hold of me; called me into his presence; his kingdom for a purpose. It is my mission in life to find out why? to discover the "that". As I strain toward that prize, God has revealed different levels of who I am and what I am to do. The "who I am" or my being is the most important "that" I have discovered in my journey of life. It is because of who God has created in me (my being), I can decide to do those things that please him in any job, task or situation I find myself. In return I find fulfillment and make life better for those around me. I "take hold" of what being human is all about, exercise those gifts and abilities He has revealed who I am to be a benefit others. It is because I have allowed the Spirit of God to show me the "playbook" for life I find joy and peace. I can make the world a better place one moment at a time.

But, like anyone on a journey, I am content but never satisfied. My favorite song from the U2's album, Joshua Tree, "I still haven't found what I am looking for?" is my theme song. I find joy and fulfillment along the journey, but if I stand and dwell on it for to long - I lose sight of the future. If this stage of life is "that" beautiful, I want to keep searching and discover more of why Jesus took hold of me.

Your personal mission statement will be different. It may be a word, a phrase, a statement, a poem, or a song. Read the chapter on Habit 2. Create a mission statement and begin your personal journey. You may tweak it off and on. It will give you clarity of purpose, it will keep you focused on what is important.

12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
15All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained. - Philippians 3:12-16

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Part 8: Habit 2- Beginning with the End in Mind

The subtitle of this habit is, "Control your own destiny or someone else will." Beginning with the end in mind means developing a clear picture of who you want to be and what you want to do in life. It is not only talking about what you want to leave as a legacy 30 or 40 years from now. It is thinking about what you intend to to tomorrow and deciding what direction you want to go with your life and the necessary steps to take you in the right direction. It means getting into the driver's seat and determining where you want to go and how you are going to get there.

People do this all the time. They use recipes to cook and bake, draw up blueprints to build things, use maps (online maps) to show them the best way to get to a destination and create an outline when writing a research paper. Most people have an image of how they would want to look or be perceived by friends, family and teachers. To create that image, they have an end result in mind. They look at magazines, newpapers, the internet and celebrities to get a picture of how they want to look. They may watch movies, listen to certian kind sof music and go to certain events to get a feel for how they want to walk, talk and act. This is beginning with the end in mind. It is using one's imagination to come up with a desired result; a destination, if you will, of who they will be.

You can evaluate who you have been and what you have done this past week or past year. What perceptions have you left in people's minds? Did you have any conscience goals? What have you accomplished? How do you feel about yourself? How would other's describe who you are? What would other's say is most important to you? You cannot change what you have done inthe past. You can change what you do in the future.

Use your imagination and visualize yourself a year from now.

  • What have you done with your life over the past year?

  • How do you feel inside?

  • What do you look like?

  • What have you accomplished?

  • What characteristics do you possess?

The 7 Habits training uses a quote from Alice's Adventure in Wonderland to make the point in knowing where you want to go,

"Would you tell me please which way I ought to walk from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," says the Cat.
"I don't much care where-" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way to walk," said the Cat.

Many people do not see themselves as responsible for where they are going in life. They do not have a specific destination in mind. So, they live life at the mercy of others, whether it is whatever pop culture is promoting that week, pressure they feel from there friends, family, youth group or favorite TV show. They may think they are in control of their destiny, but it is being directed by outside influences.

So, if it is important to have the end in mind, how do you do it? The training says to create a personal mission statement. It may be short or long, poems or songs, but one thing it must be - it must be from you.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Part 7b: Growing proactive muscles

Becoming a proactive person does not come naturally, nor easy. There are no short cuts to maturity and independence.

The Old Way Has to Go
17 -19And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They've refused for so long to deal with God that they've lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can't think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion. 20 -24But that's no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It's rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.
- Ephesians 4:17-24 The Message

We need to exercise our spiritual muscles. As being a follower of Christ means not to be a follower of the crowd and the fads of the foolish. Pop culture has lost touch with God and the truth he has for his people. Getting rid of old habits that are reactive and irresponsible is hard work, needing new focus and a healthy dose of discipline. Putting on new habits and being proactive is difficult when others are trying to sabatage your efforts.

But don't let it faze you. Stick with what you learned and believed, sure of the integrity of your teachers—why, you took in the sacred Scriptures with your mother's milk! There's nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. -2 Timothy 3:14 The Message

This brings us to the next habit, "Begin with the End in Mind."

Part 7a - Listen to your language

A way of identifying if you are a proactive or reactive person, listen to yourself speak. A reactive person may say something like this, after leaving their backpack coat, shoes and socks in the middle of the living room, laying on the couch watching MTV2.

"What mess? That's just the way I am." They may agree it is not the best place to leave their stuff, but they are also saying I am not responsible for the way I act.

"If my teacher wasn't being so unreasonable, life would be much easier." Again, not taking responsibility, blaming their teacher for all their difficulties.

"Boy, thanks alot, you just ruined my day. I wish we would have never moved here. I wish I had money to live in my own apartment." Here are examples where moods, things, circumstances control their happiness. They are saying in so many words, I am not in control of my own happiness; contentment is based on circumstances and things.

The reactive language takes the power away from you and places it in other things or situations. A illustration of a remote controller was used in the training. It is like your life is being controlled by a giant remote. When someone pushes the right buttons, your mood or attitude changes based on the signal. Proactive language put the remote control back into your hands. You are then can choice freely what channel you want to be on.


  • I'll try

  • That's just the way I am

  • There's nothing I can do

  • I have to

  • I can't

  • You ruined my day

A reactive person give the perception that they are victims. The training calls this "victimitis virus." Everyone is out to get them and make their lives miserable. It can be contagious when incontact with a crowd. Comments like:

  • "I am not getting good grades, the teacher does not like me."

  • "If the coach know anything about hoops, I would be playing right now."

  • "The ball keeps slipping out of my hands, it's not my fault I have 5 turnovers."

  • "I could have made that lay up , but my shoes slipped and made me miss."

The only person that is holding theis kind of person back is themselves. You may hear whining, blaming others, get angry, only change when they have to change and excuses.


  • I'll do it

  • I can do better than that

  • Let's look at all our options

  • I choose to

  • There's gotta be a way

  • I'm not goin gto let your bad mood rub off on me

Proactive people have taken the time to think about situations they may face and decide, beforehand to respond a certain way. They take time to consider various options when confronted with a situation. Proactive people:

  • Are not easily offended

  • Take responsibility for their choices

  • Think before they act

  • Bounce back when something bad happenes

  • Always find a way to make it happen

  • Focus on what they can do and do not worry about the things they do not have control over

I have been coaching for many years. I hear the comments from players and can quickly determine which one may have a tendancy to be reactive and those who are proactive. It says alot about a player when they touch the line every time during the conditioning drill; if they do not touch half court during the warm up drill; if they complement a team mate on a good pass or if they never communicate; if they look me in the eyes while they speak to me; if their body language is saying, "Coach, I do not want to come out of the game"; or during a timeout they are looking into the stand and not listening to anything I am saying.

We cannot control everything that happens to us. But there is one thing we can control, that is how we respond to what happens to us. If we choose to be proactive, we will be in control of our lives.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Part 7: Habit 1 - Be Proactive

Habit 1 stresses a person to take responsibility for their life.
They use a weather illustration to make a point.
Everyone carries their own weather. We make choices that determine if it will be a sunny (positive) day or a rainy (negative) dreary day. For example, when you choose to go to bed at a reasonable hour and get the sleep, food and exercise your body needs, you made a decision to give youself a chance to start the next day in a positive light. When you do small acts of kindness, look at the glass as half full, keep a promise you made, spend time in God's Word you make choices that prepare your life for warmth and light. These actions fall under the term Proactive; choices made that you have control over; that help you create your own weather, keeps you focused and centered.

When you respond to a situation without taking time to think about how to respond, or not understanding why you are responding in a certain way, you are being reactive. When you are reactive you are letting circumstances control your responses, which is easier to put the blame on others.

When you act proactively, you examine or have predetermined responses on how you would behave in certain situations. It means anticipating situations and imaging the responses you could make, then determining which is the most appropriate response at that time.

Does it mean you will always have the correct response all the time? No. But, you will have better control over your actions and learn how to best respond in the future.

For the most part, there is always a moment between the time we are confronted with a decision and the time we choose to respond. Use the space between the stimulus and the response to apply a principle which will bring about your desired result.

Reactive people allow outside influences (moods, feelings, and circumstances) to control their response. They have not taken time to think about their response nor a desired outcome.

Proactive people pause to choose their response based on principles and desired results. Their freedom to choose expands as they wisely consider many options of response. You may be saying, there isn't that much time for me to consider all the options before I need to make a response. Unfortunately, this is seldon the case. It is more like we have not trained ourself to be "quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" (James 1:19). It is more like, "I am caught off guard with this situation, so to defend my pride, I say or do something that discredits the person or situation and makes me look good."

Four Human Endowments
The 7 Habits training identify four qualities of "humanness" (I referred to Francis Schaeffer's term "mannishness of man" in an earlier post) which allows us this freedom:

  • Self awareness - one can stand apart from one's thoughts and feelings and is able to examine and change them.
  • Conscience - one is able to feel the inner prompting of what is right and wrong in something they are about to do.
  • Imagination - one can think ahead; visualize alternaive responses to obtain a desired result.
  • Willpower - the ability to act on one's decisions; to set and achieve meaningful goals in one's life.

Think of a situation where you consistently respond in a reactive way (lose patience, avoid confrontation, blame someone, lack discipline). Consider why you react in this way?

What is a better, more effective way to respond? Is there a response that would achieve the positive outcomes you desire. What is your commitment level to respond in this way next time you are confronted with this situation?

Use the gifts God has given you.

Part 6: Starting with the man in the mirror

"Before you ever win in the public arenas of life, you must first win private battles within yourself. All change begins with you, and sometimes that is the hardest part." - 7 Habits Training

Have you every been asked, "What's wrong with you? Where is the (your name) I once knew?" Or told, "You are disappointing me.

How do you feel about yourself?

In the 7 Habits Training we discussed the PBA - Personal Bank Account.

Your personal bank account is like a bank into which you put all the good things that you do for yourself. It is a reserve that allows you to withdraw strength when things aren’t going so well.
Some of the things that build up your account are:

  • Keeping promises to yourself
  • Doing small acts of kindness
  • Being gentle with yourself when you make mistakes
  • Being honest with yourself and others
  • Renewing yourself
  • Tapping into your talents and developing them.

Some things that take strength away from your account are:

  • Breaking promises
  • Keeping to yourself
  • Beating yourself up when you make mistakes
  • Being dishonest with yourself and others
  • Wearing yourself out
  • Neglecting your talents.
  • So how are you doing?

Identify one easy task that needs to be done today. Decide when you will do it. Write it down and then make sure you accomplish it today.

All of us have an invisible savings account inside our heads. We make deposits and withdrawals from it everyday. Whenever we do something we intend to do, like exercising, eating right, completing a race, or be more positive, we make a deposit into our invisible account. Likewise, whenever we don’t meet our expectations or goals, we withdraw from this same savings account. The 7 Habits Training maintains that the balance of that bank account is what gives us true self-confidence and trust in ourselves. We draw upon past accomplishments to increase our strength and overcome current challenges. The more deposits we have, the more likely we are to follow through on future plans.