Start With You

When you’re having trouble communicating…

When you can’t get children to respond appropriately…

When your team isn’t cooperating…

When the marriage is struggling…

Before you address the problem with the other person…

Ask, “What’s wrong with me?”

First…

What in you needs changing?

In what ways are you contributing to the problem?

How could you communicate differently?

Before you address the problems with others…

Look inside yourself…

Obviously, as a child of God, we start with God, allow Him to examine our hearts and shape us into His image, but in my experience, we often we look at the other person first…and think it’s all about them. I think we have a responsibility to humbly consider our own shortcomings. Many times, if we will look at ourself, we’ll either find the problem or we’ll find a better way to address the problem.

Get to know the person in the mirror…

Before you criticize others…

Could this principle change the way you lead?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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18 thoughts on “Start With You

  1. I think this principle can change everything. My prayer lately has not been that God would use mightily but that he would turn me into the type of person with the type of character that he can use. I think that's the striking difference between what the world says about relationships and what Christ says. Scripture tells us to focus on being the best husband or wife or father or mother or employee or boss that we can be – instead of jumping into telling other people how they should act.

  2. This principle definitely changes the way I lead. I'm so thankful that before I started teaching I was aware that I should be mindful of planks in my eyes before trying to pick specks out of other's. It has saved me from becoming a typical overly-defensive new teacher. Since I know I'm not perfect I have very little to defend! And sometimes, having thoroughly examined myself first and found no fault, I have been able to move forward and help others with a confidence that would be otherwise impossible.

  3. Personally, I ha ve a tendency to get so focused on the urgengy of a project that my class or team is doing, that I forget not everyone sees things the way I do. I will sometimes have to go back and make some corrections.

    I had a Professor in college, teaching Choral Conducting, tell us to always watch our hands! Everything begins or ends with our hands; I can’t expect them to do anything I need if I give the wrong signals! Great advise for a lot of things, I have tried to keep that thought in mind when in charge of anything. It has helped, but I still get in the way.
    Twitter: bryankr

  4. In the book "Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude" it states "If the man (or woman) is right, his (or her) world will be right." I thought your post did a great job of supporting this statement. I believe if all leaders took the approach of looking inside themselves to solve an external problem they would resolve these issues much more quickly.

  5. Ron,
    I believe this is some great advice. However, the "look inside yourself" approach has always troubled me a bit. It has that "Oprah" new age kind of message. It also seems to suggest that I have the ability to see my shortfalls.

    On the other hand I see a pretty remarkable principle of Scripture here. One place it is stated very well in is Psalm 139:
    Psalm 139:23–24 (NIV84)
    23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
    24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

    Interestingly enough, David had voiced the severity of his aggravation with others in the previous 4 verses and then he basically is saying, "God, get all of the yucky stuff out of me. Take the stuff out that doesn't need to be here and point me towards the proper way."

    By no means do I believe you are trying to push some new age agenda. I have simply experienced the pitfall of leading and then tricking myself into some notion of false piety so I could return to people and tell them it was their fault anyway.

    Thanks for your post.

    • Great point. And, no, I'm not pushing a new age thought. Because of your comment though, I went back and added a sentence. I still think the point of the post is pure. We are not void of responsibility and I can see the extreme going the other way…almost a pious response of the "do gooders" who say they are right with God so it must be someone else's problem. I know that's not what you are saying either.

      Paul said to "examine yourself" in 2 Cor 13. I think we have a responsibility as followers of Christ, to "consider others better than ourselves". Those are acts of our will, which I believe we can willfully resist even the Spirit's leading.

      You are absolutely right. It's God working in me that makes me who I need to be to others. Thanks for stretching my thoughts and improving my post.

    • Timogle,

      While I agree with you in that God is the ultimate accountability partner, I think that Ron has some strong points about what part we play in the formula of change. When Jesus said "follow me", the disciples didn't magically become mind controlled by God … no, they chose to follow, and then started acting in their lives (not always perfectly) in a way that examples the action of "following God".

      Many times I have worked with clients (and friends) that cry out – why hasn't God taken this from me? (or changed me?), and when you look at thier lives, they have not changed actions that continue to lead them down dark paths. Is their faith weak? Or their action? (Having nothing to do with grace/salvation – but more a statement of disciple-like living).

      So yes, we know what the Lord requires of us, and we are also taught to remove planks. I find that when I am troubled about something, angry with someone, that the problem is very rarely the other person or the situation, it is instead somewhere on my side of the playing field and if I am approaching it in the way that is right.
      Twitter: Thomsthoughts

      • Thanks Thomas. I see the tension between the two thoughts. I like the "remove planks" thought. That's a great confirmation. I have a post I've kept in the works for months called "In Jesus Name, Amen". The point being I feel a constant tension in blogging to explain in every post what I believe about God. I believe ultimately that He is not a part of my life, but my life, that I can do nothing without Him. But, as you state well, I can't remove personal responsibility from the equation either. God gave me a mind to use. Paul even instructs us what to think about.

        Great thoughts to both of you. Thanks for stretching me this morning.

        • I am with you on that one Ron, for sure.

          I think that what you said is what we should approach, that the "mind of Christ" isn't neccessarily something that we try to explain or do all the time, it becomes more who we are. In regards to your statements and posts, I think we as Christians do it to ourselves as a community to "explain ourselves" and outline our theology.

          It's like this. If we understand that we are stewards of God's creation, it becomes an "understood" fact. I know I don't constantly report that I am spending "God's money" when I pay my electric bill, but I want to live a life that it is an "understood fact" found in my view of money.

          Or like when we comfort someone in trouble, that we don't have to always say "God's comfort be with you", because it is, encased in our arms as we embrace them.
          Twitter: Thomsthoughts

          • To belabor it further (I love examples), I use an example of a fireman. How can you tell that someone is a fireman? He can tell you, sure. "I am a fireman". Even so, you know more by what they wear, how they work, the siren's on their truck, and that they actually go out and put out fires. If the person is good at being a fireman … they never actually have to tell you that they are one – they just are.

            This is the direction that I think that we should move towards – that whole "they will know we are Christians by our love" idea.

            Now you went and got my gears turning … and I had so much else to do today!
            Twitter: Thomsthoughts

  6. This principle definitely changes how I lead. I usually look at myself and what I can and should do differently. This is a habit for me. I take it to the extreme sometimes by taking on things that are not mine, but therein lies the balance. Focusing on what you can change will definitely make all the difference in leadership. You can't change others, so why spend the time spinning your wheels. Besides, it's amazing how much others change when you focus on changing yourself.
    Twitter: KariScare