4 Important Steps To Quit Porn Once And For All

A man is chained to computer late at night.

This is a guest post. Honestly, I don’t do a lot of them, but this is an important topic. I can’t help but believe it impacts leadership. I know it impacts the church. The only thing I would add – or further emphasize – is to recognize the battle from a spiritual perspective. If you’re a believer, the Spirit of God dwells within you. Seek His help.

4 Important Steps To Quit Porn Once And For All

We all struggle with our own vices. For some, those vices not only harm ourselves, but the people around us. Pornography and sexual addiction is one of those struggles that can leave addicts feeling isolated and depressed.

In order to break your addiction and move towards recovery, having the tools and resources around you is important to help you set yourself up to succeed. As you go through the steps listed below, remember not to over analyze, but to use these tools get you started.

As you begin to master these steps, you’ll start to see a ripple effect on your life and addiction.

1. Action plan. Creating an action plan can have a huge impact on helping you move forward in your healing. The thought of stopping “cold turkey” can overwhelm and discourage many people, but by taking some time to develop a Plan of Action, you can set yourself up for success.

Think of your Plan of Action as a tool to help you establish new habits and implement them into your daily routine. These new habits don’t have to be huge (nor should they be—as that may also discourage you). Instead, you want these habits to support you and your recovery. Some ideas to get you started: find a support group, therapist, spiritual leader, or trusted friend where you can talk openly, practice positive self-talk, write in a daily journal, volunteer or do something nice for someone, take up a hobby, and practice forgiving yourself.

2. Support group. Addiction thrives in shame and, due to this, we tend to isolate ourselves. Isolation is one of the biggest stumbling blocks addicts (and spouses of addicts) face. To help you not feel so alone and talk with others who are dealing with similar struggles, finding a support group is important.

You may find yourself shaking your head, saying, “I don’t do that group thing,” but a support group can be an excellent place to listen to what others are going through, see the various stages everyone else is in, and gain some insights and tips to help you in your own recovery. In addition, you can also provide feedback and encouragement to other people. Plus, those who have a support group are more likely to overcome addiction.

3. Positive self-talk. One of the worst things you can do while recovering from addiction is belittle yourself. If you’re always talking down to yourself and allowing those negative, self-limiting beliefs roll around in your mind, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Henry Ford put it perfectly when he said: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

Take time when you get up, before you go to bed, and throughout the day to practice positive self-talk. The more you tell yourself you deserve a life free of addiction and have the strength to do this, day by day, the stronger you’ll be in your recovery.

Some affirmations to get you started:

● Today I will do one kind thing for myself and one for someone else. I will love myself and let myself receive the love that is there for me.

● Today I am willing to learn by doing. I will learn something about myself by following through on my daily plan.

● Recovery is a messy business. Today I will give myself permission to experiment, to make mistakes. I will learn from the day’s business and move on.

4. Forgive yourself. Part of recovery is to remember you’re human. You’ll make mistakes. You’ll have moments where you’ll slip up and revert to old habits. Don’t let the moments discourage you and leave you thinking you can’t recover from addiction. The important thing to remember when you slip up is to forgive yourself and call someone immediately. This can be your therapist, someone in your support group, a trusted friend or spiritual leader, and then recommit to your recovery.

One idea to help you when working towards healing is to write yourself a letter. Write why you’re ready to break your addiction, why you’re doing this, who you are doing this for, and anything else that will remind you why you’ve decided to break your pornography addiction.

Addiction is not easy to break. Be kind with yourself and know you are not alone. The path of recovery is making a conscious decision every day to not go back to those unhealthy habits.

About the Author: Danielle Adams is a freelance writer who works with Lifestar Therapy. She is committed to helping people practice open communication and build healthy relationships.

A Happy Mother’s Day Tribute to the Mother Who Has No Children

Happy childhood

I want to give a tribute to the mother who has no children.

I’ve always been sensitive this time of year to the mothers without children.

You know the ones.

They never had children.

For whatever reason.

Some never tried.
Some never could.
Some tried, could, and lost their child.

And, for many it’s a hidden pain they carry deeply. Deeper than any wound. Deeper than most people ever understand. (Certainly deeper than I can understand.)

I’m reminded of Hannah’s pain in 1 Samuel 1.

They never had children, but they:

  • Care for others sacrificially, simply for the joy of giving.
  • Are willing to fight lions, tigers and bears (Oh my!) for the ones they love.
  • Have more strength than the average man when caring for someone.
  • Are taken advantage of because of their generosity.
  • Love deeply and unconditionally.
  • Make life special for others – just because.
  • Find satisfaction in the simplest gestures of love.
  • Strive to make the world a better place for those around them.
  • Hide their pain – most of the time – when others take advantage of them.
  • Are always thinking of others and willing to put others ahead of themselves.

Sounds like a mother to me.

Many of them wanted children — but they never were given the blessing. And, motherhood is a blessing. Just as all parenting is.

They have no children.

But, they have a mother’s heart.

They may not have children – not in the natural sense – but in heart -they are every bit a mother.

They love like a mother. They sacrifice like a mother. They serve like a mother. They give – just like a mother gives.

And, if God were to celebrate Mother’s Day, I think He would include them in the celebration.

Because in God’s way of doing things, it’s always about the heart.

“Man does not see what the LORD sees, for man sees what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

This year, as you celebrate Mother’s Day, don’t forget the mother who has no children.

While you’re at it, don’t forget the one whose mother isn’t here any longer. And, the one who has a hard story with their mother. And, all the others who – as one celebrates – another weeps.

Let’s be sensitive to the needs of others.

That sounds like something worthy to celebrate on such a wonderful day!

3 Casualties from Unresponsiveness

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I remember meeting with a young man in our church a number of years ago. I had baptized him a few months before and had taken a personal interest in him. I saw such potential in him, and knew he was likely heading towards vocational ministry, so I asked him to serve in one of our ministries as a volunteer. He was delighted at the invitation.

Many of the best volunteers are just one personal ask away from serving.

A few weeks later, I followed up with him. He said he filled out a card asking to serve immediately after our conversation. He never heard anything. He assumed, therefore, we weren’t interested in him or he wasn’t qualified.

I was devastated – and a bit embarrassed. Hopefully, he simply fell through the cracks of our system, but this type of thing frustrates me more than just about anything in leadership. He certainly was qualified, but even if he had not been it would’ve deserved an answer.  

Responsiveness should be a paramount value in ministry and leadership.

Whether it’s an email, a phone call, or Facebook message, most people expect some sort of response. I realize we all get busy and it may sometimes delay a response, but people are too valuable not to respond to them in a timely fashion. I encourage all leaders to figure out a system, which works best for them, which will assure responsiveness.  

When a leader is unresponsive it creates problems for the leader and the people seeking to follow.

Here are 3 casualties from unresponsiveness:

It makes a person feel unappreciated.

When someone doesn’t get a response back, the person feels they aren’t important enough to you. They wonder what they’ve done wrong or why you don’t consider them good enough to merit one. 

It makes a person feel unloved.

Like it or not, unresponsiveness is translated, especially in the church setting, as an indicator of care. It’s a relationship. If you don’t respond, you must not care for them very much.

It makes a person mistrust you or the organization.

People will only tolerate unresponsiveness a few times. When a leader fails to respond they lose credibility with people and are seen as unprofessional.

The bottom line is when you don’t respond to people you force them to create their own response. And, naturally, our minds assume the worst.

So what do you do about it?

  • Make responsiveness an extremely high value in the organization.
  • Leaders should lead by example.
  • Answer all emails or messages and return calls promptly, even if you don’t have an answer yet. I can’t say what the proper response time is for every organization or individual, but for me I want responses to go out the same day they were received or first thing the next working day. 
  • Have a system is in place to respond to all queries. The fact is, sometimes I’m not available to everyone who needs an answer – we have a large church; especially if it might take an extended response. Plus, I may not even know the answer. But, I can make sure the person gets the answer they need.

Even in the best environments, situations like the example above will happen. Emails or cards get lost. People forget. Mistakes happen.  People will feel they’ve not been listened to, no one cares, or even they are unloved. They’ll take it personal enough to leave the organization. It should never be because we simply chose not to respond in a timely way.  

And, I should mention, there are rare times when the person seeking information is the problem in the situation – or where they use tactics such as verbal abuse to get the response they want. I’m not addressing those in this post. Again, those are rare and should be handled differently. (You might read my post on Stakeholder Analysis for this type scenario.)

This post is about the normal, day in an day out communication with people. People need and deserve answers. It’s part of a healthy culture. It’s part of healthy relationships. And, it’s the right thing to do.

The more you can do to avoid unresponsiveness the better you will build an atmosphere of genuine trust.

How does it make you feel when someone doesn’t respond to an inquiry?

My Current Convictions Concerning Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

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My stomach has been in knots the last few months. I’ve been nervous for our nation – a nation I love. I’ve been bombarded with blogs, tweets and the opinions of others about national politics.  The culture of politics – and our nation – these days is so tense, so bitter, so divisive.

Chances are you’ve been nervous too – or certainly you’ve been distracted by the news of the day. Whether you watch the debates, read the blogs, or follow Fox News or CNN, this is certainly a year where everyone seems to be involved, at some level, in the election process.

And, so my life is much like yours. Consumed. Concerned. Captivated. How many times will we hear or say between now and November – “I can’t wait until this election is over”?

The more I studied the process and the candidates the more frustrated I became. Frustrated with their stands on issues which matter to me most. Frustrated with how they respond to one another. Frustrated with what seems to be a climate in our nation more towards bickering and bantering against others than pulling together for the good of a nation.
One of the most frequent questions I receive these days is not about some obscure Biblical passage, but for whom I’m going to vote for president.
And, honestly, I don’t know. Never in my life have I been more confused – and I’ve voted in every election since I was eligible to vote.

It’s been an interesting wrestling match. I know I still need to vote. Frankly, I choose to vote as my right and I’m thankful for it – and for those who have paid the ultimate price for my freedom to do so – and I will vote as responsibly as I know how. But, honestly I’m not sure what even that choice will be at this point. (Russell Moore has an interesting perspective in THIS POST.)

But, it was in the state of confusion the other day – actually during a time of intentional prayer, it occurred to me –

I was spending more time being disappointed in our election choices than I was praying for the kings of our nations.

Wow!

First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

It was in this sobering moment I was reminded my role, as a believer, is different than a regular citizen. In addition to my responsibility to vote – I have a higher authority – a higher calling. I’m called, first and foremost, to pray for my earthly authorities – regardless of who is in authority.

And, as I reflected on my thoughts towards the two front runners in the presidential race, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, I certainly hadn’t spent much time – okay any time, at this point – praying for them. Neither of them is currently holding an office, but they certainly could be. They surely are leading (and dividing) public opinions.

I’m praying for my son’s future spouse who is not yet married. Shouldn’t I be praying for the future leader of our nation?

I’m called to pray, even when worry seems to be a better option.

And, so I was convicted. I would never lead or teach our church to live this way. Turning to worry more than prayer? Never!

My role, as a follower of Christ, is first and foremost to trust and obey. To pray. Yes, I should use my influence to encourage moral value in our country. But, the reality is this world is not our home. America is not the answer to world peace. Finding a king is not the chief goal of a disciple of Jesus.

And, in further reflection, I found myself asking bigger questions. Questions such as:

  • Do I believe God can still heal our land?
  • Do I believe God can unify people who are so far apart ideologically?
  • Do I believe He can still radically change a heart – even one bent against Him?

This is when I realized I had been wasting some energy. I’d been worrying. I’d been fretting. I’d been spending private time in needless doubt – yet, all the while God was still in control. God is no less upon His throne today than He was yesterday – or will He be tomorrow.

What if I prayed as much – or more – as I worried?

And, I’m a pastor, so I feel obligated to encourage you.

I’m not suggesting you take down your political post or fail to speak out in truth. Yours may be the one voice which gets heard within a crowd of noise. I’m not even suggesting you don’t have your candidate in mind whom you are supporting. I would suggest, however, if you can’t share truth with love – it’s usually best not to share at all.

But, the point of this post is not to silence anyone. I embrace our freedom of speech. It’s not to advocate for or against any candidate. There are plenty of other posts doing that. What I am suggesting – and where I was convicted – is we remember our larger, perhaps more important purpose as followers of Christ. Prayer.

So for now I will pray. I will pray greatly. I will pray daily. And, may prayer never be seen as a lesser or a weaker response.


5 Ways to Benefit from Your Organization’s Best Asset

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Do you want to harness the greatest power in your organization?

The best assets of your church, business or non-profit never appear on your balance sheet.

The truth is any organization is only as good as the people within it. Take the greatest idea and put the wrong people behind it and little progress will be realized. With the right people – even average ideas can achieve tremendous results.

The key to success is to learn how to get the best ideas out of the people within the organization. It’s often been called Human Capital. Learning to glean from this valuable resource takes experience and intentionality.

Are you relying on the knowledge, insight and experience of everyone on your team to make the organization better? Do you understand and appreciate the human capital your team brings to the table?

Here are 5 ways to capitalize on the people value of your team:

Brainstorm

Have assigned times periodically where everyone on the team gets to give input into the organization’s future. It’s important to provide ways for even the most introverted on the team to share thoughts. Information shouldn’t be defined to a “chain of command”. Everyone has something they know better than the leader knows.

Allow mistakes

Create an environment where team members are willing to take risks without fear of repercussion if things go wrong. This atmosphere will often be created with the leader’s instant reactions to mistakes made, but will be reinforced by how the organization learns from failure. When people feel free to explore they will enjoy doing so.

I recently read 12 things discovered by making a mistake.

  • The slinky
  • Penicillin
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Potato chips
  • The pacemaker
  • Silly Putty
  • Microwave ovens
  • Fireworks
  • Corn flakes
  • Ink jet printers
  • Post it notes
  • X-rays

Now where would the world be without Silly Putty – right? Seriously, God has given us creative minds. What is your team trying, which could prove to be a mistake – but it could be genius?

Ask questions

The best leaders ask the best questions. Genuinely seek help from those around you.  Recognize the fact others may know more than you know about a particular subject. I like to follow others on the team when they are the expert in a subject. And, sometimes, I ask questions – not as much for the answer – but to get their minds churning. It’s proven to be gold at times.

Don’t pre-define solutions

If you want help solving a problem or planning for the future, start with a clean slate, without having a pre-determined outcome when addressing an issue.  If the leader always has the answer, team members are less likely to share their input. They’ll simply wait – holding out the best solutions at times – knowing the leader will trump them anyway.

Be open to change

New ideas never come in an attitude of control or when the goal is always protecting tradition. The leader must genuinely desire new ways of doing things – and must lead others to the same mindset.  Everyone on the team knows if the leader is really considering other people’s opinions. If team member’s suggestions are never implemented, they eventually will stop sharing them.

How are you currently taking advantage of the human capital in your organization? Is your church, business or non-profit experiencing the blessing of different ideas? 

7 of the Biggest Misunderstandings Millennials have about My Baby Boomer Generation

Two People Having A Conversation

So much has been written about the Millennial generation. They may possibly be the most studied and documented generation – and, I thought this honor would go to my Baby-Boomer generation. Millennials have unique challenges. The world has been quite different during their lifetime. Fast change. New technologies. Increasing global tensions. 

I get to spend a lot of time with Millennials in my work as a pastor. I have two sons who are Millennials. Frankly, I love the generation. 

What is interesting to me when I talk to Millennials is some of the misunderstandings they have about my generation – specifically how my generation views their generation. 

Recently a young Millennial asked for some of my time to talk through where he felt God was leading him. He was so apologetic for “taking my time”. What he didn’t understand was how much his conversation fueled me for everything else I had to do that day. I loved it. I’ve had similar experiences many times.

The encounter caused me to reflect on other misunderstandings I’ve observed from Millennials about my generation. Feel free to add your own in the comments. 

7 of the biggest misunderstandings millennials have of my Baby-Boomer generation:

 

We really do enjoy helping you. Your inquisitive nature is not a burden to us. We don’t consider your questions to be dumb. We know we all have to learn somewhere. There is no higher compliment than to be asked for wisdom – or seen as knowing something worthy of your attention towards us. 

We wish we had asked more questions when we were your age. Yours is an inquisitive generation. You want to know. You’ve been used to having information – in fact, you can Google most your answers. We admire this about you and wish we had learned to ask questions earlier. Instead, we learned too many things the hard way – by experience – but we would have avoided some of those experiences if we could have. You inspire us to ask more questions. There are lots of things we can learn from you. (Thank you for this.)

We don’t think we know it all. At least most of us don’t. And, we are okay with it. Frankly, the older we get the more we realize we don’t know. And, it doesn’t seem to bother or frustrate us as it did when we were younger. 

We don’t always understand your impatience. Seriously, sometimes we don’t. We look at your life and you seem to be doing okay. So, when you are frustrated you don’t have everything yet – or aren’t where you want to be in your career – we don’t always “get it”. But, we know we were much like this when we were your age – and probably more impatient in our younger years. There was more of a sense of “work your way up” in our generation, but we often saw unfairness in who got to move up and how. 

We often understand what you’re feeling more than you think we do. You think because we are older, and aren’t experiencing some of the issues you’re experiencing, we don’t understand the frustrations you face. It is a new day – and the world is much different – but the things you experience today are some of the same issues we experienced – just without the texting or social media sharing possibilities for them. We struggled (and mostly still do) in relationships, careers, with our parents, trying to find our place, fears about our future – all of those things. 

We have a different perspective, but we aren’t as different as you think. We see life from a different viewpoint. We are further along in life. We have more experiences – more laughs, more heartaches, more disappointments, more failures – and, all of this makes us see the world a little differently. But, we aren’t as different as you might think. We have the same desires you have – for mutual respect, trusted relationships, workplace fairness and opportunity. We may disagree on how to get there – but we want the world to be a better place – as you do. The basic human wants and needs are often filled differently – but they remain much the same. 

We aren’t as crazy about all the tech advances either – when it comes to real relationships. Sure, we love the new gadgets – and appreciate you for helping us learn them (thankfully, I finally figured out the DVR) – but, we prefer real conversations with people we love than a text or phone call any day. Sure, we’ve taken advantage of the ease of social media to keep up with loved ones. We are guilty of emailing instead of walking down to your office. We fall into the trap of overworking and under-relating to people in our life. But, just like you, we value genuine relationships. We even like “hanging out”. And, hanging out with your generation – are some of our favorite times. 

Those are a few I’ve observed. Got any to add? 

10 Positive Paradigms in Church Leadership

Like. Thumb up sign.

I previously posted 10 dangerous paradigms in the church. Obviously, there are positive mindsets in the church also.

I decided to share some from the perception of a pastor.

Here are 10 positive paradigms in the church:

We can do it Pastor

The “can do” attitude. Is there anyone who can’t work miracles with that?

Jesus will make a way!

So, if that’s your paradigm, then all we have to do is follow Him – right?

It’s not about me.

Wow! Really? You’re serious. Because to hear someone say that – makes a pastor’s day.

Let’s walk by faith!

Yes, let’s do. Because, without faith, it’s impossible to please God. At least, according to the Bible I read.

What can I do to help?

Imagine if everyone showed up at church ready to do whatever it took to make the day work. Just imagine. We can dream, can’t we?

We need some change around here.

I think we do. I think you’re right. I think I’ll clone you. Sustained momentum always requires change. Always.

I know we need to talk about money.

You do? Seriously? You recognize it takes money to do ministry? Wow! Are you contagious?

It’s none of my business.

Okay, this is a tough one, but seriously, is it? Do you really need to know everything, or do you just like information? I wonder if we moved forward with less information if we would be closer to walking by faith – which in essence means we go without seeing. Just wondering.

I’m excited about trying something new.

By excited, do you also mean you’ll support it? And speak positively about it? Even behind the pastor’s back? Because, if you do, I’m gonna hug you. Seriously. Right now. Big hug.

This church is awesome!

It’s simple, but it builds momentum. Believing in the church, it’s leadership, and it’s potential is a key to welcoming people who will later feel likewise.

As a pastor, those are 10 positive paradigms I would share. I realize they aren’t for everyone. But, which one would you most like to see as a pastor?

What positive church paradigm would you add to my list?

5 Criteria for Making New Year’s Resolutions We Actually Keep

Clipboard with Checklist

I love a fresh start.

Perhaps it’s because grace is the doctrine I’ve needed so much, but there’s something about a clean slate, which motivates me towards achievement.

I’m like this with my desk at the office. I create stacks. Magazines to be read. Notes to be written. Lists to be completed. Bulletins from other churches. (I am always looking for better ideas.) Stacks, stacks, and more stacks. When the stacks are at capacity – I call it organized chaos.

But, then one day I’ve had enough of the stacks and I go on a cleaning spree. I sort. I file. I trash until the top of my desk shows far more wood than paper. Ahhh… Finally, I’m inspired to work again.

I love a fresh start.

I think this may be why I’m one of the people who appreciates New Year’s resolutions. It’s like a line on the calendar, which screams to me: FRESH START!

But, as much as I appreciate the value in them – beginning new things, stretching myself, making my life better – I’m like everyone else. I find it easier to make resolutions than to keep them.

How do we make resolutions we will actually keep? Because they aren’t going to improve anything if you don’t follow through and they probably just make you more frustrated than before you made them.

Well, first, write them down. This is huge. I’ve heard people say you are twice as likely to keep a written resolution than one you simply state in your mind.

And, then, here are some suggestions for the type of resolutions which seem to work.

My 5 criteria for making resolutions I actually keep:

Reasonable – Another word might be attainable. The resolution must make sense for you to actually be able to do this year. Saying you want to read 50 books in a year – because you heard someone else does it – and, yet you didn’t read any this past year is probably going to be a stretch. You might be able to do it, but it likely isn’t a reasonable goal. Don’t be afraid of small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10). The key is you’re trying to achieve something, which makes your life better. If you’re successful this year you can set a higher goal next year.

Measurable – To be successful in keeping a resolution you need some way to monitor success towards it – certainly a way to know when you’ve achieved it. If your resolution is simply to lose weight you won’t be as motivated as if you say you want to lose a pound a week. You can track that goal and see your progress. Obviously it will still require discipline, but there is something about a measurable goal which – for most of us – drives us to meet it.

Sustainable – This one doesn’t apply for every resolution, but does in many. Ultimately I have found I’m more motivated to reach goals, which change my life for the better over a longer period of time. It’s great to meet those milestone, once in a lifetime type of achievements – such as running a marathon, or writing a book. And, we should have those type goals in our life – and maybe a milestone resolution is reasonable for you this year. The problem I have seen is if we get off track on reaching them it’s easy to simply give up – maybe even write it off as an unreasonable goal. We feel defeated and so we quit making any resolutions. In making New Year’s resolutions, I find I’m more successful if it’s something which I possibly adopt as a new lifestyle. Some examples would be changing my eating habits, beginning to exercise more often, Bible-reading, journaling, etc – again reasonable and measurable – but something I will sustain beyond the New Year.

Accountable – This is key. Weight Watchers is a great example here of this principle. There is something about their system, which works, and part of it is the reporting portion – where you have to be accountable to others for your progress. If you don’t build in a system of accountability – whether it’s with other people or some visible reminder of your resolution and progress – it’s easy to give up when the New Year euphoria begins to fade.

Reward-able – And, this may be the most important and the least practiced. One secret to actually achieving your resolution may be to find the “carrot”, which will continually motivate you to stretch for the finish line. If losing weight is a goal it could be a new suit or dress when you reach a pre-determined number. If it’s running a marathon (and if this is a reasonable resolution for you this year) it could be you run the marathon in some destination city you can’t wait to visit. If it’s reading your Bible through in a year – promise yourself a new Bible at the end of the year. The reward should fit the degree of stretching and effort it took to accomplish the resolution, but this often serves as a good incentive to helping you reach your goals – especially during the times you are tempting to quit trying.

I hope this will help. It does for me. I have some daily disciplines in my life now, which started as New Year’s resolutions. It doesn’t work for everyone, but I’ve found resolutions can help me start the year with fresh goals, and the discipline towards achieving them helps me have more discipline in other areas of my life.

Here’s to a great New Year! God bless!

7 New Year Resolutions Which Could Change Your World

fireworks

Whether or not you do New Year resolutions, we could all stand to improve some things in our life. And, if we do, I’m confident we could also improve the life of others.

In fact, with a whole lot of improving – it might become contagious – and we might just change the world.

Here are 7 new year resolutions which could change the world:

Let’s resolve to begin everyday with a prayer, a smile, and a humility check.

A 3 part checklist. What if we woke up every morning and began by talking to God – recognizing His power and asking Him to direct our steps, make sure our smile is our attitude, and humbly enter the world not expecting anything other than to be a blessing? It will require discipline – but how we begin a day almost always determines how we end one.

Let’s resolve to return evil with good.

It won’t be easy. In fact, it will be hard. A grudge or sarcastic remark seems so much more fulfilling – in the moment. But, over time, it causes more harm than good – mostly to us – often even more than “them”. Imagine your world when you influence others by how you don’t respond when they “push your buttons” the wrong way.

Let’s resolve to never let the sun go down on anger.

Anger emotions grow overnight. They blossom into more intense anger emotions. We may not be able to resolve all disagreements, but we can drop the right to get even and resolve to be at peace as much as it depends on us. We will awake with level ground to build better, healthier relationships with others. Oh, what a world it would be if we had less anger.

Let’s resolve not use social media as a forum to bash others.

Or even as a forum period. It divides people rather than bringing them together. Let’s resolve for a kinder, gentler Facebook – rant-free even – where we simply stalk – I mean check in on old friends. Let’s act like people – real people -may actually see what we write. And care. And, let’s post in a way which encourages and builds each other up – almost like that’s in the Bible somewhere. (It might even be somewhere around 1 Thessalonians 5:11 – check me on this one.)

Let’s resolve to develop our patience muscle.

Wow! I put this one in the middle so maybe you (or my wife) would skip over it quickly. Just kidding. This is one I need – we all need. I’m not sure we can completely master it this year, but, with intentionality – and Christ’s strength – we can keep getting better. What if we thought about the most common things which test our patience – such as the traffic on the drive home at night – and we asked God to help us deal with it before we experience it – each time? Just a thought.

Let’s resolve to remember it’s not about us.

This one alone would surely change the world. What if we placed into our schema – into our immediate thought process – a simple understanding – OTHER PEOPLE MATTER – just as much as we do? Does it make a difference when you think someone values you? Of course it does. What if we valued others and demonstrated to them by how we treat them, what we say to them, our facial expressions, or even our thoughts toward them? Think it might change a few of our relational encounters this year? I think it might. Certainly seems worth trying.

Let’s resolve to listen more than we speak.

Ouch – if needed! It’s hard to value others when we are doing all the talking. (It’s also hard to hear from God.) It requires an act of humility when we remain silent at times we want to speak. Many times disagreements, arguments, even serious issues like prejudism or racism, have more to do with misunderstanding or miscommunication than anything. When we listen we demonstrate value – but, it also guards the tongue, protects relationships, and we might actually learn something.

Of course, ultimately the change the world needs is the Gospel, but who knows? Maybe if we change the way we treat others – including other believers – others might actually want to hear our Gospel.

I realize I’m simple-minded – but I do, henceforth, resolve.

Who’s with me?