Updated: Jun 1, 2019
Many communities, like the one I live in, encourage us to underestimate the role we play when things do not work the way we want them to. We watch as our communities, relationships, careers etc. decay around us waiting for a savior to come make things better. That savior is the government, other people or God. We fail, like Timothy once did, to acknowledge the that God has empowered us to make things right. And this is what Paul told him:
“God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power, and of love and of a sound mind”.
I told colleagues at the office, that one the biggest lessons I took from my father was that of self-inflection (or internal blame). Whenever I got into any type of trouble or tough spot, his reaction would always be in the form of: What actions did you take to put yourself in this position and what do you need to do to get out of it - yourself. I found his reactions punishing while I was growing up. Now that he is no longer with us, I realize i was being empowered. In many ways, I am resilient in the face of failure and disappointment because of how he'd help me think through challenges. He was a pastor and yet he never allowed avoidance, I was responsible for getting into any situation and powerful enough to get out of discomfort.
Self inflection refers to “careful thought about one’s own behavior and beliefs”. It is natural to blame others and complain about the behavior of others when we find ourselves in uncomfortable circumstances (especially failure and in disagreements with other individuals), but it is not helpful. we must remember that we are only in control of our own actions and not of others. The surest way to improve life’s outcomes is to improve our own inputs, not to hope that others do better. Yes, sometimes our spouses, parents, children, colleagues and others come short, but what they do is not up to you – your response is.
What can you do about everything you’ve just read? I suggest you identify the areas of your life where things are not working way you want them to – this can be your job, education, career, marriage or relationship with others and with God. Once you’ve identified this, it may be tempting to make excuses of our circumstances around those areas don’t work in your favor. But I encourage you today to ignore the excuses and focus on the one thing that should work in your favor – you. So ask yourself, what must I do to make things better? And remember that whatever you decide, you have been empowered to succeed.
"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" Philippians 2:3-5