Beth Armstrong

Christian wife, mom, & author. Doing life with my eyes fixed on Jesus. I walk, I stumble, I fall. But God is big. And this is what I write about… Thanks for stopping by!

Archive for the tag “challenges”

ISSUES EXIST…LOVE ENDURES

I have issues. It bugs me when people stand really close to me. I don’t like people messing with my hair. It drives me crazy when, in an empty public restroom with a dozen open stalls, the next person in chooses the stall right next to me.

Like I said…I have issues.

I have bigger issues than the ones I mentioned above, however. I’m stubborn—and it’s not easy to overcome. I’m arrogant—and it’s a daily battle within me to keep my ego in check. I don’t have a stellar bank account or the perfect marriage. And my kids are on pace to be every bit as flawed as their mother. Oh joy!

Like I said…I have issues. I’m not proud of them. I’m not flaunting them. I wish I didn’t have them. But the truth is I struggle with them just like you struggle with yours.

Everybody has issues.

Your friend has issues. She’s insecure as all get out. Your spouse has issues. He/she is arrogant, insensitive, and controlling. Your co-worker has issues. She’s overbearing and doesn’t let you get a word in edgewise. Your neighbor has issues. He lies constantly. You wonder why he feels the need to do that. The lady in your bible study has issues. She’s got a root of bitterness bigger than Dallas, but hides it as best she can. Your nephew has issues. He’s into pornography, but doesn’t see the harm in it.

Everybody has issues. And issues present us with an interesting enigma.

The question is, can you see past my issues? Can you overlook your co-worker’s issues? Can you embrace your neighbor despite his issues? Can you be kind to the lady in your bible study regardless of her issues? Can you get along with your friend even though she has issues?

Here’s what I have found to be true in this interesting enigma: issues exist…but love endures. At least a Christ-like love does.

Issues Exist Love EnduresJesus loved His disciples—all quirky, ill-equipped and flawed twelve of them. I don’t know if that was easy for Him or not. My guess is He wore thin of patience with a few every now and then because you know what? They had issues. Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Maybe they were easier to love than His disciples. But Martha certainly had issues, and Jesus brought those into light.

Jesus also loved the rich young man who ended up walking away from Him—materially wealthy, but eternally bankrupt. Ouch!

Jesus had compassion on all sorts of people who had all sorts of issues. He hung out with sinful people. He touched “unclean” people. He embraced the ones who were far from perfect. He did life with people who were self-absorbed, broken, messed up, whacked out, and didn’t buy what Jesus was selling.

They had issues. They had struggles. They had challenges. They had problems. They had difficulties. Their lives were not pretty little packages wrapped up with pretty little bows. And truth be told, neither are ours.

Can we have compassion like Jesus did on others who have issues? Can we hang out with people like Jesus did who are far from perfect? Can we do life with people like Jesus did who have hang-ups, problems, and struggles? Can we embrace people like Jesus did who don’t even acknowledge Jesus?

Can we love like Jesus? Regardless…in spite of…even though…
Issues exist. Love endures.
Go love like Jesus!

 

WHAT KIND OF LEADER ARE YOU?

Leadership. It’s nothing new. Since the dawn of creation, leaders have arisen and done their “leadership thing”—whatever “thing” that is. And probably since the inception of leadership, leaders have ruminated on different styles, best approaches, worst methods, and everything in between.

I’m sure in your experience you’ve witnessed several leaders or managers that you were impressed with, and an equal if not greater amount that you were less than impressed with.

As I have witnessed leadership in action over the last 10 years. I’ve been around some really great ones and some sub-par ones for sure. Great leadership is impressive to me. It’s inspiring. It’s energizing. But poor leadership drives me absolutely crazy. What I find interesting is that people who brag about how great their leadership is are quite often the ones who are the poorest leaders. Let me get real for a second…If you have to talk about how great you can lead and convince me of it, usually you are covering up the fact that you can’t.

I’ve thought a lot about leadership lately. In some small way, we’re all leaders. We all have some kind of influence over or potential impact on someone else we come into contact with in our day-to-day living. And in reality, very few of us are the great leaders we think we are.

As I’ve encountered and observed leadership lately in a variety of capacities, my random brain has begun developing mental images. Images of big machines as related to different styles of leadership. See if you can draw any parallels to your own style of leadership and/or that of others. Check it out:

  • The Bulldozer — You see a problem and instantly react. You plow through decisions full speed ahead. Your methods aren’t necessarily well thought out or well planned out. You face a challenge and carve a straight path to a solution, leaving fractures of people and teams in the wake of your path. And in the end, everyone knows you’ve been there because of the broken pieces you’ve left at the edges of your trail.
  • The Steamroller — You don’t like bumps in the road. You see them as challenges to your authority. You see a problem and simply want to smooth it over or flatten it out. Unlike the bulldozer, you can turn and navigate your path a little better. But in order for you to act, you’ve got to get heated up first. And when you feel the heat, the steam comes shortly thereafter. In the end, you may have removed the bumps and smoothed things over, but because of your hot-headedness you may have flattened some relationships in the process.
  • The Dump Truck – You’re big and heavy and like to throw your weight around. You’re loud and boisterous. When you see a problem, you back into it (beeping all the way so people are sure to take notice), and pile your own solutions on top of it. You can come at the issue with different angles, which can sometimes be pretty impressive. And once you dump your solutions, it appears as if the problem is fixed. But all you’ve done is cover it up. In the end, the real issues were never properly addressed, and chances are they’ll resurface over time.
  • The Backhoe – You face a challenge and before you act, you assess the situation. You study what exactly needs to be done and where exactly you need to position yourself in order to produce the best result. Once carefully positioned, you methodically and patiently dig to the root of the problem. When the hole is dug and the problem is solved, you refill the hole taking great care to see that there is no residual damage left behind. In the end and over time, because of your well devised planning and execution, it hardly appears that you’ve been involved.

What Kind of Leader Are You?Do any of these seem familiar to you?

In his book Heroic Leadership, Chris Lowney says, “Leaders thrive by understanding who they are and what they value, by becoming aware of unhealthy blind spots or weaknesses that can derail them, and by cultivating the habit of continuous self-reflection and learning.”

What kind of leader are you? If you’re in leadership and you have the courage, ask someone close to you to evaluate your style with regard to the big machines I’ve described. You just might learn something. And in order to be better leaders, don’t we all need to do a little self-reflection…and learning?

7 THINGS A GIRL NEEDS

Every girl needs a vampire. Wait…what? Yes, every girl needs a vampire. Well…let me clarify…that’s what the t-shirt read. Recently I saw a cute little 6th grade girl wearing a t-shirt that read “Every girl needs a vampire.” Now, I know with the recent success of the Twilight book and movie series that vampires are quite popular. (Or maybe “success” is an understatement. Perhaps it’s more of an ambush, barrage, or onslaught.) But, c’mon. Seriously? Every girl needs a vampire? I don’t think so. But it did get me thinking. What does every girl need?

Let me make something clear right away. I am a mom of teenage boys. I’m thankful I’m not raising teenage girls in this day and age. Props to those of you who are. So, I don’t claim to be an expert on what they truly need. However, two facts remain. First, many moons ago (more than I care to admit), I was a teenage girl. And second, I have closely observed family and friends and their daughters. And I do believe there are some key things that every girl needs. (Sorry, a vampire did not make my list.)

7 Things a Girl Needs: 

1)    A DAD—This is huge! Every girl needs a father who is fully engaged in his daughter’s life. She needs a dad who is far more than just “in the picture.” She needs him to demonstrate love, respect, leadership, etc. She needs him to show her what a true gentleman is. She needs him to treat her like a lady, make her feel special and valued. She needs him to model the qualities he would one day want her to choose in her future husband. Every girl needs a dad.

2)    A MOM—Moms, don’t be offended that I put you 2nd. Every girl needs a mom who does most of the things her dad does. She needs a mom who will guide and direct her, love and support her, etc. Every girl needs a mom who will correct her, discipline her, extend tough love, and occasionally allow her to fail. She needs a mom who teaches her to be strong and confident, yet act like a lady. However, she does not need a mom who will be her “BFF” all through elementary, middle, and high school. Every girl needs a mom.

3)    A CHEERLEADER—Yep…that’s right. Every girl needs a cheerleader in her life who tells her she can achieve, who picks her up when she’s down, who encourages her to keep trying, and who tells her she’s wonderful. She needs someone on her team. She needs someone who is vocally on her side. She needs someone who rallies the troops of reassurance or inspiration around her that will boost her confidence and embolden her to win. Every girl needs a cheerleader.

4)    AN ADVOCATE—She needs someone who is willing to go to bat for her, willing to fight for her, campaign for her, back her, and believe in her. She needs someone who intercedes on her behalf. She needs a champion, a supporter. Every girl needs an advocate.

5)    A CONFIDANTE—A true, tested, wise, and faithful confidante. She needs someone to confide in. Someone who won’t judge her or criticize her. She needs someone who she can share whatever lurks in her heart or brain without the risk of being laughed at or mocked. (Moms, be careful that you don’t “own” or “demand” this one…this one might not necessarily be you.) Every girl needs a confidante.

6)    A MENTOR—She needs someone to invest in her. Someone who’s willing to walk alongside her and guide her, to teach her right from wrong, to help her with tough decisions, to teach and counsel her. She needs an experienced individual who will lovingly and gently call her out when she’s out of line and direct her back to the right bath. Every girl needs a mentor.

7)    A ROLE MODEL—She needs good, wholesome, honest, hard-working women to observe from a distance and glean from. She needs to seek out other women—whether it’s up close and personal, or from afar—who she admires for the right reasons. She needs to take note of the favorable, positive qualities in women she respects and has high regard for. Every girl needs a role model.

Again…I want you to know that I’m not an expert, a counselor, or psychologist. I’m a mom who has seen countless young ladies make poor choices and get into all kinds of trouble. My heart breaks for them.

And I realize that there are those of you out there (whether you’re a single parent, divorced parent, grandparent, guardian, etc.) who are doing your absolute best at raising your daughter (or granddaughter, or young lady in your custody). I know there are less than ideal circumstances and situations that exist in our world, and we strive to put forth our best effort in spite of these challenges. I applaud all of you who are raising young ladies who are experiencing difficulties.

But with regard to all of the issues and challenges that constantly bombard kids today, there’s one thing I’m sure of…every girl does not need a vampire.

What else might you add to the list of seven things girls need?

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