Control or Contentment? Success or Selfishness?

I’m hearing lots about eliminating “toxic” people from my life–those who don’t contribute to my “success”–about walking away. I really like this idea, but does God?* In listening to and reading motivational “success” gurus I know I’ve gotta get up at 5:00 a.m. if I’m going to “be somebody.” But God says I am somebody. People always want to know what I “do” and the temptation is to say, “I’m a writer,” as this, unlike homemaking, is an approved occupation. But God approves of me. Just because.

Still, the messages are so compelling, as are the ideas of writing bestsellers and achieving other lauded goals, having an actually heeded day planner, and checking off my to-do lists each day. And the facts that vision boards don’t work for me, and my plans almost always are superceded by “life” doesn’t faze me. It can’t be that all those people are missing something–after all, they’re “successful”–I MUST TRY HARDER. FASTER, FASTER, WORK, WORK!

As I ponder all these things, and wonder why Christian motivational speakers consider non-Christians “successful” simply because they’re famous, I suddenly remember something I once heard, and now I am listening: If at first you don’t succeed, fry, fry, a hen. Ah, now that sounds like success to me. My daughter recently roasted a fat chicken in the Hobbit way – bacon, butter, herbs, and those things under as well as atop the skin. The chicken was first rinsed and then patted dry, to be cooked on high heat, and all in pursuit of a very crispy and delicious skin. Roasted along this dear bird were root vegetables, and all hearts were made glad.

When Rebekah asked what I wanted done with the chicken I could have told her my plan. Rather, I asked for her suggestions and out came An Unexpected Cookbook–The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery. Not my plan, but better than. I’m liking the sound of that: Not my plan, but better than. My daughter is happy, my family enjoys an excellent meal, and I don’t have to cook. Success!

* In Andrew Murray’s classic book, Humility, he writes: “Look upon every fellow man who tries or vexes you as a means of grace to humble you.”

What if my Success is More Successful than Your Success?

I know about Vision Boards and The Five Habits of Successful People; and about Morning Routines!!!  I’ve heard about The Seven Things Successful People have in Common, or is it Eight?

I’m familiar with the idea of turning off the loveliest of classical music, and certainly not listening to The Eagles telling me to Take it Easy, because there are motivational speakers to be heard while I drive.  And when I’m putting on make-up.  Then as I whip up a politically correct dinner, I can listen some more.

I know “successful” people are disciplined and determined and consistent.  At what?  At going after their dreams, being all they can be, living life to the fullest!

I am thankful for such people, and thankful I’m not one of them.  I, too, have my eyes on the prize, my goal clearly mapped out and pursued.  The prize is the high calling of God, and for me that is first and foremost the care and keeping of home and family.  The goal is to be so enamored of God, my ears so keenly tuned to the Holy Spirit, so after Jesus, that like Him, I only do what I hear my Father say to do (not there yet, but on the journey).

That means I get to live a life of adventure and excitement and a somewhat giddy unpredictability.  This life is much tougher than getting up at 4:00 am to write a by-God-I-will number of words daily, do my prescribed workout minutes, eat my egg whites, drink my protein shake, dress for success, and all before 9:00 a.m.

This life is for those crazy enough to forget all that and to try walking on water – no formulas, no gurus to look to.  Only Jesus.

This life is for those willing to labor to enter into His rest, to be led down the path straight to His blessed, favor-filled, victorious Garden of Eden life.  Success!

“NO!” to Corrupt Communication, “YES!” to Grace

file000868689848 “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” – Paul, in Ephesians 4:29

Paul says you have the say so.  YOU “let” no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth.  If you have to duct tape your lips together, you just say “No!” to corrupt words.  “Corrupt” in this instance is translated from the Greek word sapros, meaning:

  1. rotten, putrefied

  2. corrupted by one and no longer fit for use, worn out

  3. of poor quality, bad, unfit for use, worthless

So, what kind of words, then, do we use?  Words good for edifying and ministering grace.  Let’s begin with “edify”, which comes from the Greek word oikodome, meaning:

  1. (the act of) building, building up

  2. metaph. edifying, edification
    1. the act of one who promotes another’s growth in Christian wisdom, piety, happiness, holiness

  3. a building (i.e. the thing built, edifice)

Now, let’s look into ministering grace.  “Minister” is from the Greek word didomi, meaning:

  1. to give

  2. to give something to someone
    1. of one’s own accord to give one something, to his advantage
    2. to bestow a gift

  3. to grant, give to one asking, let have

  4. to supply, furnish, necessary things

  5. to give over, deliver
    1. to reach out, extend, present

    2. of a writing

    3. to give over to one’s care, entrust, commit
      1. something to be administered
      2. to give or commit to some one something to be religiously observed
  6. to give what is due or obligatory, to pay: wages or reward

  7. to furnish, endue

  8. to give
    1. to cause, profuse, give forth from one’s self
    2. to give, hand out lots
  9. to appoint to an office
  10. to cause to come forth, i.e. as the sea, death and Hell are said to give up the dead who have been engulfed or received by them
  11. to give one to someone as his own
    1. as an object of his saving care

    2. to give one to someone, to follow him as a leader and master

    3. to give one to someone to care for his interests

    4. to give one to someone to whom he already belonged, to return

  12. to grant or permit one
    1. to commission

And now for grace.  In the Bible, “grace” has different shades of meaning, from different roots, all of them marvelous, powerful, and wonderful.  In this verse, “grace” is derived from the Greek word charis, meaning:

  1. grace
    1. that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech

  2. good will, loving-kindness, favour
    1. of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues

  3. what is due to grace
  4. the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace

  5. the token or proof of grace, benefit
    1. a gift of grace

    2. benefit, bounty

  6. thanks, (for benefits, services, favours), recompense, reward

And now, let’s put ourselves on the receiving end.  Do I want to be the recipient of corrupt words–putrid words, words unfit for use, rotten words, death words?  I think not.  I was not created for this.  In God’s very image, I am created for love, for grace, and to minister grace.

Our mates, children, friends, and associates have no need of any corrupt communication which may be trying to “proceed out of our mouths.”

Choose life and say so.