Are You at Peace?

For the first time, I have a child old enough to understand what is going on at Christmas time.  The last three years, he was just too young to really put all the pieces together, but this year he has been full of questions and excitement, much to my delight.  We have discussed all of the different parties we’ll attend, gifts we need to buy and cookies to bake.  We have marked the advent calendar for important dates and the countdown has been on!  He nervously told Santa want he wants – actually he panicked and repeated what his older cousin wants – and is eager to know when packages with his name are going to appear under the tree.  But, as I write this, he is napping and when he wakes I’ll be dressing him head to toe in a shepherd costume for our church Christmas program.   More important than anything else to me is that he understands, as best he can at barely age four, the purpose of Christmas.

I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to meet with a group of young women one hour every week to learn, grow and share.  The last three weeks, we have been examining the Purpose of Christmas using Rick Warren’s study by the same name.  It is a fantastic little book, study guide and DVD set.  I have been reminded and refreshed as we have taken a few minutes to reflect.  Here are the three purposes of Christmas as outlined in the book.

1) Celebration!  Bring on the parties!  When the angel appeared to the shepherds the night Jesus was born, the angel said “Fear not, for behold I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people…”  Christmas is a time to be merry.  That is why I participate at full force, baking cookies, having guests, attending parties, dressing up, eating sweet treats, singing all kinds of Christmas songs, watching as many Hallmark movies and Christmas classics as possible, wrapping gifts, decorating and loving every minute!  (sing it with me now) …cel…e…brate good times…come on!  I would encourage those of you who are resisting the hype to go with it.  Christmas is about the fact that God loves us and came to earth to prove it.  If you have a relationship with God and have experienced the joy spiritual life brings day in and day out, you should have no problem celebrating!

2) Salvation! The angel continued…”for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord….”  The second purpose of Christmas is salvation.

I know some readers found this blog because I frequently speak on the topics of personalities, leadership and entrepreneurship and you read for information on those topics.  I thank you!  However, before I was ever a speaker, author and personality trainer, I was a Christian or follower of Christ.  And Christmas is the perfect time to talk about it.  So, I would be a hypocrite and a liar to act like I think Christmas is just about spending money, gathering family and eating way too much.  For me, it truly is a special time of year and I MUST share.

I have no idea why you put up a tree.  I put up a tree and place a star on top because Christ was born.  Christ was born because we, the human race, need a Savior.  Someone to rescue us.  From what?  From ourselves.  From our messed up ideas and actions that leave us hurt, broken, empty, frustrated, confused, bitter and hopeless.  If you and I did not NEED a Savior, I hardly think God would have gone to all the trouble to come!  In one of the DVD’s Rick Warren put it this way, the solution to your problems is not in a program or a place or a pill, but in a person.  I have found that to be so true.  Without Christ, I would be nothing.  I wouldn’t even know where to begin.  He gives my life purpose and I am so thankful to have a Savior.

3)Reconciliation! The end of the angel’s speech…”peace on earth, goodwill toward men.”  We hear that line all the time.  Did you know the Angel of the Lord is the one who said it to sheep herders who were out in a field the night Jesus was born?  Shepherds.  Seriously?  Why not appear to the authorities?  Alert the media!  God’s ways are not like ours.  Anyway, the third purpose of Christmas is peace or reconciliation. To quote from the Purpose of Christmas:

There will be no peace on earth until there is peace in nations.

There will be no peace in nations until there is peace in communities.

There will be no peace in communities until there is peace in families.

There will be no peace in families until there is peace in individuals.

There will be no peace in individuals until there is peace with God.

Are you at peace with God?  That is the ultimate question.  I’ll ask it again.  Are YOU at PEACE with God?

If you are not at peace with your creator, then I’ll go out on a limb here and say you are at war with Him.  You are fighting an internal battle and at the core of who you are, there is no peace.  You know it, and I know it because I have been there.

When Jesus, the Prince of Peace, grew up, He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through me.”  Jesus was born so that we may have a way to be reconciled to God.  Jesus was born to lay down is life for you.  He took the punishment for the mess you have made.  He paid for it on the cross so that you could have peace with God.  This Christmas, the greatest gift you can receive is God’s grace.  Believe, have faith in what Christ has done and in who He is and you will find peace.

And then, “goodwill toward men.”  Reconcile to God first and then you can reconcile your differences with others.  Who do you need to make peace with in your family or amongst your friends?  Oh boy, that’s a tough one.  No better time than Christmas.

Hmmm…now this sounds like a topic on relationships.  More to come my friends….

Merry Christmas.

 

 

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the year…except when it’s not.

Personalities: the good, the bad, and the downright ugly

(excerpt from my monthly newsletter – November 2011)

If you have attended a Wired that Way training, then you may recall me saying that any strength you have, carried to the extreme, becomes a weakness.  I’d like to show you how people can quickly transform from Christmas angel into a person so difficult to deal with, you could scream.  Allow me to introduce you to each personality functioning in three different modes: the good, the bad and the ugly.  

The good

Popular or playful Sanguine will be the life of all your holiday parties.  Living in their strengths, they are much desired as party guests, are sure to entertain the crowd, contribute creative desserts and keep the mood light and joyful.  They love to go Christmas shopping, hang shiny objects from ceiling to floor and live to tell about it all.  Truly a magnetic person.

Perfect or Proper Melancholy is the best at making the holiday plans.  They make the lists and check them twice.  They are sure to schedule ahead, know how to get things done and thrive when working alone on their various projects.  Melancholies desire a perfect execution of their plans and are sensitive to making sure their gifts and ideas are truly meaningful.

Powerful Choleric thrives on all they are able to accomplish during such a busy season.  Their ability to make quick decisions serves them well when stores are crowded and the shopping list is long.  They are great at pulling things together on the fly while making it appear as though they have been planning for months.   

Peaceful Phlegmatic takes a more mellow approach to the holiday madness.  They view the season as a time to relax, eat, drink and be merry.  They don’t want to stress during a time when peace on earth should reign.  Their easygoing nature serves them well as they don’t tend to over-think gifts and are tuned into the reason for the season.  They are cooperative and pleasant at family gatherings, enjoying every minute as long as chaos is avoided and they aren’t forced to play attention-getting games.

The bad

When people have never been introduced to the personality topic, they are much more likely to function off balance in terms of strengths and weaknesses.  If their strengths were honed, you would be impressed, but instead they take their strengths a bit too far.  Carried away and lost in their own good intentions, some people begin behaving in ways that drive others crazy.  The annoying part is the complete lack of self-awareness which most people define as immaturity.  And so, the most wonderful time of the year takes a bad turn.

Popular or Playful Sanguine will often default into using the sheer charm and wit of their personality to get their way, control the conversation and skip holiday “chores”.  They talk too much, become too loud and too wild for some party guests.  Their love for shopping easily translates into irrational spending.  After Christmas, this personality often discovers shocking balances on their credit cards and will realize they spent way more than they originally intended.  

Perfect or Proper Melancholy may become paralyzed if their schedule is thrown off.  They want everything and everyone to be perfect.  Their entire focus can shift from the people whom they have planned for, to perfecting the tasks at hand.  Generally, their expectations go unmet and they are slightly, if not completely, disappointed.  So, they tend to avoid getting too personal and instead focus on physical needs and sticking to the plan.

Powerful Choleric takes over.  They categorize holidays as deadlines and will not wait for others to get with the program. They will decide for everyone what, when and how things should happen.  If you buck their authority, they will be mad at you regardless of the fact that many of their choices were made impulsively.  During the busy season of holiday preparation, they will work beyond the norm in order to accomplish more than should be humanly possible.  

Peaceful Phlegmatic gives up.  In order to avoid conflict and maintain peace, the phlegmatic will often compromise their standards and allow others to decide.  They hide their emotions and default to idleness giving the “I don’t care” or “whatever” answer for most everything.

The Ugly

This is how the cycle of bad behavior ruins your Christmas party. As people function outside of their natural strengths, (the bad) they begin to feel the weight of unmet emotional needs.  Why?  Well, who wants to offer praise to the out-of-control Sanguine? Who wants to applaud the Choleric who has become a drill Sergeant or the rigid  Melancholy who has everyone walking on egg shells? Who is going to respect the lazy, apathetic attitude of the phlegmatic?  No one.  And so, emotional needs go unmet, and bad behavior becomes downright ugly and you can no longer stand these people.

Now, the popular or playful sanguine is acting like a complete fool.  Because of their insecurities, they absolutely cannot stop talking and may even begin to model a con artist, scheming and plotting against their enemies.  They often become a true party animal in their quest to find acceptance, attention, affection and approval.

Ugly for the melancholy looks a whole lot like obsessed.  They become obsessed over every detail, nitpicking and criticizing continually.  Their negative attitude doesn’t exactly welcome friendly conversation, so they tend to withdraw and become antisocial.  All of this because they feel no one understands, nor could they.

The choleric’s ugly side is a mean one.  Their temper is ever present, easily set off and they become irrational.  Focused on power and control, they act like a dictator and will manipulate conversations and others’ feelings in order to win.  And, can you say WORKAHOLIC?

Out of control, the peaceful phlegmatic is extremely stubborn. They won’t budge, won’t make any decisions and they seemingly block out all feelings.  They easily become a pawn who feels completely disrespected and unworthy, and who deep down is harboring a ton of resentment.

Oh, my.  Does this really happen?  All the time.  I see it everywhere.  In families, businesses, churches, lines at the grocery store, you name it.  People are so out of touch with who they are and who they are meant to be, that they operate in total dysfunction.

Sometimes, I get there myself.

The key is self-awareness; understanding what needs to grow and what needs to go and then doing something about it.  I hope this Christmas, you will be aware of how your personality affects your perspective and that perhaps, that knowledge alone, will birth positive results.

Afterall, this is the most wonderful time of the year.