Influence and Relationships: Finding Your Passion for Service Pt. 5

Image courtesy of Sommai at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

During the months of January and February, I’m teaching a workshop at my church about finding God’s Will as you serve Him. This blog provides brief summaries of the previous classes in order to help people stay up to date if they can’t attend or have missed a session.

Previous Posts In the Series:

Some of the handouts are available on their respective posts. If you can’t locate the appropriate handout, feel free to request them from me here.

This past week, we focused more on How we serve in relation to our own personal interaction style.

How You Influence

People tend to fall into two categories when influencing people: directive or informative. If you’re directive, then you will note something needs to be done and ask someone to do it. If you’re informative, you will point out the situation but not point-blank ask them to take care of if. For example, your car is low on gas. If you’re directive, you might say, “Will you fill up the tank while you’re out?”  If you’re informative, you might say, “The car is low on gas.”

This might seem like a small difference, but it isn’t. I’ve seen situations where I’ve made a statement to a person who tends to be informative, and they will assume I’ve asked them to do something. That is not the case. I’m directive, so if I want you to do something, I’ll be straight to the point.

How You Define Relationships

The other dimension of style is how we define relationships: initiating or responding. If you tend to initiate, you focus on what’s around you. Initiators tend to greet and interact with people. If you’re responsive, you tend to focus more on what’s going on inside you. Responders tend to move at a slower pace and observe more.

The Four Interaction Styles

When you combine these dimensions, you get the four interaction styles developed by Linda Berens, Ph.D.

  • Chart the Course:  Directing-Responding
  • Behind the Scenes:  Informing-Responding
  • Get Things Going: Informing-Initiating
  • In Charge: Directing-Initiating

These styles have their own particular characteristics. For example, their approach to a goal:

  • Chart the Course likes to make deliberate, thought-out decisions that lead to the result desired.
  • Behind the Scenes likes to consult others in their data-gathering process in order to make the best possible result.
  • Get Things Going likes to seek collaboration in their decision-making so the result is one everyone can stand behind.
  • In Charge likes to move quickly in decision-making, so they can see an achievable result in a short period of time.

This is a brief overview, and not enough to help you identify and understand how interaction styles affect your own behavior. For instance, you fall into one of these styles, but they are situational. You tend to use your preferred style, but under certain circumstances, will shift to a different style. I shared more about this in the workshop. If you missed this session and want to catch up, feel free to contact me using the link listed earlier in this post.

More information can, also, be found on Linda Berens website.

Interaction Styles and Service

How does this affect your journey while identifying how you want to serve in your Christian walk? The more aware you are of your styles and behaviors, the easier it will be for you to identify an area that fits you. God gave us gifts, and our personalities are part of the equation. For example, I’m an In Charge. I prefer to lead or at least help lead. If I’m not leading, I have to work hard to keep my opinion to myself when I don’t agree with how someone is handling the job. This doesn’t mean I can’t follow, but I might want to consider this when I’m trying to find my niche for serving God.

Are you working on your Mission Statement and collecting items for your Vision Board? Moving forward, we will focus primarily on building our vision boards.

 

 

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I Said No to an Abortion

Me at 17

I am a statistic. A statistic for women who chose not to have an abortion.

I was seventeen. Most of the people I knew pushed for me to have an abortion, pressured me to, in fact. This was only a few years after the Supreme Court passed Roe vs. Wade. Unlike today, a teen pregnancy ruined reputations. It generated scandalous gossip. We lived in a small town. People talk.

Prior to becoming pregnant, I held no strong conviction about abortion. My church taught that life began at birth.

For the first time in my life, I stood against the wishes of my parents, community, and friends. I said no to an abortion. I didn’t expect to make this decision at that age. I had graduated high school a year early and started on the fast track for college and a career. I expected to go beyond a four-year degree, maybe even get a PhD. I wanted to find a career that allowed me to help people and gave me the opportunity to write.

With an abortion, I could stick to my plan. Without it, I waved good-bye to my dreams.

Still I said no.

Because I said no to the abortion, I can point to five people in my immediate family who wouldn’t exist.

FIVE PEOPLE!

Heidi Cox

Heidi, photo by David Blue

My beautiful daughter, Heidi, would never have drawn her first breath. She is a gifted and talented actress, screenwriter, and producer. She has the most beautiful singing voice, but an abortion would have snuffed out her voice within a few minutes. Many people benefit from her sweet and kind heart. She helps people with special needs, whether Alzheimers patients or autistic children. She inspires people with her own story. She is my Starshine.

If I had chosen the abortion, I would not have married Heidi’s father. Even though I divorced him a few years later, without that marriage my second daughter would not exist. Yes, Tisha struggles in her life now, but she has an exuberance for life and a smile that lights up a room. Tisha gave birth to three of my grandchildren. My grandchildren bring joy to my heart every day.

My children and me three years after my divorce.

My children and me three years after my divorce.

Five living, breathing people in my life that would have never drawn a breath.

I can not imagine life without them.

Two of my grandchildren on the first day of school

Did I give up on the goals and plans for my life? That’s one of the reasons most people list as a reason to make abortions available.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?  Matthew 16:26

I did not give up on my goals. I altered the plan. I chose to be responsible for my poor choices and not to become a victim. I pursued my dreams anyway. I worked hard and got my Bachelors and Masters degrees. In my career, I’ve helped people in various ways including:

  • running a welfare-to-work training program
  • conducting crime prevention and safety seminars
  • training adults how to communicate with each other with respect
  • helping adults develop the skills they need to advance in their jobs which, also, helps them support their families
  • teaching families how to get out of and stay out of debt
  • sharing my story through this blog
  • speaking to people about finding faith in the midst of tragedy
  • sharing my faith with church groups
  • empathizing with hurting people

I doubt I would be good at any of these if I had the abortion.

When I refused to have an abortion, tongues wagged. So what? I bet tongues wagged in Nazareth when Mary became pregnant. People eventually move on and forget, especially if we move on and show them the value of the lives we’ve saved.

Many more people walk this earth because someone else said no to an abortion. I know quite a few of them.

How many do you know?

Note: If you’ve had an abortion, God still has a place for you. I am not here to condemn you. I’m here to help people understand that abortion takes away more than one life. Many of my friends suffer because they made the other choice. If I can help, please comment below. Your comment will not be seen unless I approve it to appear on the blog. Just tell me what you prefer.

Sharing the Light of Christ

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I spend a good bit of time “seeking” before I write my posts. I let ideas stew in my mind while I ponder, “What story of faith should I share?”  It’s not always an outright prayer, but, all the same, I’m asking for His guidance as I prepare.

Sometimes the answer is obvious.

Sometimes, current events send me in a different direction.

Today, as I sat down and began to form this post, a knock came at the door. I peered through the window. Two ladies dressed for church smiled back at me.   Jehovah’s Witnesses regularly visit our neighborhood, so I wasn’t surprised to see them. I spoke with them for a few moments and explained that I was in the midst of writing my post for my faith-based blog.

Why mention this?

I am willing to change direction if I feel the Spirit prodding me to do so. This unexpected visit prompted me to  change topics and write about reaching out to others.

We have many ways to reach people and share our faith. My blog is one of the ways I do this. I, also, have my speaking ministry. This is how I reach out to people.

That doesn’t mean I don’t seek one-on-one opportunities. I do, but my approach is different. I’m not the kind of person who knocks on a stranger’s door to preach the Word to them.

Some people respond to that person who shows up at the door.  Some people find and follow my blog because of the topics I’ve discussed. Some people hear me speak because they happen to be wherever I am speaking at the time.

What is my point?

Jesus instructed us to shine His light no matter where we are.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:14-16

We don’t have to step far out of our comfort zone to shine His light. He might ask that of you, but He gave each of us gifts that allow us to evangelize and share. For some of you, your actions shine His light. For others, it’s your words. In all cases, He is there to help us.  How does He guide you to shine His light?

So,  next week’s post will be what I planned to write about today…unless God tells me otherwise.

For now, shine  God’s love and mercy over all who cross your path.