When They “Should” All Over You

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My husband and I have this saying that we stole from a former commercial fisherman named Jack*.

Jack used to say people will “should” all over you, if you let them.

As in, You “should” do this.

You “should” do that.

So when we feel the inward pull to do more than we want to, we say that “People are shoulding on us.”

And we’ve had to learn the hard way that people “should” on each other.  We all do it.  We place expectations on each other that we don’t realize are slowly suffocating the life out of the ones we love.

And so we’ve had to learn how to get very good at saying “No”, “No, thank you”, and “I’m sorry that’s not going to work for me”.

Because ultimately, it’s no one else’s job to guard our own hearts except our own.

God has tasked us with that responsibility.

 

Keep vigilant watch over your heart;
    that’s where life starts.

Proverbs 4:23

(The Message)

 

God wasn’t kidding.

Everything that flows from your life starts with your heart

And nothing kills our hearts quite like “should”.

We can get so caught up in looking ahead that we forget to live in the now, the present of our lives.

We worry and fret that we aren’t doing enough and so we redouble our efforts to get more done.

To not only do more but to produce more.

And that is death to our hearts.

It is not up to us.

We are in God’s process of learning to listen to our hearts just as we listen for His.

And if His spirit is within us  – it is Him who works in us BOTH to work but also to want to do good things.

But we have to pay attention.

It’s far to easy to drift into auto-pilot and just do what we believe is the “right-thing” rather than allow God’s spirit to direct our steps to do the “God-thing”.

And there is a huge chasm between the two.

We can be so busy doing the “right thing” that we miss out on God’s “best thing”.

For it is [not your strength, but it is] [a]God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure.

Philippians 2:13

(The Amplified Bible)

 

So what if instead of tackling our to-do lists and striving to meet other people’s expectations of us, we stopped to ask ourselves what we WANT to do today and from there asking the Father what he thinks about that?

What would your day look like?

Would you have more peace?

Would you have more fun?

Because you were created to live in freedom.  And the choice to give to others can only truly come from that place of freedom.

 

 It was for this freedom that Christ set us free [completely liberating us]; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery [which you once removed].

Galatians 5:1

The Amplified

 

And so for the past 2 years, we have been learning as a church how to walk in a season of stewardship.

That means that God is giving us the freedom to choose to take care of ourselves and the things and people he has placed in our care.

 

As a mother, that means taking care of yourself so you have energy, time, and the mental clarity to love on your kids.

 

As someone in a ministry position, that means having interests outside of church so that you are recharged and able to face the demands and needs of others.  This also means, being completely comfortable saying “no” to others.  It was never your job to save them – only to point them to the One who can.

 

As a human being, that means saying “no” to the requests of others so that you have space and time to recharge and just be.

 

 

There are seasons and times when we slip into absolute apathy and God does challenge us to give more, but not this time.  This is a season of stepping back and allowing God to do what He does best.  This is a season of being present.  Present with Him.  This is a season that is all about lifting our eyes upward to connect with the Father and is less about reaching out to others, which is why there is such an opposition to it.

 

 

This is a strategic move of the enemy because:

 

“Should” will burn out all of our energy to seek God first.

 

“Should” will leave you wondering and striving and exhausted.

 

“Should” makes it very difficult to experience the presence of God.

 

So today, I challenge you to step away from all of the demands of others, whether they be spoken or unspoken.  And to step into what the Father has for you.  I promise you it’s worth it and full of more of His presence and grace than you or I could contain.

 

You can purchase Joyce’s latest book, Scattered, Finding God in Your Story at Amazon.com

 

 

Scattered, Finding God in Your Story

 

 *Jack Frost was a commercial fisherman before God caught ahold of his heart.  You can check out more of his resources at Shiloh Place Ministries 

Courageous Thinking

We live in a weird time in history.

Never has it been easier to build a following, construct a cause, and self-promote.

It’s actually quite amazing.

We can self-publish our own books, market our own events, and reach out to an unlimited crowd.

Our generation is perhaps one of the luckiest in terms of being handed the tools to pursue our dreams seemingly without limit.

But I can’t help but wonder sometimes, what is it all for?

Because you see, it’s really easy to get behind a cause or a well-known speaker that we support, or even become one ourselves.

A speaker, that is – not a cause.

 

Periodically, I think it’s healthy to ask ourselves, “Why do we do what we do?”

 

And that’s a really tricky thing to discern sometimes.

Because we want to believe the best about ourselves and others.

But the truth is, that we are all human.  And like every other human on the planet – we like the attention from doing things well.  We like the accolades, the atta-boys or atta-girls.  The recognition that we have succeeded in our area of influence.

Is it wrong?

No.

Everybody likes a pat on the back.  And we need those.  They encourage us to keep going.

But things get wonky when we veer of the road of clear thinking into one of two ditches.

The pattern of doing things because we feel obligated – which will lead us to burn out.

or

Doing things to get the approval of others (the praise of men) – which will lead us to compromising our values and failing to truly give to others from pure motives.

 

We are left wondering how to stay on the straight and narrow.

 

How about we start with a little bit of honesty.

 

Self-reflection is a discipline that isn’t easy.

 

It’s not comfortable to take a hard look at ourselves and gauge where we’ve let ourselves slip:

Are we helping the people around us out of genuine concern for their well-being or because we are afraid they won’t approve of us if we don’t?

Are we cleaning up the messes of others because if we don’t do it, nobody will?

Are we bitter with our family, friends, and co-workers for not meeting our needs, yet too afraid to speak up about what it is that we actually need?

Are we promoting ourselves on our social media sites because we sincerely want to help and encourage others or do we do it so that we can derive a sense of self-worth from the attention?

Are we frustrated with our lives because we haven’t embraced the feedback of others who love and care about us?

 

You’ll find that the best business coaches, counselors, and top performers in the world practice this type of self-reflection on a regular basis.  And the truly excellent ones, teach others to do the same.

Even God wants us to take time to evaluate ourselves.

Because if we can’t bring ourselves to admit that we need help and we need change, God as a loving father will help us. But let me tell you from personal experience, it so much less fun.

 

But if we evaluated and judged ourselves honestly [recognizing our shortcomings and correcting our behavior], we would not be judged.

1 Corinthians 11:31

Amplified Bible


So, why is it that we do what it is that we do?

 

 

 

If some of the scenarios above sound like you, know that you’re not alone.  New seasons of life always come with a learning curve. . . and with it, permission to rediscover our own hearts and desires.

 

 

 

I’d love to hear about your courageous thinking and the changes from it!  Feel free to share in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Mountains Won’t Move

 

mountains-2228273_1920

I’ve had several requests for help this past month, some really fun opportunities and others that were heart-breaking pleas for help.

One was extremely hard to say no to, due to the sadness of the situation, but I knew with everything in my heart that I needed to say “no”.

It was such a difficult thing to say no to, that afterwards, I crawled into the shower and sobbed.

It is excruciating to say “no” to people.

People with very real need, people with very tender hearts.

And that’s really hard, especially when you know that you could change the outcome of the story.

That with God’s help, you could move mountains.

 

And yet, I hear the Father’s heart saying, “No, not this time.”

 

Why?

Why would God say no to something that is very much in his power to give through another person?

 

Because there are some journeys that were meant to be taken alone with only him.

Those mountain roads that only He can navigate with you.

No person, no church, no gifting can ever replace that.

 

I think sometimes, that it can be a good thing when our churches and the people in our lives disappoint us.

It’s a healthy reminder that at the end of the day, you and I are just people.

But I can only imagine how hard it must be for God to delay things that are in his power to give.

He is still the God who heals.

He is still the God who is with us in our loneliness.

He is still the God who sees and knows and is all powerful.

 

But sometimes He doesn’t come through like we hoped.

And sometimes the Christians we know, and the churches we attend don’t come through the way we thought they would.

And this is hard to swallow, whether you believe in God or not.

Disappointment is never easy.

 

But disappointment can be an opportunity to make room in our lives for God to be God.

Not the idea of a grandiose God who hovers above us, punishing us for our sins.

But a God who loves us better than we know.  Who loves like a Father and gives us his best, even if it might cause us to misunderstand him.

It’s about making room in our lives to tell God things that hurt us and that disappoint us.

And for those of us who have been through a season like this – it is one of learning to let go.

Learning to let God do what only he can do in the lives of those we love.

To step back, and not be the hero of the show.

To let him do what only he can do.

Remembering that he is faithful and able to be trusted.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: “Mountains” by Skeeze, Permission through C.C. by 2.0

 

 

 

 

Humility

Humility

Pride is a funny thing.

For that matter, so is humility.

They aren’t quite what I thought they were.

On some surface level I had a general idea but if I was going to be real honest with you, I don’t know if I could have told you why God hates pride so much.

But I’m in the know, now.

You want to know too, don’t you?

Okay, but you owe me a latte or something.

 

God hates pride because. . . (drumroll, please) it’s a relationship killer.

 

Yep, that’s the big secret.

God hates pride because it breaks down authentic, heart connections.

And on the flip side, God L-O-V-E-S humility because it promotes very real, very close relationships.

 

So this got me thinking.

What the heck is humility anyways.

And I don’t mean a definition out of the dictionary.

I mean if I take humility off the rack, what does it look like on a person?

 

 

It’s not self-depreciating.

If you’re good at something, own it.

No, seriously.

I told you, humility is not what we think it is.  When we self-depreciate ourselves its so we LOOK humble, but inside we are high five-ing our awesome selves.

Might as well just get it out in the open.

Besides, self-depreciating yourself is no laughing matter. . . unless you’re a writer then it’s just plain funny.

 

It’s not comparing yourself to others.

It’s like those old Nintendo racing games.

Every car had some pluses and some minuses, which kinda all evened them out in the end.  We’re all in this race together, except if you had the cheat codes, then your car was definitely the best, but if you have cheat codes, you owe it to the rest of us to share the love.

 

It takes time to rest.  

Whoa.

Hold up.

What does rest have to do with humility?

I know, right?  I was thinking the same thing.  We could be besties, the way you read my mind.

Rest is the simple act of acknowledging that hey, maybe I’m not Wonder Woman after all (or Superman, you choose.  They’re your tights).

And yeah, I’m human and I have needs.

Like a couch, some Netflix and a bag of Doritos.

Don’t knock it people.

Doritios, right there on the bottom of the Needs Pyramid.

What?!  It’s not there.

Well, they should be.

 

Humility is a team player.

It’s open to hearing new ideas. . . like putting Doritos on that dang Needs Pyramid.

 

And humility is okay with saying “no”.

Not to Doritos.

Humility would never say no to Doritos.

 

And maybe the most defining mark of humility is this. . . it’s cool being itself.

Humble people are comfortable in their own skin.

You know, like your grandpa when he wears his tank top and boxers with socks rolled up to his knees.  You know what I’m talking about – that is a man who is secure in his own skin . . . and fashion choices.

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline

Colossians 3:12

The Message

 

I could use more humility in my life.

I could do with less comparison of what I think I should be.

I could do with more rest.

I could do with more saying “no”.

And I could definitely do more with just being me.

Maybe you could too.

We live in a world full of causes and needs – and we will get to them.  We will, because God has poured his spirit into us.  Those things won’t get left undone.  But in all of our doing, lets not forget that we are people and not vending machines.

Maybe that’s the truest mark of humility.

That we remember that we are human.

 

Love you,

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Anxiety much?

I’ve been feeling anxious lately.

It’s that obnoxious type of anxiety because I once had peace – a lot of it and it feels like I’ve misplaced it somehow.

Doctors have run tests and scans and I am perfectly healthy by all accounts.

But I could barely function.

Peace, joy, and a host of other good things were seeping out of my life and I couldn’t understand why.

I was being the mom my kids needed.

I was being the worship leader that my church wanted.

I was being the wife that supported my husband.

I was being the daughter I should be.

I was being the friend that was always available to listen.

I was doing all the things I thought God wanted me to do and be.

All of these roles serve people I love. And I am passionate about being all of those roles- mother, worship leader, wife, daughter, friend.

But all of me was hurting.

My body.

My mind.

My spirit.
Let me just say, not a single person asked me to be something I’m not.

 I did that all on my own.

I’m driven by nature and sadly sometimes still find my worth in what I can do rather than who I am.

Relate much?
Am I called to be all of those things.
Wife.

Mother.

Daughter.

Worship Leader.

Friend.
Absolutely.

So since last Fall, I’ve been muddling through what life should look like for me, because I don’t want to be that exhausted again.  Ever.
But thank God for good friends and strong coffee.
I have a friend, and musical mentor extraordinaire, tell me that she felt like God was telling her that I was taking on too much.

That was what God gave me as my starting place and like I said, the past 6 months have been a painfully slow learning process.

So what’s the secret of juggling the demands of life without losing ourselves in the process?

For me, it’s been learning about boundaries and rest.

Really practical, I know.

But sometimes the most practical words are the most spiritual and more importantly, the ones that God is speaking in the moment.

“Stress was hurting me physically and emotionally. But the Lord also began to show me that stress was hurting me spiritually. I was allowing the external pressures of life to affect my internal peace and joy. If I didn’t make some major changes, I was never going to fully enjoy the life Jesus died to give me.”
Joyce Meyer 

from her book “Overload”

I’m hoping to blog more on this- because it’s important.

It’s important to remember to have some fun in this life and that we are worth far more than what we produce. 

No

 

I am so loving the word “no” right now.

I would sing it like a choir boy if I could.

Do-Re-Mi-NOOOOOOOO.

 

 

“No” is the word that God gave us as freedom from distracting thoughts, over busy schedules, expectations to be something we are not.

I’m not talking about character issues.

I’m talking about feeling anxious all the time.

I’m talking about being afraid that we are not being who others think we should be.

Maybe even, who we think God wants us to be.

 

Remember: A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop. I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7

(The Message)

 

Stingy and lavish.

So the moral is we should give more and not less right?

 

I don’t think that’s what it means.

Plus it’s all followed up with “God loves it when the giver delights in the giving”.

I think it’s about our motivation.

 

It comes back to heart.

I’ve had moments where I have given lots out of a stingy heart, because it was what I thought was expected, and I’ve given little with all of the love I had within me.

God was way more excited that I was excited about the little than the lot.

 

Geez, if I’m honest, I can’t remember the last time I was excited to give of my time or my money or my prayers.

I just got in the habit of giving because it’s what we Christians do.

But this burnt out girl is learning, it’s not enough to just give.

God wants us engaged in our giving- from hearts that overflow.

He’s asking us,

Why do we do what we do?

Do we give because we want to?

Or because we think it’s expected?

 

Which brings me back to my Sesame Street rant on why I loooove “No.”

“No”, protects our hearts and our motivations.

So if we are going to have and keep big hearts towards people, we have to be able to have and keep our big “no’s” towards the things that would cause us to feel less than delighted in our giving.

That’s really hard because it hits right at the heart of what people will think of me.

Yeouch.

I know, it’s hard to say no.

We want people to think that we are the awesome people we know we are- but sometimes the most awesome and sincere and honest thing we can do is nicely say “no”. It keeps our hearts from resenting people and it keeps what flows from our hearts pure.

“No” gives us rest.

“No” gives us breathing room.

“No” gives us space to really discern our own hearts and God’s.

 

So, not that you need it, but if you were looking for someone to give you permission to say “no”, I’m saying it.  Say “no” to things the things that have been slowly killing your joy and your relationships with others.  Say “no” to the false expectation to be something you’re not.

Because here’s the best part, in the “no” we have more “yes” for each other and for a God that loves us enough to give us a word like “no”.

 

 

 

Website: www.joyceackermann.com

Twitter:@joyceackermann

 

Why Boundaries Are Necessary

Why Boundaries Are Neccessary

I saw this tonight and I couldn’t wait to share this.  Great post by Kris Vallotton on boundaries, why they aren’t selfish and how to start creating some.

 

By Kris Vallotton
October 19, 2016
www.krisvallotton.com

If you don’t manage your life, others will. If you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will. If you don’t set boundaries for yourself, the crowd will get what they think they need from you, but soon there will be nothing left to get. Then they will discard you like an old pair of shoes.

MANAGING YOUR SOUL

If you set boundaries to manage your soul, many won’t like it. They will accuse you of being arrogant, uncaring, not spiritual, unloving, etc. They will tell you about the life of Jesus, who never turned away anyone…of course He didn’t begin His public ministry until he was 30 and died at 33. He also had no wife or children to take care of…no soccer games to go to, no sleepless nights…up caring for a crying babies etc…

If you have a public platform, most people think you are obligated to carry out their will…pray for them at their convenience, take pictures until all you can see lights, hear every detail of their story, while 40 other people wait in line behind them, follow you out to your car or talk to you over the bathroom stall. You are expected to answer every post, email, phone call, text, etc.

If you love God and are passionate about caring for people…if you give people hope and believe in miracles…if you pour out your soul for the broken and the poor…if you are radically generous…you WILL have favor with God and man. BUT if you don’t steward the favor of God…if you let the fear of man be your shepherd…if you convince yourself that you are the savior of the world, obligated to meet every need that you are exposed to…YOU WILL CRASH and the crowd will find another savior.

LEARN TO SAY NO

So a little advise from an aging man; chill…you are not that important. Have fun! Enjoy your life. Learn to say NO! Operate out of overflow. Let Jesus love on you. Let the crowd think whatever they want…and remind yourself that there is always enough time to touch everyone Jesus sent to you.

 

Photo Credit: “Fence” by Unsplash permissions through C.C. by 2.0