Ending the journey I started last week Monday, I want to start by appreciating everyone—who weekly reads through my thought-provoking and life-changing articles. I cannot thank you enough for all your thoughtful and kind mails and text messages. What keeps me writing is the testimony of your enduring transformation. This is in all probability the most consistent and quick-witted-leadership-platform in Nigeria and on this continent. Kindly point out this platform to those you want their lives changed—who do not know about it yet. You know you cannot afford to be self-seeking!
Now to the business of this Monday: what can happen on the condition that we overrule the laziness and mediocrity of the outer man and begin to listen and respond to our inner conscience? We will begin to manifest several character traits in our lives like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness and gentleness. A person who walks in these character traits is someone against whom no one can bring a charge, no matter how hard he or she searches for one!
Now, let’s take a deeper look at self-control. Here is a good working definition of this word—a definition that will effectively govern one’s operating system in this life: self-control is living in the highest regard and respect for my inner man (and the ethical principles that guide him) while demonstrating love to those around me.
Each of us should continually evaluate our actions, thoughts, and words on the basis of the definition, asking ourselves, “Is my conscience pleased with the way I am thinking about this situation? How will my behavior or words affect others?”
The life challenges that most of us face are not precipitated by the renegade thoughts that race through our minds as shooting stars; all of us deal with those kinds of thoughts at times. On the contrary, the pivotal thoughts that must be evaluated are those that are allowed to remain in our minds—the meditations of our hearts that will eventually become a part of our very natures, governing our words, behaviors, and responses to the world around us.
The second question mentioned above is one that people do not really think about a great deal. How will my behavior or words affect others? Most of us do not have the foresight to consider how our words or actions will affect another person. We do not weigh out a situation before we act or evaluate what our decisions will mean to those around us.
But this evaluation process is absolutely critical to walking in character. Why? Because we will be continually pressured to disqualify ourselves and say, “I give up—I cannot conquer this.” But it is our responsibility to make sure that never happens.
Before we can walk confidently in the virtuous traits we have discussed, we will have to conquer ourselves. We must remember that whatever we refuse to conquer will ultimately conquer us. So what do we do when we face a situation in which the circumstances are working overtime to convince us to disqualify ourselves? What do we do when we face overwhelming opposition, and we are tempted to say, “I cannot take this anymore, this is just too much?”
We must go back to our working definition of self-control, making sure that we are not breaking principle, and that we are loving others. We must begin to re-evaluate ourselves, examining our thoughts, words, and deeds.
If we can’t find anything we have personally done or said that would disqualify us from attaining the desired outcome in that situation, we can trust that the opposing circumstances did not originate from any bad seeds we have sown; rather, they have come against us to block us from attaining the prize on the other side of the mountain. And since we know there will be no prize if we do not keep blasting through that mountain, we just keep blasting away, pursuing excellence with everything that is within us, and refusing to disqualify ourselves from the destiny we are pursuing.
So how long are we willing to control ourselves? How long are we willing to be self-correctors? What are we holding on to that is worth the loss of the prize set before us? These are the questions we must all ask ourselves.
Also, it would be beneficial for each of us to take an honest look on the inside and deal with those issues that are building faulty foundations in our lives, instead of making everyone else pay the price for that which we refuse to confront. We are responsible to establish our own set of standards. If we will choose to deal with our own character issues, someone else will be spared the unpleasant assignment of having to do it.
A person may say, “Yes, but you just don’t know my situation. You don’t know what they have done to me and what I have had to go through.” Let me share something from personal experience—the day we learn that ours is not the only perspective that matters is the day we will be free. That will be the day our passions no longer control us. Instead, our highest desire will be to embrace wise instruction and walk in integrity.
Why is this true? Because instead of torturing others by imposing our selfish outbursts upon them, we will deal with our emotions. We will get to the point where will say, “That’s it—I am giving this up! I don’t want this in my life anymore, so I am taking responsibility.”
We must not get into wrestling matches with others over the areas we ourselves need to change. We must wrestle with our own shortcomings and weaknesses, so no one else has to deal with us. Then, when we are finished, the only fruit that people will see growing on our “branches” will be love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control.
Lastly, self-control begins by recognizing that there is a consequence for every action. And self-control begins when we expose our thoughts and feelings to the guidelines of proven principles, before we ever put them out in front of others. Then, once the true nature of those thoughts and emotions has been revealed, we have to choose whether or not we want to upload them on the people around us. Till I come your way again next week Monday, see you where rock-solid leaders are found!