Recently during a time of devotion and reflection I had asked myself a question, “How should I measure success?”
The question came to me on a Monday morning. I had preached a message that Sunday to my church family on the topic of praise.
We discussed the importance of having a heart of thanksgiving for the things God will accomplish through us in the future. We need to praise God for what he is going to do.
In doing so, I released before them a “dream board.” Which I had listed, along with pictures of my dreams and goals I have for my life spiritually, personally and family.
One of my dreams for my life is the desire to lead 1,000 people to Christ before I leave this earth. I thought leading a thousand to Christ would be a very successful accomplishment; however, my heart has reminded me that those people are not just a number. It is the relationships that we build with people that are important.
Romans 12:18 (NLT), “Do all you can to live at peace with everyone.”
I want to live my life in peace. Relationships are really important to God. Every relationship God built was personal. God formed one man in the beginning. He formed Adam out of the dust of the earth.
The Scripture in Genesis says, “Let us make man in our image.”
Adam is made in the likeness of God; however, after Adam is created, the book of Genesis 2:18 says, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
So here we see the heart of God. Relationships are good and yet, at the same time, of all the people that have walked this earth no two people have ever been the same.
Here is the challenge we face, the more relationships we have, the more personalities we have. The more personalities we have, the more challenging life becomes.
We can’t change people, and if we let the personalities of people aggravate us, it will cause us to lose our focus, getting our eyes off of our dreams and goals.
As the church I pastor has grown, we have rejoiced; however, the more people you have, the more personalities you have to manage.
So, how do we deal with it? How do we love people even when the people we love are difficult?
Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called to one body and be thankful.”
Isn’t it amazing?
God called us with all these different personalities, traits and habits into one body. God loves imperfect people! Imperfect people called into a church body, imperfect people called into a family body and imperfect people are called to be a body of co-workers in the workplace.
At times, we think we are doing good by tolerating people’s attitudes and our differences.
The Apostle Paul tells us in Colossians 3:15, the goal is not to tolerate our differences, our goal is to be thankful!
You may respond; “What are you saying Dave?” “We are supposed to be thankful for our differences?”
No. We are supposed to be thankful for one another, and if we are thankful for one another, our differences won’t drive us apart. My life experiences and convictions from those experiences have formed my opinion.
I am not offended if you do not agree with me because if you don’t validate my opinion I will still choose to love you. My self worth is not based on your validation. My self worth is based on the fact that I am a child of God.
Here is the crazy thing! Jesus knew that we would have personality conflicts.
So, what is God’s answer for dealing with people?
Avoid them! No. Have a ‘come-apart” and give them “what-for!” No! Be aggressive with them? Definitely a no!
The answer is not even to protect our hearts. Rather, the answer God has for us is to cultivate our hearts.
When Jesus was asked what are the most important commandments, he answered in Matthew 22:37-39, “You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all your soul, with all your mind, and the second is like the first, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
So, in the commandments of Jesus we find three parts: the first is love God - John 14:15, “If you love me you will keep my commandments;” the second is love others. We do that by following Luke 6:31. We treat others the way we want to be treated.
The third part is, love yourself - Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. “
What are you to walk in? You are to walk in the confidence that you are God’s workmanship, and in the good works that you were created through Christ Jesus for you to do.
Psalm 139:14; “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. “
When I was a child, I saw a poster on someone’s refrigerator that sums up what a healthy cultivated heart looks like.
The poster had a picture of a boy with his chin resting on his folded arms. His expression was one of deep thought and the caption read, “I know I am somebody because God don’t make no junk!”
May the peace of God rule in our hearts and let us be thankful for one another.
Dave Truncone is the pastor of First Assembly of God Church in Van Buren. He and his wife, Heidi, have been married 26 years. They have two daughters, Hannah, 20, and Abigail, 16. They have lived in Van Buren for nine years.