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“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

  • Abraham Lincoln

We are often taught the importance of navigating places and moments of adversity from the perspective of effectively maximizing uncomfortable seasons and circumstances providentially allowed by our Heavenly Father.  By comparison, lessons that teach us how to strategically walk through the successful seasons of our lives seem to be far fewer in number.  I would argue that it is just as important to learn how to handle seasons of success as it is seasons of adversity.  As a matter of fact, seasons of plenty and abundance can be dangerous for the person who is ill-advised of the responsibility that comes with it.   Subtle traps of pride and relaxed discipline can slowly but certainly shift us to places of destruction and calamity when we are unaware of how to effectively tread the course of success. 

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In life difficult conversations are essential in order to facilitate understanding.  Hard conversations are necessary and can occur in every context of our lives, be it family relationships, romantic relationships, or even ministry relationships.  Whenever you have relationship between individuals by virtue of varying thought processes hard conversations are mandated.  The conversations can be difficult and require a certain level of courage so that procrastination does not complicate an already difficult situation.  The longer we put off having these conversations the greater the potential fallout and collateral damage.

For the purposes of this writing we will focus on Identifying the Barriers to Having Hard Conversations while giving emphasis to Embracing the Benefits of Having Hard Conversations and Guidelines for Having Hard Conversations in subsequent blog posts.  Whatever your context of relationship and/or leadership, the ability to facilitate hard conversations is critical to growth and effectiveness.  We WIN through effective conversations!   

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“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”

- Winston Churchill

Perhaps one of the most challenging obstacles that we face in our lives is the challenge to remain focused and on task when there are multiple things competing for our attention.  Even when engaged in God-inspired spiritual work the tendency to shift our focus to the most recent or sensational items can be compelling.  The mark of a true WINNER is highlighted in the person who has the ability to maintain their focus regardless of distractions, fears, and alternative agendas contending for their attention.  We WIN by remaining FOCUSED!

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“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.”      

-          Bobby Unser

Winners capitalize on the strategic moments when preparation and opportunity intersect in order to achieve high success.  The mistake that many of us make while traversing the terrain between great ideas and successful execution is lack of preparation.  Success is not an incidental or accidental occurrence, but rather, it is the result of intentional preparation.   

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“Praise is man’s response to the revelation of who God is.”

-          Dr. Craig L. Oliver

Praise is one of the many tools that positions us to access the grace that enables us to be victorious!  We Win Through Our Praise! Praise is man’s response to who God is and as such it solicits and invokes the Presence of the Lord becoming an indomitable force employed by the believer.  Praise literally infuses the essence of who He is into our everyday circumstances! We can’t help but win when we praise our God!   

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“True prayer is neither a mere exercise nor a vocal performance.  It is far deeper than that – it is a spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth.”

-          Charles Spurgeon

There are times within our individual contexts of life that we encounter extraordinary circumstances that require the intervention of the Good Hand of the Lord in our lives.  There are moments in life that demand influence, fortitude, or strength that exceed our capacity.  I firmly believe, however, that in these moments of our most exhaustive extremity that the conditions are perfect to engage the power wrought from fasting and praying.  More than merely going without food, fasting and prayer reflect a humbled and submitted posture of the heart as illustrated in the story of Nehemiah.      

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“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

-          Martin Luther King, Jr.

In our current racial, social, and political climate it would be easy to degenerate into a mindset of fear, anger, and extremism.  When we are constantly bombarded with information from the media that suggests that social justice and equality aren’t attainable for all it becomes easy to adopt a dismal outlook on our present circumstances.  To adopt a mentality of such a limited and self-defeating scope, however, would be to reject the resilient and indomitable legacy we possess as a people.  A mindset of the aforementioned vantage point obscures from our view the unfailing hope that we have as a people who overcame seemingly insurmountable odds.    

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“I shall participate, I shall contribute, and in so doing, I will be the gainer.”

  • Walter Annenberg

Each of us has a unique virtue and grace assigned to us by God that gives expression to His presence in the earth.  We have an inimitable set of skills that comprise our imprint on the world designed to answer a specific need or call in the earth.  These talents and virtues were given to us to actively engage them in service to our families, our communities, and the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.     

We all win when everyone actively participates collaboratively functioning as a single unit to accomplish the mission.  A common quote often attributed to Gestalt psychology theorists is “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” which intimates that we are far more effective functioning collaboratively rather than the sum total of our individual efforts.  Simply put we can accomplish far more working together than we can apart from each other.     

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In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins; not through strength, but through perseverance.”

  • H. Jackson Brown

We have a choice that has been set before us.  We can either be victims who are overwhelmed by the circumstances of our lives or we can be victors who triumphantly overcome in every context of life.  Regardless of the hand that you were forced to play I want you to emphaticallyproclaim “iWIN” and allow that to serve as the impetus behind your perception of yourself.  

Very often the difference between winning and losing is not strength to overcome adversity, but rather it is the mindset to persevere.  Perseverance necessitates a mindset that is resigned to stay the course regardless of the opposition.  It is the rugged determination that is resolved to endure even in circumstances that may be uncomfortable and painful because of the assurance of victory on the other side of the journey.  Perseverance is dogmatically declaring “iWIN” in a context that appears to be the antithesis of that declaration.  It is the mindset that is resigned in its decision to hold firmly to faith when the surrounding conditions appear to suggest that it would be easier to give up! 

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“Winning is a habit and so is losing.”

-          Vince Lombardi

 “i WIN” is a statement which articulates our audacious and tenacious faith that we will be victorious because we are connected to THE ULTIMATE WINNER, Jesus Christ and His redemptive work at Calvary.  He defeated Death, Hell, and the Grave summarily demonstrating the superiority of His authority and power.  The Bible declares in Romans 8:37 “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” The latter portion of the 8th chapter of Romans presents 4 prepositional truths that allow us to boldly proclaim that “i WIN” over opposition, accusation, condemnation, and debarment. 

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