Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Being Assertive

I recently attended a training seminar on assertive communication. I thought great, maybe I'll learn how to better stand up for myself or learn how to fight for my children when needed. The speaker did ask us what we thought being assertive meant. The replies varied from being strong, direct, having guts, character, compassionate, clear, bold, confident to being confrontational. How is being assertive played out in our lives? We must: identify the issues, confront the problem, speak the truth in love, be strong and courageous, focus on God's ways, have confidence, smile, take risks, realize that sometimes you may need to compromise. What is holding us back from how assertiveness can be played out in our lives? The speaker identified three things that hold us back: "if only...", "yes, but...", and "what if..."
Then she proposed a radical idea based on the scripture in John 6 where Jesus feeds 5000 men (and who knows how many women and children). What if the little boy looked at his lunch and looked at the 5000 men and said "if only...I had more". Or what if he said, "yes, but...this was my lunch, I don't want to share". Or he said, "what if...I give you only part of my lunch". Then the miracle Jesus performed would have been thwarted! Based on John 6 what will release us and stop holding us back?
1. what you have is enough...if you let it go. Who we are right now is exactly how assertive we need to be right now in our sphere.
2. What you have is ordained (appointed)...if you consecrate (set apart for a high purpose) it. Jesus already had in mind what he was going to do when he asked Philip where bread could be purchased (v. 5). My strengths and my weaknesses are exactly what God has ordained for me. God "already has in mind" what he is going to do with our strengths and weaknesses. We need to give thanks for it (thank you for making me) and then give ourselves to Jesus.
3. What you have is needed...if you share it. We must bring what we have to the table. We should not try and move ourselves out of who God has made us to be.

This seminar was a breath of fresh air. I always am feeling inadequate because I am not more assertive and stand up for my self more. This is not to say that we let people walk all over us or abuse us! The speaker just wanted to bring home the point that the three things that hold us back from being assertive in our lives "if only...", "yes, but...", and "what if..." no longer need to hold us back! We can be released to be exactly who God has made us to be! That means that it is o.k. for me not to be overly assertive. What I have at any given moment is enough if I am willing to let it go. If statements imply there is a movement on our part! If you let it go, if you consecrate it, if you share it... These statements all require something from us. However, these statements also release us and help me to no longer be held back.
Five loaves and two fishes. That is all Jesus needed to perform a miracle!