THE WHOLEHEARTED LEADER
PILLAR 4: Holiness of Character
The Unoffended Life
“One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And one who rules his spirit, than one who captures a city.” (Proverbs 16:32 NASB)
Our next characteristic in developing holiness of character is self-control. When you look at the list of the fruit of the Spirit, this one is last, but it certainly is not the least in importance! Self-control is super-important. You do have the ability to control yourself. And the minute you think you don’t – you’re in trouble!
When are we likely to lose self-control?
Remember (in Pillar 4) when I was talking about the divided heart?[i] When the parts of our heart – our Emotion, our Guardian, and our Function aren’t connecting with each other and connecting with God, then our heart isn’t in balance. We need all the parts of our heart to be submitted to the Spirit.
The biggest area when we find that we are losing self-control is when our Emotion has taken over. When Emotion is running things, that’s when we lose self-control. Our Emotion takes over in those times when it has not been able to be comforted and loved and release pain and fear and anxiety and worry and all of those things. Emotion needs to be comforted and to replace sorrow with joy.
So, how do we deal with our feelings and hurts and anxieties? We don’t deny these feelings, but we learn to release them in healthy ways, inappropriate ways. We need to get the help and support and comfort we need from godly people, from the godly council, from the Holy Spirit (our Comforter), and through embracing our Father who loves us.
Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.
When does self-control come?
Self-control comes when we are able to manage our own emotions. When we learn to really steward that place of intimacy in the cocoon of God’s love, that is when we can manifest self-control. The key to self-control is submitting and surrendering to the Spirit of God, allowing ourselves to be embraced by Him and just resting in Him.
We don’t always have to fight back when we get offended or when accusations come. In fact, we don’t need to be offended. We can choose to be offended by what other people do and say, and we can choose not to be offended. We can rest in God, knowing He’s got our back, and He’s our defender, and we have victory in Him.
Having self-control doesn’t mean that we have no feelings and that we ignore Emotion. It’s what we do with our feelings that’s important. We don’t stuff Emotion down, hold Emotion in, or deny Emotion. We manage Emotion through an undivided heart – through a heart-check[ii]. We pay attention to what is going on with Emotion. What am I feeling? Why am I feeling this way? How do I take these feelings to my Father, allowing the Holy Spirit to comfort me, to bring peace and truth as I surrender my Emotion to Him?
What does an unoffended life bring?
Here’s the other thing with choosing not to be offended. If you learn how to live un-offendable, I promise you, you’ll be able to break through a lot of these other characteristics of holiness. What helps to develop in being un-offendable is learning how to separate my ability to control you or your ability to control me. I am personally responsible for me. You must be personally responsible for you.
My heart is my responsibility. Can other people influence it? Absolutely! But I am the one who gives power to people to have access to my heart. We actually control that. Our Guardian part of our heart controls that. Just like Emotion needs to connect with the Spirit, Guardian needs to connect with the Spirit too, so that Guardian is filtering appropriately.[iii]
How do we steward self-control?
We can steward and manage ourselves if we need to. If, say, someone is being abusive, that’s the reason our Guardian can say, “Time out! I’m not going to take that. I’m not going to let you talk to me that way.” Guardian can do that without us losing control of Emotion. Whatever it is, Guardian can block what needs to be blocked while we also have self-control with our Emotion and our tongue!
It’s intrinsic that we understand that we have the ability to control ourselves. We are able to control our own heart and our Emotion when we have an undivided heart.
How does reconnecting in joy help self-control?
The faster we connect with God and enter into that Immanuel Moment, the faster we reconnect in joy, remember?[iv] A positive sign of mental health is to come from a place of pain into a place of joy and/or peace. The sooner you can enter into that joy capacity, to building that connection of peace and calm, that’s where you can say, “I belong, I’m okay!” And the minute you can do that with God or another person, that’s a sign of health! It’s a sign of mental and emotional health.
The sooner you can do that, the better. It doesn’t mean the problem has gone away. But it means that you have been able to cycle through the emotion, feel, release, and get to another place – a place of peace and joy. That is when Emotion can submit to the Lord and you have self-control.
Let’s grow in self-control! Let’s grow in living the unoffended life, in reconnecting in joy, and in resting in Him.
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