Saturday, August 8, 2009

Awareness of Self (Effectiveness)

I don't want to see you now just in passing, for I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord allows. But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, because a wide door for effective ministry has opened for me -yet many oppose me.  1 Cor 16:7-9 (HCSB)

Paul was sharing his plans (desire) to come and see the Church a Corinth.  He was aware that if he came at that time that he would be distracted and he wanted to "be there" when he visited them.  He was self-aware of what was happening at that moment and chose to focus on what was effective over what he desired. 

Part of self awareness is the ability to recognize our thoughts, feelings, and desires without immediately acting on them.  But rather to consider what would be most effective in light of the situation, the people involved, and what God is doing.  Effectiveness is releasing your right to have it your way in favor of what is really the best (God's) way.

When it comes to self-awareness I have found that two questions that I ask myself helps lead me into better awareness.  First, "How do I feel about this situation?"  At times I will even pray a short prayer like, "Lord open my eyes to see as you see."  The next question is, "Does this make sense to me?"  Any situation, thought, feeling, belief, relationship, etc that does not make sense to you is outside your awareness.  Things that make sense are inside your awareness.  Applying this to personal awareness then if you act, say, feel things that do not make sense to you then it is a lack of self-awareness. 

Let me give an example.  There was something that my wife shared with me about a comment made about me at Church.  At the time I laughed it off.  Later I was being sort of forceful in making a point that the comment was not true to the person that made it.  My wife then said to me aside, "you are really bothered by that aren't you."  My immediate thought was "no," but I asked the question to myself, "How do I feel?"  I had to be honest and thought, "defensive."  Then the next question, "does this make sense to me?"  I thought about it and figured that my wife was right.  Then I considered the original comment which was really not anything to be defensive about.  Then I decided to let it go.  The defensiveness disappeared and I felt more at peace.  That was effectiveness.  I had to stop acting based on how I felt in order to focus on what would work to release those negative feelings. 

You can practice self-awareness by pausing to think about how you are feeling or thinking through the day.  Thinking about thinking seems kind of funny at first, but it works.  Another great way to develop self-awareness it journaling.  Journaling keeps you in contact with how you feel and think about situations while giving you something to do that prevents you from reacting to the situations.  It also can be a way to discover effective ways of dealing with problems as you move from reacting emotionally to coming up with ways to respond effectively. 

If you practice this then you can be effective in your life, relationships, ministry even in the face of great opposition.