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Gossip- A Game That Nobody Wins

Gossip- A Game That Nobody Wins

Slandering, talebearing, rumors, and gossiping are all warned against in the Bible frequently and with fervor. Yet, it’s perhaps one of the most common misdeeds we do daily as we repeat what isn’t ours to repeat.

What’s Comsidered Being Gossipy?

Many try to justify telling other’s business as ‘information sharing’ by saying they only shared a truthful piece of information. However, gossipy information isn’t just false information. Gossipy information is talk without direct knowledge AND express permission by the subject of conversation for you to be talking to others about their business. It can be done with malicious intent, or slanderous, as in knowingly or purposefully talking about something harmful or untrue about a person with the intent to harm. It can also be idle talk, as in casually sharing information that’s simply not yours to share. Whether malicious or not, the result of partaking in gossipy behavior is the same – harming your fellow man, and that goes against everything Christians are taught.

It’s actually rather ironic how the term derived. In Old English, godsibb, now called godparent, was used to describe a spiritual sponsor. Middle English came to use gossib as a close friend. Now, we have gossips, which are far from being a Christian spiritual sponsor or friend.

The Responsibilities And Effects Of Rumors For Adults

Leviticus 19:16 says, “You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD.”

We’ve been commanded not spread gossipy tales about our neighbors for good reason. It brings strife and discord to the subjects of it, and it’s often not just the subject of the rumor that’s affected. This can be a spiritual, professional, mental, physical, emotional, marital, and/or parental, strife that negatively impacts multiple facets of a person’s life and those around them.

Think on this situation. Mary spreads a rumor within her church congregation that Sussie appears to be overly friendly with another church member. These simple words can adversely affect Sussie’s reputation in the community, the health of her marriage, her children’s relationship with her, her mental and emotional wellbeing, and her spirituality.

Perhaps, Sussie’s behavior is purely innocent and the implications create strife where it doesn’t even exist. Perhaps, Sussie does have deeds she needs to communicate with God and her spiritual advisors about. But, even in the later case, have you helped her regain her spiritual path by telling or retelling the information? No. Think for a moment about the long-term implications that such a rumor could spawn. Sussie could take her children and leave church, thereby missing out on the spiritual guidance she and her children both need.

Proverbs 26:20-22 “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife. The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.”

It’s important to remember that youth watch adults for how to model their own behaviors and as a guide for what’s acceptable. Titus 2:2-3 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good.”

The Effects Of Youth-On-Youth Rumors

Young people are particularly vulnerable to the effects of rumors. Their still-developing minds, limited life experiences, and insurgent supply of hormones often leave them without the tools to constructively handle and overcome their secrets being exposed or negative innuendos being created. And, in today’s highly technological world, it’s easier than ever for such information to be created indirectly or anonymously and spread vastly and rapidly across cyberspace. For a teen, the secret of fabricated info being spread can easily seem insurmountable.

Teens often develop low-self esteem after being the target of rumors and bullying, which is one of the leading factors in promiscuous behavior, developing an eating disorder, and suffering depression.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15 to 24-year-olds, claiming thousands of lives yearly. Studies have shown that most teens usually don’t spend countless hours planning their own demise. Instead, suicide is often a rapid fire decision following an event like bullying that produces overwhelming feelings of abject failure, shame, or loss.

It should be noted that these behaviors amongst youth often stem from the child spreading the info having their own self-esteem issues from wanting to be accepted, noticed, heard, powerful, avenged, or entertained. They turn to power of rumors often because they’re angry with peers and lack better outlets, such as a strong community church group, to provide constructive guidance.

Proverbs 18:21 “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

From bullying to being bullied, it’s a cycle of hurt that can only be stopped by teaching children that words have power and must be carefully wielded to prevent spiritual, physical, and psychological harm to themselves and others.

The Bible Gives Answers To Combat Rumors And Innuendo

We were forewarned of it’s abundance and given a solution to the evils of the last days, including people spreading our secrets and falsehoods.

• Avoid Them.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”

• Turn To Your Faith.

Proverbs 11:9 “With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors, but through knowledge the righteous escape.”

By knowing the most important love of all exists within that of our Heavenly Father, you can rely upon your faith to see you through any difficult time. You may also seek your own heart for areas you need to improve to ensure you’re uplifting your neighbor, not harming him, with your own words.

• Lead By Example.

James 1:26 “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”

Exodus 23:1 “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness.”

Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Many such passages can be found in the Bible where we are instructed to not only not be the founder of rumor but to also not to be complicit in its continued circulation.

Romans 1:29-32 “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters…Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

We must choose our own language carefully as words of encouragement against rumors we hear. “Benefit those who listen” … this includes the listening ear of the person telling what isn’t their place to tell. A great approach that helps both the victim and perpetrators is to cease these topics immediately and encourage a more Christian path of conversation.

• Confront Your Aggressors.

Anger is often the root of malicious slandering of another person. This is why we are taught to never let words leave our mouth with angry hearts and minds. Instead, humans need time to process, ponder, and pray for greater perspective. Once cooled off and judgment is sounder, most find that conflict resolution is the ultimate solution to anger.

In Matthew 18:15 we are taught to go directly to anyone who sins against us. It should be a private conversation between themselves. If the sinner doesn’t listen, we are instructed to approach him again with mediators. And, if that doesn’t work, we are to bring it to our spiritual advisors in church. One of the best ways to avoid harm with words and find reconciliation for what’s already been said is to be upfront with our grievances and earnest in our effort to resolve them.

In closing, using your words to harm never has a justification or winner. It’s never positive or helpful. The teachings of Christ strictly prohibit being the author and seller of rumor and secrets. It tarnishes reputations, airs secrets that aren’t ours to air, creates division and conflict, ruins relationships, and brings terrible pain. The result is anger and isolation that often pushes victims away from even the encouraging voices seeking to lift them up and help them succeed in their spiritual path.

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The Best Tasting Pretzels Ever!

The Best Tasting Pretzels Ever!

It was April in 1996 and I was standing in an airplane bathroom on a NWA flight from Minneapolis, MN to New
York City on my way to Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic, when we hit some crazy turbulence that literally created a mini panic on board and forced me to rush back to my seat.

While rushing back to my seat and trying to squeeze myself in I caught the back of the armbar of the seat in front of me and it caused a deep, lacerating gash about 2 inches long in my side, ripping right through my shirt.

I love to fly but I also hate to fly. Here is why… I very much enjoy people watching and traveling to different places and being on the go, but the thing I dread most is the tiny little coach seat. The good lord did not seem fit to give me the fastest metabolism in the world- a slight understatement.

I have a 22 inch neck and wear a 56R Suit Jacket! I like to think of myself as big boned or husky- but never fat. Actually I am just a big guy- I played Football and wrestled in College- so there!

Needless to say, in a coach seat, I get very uncomfortable, break out into a sweat and it is just a miserable experience for me and not to mention the poor soul unlucky enough to be seated next to me. Now I fit in the seat and can put the arm rest down and buckle up- but that leaves me zero room to breathe and if the person in the row in front of my puts down their seat I’m really screwed. This particular trip I was with a group of folks from our church in North Dakota going on a mission trip. Keep in mind this was the DR before the DR became a world class tourist destination.

When you live in North Dakota, you have one flight option, fly out of Fargo to Minneapolis and to your destination, this trip was about 5 hours each way- a complete nightmare when your crammed in your seat, bleeding with a gash in the your side trying to find a happy place in your mind to prevent yourself from flipping out. I mean after all, this was a mission trip, I was here for the Glory of God to be a support and blessing to impoverished people in a remote jungle village, how christian would it be to flip out on a plane? LOL. That flight was brutal!

Well, we had finally made it to the DR and I feel sick with a 102 fever the second I got off the plane, the flight and two hour bus ride through jungle literally made me sick for the first two days I was there. On day three I was feeling much better and we got to the business at hand which was scouting the area to a place to show the “Jesus Movie”. We were very blessed and led by theLlord to find a small tiny village in the middle of the jungle that had a place where we could show the film.

Shortly after we watched the film, we met a very very young man, his wife and infant child. The man’s name was Pastor Mao and he came from a nearby village when word traveled that “Gringos” were showing a movie. After spending some time with Mao, he invited us to his home a short 3 mile walk in the jungle away :).

Upon arriving at Mao’s home, I soon discovered it was an old, vacant building with only half of a roof and a door that did not close all of the way. We asked how he got here and he told us the story on how he believed that God sent him to this remote village and wanted him to start a church in this jungle community, We asked if he had any money and what were his plans, his response was that God was going to send “gringos” to him from a far away place to help build his church. Interesting, huh?

We were the first and only “Gringos” that were coming. After a time of prayer and deliberation, our pastor decided that we would help Mao build his church, so we made plans to return on a future date.

Shortly before we left, Mao asked if he could pray for us, while we were praying I felt an incredibly strong urge to give him some money out of my own pocket, I decided to give him $50 which in DR pesos was big coin, but I kept having this sense that I should give more “everything you have in your pocket” was what kept coming to me. That would be crazy give all the money I had left for the trip??? We still had two days left, plus $250 was a lot of money. What would I do with no money? It would be in poor taste to borrow, right? The sense that I should give him everything I had came again and I recognized it as a leading from God-so I did it, I gave him every last cent I had, all $250.

At this time in my life I was fairly new in my walk in the lord and was just learning how to hear his still, small voice, so it took him getting my attention a few times.

Fast forward 24 hours later and we had one day left on the island before we flew home and all I could think about was the dreaded flight home and how miserable I was going to be sitting in that small, narrow seat. Literally I was up all night worrying about it. So I prayed and asked the lord to intervene for me.

The day of fight home arrived and I was walking up the steps to the plane, as I was headed back to the coach section, I handed my ticket to the flight attendant (back them you gave them your ticket when you boarded the plane) she grabbed me by the arm and asked me where I was going? I told her to my seat and she said your ticket has been upgraded you are in row 10-D. This is a first class ticket, sir! I couldn’t believe it, all of the uneasiness that I was sure that I was destined for over the next 5 hours had me so rattled I never even bothered to look at the ticket until that exact moment!!! I looked down at my ticket and it said 10-D, I was the only person in our group to be upgraded to first class, I had no status, no frequent flyer miles, nothing.

As I sat down in my seat, I suddenly had that same feeling and urge that came over me only a few days before when praying with Mao that asked me to give him all of the money I had left and this time, A simple sentence came up from the inside of my inner being and here is what I heard…

“You can’t out-give the lord, I know how to take care of my own!” WOW! God set me up He wanted to bless Mao and used me to do it! The first class upgrade was his way of saying that he loved me, he heard the cry of my heart and despair that I felt about flying in the coach seat on the way home and like any good father, he wanted to bless me. He heard and answered my prayer.

One of my favorite versus in all of the Bible says…”The eyes of the lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are perfect toward him”.

God desires to show himself strong on your behalf, he wants to be invited into your marriage, your business deals, your sales meetings. He stands at the door and waits patiently, looking for that invitation that can only come from you. What are you waiting for? Invite God into every area of your life-I promise you will never regret it! I don’t!

Five minutes after I sat down in my first class seat, the stewardess came by and handed me a bag of pretzels, they were the best tasting Pretzels that I ever had. As a matter of fact, I kept that pretzel bag and that day placed it in my Bible where it has been sitting for the last 22 years, as a reminder of the faithfulness of  God. I have pulled that bag out often over the years as a fresh reminder that Jesus Rocks! You can see the picture of it on this blog. My wife has instructions that one day when its my time I will be wearing a black suit, underneath my Ohio State #75 Jersey and this empty bag of Pretzels taken from my Bible and placed in the inner pocket of my suit.

We serve a living, breathing God who loves to take care of his people. 22 years ago the THE GOD OF ALL OF THE UNIVERSE, heard the prayer of a Husky kid about an insignificant airplane seat and moved Heaven and Earth to bless him. Talk about Love!

God is just looking to bless you too, he stands at the door of your heart and waits patiently to be invited in. What are you waiting for???
The Letterman’s Jacket

The Letterman’s Jacket

It was an unpleasantly cold afternoon one Thursday in February, 1990.  I was busy cleaning out my locker, just the day before I had finished off my freshman year of wrestling. I had a good season since I went 38-6 with 29 pins, I was very excited as the next day we had our Annual Wrestling Banquet where I was going to officially be awarded a Varsity Letter in Wrestling.

Now you have to understand that back then being a Varsity Letterman and wearing that Letterman’s jacket meant that you had arrived, you were now “the man” other guys  will be jealous, girls would fall over themselves to hang out with you, and you would be a legend. Any Sophomore, Junior and Senior would have given just about anything to win a letter and be able to wear that jacket!

However, I was a freshman and not yet attending the high school. Our high schools back in those days ran grades 10-12, I was still in junior high one year away from attending. So you see where I am going with this, right? I really was going to be “The Man!”

I was literally about to become an icon, a man among boys, period. No Freshman prior to this had ever lettered in a varsity sport in my school. I had been picturing it in my mind all season long, had dreamed about and talked about, I visited the sporting goods store numerous times to make sure they had my size. It was my Destiny.

Then, it happened! As I was placing my headgear into my bag, Coach Mortan walked by and asked me to see him in his office, I followed him to his office and sat down. What happened next was pretty much devastating. He said: “You had a great freshman year and a bright future in front of you. However, I know you are expecting to recive your letter  but I  will not be able to award you a letter at Tomorrow’s night award banquet, we don’t award Varsity letters to Freshman”,

At that point, I went numb, I reminded the coach that I had 50 letter points based on wins, pins, tournament placing etc. and to qualify all I needed was 40 points. He said it doesn’t matter, awarding a varsity letter to me would demean the program for all of the upperclassman who had been in the program for several years who still had not earned their varsity letters. He apologize and told me to keep my head up and  I will make it next season.

I was devastated, I ran all the way home, slammed my door and just started crying. I laid there for the next several hours on my waterbed (they were very popular back then) and finally fell asleep. I woke up about 3 AM still devastated and quite bitter. All I could think of was the fact that everyone was expecting me to walk into school the following Monday with that Letterman’s Jacket. What a loser I was going to be now!

I began to think of excuses to avoid showing up on Monday, then suddenly as if In a deep sleep, I had a flashback to the previous Sunday and I had remembered a saying that I had heard my mom say countless times before about how Jesus loves us and wants a personal relationship with us. But this past Sunday she said that God is a gentleman and will never force himself upon someone or into any situation, but that he stands at the door and waits for us to invite him in.

I was 15 years old then and I had grown up going to church but at this point in my life, we went because we had to since my Mother was the Senior Pastor and we lived in the church Parsonage which was right next door to the church so was it wasn’t open for debate.

I grew up in Sunday school and knew all of the Bible stories but didn’t really care, I was too busy having fun and hanging out with my friends.

At this point, it was about 4am and I was desperate, so I decided that I was going to pray and here was my exact prayer: “Lord, I always hear my mother talk about how wonderful you are and how you desire to have a relationship with us and take care even about the smallest details of our lives, so I am asking that if you do exist, I want to make you a deal tonight. If you give me my Varsity Wrestling Letter tomorrow night I will spend the rest of my life serving you and spread the word to everyone of how great you are”.

Immediately after uttering that prayer, I called myself an “idiot” and cried myself back to sleep. The next day was the worst day of my life up to that point. I dreaded the banquet that night and just felt sad and like such a loser.

When the banquet time arrived I was filled with butterflies, and just knew I wasn’t getting my letter, I sat there for the next two hours while stories and special moments from the season were shared, video clips were being played and I just sat there literally biting my lip so I would not cry, I was devastated.

After all the awards and letters were handed out, the coach took to the microphone and said: “I have one more thing to give out and I would like to award Freshman Jeff Rawlins with his Varsity letter! “ I was so surprised, looked up and couldn’t believe it! Did he just say it? He asked me to come forward and get it. I slowly walked up there in somewhat of a daze, did this really just happen? Coach looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and said: “I woke up at 4 in the morning and couldn’t sleep, wrestling with this decision, congratulations!” Goosebumps and a very strange warm sensation ran instantly through my body, unlike anything I had ever experienced before.

As I sat in the car on the way home still numb, I kept replaying these events in my head. There was literally no way I got that letter because this coach never goes back on anything he says, ever! Then it hit me, it wasn’t the coach, it was Jesus! He(the coach woke up at 4am, the exact time I made my deal with the lord(just coincidence, right???), I immediately told my mom the whole story and guess what happened! She told me that God had a specific plan and purpose for my life that one day he would reveal it to me but in the meantime, I needed to thank him.

When I arrived home, I placed my letter on my desk and began to thank the lord for answering my prayer. As I was doing that I had a very strong feeling that God was going to hold me to our deal. It wasn’t an audible voice but a strange inner knowing from within me.

A few months later at Summer camp, I invited Jesus into my heart and became a Christian and its crazy but literally during my confession and praying the sinner’s prayer, I had a vision of exactly what happened that night that I made the deal with the lord about my varsity letter and I was reminded that I promised God that I would spend the rest of my life serving him and telling others about him.

That was over 27 years ago, but I still had in mind my deal with God. After all this time, I am still amazed, that the same God who created the Heavens and the Earth, The same God who parted the Red Sea, The same God who delivered Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the Fiery Furnace is the same God who hears and answers our small, insignificant prayers.

But don’t you see? God loves us and wants us to have a personal relationship with him though prayer.  Prayer is how we communicate with God. The Bible says in Job 22.27 “Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him and he shall hear thee”. God promises us in his word that he will hear our prayers.

I am amazed as I travel throughout this country and speak with sales and business leaders who look at me crazy when I ask them if they pray over their sales, businesses and employees. “Why would I do that?” is the response I often get from them. My reply is always: “Why wouldn’t you?”

This is where we miss it. God wants to be invited into every area of our lives: our marriages, homes, finances, businesses, sales transactions, etc.

When we invite God in, we invite his blessing, favor, wisdom and protection. Why would we not want those things in every area of our lives?

I want to challenge all of you this week to personally invite God into a new area of your life where you have not invited him before. It can be your finances, marriage, other relationships, business, sales or whatever area you are lead to invite him into.

In my 20 years in the business world, I have seen God move mightily in my business, I have seen God change hearts, increase sales, reduce cancels, drive EBIDTA margins into 200% flow through on additional Revenue, calm storms from arrogant CEO’s, heal, save and deliver countless times and so much more.

In all of these years, God has never left me, even when he should have. I have had highs and lows, I have known wealth and poverty, and through it all he has been right there, watching over and protecting me, providing for all of my needs, comforting me, giving me wisdom and guidance, whatever I have needed Jesus has been it!

He desires to do the same in your life. I stepped out in faith 27 years ago because I was a desperate,  broken boy who in blind, ignorant faith needed something only God could do-change a man’s heart. Through that prayer I suddenly found and discovered a whole new world and it changed the course and destiny of my life. His name was Jesus, and he was waiting patiently for me-just he he has been waiting for you.

He will do the same for you, I guarantee it!  WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???

 

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