Last week on a trip to New York I was reading an article from Alina Tugend’s Shortcuts column in the NY Times. Tugend looked back on the year of 2012 to see which of her columns had the biggest impact on her readers. She found that the overwhelming response and comments were received for an article she wrote about success and the endless pressure people feel to “be – or at least appear to be – successful, exceptional, and happy” (Tugend, 2012). The article was titled, Joy of the Ordinary.
I did a little digging and came up with similar results. My highest rated blog post was written about the relationship between success and loneliness. Just for curiosity sack, I pulled the stats for my second highest rated blog. It was titled, No More Fat Bible Thumper and was written about struggles with weight and self-esteem. I am confident that if Alina Tugend would have written about body image in her column, this also would have topped the charts in ratings.
As we enter the New Year, many of us will make resolutions that revolve around the themes of creating more success and thinner bodies. Before you get too deep into your resolve, take a moment and reflect on these two articles from the past. I think they will encourage you.
May your New Year be filled with joy, peace, and love.
While at a ministry leadership retreat recently, I overheard two women having a conversation about friendship. One woman asked the other if anyone ever invited her to have coffee or dinner, or to attend any event, for that matter. The other responded sadly that, although she had received 89 birthday messages on Facebook, she had not received even a single phone call to wish her a happy birthday.
The conversation continued as these two leaders tried to decipher who was at fault. Were they indeed too busy for others to be a part of their lives? Or did other people have a wrong perception of them? One of the women even broke down, asking the other woman, “Is there something wrong with me? Am I boring?”
Personally, I was glad not to be caught in the conversation because I would have had to confess to my own very recent pity party in which I was lamenting to God about how no one ever called me either. My own mother had neglected to call me during a crisis she was having because she thought I was too busy! I could completely understand where these women were coming from. Sometimes it can feel so lonely in leadership positions.
But then I was knocked out of my emotional stammer and reminded of John Maxwell’s book, Leadership Gold: Lessons I’ve learned from a Lifetime of Leading. John Maxwell opens his book with this quote: “If it’s lonely at the top, you’re not doing something right.”
I know a leader who is doing something right. Her name is Brandi Dorsett. One day Brandi called and asked me if I had time to join her for lunch. Knowing that Brandi worked a full-time job for the city of Bellevue and volunteered much of her vacation time to be a presbyter for the Northwest Ministry Network, I jumped at the opportunity to spend quality time with my dear friend. When we met, I asked Brandi if we were having this special occasion to meet for lunch because she had another meeting at my office, or maybe she was working in the area on a job.
Brandi replied, “I took the day off to build relationships with people that are important to me.” Do you think Brandi is lonely at the top? It is impossible for her to be lonely because she is an intentional relationship builder.
God has called us, especially as leaders, to be intentional relationship builders. We are to become encouragers of others and we are to be in relationships where we are encouraged by others. It is imperative to our spiritual and emotional growth. Scientists have proven that it is even crucial to our physical health as well.
Our relationships will influence the next generation and the world. It is understandable why the writer of Hebrews emphatically stated, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25 NIV).
What action will you take to become an intentional relationship builder today?
A friend who recently lost weight and got a make-over asked me if I felt noticed when I had gone through a similar transformation many years ago. She also wanted to know if people’s complements made me feel uncomfortable. I was surprised at how long it took me to formulate an answer to those questions.
First, if you don’t know me or haven’t known me for long, then you are unaware that I
struggled with weight issues for most of my youth and young adult life. When I was in middle school and high school, the popular kids called me the fat-Bible-thumper. A title I was happy to dispel by throwing out my Bible, any sign of my religion and going on a starvation diet to lose the weight and gain the approval of man over God.
But what I found in my efforts to be thin was exactly what my friend described. I was uncomfortable with the attention I got. So when my friend asked me those questions, I had to ask myself why. I thought about why I ate (always a good place to start.) I came to the conclusion that I ate to comfort myself and find a place of security in the loneliness and the worthlessness that engulfed me.
When the comfort and security of food was gone, all that was left was the insecurity, the loneliness, and the worthlessness that I felt and believed about myself. When people noticed me, it was very uncomfortable for me because I was afraid they would eventually realize that I was a fake. The outside of Angela had changed but the inside of Angela was still the same.
It wasn’t until I re-dedicated my life to Christ, and took the time to find out who He was, and who I was, that my identity changed and then the opinion of others didn’t matter anymore.
Now, I have a different view of what it means to be thin. I believe in being healthy. If you are a Christ follower, be healthy because the King has chosen you to take up residence in you. The physical Temple in Jerusalem is gone, YOU are it! Think about it, there was no expense spared when building the original Temple that housed the holy of Holies and there was no expense spared when it came to God choosing you for a great purpose and a future!
If you are a person of a different faith or religion, I have to say the same applies. God created the world and all that is in it, so that you would know Him and how special you are (Acts 17:27-28). That is a BEAUTIFUL THING! Go for it! Get to know who God created you to be and start being healthy today. One step at a time you can shed the old you and start new. I am with you!