Who Is My Family; Learning Under Jesus

Note: This series is written as a first-person narrative in order to present Jesus in the context he walked with the unknown disciple that narrates presenting my thoughts and sparking more thoughts with his questions. Enjoy!

I overheard what the messenger said. “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”

Looking around, I noted the large crowd. There was no way through. I see Jesus half-smile, ““Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?

He points at us, saying, “Here are my mother and my brothers.

Shock registered on the faces of those around us that heard him. The family is extremely important in our culture.

Jesus sweeps his arm over the crowd as he continues. “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.

His point made, he turns and goes to see his family. If God is the Father, then that does make us family.

Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21

How To Find What Values You Will Not Compromise

This post was actually requested after I told a friend about a personal growth side journey. He said, “You gotta write about it, Vance!” Why was he excited?

It’s about discovering your non-negotiable personal values. Some things we’ll bend on or compromise. The question is which ones will you never compromise?

It began with an article by Charles Stone entitled Ask Yourself these 7 Simple Questions to Clarify your Personal Values. I linked to it in its title. He suggested a half-day retreat to work through them, however, I needed a week due to workload.

The Questions

I’m not listing them, it’s worth reading this article for them. I will tell you the areas he covers.

  1. Your delights
  2. Your past joys
  3. Moments of peak performance
  4. Your heroes
  5. Input from others
  6. Scripture
  7. Personality inventories like StrengthsFinder and Meyers/Brigg

I’m naturally introspective so a lot of these I literally had on file. Especially the inventories.

Going Through 4 of the 7 Areas

  • Delights: Serving and helping others. Studying and teaching. High-level conversations. Playing with kids.
  • Past Joys: That pretty much involved being a cool superhero who had the perfect life. Naturally, I had to daydream it. My idea of the best life has changed since then.
  • Peak Performance: My marriage. Every book I publish. When I successfully help someone, and working and living my purpose.
  • Heroes: I debated not listing them for fear of embarrassing them, however, I believe people should know the impact they make in others’ lives. Jesus, of course. Casey. Daisy. Pastor Rod. Pastor Jaime. Bobby. Captain America. Superman. Batman. You knew superheroes would come into play.

The other three areas came from input from others including heroes, high-impact Scriptures that resonate in my life, and personal inventories such as Leading From Your Strengths, StrengthFinders, Enneagram, and How You Fascinate. I’ll summarize them in the next step of finding the common themes.

What Kept Popping Up Throughout The Questions

Five areas came up and I listed the Bible verses from the sixth question to the corresponding themes. Personal values are stronger when backed by Scripture and not just our whims.

  1. Theme 1: A life of service.

    What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? James 2:14
    But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. James 2:18
    For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
    Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1
    Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22

  2. Theme 2: A life of learning and thought so I can become better and help others.

    Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
    Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:23-26
    Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6

  3. Theme 3: Loyal and trustworthy, open, calm, and always striving to do what’s right.

    My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19-20
    Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 1 Corinthians 8: 9, 12
    “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. 1 Corinthians 10: 23-24
    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
    But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

  4. Theme 4: My strengths and purposes are to help others with various issues.

    When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36
    who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:4
    We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12:6-8

  5. Theme 5: Hardworking dedication.

Bringing It All Together

My true north values that I won’t deviate from is service, continually learning and applying, loyalty, trustworthiness, and to always do what’s right, good work ethic, dedication, and flexibility.

If it’s something that keeps me from helping others, stops me from learning, asks me to betray Christ, my principles or others, and to do less than my best—I won’t do it.

This is how it breaks down:

  • Service–helping others, either on a team or alone, physically or through teaching or counseling, either in the front or the background.
  • Continually Learning and Applying–to better me and my ability to help others.
  • Loyalty, Trustworthiness, and Always Trying To Do What’s Right–true to others and myself.
  • Good Work Ethic, Dedication, and Flexibility–either doing my best in the background in a support role (natural strength) or stepping up to lead from the front (adapted strength).

Understanding yourself is good because you can address your flaws, focus on your strengths, and stay accountable to your values. Integrity is in such short supply these days so if we can cultivate a true integrity, we can be even brighter in a dark world.

A Lesson In Boundaries

I’m going to have to relearn boundaries. Surprisingly, my tender-hearted wife is better at it than I am at this point. Which amazes me because I’ve had to occasionally tell dangerous people ‘no’. Searching Bible.com’s app I found a reading plan called Boundaries 101, based on a book a friend told me about. I learned quite a bit from it.

On What You Will Allow

Personal boundaries, what will you or will you not allow around you? The writers compared it to a yard with a fence and gate. Some things you can’t allow in your yard. You have to ‘flee evil‘, don’t even let it in your yard, let alone your house. Why?

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

The way to build that fence is “no”. It’s non-negotiable. Let your no be no, and your yes be yes (Matthew 5:37). When used, it lets others know there are limits to what you will allow.

On What You Will Do

My weakness lies here. It’s the reason I started the plan and borrowed the book from my friend. As far as the ministries at church go, I have a good balance. Personally, not as much. Here’s the excerpt from the plan about it:

No is a confrontational word. The Bible says that we are to confront people we love, saying, “No, that behavior is not okay. I will not participate in that.” The word no  is also important in setting limits on abuse. Many passages of Scripture urge us to say no to others’ sinful treatment of us (Matt. 18:15–20).
The Bible also warns us against giving to others “reluctantly or under compulsion” (2 Cor. 9:7). People with poor boundaries struggle with saying no to the control, pressure, demands, and sometimes the real needs of others. They feel that if they say no to someone, they will endanger their relationship with that person, so they passively comply but inwardly resent. Sometimes a person is pressuring you to do something; other times the pressure comes from your own sense of what you “should” do. If you cannot say no to this external or internal pressure, you have lost control of your property and are not enjoying the fruit of “self-control.”

When you’re dependable, people start to depend on you, which can lead to enabling them. Why should they personally meet that need if you’re meeting it for them?It takes tough love and setting strict limits to let them know it won’t continue. Otherwise, you’ll burn out if you’re trying to save everyone.

Help who you can. Remember, you cannot give what you don’t have, so also take care of yourself. That’s why God instituted rest.

Words Have Power

Words define your property line, letting others know where you stand. They give others a sense of who you are as you communicate your feelings, intentions, and dislikes. Plus, you can do it without being rude. Proverbs 15:1 says “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

This is something I’m working on myself and hope it helps you. I linked to the plan in the post.