Saturday, August 22, 2009

Good Times, Noodle Salad

In my line of work I tend to hear more negatives from people than positives - FAR more. People don't pop into my office just to tell me how happy they are or how great things are going. More often than not it's a pop in, close the door and let the complaining begin.

That's why I'm there, so I'm okay with that. The danger would be to assume, then, that everyone is that unhappy, troubled, miserable. They're not. There are people who are actually happy with their life - really - and I count myself among them. Is my life perfect? NO. Do I have everything I want? NO. But those intrapersonal observations don't have to be an obstacle to my decision to be happy. And I do think happiness is a choice.

"As Good as it Gets" was on this afternoon and this scene really got me thinking...

There are people with good stories, happy stories, "good times, noodle salad." Even if they don't find their way into my office, I choose to believe they are the majority.

My joy is a choice. I've had my share of trials in life - more than most, perhaps - but why would I let that dictate my attitude?

From a Biblical perspective, are there circumstances in the life of a Christian that should diminish our joy? We are commanded, "Rejoice always." In 1 Peter 4:13, it says, "Keep on rejoicing even to the degree that you share in the sufferings of Christ." Paul said, "Even though I am suffering I'm rejoicing." Is Peter saying that as your suffering escalates, so should your rejoicing? I should be seeing a whole lot more happy people in my office, then!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Courtship with Christ

Last night at Fair Oaks Church we had a very special guest at the pulpit, Rev. Gerald Stokes. If that name sounds somewhat familiar, it's because he is the father of Fair Oak's Senior Pastor, Rev. David R. Stokes.

On Wednesday nights at Fair Oaks we've been working through a series called The Patmos Files, a verse-by-verse study on the book of Revelation. Rev. Gerald Stokes recently visited the area of Greece and "Asia Minor" that's referenced in the first chapters of Revelation and he was coming to share his perspective on the 7 churches (a tad different than his son's which I found amusing).

It was a wonderful sermon, of course, very thought provoking ... but I took away from it something special that was somewhat unrelated to the book of Revelation, except that the church at Ephesus (who had lost her first love) was the vehicle.

Rev. Gerald Stokes shared a story about his experience of having been raised Catholic, and being saved as an adult. He described a passionate, budding romance he felt with Jesus that was exciting, like the courtship of lovers that brought a lump to my throat.

I, too, grew up Catholic. I was always an active servant in my church, but didn't know what it meant to have a relationship with the Lord until I was adult. When my husband Edward and I were dating, we started going to "his" church and that was where I opened my heart to Jesus.

"Romance" ... Rev. Gerald Stokes's words were taken right out of my heart. That's exactly what it felt like (and often still does). A Courtship with Christ - could anything be more beautiful? more exciting? What was most special for me, though, was to hear it described that way by someone else and especially by a man. I had often wondered if the fact that I'm a woman influenced the way I interpreted those feelings.

I also wonder about that when I think about my kids and their walk with the Lord. My boys were saved a very young age ... in human terms, can an 8, 9, 10-year old possibly experience passionate, romantic courtship and the hunger for intimacy with Jesus in those kind of adult terms? Do people who are saved at a young age "miss out" on something or do they just experience it later in a different context or as a renewal of faith as they grow in their walk?

Don't get me wrong, I know all too well what I missed out on (that my kids do have), having not walked with Jesus until I was an adult, but I wonder how the "romance" translates ...

What was your experience?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Family Lapdogs

For those who have visited the Yost home, you have surely experienced the pleasure (misfortune, terror) of being greeted at the door by our two pups, Atticus and Rapha. For those who have stayed long enough to sit down, you know that Atticus and Rapha believe themselves to be lapdogs. If they were Westies, that would be less of an issue. Since they are Great Pyrenees, a guest may have issue with the 95 pound furball that just leaped onto their lap.

Unless you're one of those (okay, okay - one of us) who watch the dog shows on Animal Planet or you know someone who raised and herded sheep on a farm, you may not be able to picture what a Great Pyrenees looks like, let alone imagine one on your lap.

Well, thanks to Cesar dog food's new bistro commercial, you can peer into our world for a few seconds (at about 14 seconds in)...

I have to say, the first time we saw the commercial we were giddy with excitement (clearly it doesn't take much). We never see other Pyrs unless we're watching a dog show and it was cool to see them shown in their true and natural state: on their owner's lap!

For those who haven't visited in a while, we have convinced Atticus that each guest doesn't really want or need a a big hug with his paws wrapped around your neck. It's safe to come back now.

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Emotional Intelligence and the MBTI

A few months back I began exploring the Bar-On EQ-i® (Emotional Quotient Inventory) as a tool to add to my inventory for the leadership and executive coaching I do. I have used the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) for quite some time and with great success – MBTI is great because it appeals and applies to such a broad cross-section of people – but I was looking for something that could address a narrower slice of behavioral issues that often seem to be a hinge for the success or failure of leaders.

After several months of independent study which included taking the Bar-On EQ-i® test and participating in a feedback session with a qualified administrator, my journey piqued last week with a three-day marathon, classroom style, complete with written narrative and oral exams.

The good part is, I passed! The bad part is, the process to become a certified EQ-i® practitioner is enough to drag a person with even the highest “EQ” score into the trenches of self-doubt resulting in a 10-point drop just sitting there!

I’m kidding, of course. The reality is, each time I add to my professional tool kit to better equip my executives for leadership, I end up getting as much or more out of it myself. I feel like I got 10 extra “EQ” points just for showing up in class.

Actually, unlike IQ (and unlike MBTI which are hard-wired and static) a person’s EQ can change – and arguably should change. The value of exploring and measuring your current emotional intelligence would be to identify areas that would be beneficial to develop.

For those unfamiliar, the emotional intelligence model uses a tool (self-evaluation questionnaire) and a coach or trainer to aid in the emotional awareness and skill development of the participants. The Bar-On assessment evaluates the following scales:

Intrapersonal Components:
• Self-Regard • Emotional Self-Awareness • Assertiveness • Independence • Self-Actualization

Interpersonal Components:
• Empathy • Social Responsibility • Interpersonal Relationship

Stress Management Components:
• Stress Tolerance • Impulse Control

Adaptability Components:
• Reality Testing • Flexibility • Problem Solving

General Mood Components:
• Optimism • Happiness

Clearly there are elements of the EQ-i® that relate to elements of the Myers-Briggs model but there is no evidence to support that one “Type” or another would have a higher EQ score over another… unlike IQ, where studies have demonstrated consistently higher scores for certain Types over others.

One of the other major differences between EQ and Type is the components versus overall composite score aspect. In the Myers-Briggs model, it’s said that the “whole is greater than the some of its parts” meaning each of your four preferences will certainly have its own meaning in your life and how it plays out in your behavior, but it’s the combination of those four preferences and how they impact each other that is a greater behavioral indicator. The EQ, on the other hand, has greater meaning and value when exploring each individual element. The over all score – a composite average of the scores of the 15 elements – is not as valuable in determining a person’s EQ skills or abilities.

Me? Well, as many of my fellow MBTI readers know, I’m an INTJ … and all the glory and warts that go with being an INTJ translated into to my EQ scores – top-of-the-charts high scores in Independence and Stress Tolerance, but challenged by less than average scores Interpersonal Relations and Self Regard.

My results are a perfect example of the problematic nature with the EQ overall score. I could get back a “healthy” overall score, 1 or 2 standard deviations above average, and have a “Lake Wobegon” moment (where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average) but that’s a problem if I allow a high overall score to distract me from the real work that needs to be done in any given element area that could be suffering or impacting my ability to achieve success in one area or another.

In the end, I think the EQ-i® is a great tool and I look forward to seeing how it can benefit the people I work with (and myself). As an MBTI practitioner, steeped in the Myers-Briggs vocabulary, I found it difficult to discuss observable behavior in the EQ class without using Type-language. I’m fortunate that most of the people I will be using EQ with also share that MBTI vocabulary… I look forward to the challenge of using the EQ model with someone who is unfamiliar with Type. The two tools do complement each other well.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes

…and into the fiery pits of Hell.

At some point in my life (not soon, I imagine) my time in this world will be over and I will head home to be with my heavenly father. I have frequently imagined (start humming MercyMe here) what this might be like - knowing that my limited mortal brain cannot begin to conceive of its glory (but I’m sure chocolate is involved). All my mental pictures were recently replaced by a less pleasant scenario…

I arrive at the gates of heaven to be greeted by Jesus, a few choice angels and God Himself who is holding a DVD of my life in His hands. He pops it in the DVD player, but there’s really no point in watching it all, I lived it and He wrote it. We both know what’s on there – so just skip to the good stuff: The Blooper Tracks.

As He scrolls through Bonus Features to find the Blooper of choice and hits the play button, I look around to the ground below me to see if I’m standing on a trap door that leads straight to Hell, but attention is drawn back up to Jesus who is laughing so hard tears are running down His cheeks as we watched the clip below.

Yes, yes. I’m the parent who was out SHOPPING while my 12-year-old son sat in the front row as a shining example for Pastor Stokes as the future of the church. As I wrestled past the mortification (the horror, oh the horror) right through justification (I tithe, I serve, I’m there every Wednesday, do I really have to be at all 3 weekend services?) take a pit stop at guilt (what kind of message am I sending the kids, they’re here for all 3 weekend services, what a horrible model for them, I should be doing more) I was finally able to appreciate the humor.

My friend Tracey Dowdey (who is a pastor’s wife and has surely heard it all) said it was truly one of her favorite church moments of all time. Tracey’s words often make me feel all warm inside, but I'm afraid the flush of heat I feel is from the pits of hell this time.

Or perhaps those flames warming me from below are from the parent-sin-pride from hearing Pastor Stokes say such lovely things about my youngest angel and his heart for the Lord (yeah, yeah - if I hadn't been out shopping, I could have heard it all first hand instead of having several of my brothers and sisters in Christ call me after that service to tell me all about it and send me links to the webcast so I can watch it over and over again).

Thank God I’m saved, ‘cause I’m sure not perfect!

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