The Power of One
In this next series of writings, I'll be discussing the foundations for identity. In becoming the best version of yourself. In this first blog, I'll discuss the principle of control. When we learn to embrace the truth that we can only control ourselves; we become aware, empowered, and purpose driven in our ability to shape our destiny. This is the foundation that every other characteristic in our life can be built upon.
One of the greatest lessons life has taught me, is that I am not in control. There is so much in life that I have ZERO control over. And ultimately, the only thing I CAN control is myself. This is what's often referred to as the "Power of One". The Apostle Paul describes what love consists of in 1 Corinthians 13. And then describes "love in action" - or what we could refer to as the actions of a powerful person - living out of a lifestyle of love (as described in Romans 12).
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 "4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails."
Romans 12:9-18 "9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."
The "Power of One" - or what we would otherwise call "control". Self-control. Or what I call being "centered". Is living out of a powerful and immovable place, where you take full responsibility for your own actions and behavior. No matter what circumstances or issues befall your life (good or bad). We control what we say, how we act, how we treat others, and behave. If I am falsely accused of something, it is under my control to choose how I respond to that situation. If someone mistreats me; I am in control of my response. If my spouse or children upset or anger me; I am responsible for how I handle that situation. And in all cases previously mentioned - I am in control of how I let these things affect me. There is a popular prayer called "The Serenity Prayer", that goes like this:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
As simple as this principle sounds, society does not typically teach us how to accomplish this. Western-culture's idea of this principle is usually defined as selfishness, and a "look out for number one" mentality. Life is, after all - survival of the fittest. From the moment we are born, we are subconsciously taught that we are not in control of our lives. Our parents are, for the most part; in charge of our lives (for the first eighteen years or more). The same could be said for the years spent in school. Our teachers, coaches, and mentors are more or less the "icons" of our "perceived" control. I use the word "perceived", because we are ALWAYS in control of ourselves. But have been subconsciously trained that others are in charge. Which translates in our subconscious mind, as control. So when things get "out of control", we blame what we "perceive" to be the issue behind the cause. We become victims and slaves to external forces, or how people treat or mistreat us. This shows up in a number of ways. But at the end of the day, no matter what happens to you, who ultimately has the control over you? Who makes you do and say what you do? Who's choice is it to live in offense or un-forgiveness?
When we are finally loosed into life "on our own", we have a subconscious foundation that has been laid. Which impacts how we behave, respond, and live our lives. The implication of this corrupt foundation is that someone else, or something else, is always responsible for how our lives turn out. Which leaves us feeling like victims, powerless, helpless, bitter, entitled, and selfish people. Understanding the power and concept of control in your life will empower you to stand in spite of "anything" life throws at you. Denial, fear, pain, and other emotions can cause a sense of "blindness" - to the level of control we operate in on a day to day basis. It's not the absence of those emotions, or that they are not real feelings in the heat of a moment, but how we respond when we feel them. Are you led by your emotions? Are you led by your fears and pain? A lot of times we fear things that never end up happening. Because we have allowed our mind to create a fearful imagination. And then we empower it by believing it might happen "at any moment". Instead of taking that thought captive, and being in control of our response to that emotion. Everything we do in response to interactions with people, or in response to circumstances in our life, is under our control. If you find yourself pointing the finger at other people, or external forces, for your behavior - you are living a life "out of control". In Galatians 5, we can see the characteristics of living a Spirit filled life. An empowered life.
Galatians 5:22-23 "22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
Everything from paying your bills, to going through a divorce - what you do, is up to you. I will be the first to tell you that life is ANYTHING but fair. We are not debating fairness. It might not be fair that "such and such" thing happened to you. It might not be fair that you assumed consequences for the actions of others. It may not be fair that you primarily do right, but usually get wronged. Life is anything but fair, and we all have our stories for sure. Joseph's life is a perfect example. He was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, accused of rape, and thrown into prison. The entirety of his time as a slave-turned-prisoner was thirteen years. But he chose to take control of what he could (himself) and served The Lord regardless of circumstances beyond his control. After thirteen years, he became 2nd in command of all of Egypt. A great famine struck the land, and Joseph's brothers came to him. And with the power he possessed, he could have had them killed to get revenge. Most of us would probably think that was justified. Or at best, make them suffer as prisoners and slaves for thirteen years also. An out of control person will always want "eye for an eye". It's a victim's mentality, it says: "If I have to suffer, so should you."
An empowered person is not swayed by storms, people, or an "out of control world". Bill Johnson says it like this: "You'll never have authority over a storm you cannot sleep through" (regarding Jesus sleeping in the boat during a sudden and violent storm). The Disciples woke Him and said "Master, do you not care that we are about to die!" Jesus rebuked the storm instantly, and responded "Why are you so afraid, do you still have no faith?" When we live in control of our lives, we can choose to have peace in any storm. It doesn't mean that we won't feel the effects of the storm. But having peace is a choice. And only a choice we make. I am reminded of an amazing man who, despite dying at a very young age of stage four cancer, took control of his life despite the reality of declining health. He went to be with The Lord, and thus won a greater victory. But his greatest victory and testimony were in how he chose to live out the remainder of his life, despite the very low chance he would survive. Here is one of MANY profound things he said about his situation:
"God has taken this cancer and turned it into a blessing. It’s my tool. My tool to spread the word of His grace and glory. I thank Him every day for giving me that tool. In this last year and a half I have told more people about God than in the other whole 24 years of living on this earth. And, at times, that makes me feel guilty. Why do I need to get cancer to focus on one of the simplest things God asks of us?" - Nick Magnotti
When you live in control of your life, even the worst of the worse can't move you. You own your perspective, response, and outlook on life. So much so that in light of death, you can love others. The other options are living in blame, despair, fear, and as a victim. The foundations of loving yourself and others, begins with owning yourself. Being centered and exercising your power as one, will empower you to step into your true identity. And live purposefully, unmoved; toward your destiny. This will be a recurring theme in future posts. Consider this a Prologue of sorts.