Author Archives: Matt Dabbs

Self-differentiation: One of the Greatest Gifts You Can Receive

I wish someone had told me sooner, when I was much younger that the more you depend on others for how you feel the worse you are going to feel. It has taken me the vast majority of my life to figure this out and I am glad I did. The moment I stopped worrying about what other people thought about me and started being only focused on what God thought about me was the moment I finally found security.

I find so many people who are so worried about what everyone else thinks. That way of living has too much anxiety for me. If I am only okay if you are okay I will never be secure because I cannot guarantee you are going to be constantly okay. I cannot control you and you cannot control me and so we are going to have to get along well enough with not always being okay.

In order to do this I have to know what makes me, me and you, you. This is differentiation. I have to know the difference between myself and everyone else and be okay with the two not being enmeshed. Once I decouple from making others’ emotions my emotions and what I think others think about me my view of self, then my mind and my soul are in a healthier place, a secure place. Poorly differentiated people are anxious people and insecure people because they cannot guarantee how anyone else is going to feel and cannot dictate that they are going to like you. But if you are truly living out of your identity in Christ then people can either accept you or reject you for who you are. If you are living out of your false self and people accept you, what does that even mean? If you are living out of your true self and people accept you, then you have something meaningful.

This is why when you talk with an insecure person they have to bring every topic back to themselves. They have to keep testing and keep reaffirming self in the center or else they don’t know where they stand much less who they are.

I believe most of us struggle with this at some point in time. I want to encourage you to think less about what others think about you. Know one is good enough to guess that with consistent accuracy any way. You cannot read minds and you cannot base your life and feelings on what you think others think. Instead get to know who you are in Christ and be comfortable enough with what God thinks about you to anchor your identity in Him and live out of that. You will find life far less stressful, far less anxious and far more peaceful.

Reframing the Name “Church of Christ”

Having grown up in Churches of Christ, I am well aware of our quirks and idiosyncrasies. I am sure many of you are as well. We have traditionally used all kinds of phrases that are not found in the Bible to talk about things found in the Bible. For instance “we use Bible names forContinue Reading

Hearing God

“In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.” – 1 Samuel 3:1 In our day and age, it isn’t that God isn’t communicating with us, it is that we aren’t good listeners. I don’t think “the word of the Lord” is “rare” today. I think we have gottenContinue Reading

Finding the Thread – Listening in John 9-11

In John 9 Jesus heals a man who was born blind…on the Sabbath (9:14). This got the attention of the local authorities who began to question the healed man. After verbally assaulting him the man defends Jesus saying, “We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who doesContinue Reading

Preaching Philippians – A Reflection

This Sunday I am wrapping up a sermon series on Philippians. Philippians has long been one of my favorite books of the New Testament but I had never preached through it before. There were a few things that stand out in retrospect. First is partnership. The word for this is koinonia, often translated “fellowship” butContinue Reading

Social Media as a Spiritual Discipline – Practical Guide to a Healthier Conversation

The last few posts on social media as a spiritual discipline all lead up to this post. What can you actually do to have a healthier online conversation? 1 – The Pause Instead of jumping in quickly to respond to comment after comment you stop. Take a moment to gather your thoughts. It may beContinue Reading

Social Media as a Spiritual Discipline – Physiology

There is one more thing I want to discuss before I get into what one can do to have a more productive and loving online conversation. One of the biggest things that is working against our success in our innate physiology. Have you ever been insulted online? If so how did you feel when itContinue Reading

Social Media as a Spiritual Discipline – Entropy

I have never seen a political or religious argument ascend into pics of the grandkids or even what someone had for dinner last night but I have seen pics of the grands or your latest, greatest dinner devolve into a verbal assault. Entropy – the idea that things fall apart, that organization more easily turnsContinue Reading

Social Media as a Spiritual Discipline – Resistance

Spiritual disciplines require training. Training requires resistance. I believe spiritual disciplines take discipline because they don’t come naturally to us. If they did it wouldn’t take discipline to do them. This is why I believe using social media as a Christian can be a spiritual discipline. It comes with natural barriers to productive and effectiveContinue Reading

Studying 1 Peter 5:1-14 Elders Shepherding the Flock

In the last chapter of First Peter, Peter spends some time writing to the elders in his audience. The first word in the chapter is missed in some translations including the NIV< NRSV and NKJV – “Therefore.” This reminds us that what Peter is about to write is connected with what he was just talkingContinue Reading

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