NOTE: This is a fairly long, intense, controversial message on convictions. The purpose being that convictions are a PRIMARY, necessary ingredient of most successfully self-employed people. If you can handle the personal, invasive nature of what I’m posing below, you’ll come out with possibly THE KEY…for your free agency.
This past weekend I had the fortune to spend three days with 15 guys, all fervently pursuing the calling God has on their lives. Defined by…as our lead guide Gary Barkalow (www.TheNobleHeart.com) says, “The affect of who you are on others.” Or paraphrased by me for the sake of this post…how you uniquely impact, influence and serve others. What your heart is for people.
I facilitated one session of the event and felt led to focus on ‘convictions.’ Getting people to have and communicate their convictions…is one of my…convictions. Part of my calling actually. So, here is a quick case for, and a request for…convictions:
A Case For Convictions
Let’s define it really quick – conviction: a fixed or firm belief
Get that? It’s a BELIEF. Not a salvation issue. Not an absolute truth. Not a right or wrong. And in such, there is no place for self-righteousness. My feeling that you should not jump off the roof of my house is not really a conviction (belief), it’s absolute truth. Gravity. If you jump into a pool, getting wet is not a belief, it’s a fact. A truth. As a believer in the Bible, Christ claims He is the Son of God and salvation is through Him. It’s a truth you either accept or reject. No middle ground. Thus it doesn’t fall into mere belief or ‘conviction’.
It’s also not PERSONAL TASTE or OPINION. I live in an area where it doesn’t rain much, because I don’t like rain. No belief or soapbox. I don’t drink beer because I don’t like the taste. I wish I did actually. But…I don’t. Just me, nothing more. I prefer wood furnishing over metal. I have nothing invested in this, it’s just something I like and choose.
In our culture today, the only thing people stand for is…nothing. To have a belief, value, soapbox and conviction on anything personally and to share it is viewed as intolerant, narrow-minded, naive, self-righteous, judgmental…
Much of the reason is that convictions have been abused by people with a heart for themselves more than for others. Last night while on a date with my wife Teri in downtown Colorado Springs, there was a street
menace preacher. Some poor soul on a street corner loudly speaking things of God and faith. It was abhorrent. And the truth is, he wasn’t ‘preaching’ to serve God or anyone around. He was doing it for himself. He was serving his own desire and errant attempt to earn a star in his heavenly cap or pay his penance. I don’t know which, but it was one of the saddest things I’ve seen in a long time.
Point being, he had a conviction to make a joke of himself on a street corner and the purpose was NOT to serve others. It was to serve himself.
Second problem, we have two cultures of the dreaded self-righteous that have done near irreparable harm to convictions:
- The church
- The enlightened
The church. ‘Christians’. I don’t think I need to dive into that dead sea to make my point. Self-righteousness flourishes and is as far removed from the Christ they claim to serve than a hotdog is from the next bunch.
The ‘enlightened’. These are the main critics of the former group, and just as abounding in self-righteousness in their intellect and self-realization. These folks eat healthy, live clean, have a wealth of knowledge on many subjects, well educated, affluent, question the norm…
They are both sickening in their own right and I sadly fit into BOTH groups. Their arrogance and misused authority are the primary poisons that have destroyed the beauty and necessity of true convictions.
Again folks, I have been a primary perpetrator of self-righteousness, and I’m ashamed of it. My wife was the second woman I respected who flat out, in sincerity, said I was an, and I quote, “Arrogant ass.” There is just no good way of looking at that. I apologize to all who I’ve poisoned during my 40 years. And I’m still not totally free from my tendency toward AAness.
Convictions WILL step on toes, because they do in essence force you to state a claim for what you believe to be healthier and against what you believe to be unhealthy, and you undoubtedly have folks who believe in what you see as unhealthy. That’s the rub. To have a conviction that can help someone, you have to risk offending someone. I believe TV is overall unhealthy. Point blank, end of story. I love a great story, I like to be entertained, I have 7 kids that would enjoy it. But, we’ve never had TV, never will and we maybe watch one movie per week. I believe it’s best to be a character in life, not a spectator. And I don’t want media pumped into and influencing my home. Now there you go. Some will read this, it will CONVICT them, and they’ll lessen their TV watching to get rid of their TV. They’ll spend more time with family and working on their dreams and exercising and choosing activities that are healthier. Others will feel offended, judged, guilty…
That’s just the nature. But you can’t help some, if you don’t offend others. I wish it were easier, but it’s not. So stay safe and ineffective, or be dangerous and of worth.
Remember that guy…Jesus Christ? He spent his ministry sharing His convictions. It saved people. And got Him killed. You can’t do this safely. So what are you called to? Saving your own butt and keeping it clean? Are you a Christian and you nod your head in church when they speak of ‘persecution’ and say you’d die for your faith? You wouldn’t deny your Lord even if threatened with death? What if Christ has called you to share a conviction in an effort to help another? What if it doesn’t go well and you are persecuted? Hmmm….
Though you can help the persecution with this:
LET THEM KNOW YOU CARE
Everyone’s heard it, “People don’t care how much [or what] you know, till the know how much you care.” If you take your conviction and hit people over the head right away like the dreaded street preacher I mentioned, you’re pissin’ in the wind. Don’t bother. You have to do the work of proving your care for someone before your convictions will have merit. Which again is what dilutes the efforts of the 3 Musketeers I mentioned above; the ‘self-serving’, the ‘church’ and the ‘enlightened.’
You share convictions to serve, and you do it out of love.
Convictions are necessary and glorious. They are needed more than the air we breath. Show me a movement that made the world a better place and gave health to the unhealthy, and I’ll show you one person who stood on that conviction out of a true heart to serve and love others.
True convictions are communicated and offered with a heart to serve and love. To as I said above, bring health to something unhealthy. Again, don’t get hung up on right or wrong or ‘sin’ or salvation.
You have experienced mistakes in your life. You have regrets (or at least you should). You have had an unhealthy area that you became aware of, got counsel on (probably at the hand of someone else’s convictions) and became healthy in. And it’s a huge freakin’ deal! You might have been killing yourself with your diet, you changed it and found healing and new life, and now you have great value to offer someone else who is killing themselves!!
To be in the presence of a person suffering as you were, and keep what you were gifted with to yourself, is akin to being an accomplice to suicide. That’s not an exaggeration. Dwell on it a minute. And again, I’ll own up to my own admission. I’ve seen couples first hand who were killing their marriages with obvious acts of unhealth, where I had been given an gift of awareness, and I said nothing. NOTHING! Why? I LOVED MYSELF MORE THAN I DID THEM. That’s not a belief, that’s absolute truth. I didn’t want them to offend and possibly have ill feelings toward…ME.
How often do we have knowledge that we know could help, and we let folks to straight to hell-in-a-handbasket because we’re too damn pansy to risk an offense. “Hey, Bart is now divorced/in prison/dead, but at least I didn’t say anything offensive and that would possibly have made him upset with ME/ME/ME/ME!”
Isn’t that what we do as a culture? Isn’t that what you do every day? Yeah, me too. Disgusting isn’t it?!
Again, it doesn’t mean you mouth off at every chance you get. You don’t rape people with your convictions. You woo them.
Convictions must be communicated boldly and confidently to take root. Not loudly or obnoxiously. It can be quiet and firm. And it should have at least a hint of humility as fertilizer for it to flourish. I can boldly communicate my convictions on nutrition and against the American diet, even as I attest to my own journey and struggle and failing. But it’s not a place for timidity or wishy-washyness. It will merely skip off the surface like a flat stone thrown over water.
KEY TO FREE AGENCY
Go look at your bookshelf, the nonfiction books you think are just killer. Go look at your DVD collection of favorite movies and those that inspire you. Go read Fast Company or Inc. or Entreprenuer magazine that touts all the rock star businesses.
What you’ll find at the heart is…a conviction. A belief.
Yet here go most folks who want to do something great and worthy, be self-employed and free, and they are looking for an opportunity.
They’re looking in the wrong place!
Look to your convictions. We can take your conviction and MAKE an opportunity. A conviction is the fuel that will overcome ANY obstacle put in your way and truly serve others. I’m typing in my office on the second floor of my straw bale house that consists of probably 50 supposed truths that many wise people cited and told me my way WOULD NOT WORK. My convictions saw me through and here I sit.
Again, a conviction is a belief that commits you and can serve people. ‘Serve’ being the operative word. If you are think that ear rings in men are wrong, there is really no serving in there. That’s merely personal taste and opinion. Some of my uber conservative Christian brethren would like to say it’s a sin to pierce ones self. If so, go back up to the definition. They are then stating a supposed truth. Conviction is personal belief in something…healthier. And for the record, my wife thinks my ear ring is sexy, so I’m wearing it. If she thought a sideways ear-to-ear mohawk was sexy, I’d be running to the barber (that’s one of MY convictions).
YOUR CHARGE: GROW SOME COJONES & SPEAK. NOW
SO…right now, let’s do something together. Speak a conviction. Speak 10. I’m pretty sure that many of you have a list of convictions that you live out as a part of your life and your families. But you may have believed them to be ‘personal’ because you didn’t want to ‘judge.’
If you keep your knowledge from me, you are robbing me. And DON’T JUDGE! Be humble and compassionate and caring. And resolute.
Do it out of your care for others, but I’ll affirm that your free agency might very well be riding on this exercise right here.
Remember, you do it in love, but with absolute understanding that you WILL step on toes. As a matter of fact, I’m not posting my own list in the comments until someone steps on my toes!
Note: If you sit back and realize you don’t have any convictions, you are in unfortunate, but good company. Having and sharing convictions is not the norm anymore. Wait as the comments come in here and see if any light a fire under you.
LATE NIGHT UPDATE:
It’s 11pm on the night I posted this. The comments are rolling in and I’m going to further expound on this tomorrow. Below are three things:
- The audio of the show I did today on this topic where I read it, expounded and read the first 8 comments that came in (there are 18 at this exact moment),
- An amazing, killer, profound, truthful, bold-faced, ‘convicted’ video on ‘CONVICTIONS’ by poet Taylor Mali. I’ve shown this video at my last three Free Agent Academy events, and at my recent leading of a session at Gary Barkalow’s Noble Heart – Basecamp event:
- Another video titled “Do you make a difference (What teachers make)” from Taylor (who I’m finally contacting since I’m obviously a fan and promoter) just to showcase what an impassioned conviction looks and feels like. And folks, you don’t have to be an extrovert and on video to adequately share a conviction! (dedicated to my mother-in-law Pat Johnson, a lifelong teacher of at-risk children in Austin, TX, and my father Dan Miller, a teacher of men and women around the world.
Free Agent Underground Show – “I dare you to post a conviction”
Note: there are many postings of this video, one with over a million views. This one ‘only’ has 87,000, but the audience seems to be much more in tune and it is the one that inspires me the most)