The Five Life Tasks – 2- Self-Direction

If spirituality – which is the topic we covered last time – has to do with the soul of a person, then the task of self-direction is the personality and the personal habits of a person. It has to do with the choices we make about how we’re going to live our life. And that determines, to a great degree, how happy we’re going to be, because it has to do with our health, our attitude, our mood, our conscience, our career – all of those things – who our friends are.

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Good afternoon to all of you. Today’s presentation is the second in a series on Life Tasks. The first was about our need for a spiritual life, and today’s is about self-direction. If spirituality – which is the topic we covered last time – has to do with the soul of a person, then the task of self-direction is the personality and the personal habits of a person. It has to do with the choices we make about how we’re going to live our life. And that determines, to a great degree, how happy we’re going to be, because it has to do with our health, our attitude, our mood, our conscience, our career – all of those things – who our friends are.

Now, I know many of those listening, when they hear the topic is self-direction, will have a certain scripture in their minds as we cover this material. So let’s look first at that. It’s in Jeremiah 10, and verse 23.

Jer. 10:23 – O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself. It is not in man to walk to direct his own steps. I’ve noticed that there are Christians on two sides of the aisle on this issue. There are what we could call the spiritualists – the people that think that God just does everything – and then there are the people that I’ve heard called technocrats – that think they have to do everything themselves. Where is the balance in there? Well, I suppose that there’s no way to really know in every case exactly what God is expecting us to do and what He’s going to do. But we do find ourselves, in spite of all that, with the capacity and the responsibility to make choices about how we’re going to live our own lives, don’t we? So, what is the Christian responsibility here?

Let’s turn to Proverbs 16, and verse 9.

Prov. 16:9 – Solomon wrote this, we believe. A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps. So I’m presuming from this that, if we ask God to help us, then He is going to guide us through life. So, as we march through the different aspects of self- direction, let’s remember that God can be involved in all these things as much as we’ll let Him be.

I also want to comment on one other thing before we actually begin talking about it. We all have the ability to be aware of ourselves, don’t we? They call that mindfulness. We can pay attention to our own mind – our own perceptions, our own sensations, our own beliefs, our own intentions, our moods, our desires, our attitudes. We can be aware of those things. We can evaluate and consider ourselves. And we can evaluate others. That is a uniquely human ability – to be mindful of self. We’re also given the ability to make choices about how we’re going to live our lives. So God has given us the ability to direct ourselves. And I think Christians would like to include God in that so that they can avoid a lot of pain and suffering.

So, I want to talk about ten aspects of self-direction today. The first one is a sense of self- worth. Now I can remember when I was back in college in the sixties. I was going to a small church school. All of you probably know which one it is. The faculty at our small church college, for the most part, seemed intent on humbling the student body. They would tell us all the time that the human heart was evil above all things and desperately wicked, and that being human was being unable to please God, and that we all needed to repent, and all of that. Of course, all of that is true, except for one thing. And that would be the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the love of God. Seldom did they ever tell us that we were the apple of God’s eye, and that we were created for good works, which are also just as much scriptures in the Bible as being evil above all things and unable to please God. So there was sort of the skewed perspective on what they call self-esteem or self- worth. That was generally viewed as a bad thing.

Let’s kind of narrow down what we’re talking about here. The foremost authority and research pioneer on the topic of self-worth is a man named Nathaniel Brandon. He said that self-worth is a confidence in our ability to think and cope with challenges of life, and the confidence in our right to be successful and happy, to assert our needs, and achienve our values, and enjoy the fruits of our efforts. When a person has a positive self- assessment, that’s a motivator and it inspires us to act when others hold back. So, satisfaction with one’s self is one of the strongest contributors to well-being and satisfaction with our life, which is just another way to say peace of mind.

So how does God fit into that picture? Are we supposed to be self-satisfied? I want to read a story out of the Bible to you today. It’s in 1 Samuel 17, verse 21. This is the famous story of David and Goliath. I want to draw something out of this story for you to think about.

1 Sam. 17:21 – For Israel and the Philistines had drawn up in battle array, army against army. And David left his supplies in the hands of the supply keeper, ran to the army, and came and greeted his brothers. Then, as he talked with them, there was the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, coming up from the armies of the Philistines, and he spoke according to the same words. So David heard him. He, in essence, had challenged the army of Israel, and nobody would fight him because he was too big – too scary.

V-24 – And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were dreadfully afraid. So the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up?

Surely he has come up to defy Israel. And it shall be that the man who kills him, the king will enrich with great riches, will give him his daughter, and give his father’s house exemption from taxes in Israel.” Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine, and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” Now, David was a teenager at that time, we think. He was very young. And the people answered him in this manner, saying, “So it shall be done for the man who kills him.” And now Eliab, his (that’s David) oldest brother, heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab’s anger was aroused against David. And he said, “Why did you come down here, and with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you’ve come down to see the battle.” So he takes him to task for being an arrogant, young teenager, who doesn’t really know how things work in the world, and who just really came down to see all the blood, and gore, and the fighting, and was irresponsible and wasn’t taking care of the sheep, etc.

V-29 – And David said – what every teenager says – “What have I done now? Is there not a cause?” And then he turned from him toward another and said the same thing. And these people answered him as the first ones did. Now when the words which David spoke were heard, they reported them to Saul, and he sent for him. So then David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go fight with this Philistine.” And Saul said to Daivd, “You’re not able to up against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are a youth, and he is a man of war from his youth.” So it sounded to David’s brother, and to Saul, that David thought he could take on this giant all by himself. But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it, and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth. And when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck it, and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear, and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” Well, that sounds pretty cocky, doesn’t it? But notice what it says in verse 37.

V-37 – “Moreover,” David said, “the LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion, and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to Daivd, “Go, and the LORD be with you.” So he knew God was with him, and that he had to take action, but he knew that God would direct his steps, just like it says in the Proverbs. Maybe Solomon heard his father tell the story of the lion and the bear and the giant, and understood how God directs people’s steps, even when we plan our own way.

So let’s go back to what Nathaniel Brandon said. “Self-worth is a confidence in our ability to think and to cope with the challenges of life, and the confidence in our right to be successful and happy, to assert our needs, achieve our values, and enjoy the fruits of our efforts.” He said, “A positive self-assessment is a motivator in inviting us to act when others hold back.” David was acting when others were holding back. His self-assessment of what he could do was more than the others because he believed that God was involved with him – or would be. We get the sense from this that he believed that would happen because this man was doing something that was against the will of God – which was defying God’s people. So, it sounded like arrogance to some, but actually, it was really humility, wasn’t it? He was trusting in God to take care of him. But yet his assessment of himself with God involved was really positive. So he was able to go forward.

So, how does that work in your life? Do you believe that God is with you? And that good things will happen if you step forward and make the effort? Or is your sense of self so damaged that, even with God’s help, you don’t think you can do things? Or that God isn’t going to help you? Something for us all to think about, isn’t it? And that is the goal of this series – to cause us to think about how we live our life.

The second area has to do with a sense of control. Let me clarify that this has to do with self-control. God wants us to serve others and control ourselves. Some of us have that turned around. Some think that others are supposed to serve them, and their job is to control other people. There is a lot of evidence to show that being in control of self helps us to be happy and healthy people. And being out of control means that we don’t have the ability to control our own outcomes and our own emotions.

There’s been a lot of research done about what makes people happy at work. One of the big factors they’ve discovered is, that in a work environment people thrive when they’re allowed to contribute to the decisions made about how they will do their work. Everybody wants to produce good products. And if the people producing the products don’t have some say-so in how they’re going to be produced, they feel like things are out of their control.

After World War II, the victorious Americans realized they needed to rebuild the Japanese economy and to turn the Japanese into allies instead of enemies. They had sort of a clean slate to start over. I don’t know how this happened, but they brought in an MIT educated PhD – business management expert – a very long-range thinker, a visionary. His methods of organizing businesses had been rejected in America by American heirarchy – business heirarchy – because he said that when you have a factory full of workers laboring on assembly lines to build products, the workers knew much better than the people in the front office how to produce better products. They knew where the problems were. They knew what to do because they were in touch with the day-to-day work. So, using this man’s model, in Japan, at the production meetings, the workers were given a voice. And the management listened to them and learned. Managers were just a part of a team along with the workers, instead of the overlords that bossed them around and had the final say in everything. Using that approach is why the Japanese can make such incredible products today.

When I was a little boy, just after World War II, if something had a “made in Japan” sticker on it, it was thought to be of inferior quality. And for a little while there, it was, because they were just recovering from the war. But now – today – the Japanese market their products all over the world. They have the best quality for the price of anybody. It has to do with how they see to it that their workers have a measure of control over how they do their work.

So let me ask you this. Do you have control over your own life? If you’re a parent, do you allow your children a measure of control over their own lives as they are ready for it? For parents that always is a tough one, especially when they’re three and we see them headed full speed for the street – you know, sometimes you have to step in – or when they’re swimming headed for deep water, or, when they’re older, for a dangerous or costly situation. But making choices is how we learn what works and what doesn’t in life. So we all have to gauge that and realize that, even with us, God has some of those same feelings watching us make our choices, and then letting us live by them and learning from the results of them. So that’s a very important part of our life. It has to do with choice and our ability to have some measure of control over the life that we live.

When I think about the difference in working at public school as a counselor and having a private practice, there’s such a huge difference for me. And the main part of it is that I don’t have to deal with that huge controlling bureacracy. I get to do therapy the way I want, with the people I want to do it with, and I get to make choices about how it’s going to happen. And I don’t have somebody telling me when I have to come to work, and when I have to go home, and what kind of therapy I can and can’t do, and all of those things. So I’m a lot happier camper now that I’m not working in public school, because I can do therapy the way I think it should be done. Some of the choices I make are good ones, and some of them I learn from.

The third area to think about is realistic beliefs. What does that have to do with self- direction? Well, we all get to decide what we’re going to believe. And what they’ve learned is that healthy people have the ability to see things more as they really are than as they want them to be. It’s been discovered that there are five unrealistic beliefs that cause most stress that people feel in life today.

The first one is, “The past continues to influence me so much that it’s hard for me to change or prevent bad things from happening” – you know, “Mother is the reason I am the way I am now,” or “My father abused me” – that’s always a good one, isn’t it? There are lots of people, who have been abused, who find a way to live in the world without abusing others. That’s a choice that we make. So this idea that I’m out of control, and that somebody else is responsible for the way I feel and act is one of the things that causes people a lot of stress.

The second one is, “I can’t help getting down on myself when I fail at something, or when something goes wrong” – you know, “I don’t have any control over myself.” “There’s sort of a gloom-and-doom fairy that hits me on the head with a magic wand, and every time I make a mistake, I have to get depressed about it.” That’s not true, by the way. I know I have to clarify that, because I meet people every day that believe with everything in them that that is true.

The third one is, “It’s very important for me to be like and loved by almost everybody I meet. If not, I will eat worms and die.” Most of us have people that don’t like us, and yet we still manage to live, and live quite well if we don’t let it bother us that much.

Number four. “I must be perfectly confident or achieving in all that I do to consider myself worthwhile.” You know, “If I can’t be perfect, I won’t try. I’ll just flee the scene.” There’s a movie that I really like called The Chariots of Fire. You’ve probably seen it. It’s what? Twenty, twenty-five years old now. There’s a scene in it where…it’s about these two British athletes. One was a sprinter, and another one was a middle-distance runner. This sprinter got outrun in this race by this middle-distance runner, and he’s sitting up in the bleachers all woe-be-gone. And his girlfriend comes up to him, and she says, “Don’t be so sad.” And he said, “I run to win, and if I can’t win, I’m going to quit.” And she said, “Why don’t you try growing up?” He had to be perfectly achieving to consider himself worthwhile. So he finally got over that and hired a good coach and won. Then he felt better, but I don’t know if he ever did grow up.

The fifth and final one is, “I have little control over my moods which are caused mostly by events outside myself.” Have you ever heard people say, “He made me so mad?” That’s the belief that we’re really just a puppet and somebody else is holding the string. Or, “He pushed my buttons?” It is true that people do push our buttons, but we get to decide how we’re going to react.

So these beliefs aren’t true. And you’ll notice that in every one of them, they put the focus of control outside of ourselves. They blame our behavior on others or other situations, which leaves us out of control. That’s why it’s so stressful to think this way. A lot of research has been done around these beliefs. People who don’t believe them tend to be a lot happier than those who do. They tend to be a lot more resilient to life’s difficulties.

Have you ever fallen for any of these unrealistic beliefs? Do you feel stressed when you have to perform? Do you feel depressed when you’re rejected? Do you feel helpless when you face problems? Do you feel out of control when, actually, only you can control yourself? God says that He wants us to worship Him in spirit and in truth. And God also tells us that He wants truth in the inward parts. The truth is, no matter what has happened to us, we get to decide how we will behave. And we can think the way we want to think, if we will. That’s another very important part of life – to think realistically and not be in lah-lah land all the time about what’s really going on inside us.

The fourth area of self-direction has to do with emotion awareness and coping. What are emotions? There are two answers to that question actually. Scientists say there are nine core feelings: anger, anxiety, sadness, guilt, shame, disgust, interest or excitement, love or compassion, happiness or joy. Those are feelings that we have. But there is another way to explain what an emotion is. They’ve recently discovered that actually an emotion is a surge of energy that goes through your brain, and it causes the brain to say, “Hold on! What’s happening now is really important.” And then it causes us to evaluate what’s going on. This is how we make sense of the world around us.

So, when we’re mindful of our own emotions, and the emotions of others, then we’re able to connect to other people. If we repress our feelings, if we harbor grudges, anger, resentment – won’t allow ourselves to feel them – if we look down on people who show

tender feelings, if we’re sarcastic, if we tune down or turn down the closeness of our relationships with other people, then it’s hard to relate effectively to others.

Did you know that research has proven that chronic anger is just as bad for the body as smoking, as obesity, and as high-fat diets are? And by contrast, appropriate expression of negative emotions in the presence of positive emotions seems to strengthen our immune system. A lot of us think that we’re not supposed to be angry. Well, good luck with that one! The Bible doesn’t require us to never be angry. It says, “Be angry and sin not.” How do you do that? Well, we talk to the people we’re angry with. We try to work it out. We give them the courtesy of engaging them, of responding, or making amends, rather than holding the anger within us where it eats us up from the inside out. We try to resolve those problems. Awareness of our own emotions and coping with them – people that are successful at understanding and feeling their feelings – generally are much more likely to be good parents, they’re much more likely to have friends, because emotions are what connects us to each other.

The fifth area: problem solving and creativity.

Backing up to that last one, I was reminded of a case where there was this fellow who had no emotions. He didn’t realize that he didn’t have any emotions until he got married and he realized that he should be feeling something for his wife and his children, but he couldn’t. They went back and talked about his family life, and his parents were very intellectual people, who always talked about achievement and performance, but they never talked about feelings. When his father died – at twelve – his mother never talked to him about how she felt about that. So he was sort of emotionally unconnected, or not connected to his own feelings. It was very difficult for him to connect to his children, because he couldn’t be aware of their feelings.

Fifth area: problem solving and creativity. Do we have the ability and the creativity to solve the problems we face in our lives? There’s a scientist named Gardner, and he postulates that there are actually nine ways people are intelligent. So there are nine different areas of problem solving that people can employ. He lists linguistic intelligence, musical intelligence, logical intelligence – that would be math – spatial intelligence – you know how guys like to read maps and build things and all that; that has to do with spatial things – body intelligence – kinesthetic ability; people that know how to use their body to express themselves or to perform activities – you know, a dancer, or a sports athlete. I never have really known any really super-star athletes. They really are very rare people actually, when you think about how many people there are that we know and how few of them are actually professional athletes. But I have a nephew, who, when he was in high school, was scouted by several pro baseball teams and football as well. He could have pretty much taken his pick of where he was going to play in professional sports later. He’s not that tall. When he was in high school, he had the best batting average on his team and he also hit the most home runs. He just had the ability – he had that hand-eye thing going – and he could put that bat on that ball really hard. He was the all-state quarterback and just an incredibly coordinated person. That’s that body intelligence. To me, the greatest demonstration of that is somebody that can dance well, because I don’t think there’s a connection between my brain and my feet. Then there is intrapersonal intelligence. We already talked about that when we talked about being aware of your own moods. Intrapersonal means the ability to access ones own feelings and understand them so that we can use them to guide our lives. And then interpersonal is the ability to understand moods, motivations, intentions of other people – to understand their emotions.

Now, nobody is good at all of these. For example, there are some people that are very atuned relationally, but they’re really no good at math whatsoever. There are people who are really intelligent linguistically or mathematically, but they might be completely unintelligent when it comes to understanding or reading others. And of course, they wouldn’t even know it. It’s sad that it’s that way, because I know that I’m no good at math. But it’s really hard to detect when we’re not good with people sometimes. So, these really important intelligences – the intrapersonal and interpersonal – are sometimes not really thought about that much or understood. And yet, to be a parent, you have to be interpersonal and intrapersonal. It’s just required to be a good parent.

The sixth one that we want to think about is sense of humor. We can all be a little funnier than we are. Some people are good at it. Others have to work at it. I went to a car dealership a while back to look at a truck, and a very handsome, well-dressed, young African-American walked up to me and introduced himself – Solomon. He was very polite. He was very articulate. He was really helpful. I would ask him a question about a vehicle, and he would say to me things like, “I don’t know the answer to that, but I know what my boss says.” When he first said that to me, I kind of looked at him, and I realized that there was the slightest hint of a smile on his face as he said that. So then I asked him if an off-road package was more stable on the highway than the regular handling package. And he said, “I think we’re supposed to believe that it is better.” And I said, “What would you actually sell me this vehicle for?” He looked around nervously and took me outside, and he said, “Oh, I’m not supposed to know that, but you can ask me and I can pull the invoice if you ask me to do it.” So I said, “Okay, let’s do that.” So we went inside, and he pulled the invoice, and came back and showed it to me. And I said, “What if I offered you the invoice price for this car?” And he said, “Don’t look now, but my boss is watching us.” Then he said, “I don’t really have anything to do with the price you’ll get. I have to go ask him. Would you like me to do that?” I said, “I would really like to know what you would sell me this car for.” And he said, with a big smile on his face, “Let the games begin!” So he found this very clever way to entertain me, and reduce the stress, and make me like him, and sell me a car – almost.

So, how are you doing in the humor department? Can you take a joke? Or do you get defensive? Do you see humor in yourself? Or are you kind of wrapped too tight that you see everything too serious? Do you use humor as a weapon? As sarcasm, to alienate and hurt others with it? Do you use it to turn down or destroy relationships? How do you use humor? And in what circumstances. Sometimes we can hurt people with our humor if they’re really sensitive, because they take humor as criticism. So, even when we’re not being sarcastic and just trying to have fun, we have to be careful. But that, again, is that interpersonal skill, isn’t it – to understand the moods and the feelings of others.

Let’s look at the seventh area. Nutrition and exercise. Let’s go to 1 Corinthians 6:19.

1 Cor. 6:19 – Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, which is in you, which you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. Therefore, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. There’s a really strong connection between what we eat and our fitness level to our mental health, and also, to our spirit – our sense of well-being. So it’s very important that we take care of our bodies.

In the US, eating and drinking habits have been implicated in six out of ten deaths. That’s a pretty astounding piece of information, isn’t it? And the human body needs to move. It’s a part of a happy life. So, I’m not going to get into nutrition and exercise, because there are so many books on that out there that we could never stop talking about it. I would say, though, with regard to exercise and diet, there’s a lot more information out there now than there used to be – about how to exercise intelligently and effectively, and eating as well. If you haven’t read anything about those topics in awhile, it might be good.

Stress management – the eighth area. We all need to know how to manage stress, because stress is a part of life, and stress is hard on the body and on the mind.

I have a client right now, who’s in high school, who gets sick before finals every year. He has every year since he was in middle school. That’s because he’s not managing his stress. And he’s not managing it because he doesn’t know he has it until he gets sick. He can’t feel the stress that he has. He’s one of those people who is high in math – you know, his intelligence about math is high – but low intelligence when it comes to intrapersonal things. He’s not aware of himself – his body. If you ask, “Are you stressed about anything?” he stops and he tries to become mindful of himself, and he says, “No.” So his self-check yields no information. Then he comes down with a cold or a stomach ache just before finals every year. He’s not lying about it. He just can’t feel it. He can’t tell.

I have a friend who’s the same way. I heard him make the statement that while something really important was happening in his work, his body started to exhibit signs of stress. But he couldn’t sense that he felt stressed in his mind at all. We need to learn how to manage stress, even if we’re not very smart about our bodies and don’t know until we have a cold. This fellow can learn from being sick every year that “I get stressed when I have to study a lot, and I get stressed over tests.” So he can start doing something to ward that off. He can exercise more. He can watch his diet. He can make sure he gets more sleep. He can talk about the stress he’s under and what it feels like. He can do some exploration mentally, and discover his stress triggers.

The ninth area is gender identity. We’re all born the way we are, right? So, what does that have to do with self-direction? Well, I’m going to give you an example. But first, I want you to know that if you ask an emotionally healthy group of little girls, “How would you like to be a boy?” the answer is always the same thing. “Eeooooh!” They just don’t want to think about being a boy. And if you do the same thing with a group of little boys, you’ll get essentially the same reaction. Our gender is very important to us. Some of the most miserable people I’ve ever met were people who were confused about their gender. Gender is extremely personal and important to everyone. A lot of people make choices about that that aren’t good.

I had a young man come to my office awhile back, and he was worried that he might be a homosexual. I was talking to him, and we were exploring why he thought that. He had never had a girlfriend since high school. He had a friend – she was a girl when he was in high school – but he was so afraid to ask her out on a date that finally she gave up on him, and she started going with his best friend. So he had that recollection in his background. He thought that maybe he wasn’t interested in her enough to make the move. He was twenty-years-old now, and he had no girlfriend that he knew. He had lots of guy friends. He was tall, good-looking. He was a basketball player, and he was rehabbing an arthriscopic knee surgery at a gym every evening. And I’m trying to think about how I can help him get in touch with himself, and ask him if there were a lot of treadmills, and bikes, and elipticals there. And he said, “Yes.” And I said, “Are there girls on those machines in the evening when you go there?” And he said, “Yes, quite a few.” I said, “Okay, here’s your first homework assignment. Go to the gym, look over all the girls that are on the treadmills, and the elipticals, and the bikes, find one that’s really cute to you, and get on the machine next to her. And after you’ve been on it a few minutes, look over at her, and smile, ask her how to work the electronic controls on that machine. And after she helps you, smile at her and thank her, and then try to carry on some kind of conversation with her. Maybe find out about her workout routine, or some more features of the machine, or just anything to carry on a conversation. And then next week, I want you to report back and tell me how that was for you.” So the next week he came in and announced that he was not gay. So we talked for a few more weeks about his life plan and his career, and he was ready to go. So he kind of resolved that issue. He was very miserable about that, because he was just confused. And that confusion about gender is a very unpleasant thing to experience.

The final thing that we want to think about, as far as self-direction, is our cultural identity. Our culture is extremely important to us. It is a part of us. I am an Anglo- American. Now, there are a lot of Anglo-Americans who are utterly proud of that and who want every immigrant who comes to this country to begin acting like an Anglo- American. The thing about that is, if those same people moved, let’s say, to China, they would not want to become Chinese. They would want to stay Anglo-American living in China. I think that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. And all these people who come here seeking a better life, if we want them to be really happy, productive, balanced people, who make a contribution to our society, then they most definitely need to remember who they are, where they came from and be proud of it. See, the problem is not being an American. It’s the Anglo part that causes the problem. If you’re Chinese and you wish you were Anglo, that’s a problem. If you’re Anglo and you wish you were Chinese, that’s a problem. Because you will never be Anglo if you’re Chinese or visa versa. Now, you can be Chinese Chinese and become a Chinese American. That isn’t a

problem. And it’s good to be African-American, or Mexican-American, or Vietnamese- American, or Anglo-American.

So what’s the choice? Well, I knew a couple who adopted a child from Asia. They had tried and tried to have a child of their own. So after awhile they just thought, “Well, we’re not going to have one,” so they adopted an Asian child. And right after they did, the woman got pregnant and had a child of their own. So they had two children – an Anglo child and an Asian child. They were both beautiful children. And their parents loved them both. But when the Asian child became a teenager, she had a very severe emotional crisis. And she told me, “I know my parents love me, but when I look around, I see tall, blonde, blue-eyed people. And when I look in the mirror I see short, dark-eyed, dark-haired, and I wonder who I am.” And it took her quite a few years to be comfortable with who she was. She had an identity crisis – cultural.

So, who are you? How do you feel about being in your skin? The more comfortable we are being who we are, the healthier and happier we will be. And I think for those of us who worship God, it’s good to know that God made us the way we are, and He likes us that way. If we find ourselves in conflict with God’s design, then that’s a problem for us, isn’t it?

So we get to decide how we’re going to feel about our culture. So that’s the bit about self-direction that goes that way.

So those are the areas of self-direction according to latest research, and the ones that play an important part in making us happy, healthy people. How are you doing in each of these areas? Where do you need to do some work? We all need to work on some of these things, because we’re not all perfectly intelligent in each area. So, if we have problem areas, we can take charge of our life and our self-direction for better physical and emotional health.

Now this whole series of Life Tasks comes out of the idea that to be spiritually strong, we must also be balanced emotionally and healthy physically. Christianity needs to be integrated into every corner and aspect of our lives. And that way we will honor the temple of God and become more fruitful workers for Him.