BMM Bigger Weekend March 2012
Welcome to Mission Impossible!
Olympic year – Bob Beamon. The impossible Long Jump, Mexico City 1968
An impossible jump? Many would have thought so and many did because the record remained unbeaten for some 23 years! A prime example of the way that we condition ourselves, limit our ability and those around us.
And how many people are you coming across these days that are in a right old state?! Life for them is impossible. They attempt to balance so many plates in the air it is impossible to keep them all up. They spend more money than they have which means they wind up in a debt spiral and its impossible for them to keep their head above water. They just don’t know how to get out of it!
For lots of people their state, or mood, is determined by others or by their environment, rather than themselves. For instance, if someone says something negative about them they feel terrible. Or if it rains they put themselves in a bad mood. They get into a right old state. Without giving it any conscious thought they bounce around from one state to the next hundreds of times a day. And if you stop and think about a typical day, many of those states prove to be extremely negative.
Now if you think back to a specific time when you were in a less than resourceful frame of mind, a right state, what do you notice about the results you were getting at that time? Did you get better or worse results than usual?
On the other hand, if you think about a similar situation, when you performed at your absolute best, what was the key difference? You were the same person, with the same skills and knowledge, weren’t you? Why did Bob Beamon manage to make that record jump? He was in good physical condition, he’d trained hard and, there was one key difference that brought everything together at that moment in time.
The difference, that made the difference when you got excellent or better results, was that just like Bob Beamon, you were in the right state.
Over the past 12 months I’ve served as your President and some of what I’m sharing with you this evening I’ve shared with people at the events and breakfasts I’ve been invited to speak at. And I make no apology for sharing some of the core principles with you tonight (as well as the fact that the Exec have asked me to give a bit of a repeat having heard and responded to some of it themselves)!
Tonight I’m not going to focus on the people out there, the people who are in a right old state and need our help to fill the empty spaces in their lives with Christ. In order for us and that we can be more effective and make a difference out there I want to spend some time in here, focussing on us, focussing on you, the person and the spirit inside of you. To recognise that the life we’ve been given and the opportunity God presents before us is one that cannot be ignored.
Imagine then, if instead of being at the unconscious mercy of your moods, you could actually choose your states at will and trigger them in a heart beat. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and of love and self-control. So if we’ve been given the ability to have self-control which could also be state control and taking conscious action to be in the right state, how do we use them practically in 2012?
I want to share with you two simple factors that I’ve learnt create and control your state. They are the same simple factors that many well known sports people use and will use this summer at the Olympic Games. They are the same factors that Bob Beamon used in 1968. They are factors that God imparts into us from a very early stage of our lives.
Your physiology or everything that is physical about you (the way you move, hold your head, breathe, stand, gesture).
Your mental focus (what you focus on in your mind, the sorts of questions you ask yourself, what you picture, feel and hear inside your head).
So if you were in more control of your physiology and your focus within your mind, then it would be fair to say that you should be able to instantly change your state wouldn’t it? Some of the cynics amongst us might think this to be impossible. But what if it was possible? What if God has given us all the tools we need to use for this? To enable us to be in control and be demonstrating more self-control?
My youngest son Matthew uses Physiology state all the time. When he’s happy and full of life he bounces around, wrestles with me and his brother and is generally full of energy. Equally if something happens that is not to his liking, when things don’t go as he wants he walks away from the situation ‘tail between his legs’ and usually plonks himself down onto the floor in a heap and gives you his puppy dog eyes.
Let’s test this then together concentrating for a few moments on the physiological state first of all. So right now I want you to think of a specific time when you were totally, absolutely certain about something. Now breathe like you breathe when you are certain, stand like you stand when you are certain. Put the same expression on your face you would have when you are certain. Talk to yourself in the same way and with the same things, in the way you would say it, when you are absolutely certain things are going to work out.
Notice what's happening. You've gone into a state of certainty.
Let’s try another physiological one. Think of a time when you were really, really happy about something. See in your mind’s eye the picture of that movie taking place, of what you saw during that happy time. Now add the noise and sounds of everything that was happening as you run the movie back. Hear everything that you heard when it all happened and how happy it made you. Feel again how good it all felt and what has happened now? You've gone into that state of happiness!
Once you understand, and are sensitive to exactly how you use these simple techniques to create and trigger different states, you can use this knowledge to produce any state in yourself instantly.
I often use the following very simple technique on the way home from being away from my family, especially if it has been a full, busy day or I’ve spent a few days away. Just when I am a few miles from home I check my physical state. The chances are (if I have driven more than 10 miles) I will have become a bit slumped in my driving position. So I pick myself up, change my posture, put on some feel good music which you should always have available and my state changes. I then begin to visualize what I will do when I walk through my front door and how I will greet my wife and children. Now what is interesting is that even though I have maybe had a long day, putting in some more effort isn’t as hard as it sounds and can actually make life more enjoyable especially if you have young children and they love to see you arrive home like mine do!
The thing about this state changing is that you can check your state at different intervals during the day. Its not just about being with your family is it? It’s about being in the right state at the right time. The key to being in the right state is to remember that when you are in the right state you can achieve really good results and outcomes. If your state is negative how are your results likely to be? So make sure it’s a positive state!
You have the ability to improve your self-control (unless you choose to let others or the environment put you in a bad mood) and it can be as simple as forcing a smile onto your face before you meet or greet someone. For some of you guys I guess that this means you’re gonna have to fake it until you make it!
Paul didn’t present this challenge to Timothy all those years ago just for Timothy to use and be motivated by. God through Paul presents this challenge to us today:
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and of love and of self-control.
So what about our Focus. I constantly tell people that they get what they focus on. Ask yourself this question – do you talk to yourself? Given that men typically don’t listen especially to their other halves I’m convinced it’s because we’re constantly talking to ourselves! OK a bit of a trick question I know but think about it seriously. How do you talk to yourself? What language do you use? Is it clean?! What tonality and where does the voice actually come from? Do you talk to yourself in a way that you talk to other people?
There were some official results published back in September 2010 proving that talking to yourself doesn’t mean you are mad. Hurray! So welcome back to the land of the sane! The results suggest officially for the first time that your self dialogue or self-talk can aid learning and understanding and can have a massive impact on you.
Silly as it may seem at first thought, that little voice in your head is very powerful because a lot of the time it controls your thoughts, actions and deeds. You take a lot of notice to what it says and most of your action or non-action is as a result of what it tells you.
I’ve also come to the conclusion that sadly people must lie to themselves internally too. Now I don’t know if that’s got anything to do with the fact that these people think they’re constantly living life inside a spy movie. So how do you think your focus might be reflected externally if you lie to yourself? Wouldn’t you agree that there are loads of lies about in society today? Everybody is at it aren’t they – lying to each other? It’s become a habit for people that they are simply not honest with each other. It’s just easier to lie and make something up instead of being honest and open. And then people make up reasons to justify the lies like ‘it’s for their own good’; ‘I told him that to protect him from the truth’. I’ve even heard someone say ‘the most honest thing to do was tell him a lie’!
I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that I believe we have to take a stand against this sort of behaviour. We have to be honest with ourselves, honest with each other and honest with those that we come into contact with. If God has given us a Spirit of self-control then its so important that we recognise and use it which includes difficult situations too when it might be easier to ‘tell a white lie’!
Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus on this subject when he said ‘What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretence. Tell your neighbour the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself’. Ephesians 4:25
So as a Christian in business I have to be careful. I have to be careful to go about my business with honesty and integrity. That’s a given isn’t it? Only it’s not in the world of business; it actually means that I’m standing out doing something different! I also have to be careful to make sure I protect my business and the people I employ. So whilst I’m constantly making conscious and sub-conscious decisions to be truthful in my business dealings when I get to a stage in a business deal or in communication with a supplier that would ‘normally’ result in a lie being told because otherwise sensitive information would be released. I simply and honestly provide the most information I can and finish with the line “that’s as much as I can tell you right now…” or words to that effect.
And words are so powerful aren’t they? When I was young I used to believe almost everything anyone ever told me. And yes I’ve made the mistake of believing someone who wasn’t being totally honest because I mistakenly thought that they had the same belief system as my own. And these experiences make us stronger don’t they and give us learning points from which we can develop and grow.
Words are powerful, often more powerful than we realise and I’m going to suggest to you this evening (and hopefully you already know this and just need reminding) that we have been given the power to control our words for the better. In our family relationships, with our friends, work colleagues and simply any other people that we come into contact with. We can earn and develop respect in business, in the workplace, in social circles and even within our families and that includes being honest with ourselves and each other.
For if God gave us a spirit of power then isn’t it important that we use it?
So our theme for this weekend is Mission Impossible! And I’ve got to ask the all important question, probably the most challenging and awkward question that you’ll be asked this weekend – who is your favourite James Bond, 007 actor? Is it the latest incarnation of the long running franchise in the form of Daniel Craig? The original and best (in some people’s eyes) Sean Connery? The humorously smooth, eyebrow-raising Roger Moore? I guess few will remember George Lazenby or vote for Timothy Dalton? Or was it the irrepressible Pierce Brosnan, the man who brought 007 back to the big screen with a bang after a decade of arguing over rights in the late 1990s. Or do you sit in the ‘couldn’t care less’ camp?
Not unlike the James Bond franchise, the Baptist Men’s Movement has gone through changes over the decades and particularly in recent years. People and personnel have changed, the President as most of you know changes until recently every year, though sadly is not provided with an Aston Martin DB5 or otherwise for ‘company business’! Like the James Bond films people will have fond memories of the people and events of the past and the way in which God used men of the movement to connect with people, to bring God’s Kingdom to earth as it is in Heaven.
When Pierce Brosnan became Bond in Goldeneye in 1995, his head and commander in chief ‘M’ became a woman (for the first time) played by Judi Dench. M accused Bond of being ‘a sexist, misogynist dinosaur, a relic of the Cold War, whose boyish charms, are wasted on me’. For both the character Bond within the script and the script-writers themselves, here was realisation that there had to be a change. In order for Bond to survive he had to change or become extinct.
I believe the Baptist Men’s Movement recognised a similar situation before I became involved and so began it’s current period of change. In order to reverse the decline in it’s membership, the decline in resources for men and the decline of men in our churches we needed to change. We did. We began the change that was necessary and now we need to do even more. The decline may be slowing in some churches, it may even have reversed in some areas of the country but this is not a time to become complacent. Certainly where traditional, historic cultural methods are used its likely to have the minimum response and impact. The ‘so what?’ response from today’s modern man. The ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude from the ‘I want something for it’ man of today.
The Baptist Men’s Movement is experiencing a sense and a feeling where Mission and especially to men may very well seem Impossible these days. Yes, we can and should be encouraged by the fact that there are enough of us here this weekend to make The Bigger Weekend viable. To share and join together, to learn from each other, to be inspired by joining together and listening to what God has to say to us. And at the same time we need to be careful. We need to be careful not to lose sight of the main reason this Movement was created. Careful not to spend all our time focussing on ourselves and what we might do better or differently. We need to find ways of drawing more men to God, soon. And then some more and then more again. We need to find a vision that we can all capture and then grasp a hold of and take to the nation, to the men that need reaching. This weekend I pray that we will recognise that with God’s spirit of power that He has given us we can and should be making substantial connections to men in the UK today with ease.
So what can you do? How can you respond to these fairly simple messages? Well you can start by re-programming your inner self, your inner dialogue to talk to you differently first and in a manner that makes you act more positively so that your focus is where you need it to be. And then think about how you use the power that you’ve been given. What skills and gifts have you got and been given that you might be using and could do more with? What skills and gifts have you got that you’d love to have a go with and have never gotten around to it? Maybe tonight or this weekend is the time to start? There will be challenges and opportunities presented to you over the weekend. There are roles to fill and plans to make to re-create a Movement that is fit for purpose, fit for the purpose that God intends us to fulfil and to the fullest extent.
I believe that we have all been given the resources we need to accomplish what ever it is that we’re here to do. The power at our finger tips today is so vast, so amazing and so available. We can connect with people so quickly and so easily. We can have things that we need and want in an instant. We can get things so easily that often we can be overwhelmed by it all and it can be easier to put off to another time. I want to challenge you to think afresh. What is your power that you’ve been given? Are you using it to its fullest potential? If you’re not (and it’s likely that you’re not) what is the very next thing to do? What one thing could you do during and also after you leave this weekend to move you closer to fulfilling your true potential and at the same time use more of the power that you’ve been given?
For God gave us a spirit of love.
What I love is the fact that men and women are different and it’s meant to be like that. We were created to be and live together and at the same time we do different things and are wired up differently. That’s the reason that men don’t listen and women can’t read maps. It’s also the reason why when men get together to watch sport, they watch sport. When women get together to watch sport or a film they spend almost the entire time talking and still take in what’s happening. Strange isn’t it?
In the past The Baptist Men’s Movement have recognised that they have an unrealised potential. A power which is the same I spoke of earlier to make use of. To bring men together from all walks of life. To bring men together that love doing the things I’ve spoken about. To bring men together that love and know God’s saving grace. And to reach men who don’t yet have that understanding. Next year we might not meet like this for a weekend, we might do things differently to connect with more men.
And what I love about it is that it’s not just about The Baptist Men’s Movement. Its not about this being the President’s Conference as I’ve been reminded of time and again in recent months. This is just a re-launch of an organisation which has been around a while that you are a part of too. If you love God and want to help people to make a difference. If you recognise the unrealised potential of God’s spirit of power and love and self-control that you have in your life. The Baptist Men’s Movement will only be able to achieve its aims and objectives if men like you and I take some action.
Men are doers and problem solvers and we do things even better when we work together and talk things through with each other. We’ll be doing some of that this weekend I can assure you! Whatever you do make sure you take a little bit of action. Even if it’s small. Because that action can lead to something significant, incredible and special.
For God did not give you a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and of love and of self-control.