What Temptation Looks Like

All of us have, and will, come face to face with temptation. If all of your cylinders are firing, you’re facing temptation daily. My post is not a sermon on good and evil, though the two have a part to play. I really want the focus to be on what temptation looks like and how it plays out to our harm.

The idea of temptation is found in moving in a direction that will ultimately cause harm-great or small. Temptation is also subtle and unique in the beginning. Which is why so many fail the test come exam time.

The following are some areas that temptation shows up in:

  • Career
  • Physical Health
  • Marriage
  • Emotions
  • Learning

Think for a moment. Do any of the areas connect for you? Are you in the midst of giving in now?

I’m not going to give a topic-by-topic breakdown, just a general process to understand and resist what may be tempting you.

Subtlety and Innocence

Every temptation begins with subtlety and seeming innocence. The subtlety usually appears in a quiet and calm persona. It could be a person or situation. In my case, there was a time where I encountered both. I was rising at a heady (at least it felt that way) clip in my career. On one occasion I had a conversation over lunch with someone I admired and trusted. He told me I was a part of the group of young executives that would be asked to take the helm at the next level, when the current leadership retired. I remember stopping (in my head) and reviewing his opinion. It sounded great and he was in a position to know, so why not take what he said as fact? At the same moment the reason side of me kicked in. Questions like; “do I even want to be the next thing” and “are you giving in to flattery?” ran through my mind. In the end, I allowed my reason to win the day and deflected the conversation into the wind.

Giving In

I’ve also had situations where I gave into temptation. This is a tough one to write. I had been given advice over the years to listen to my wife. Not as an obedience thing, but as a good source of wisdom and intuition. I remember vividly a time where my wife warned me about a venture I was pursuing. The venture seemed sound, and ripe for success. She didn’t feel good about it and wanted me to pass on the opportunity. I faced a crossroads. Would I listen to her sound advice or push forward with my plans (one thing you should be aware of is the power ego plays in these scenarios)? In this case, I gave into the temptation my ego laid out. It cost me dearly.

Notice the subtlety and innocence in my two situations? I look back and can understand the subtlety of my thoughts and the innocence of seemingly good things/opportunities.

The end goal of temptation is to lull you and give you a false sense of reality. Voices like the following come next:

  • “Try it once and see”
  • “Everyone tells you how talented you are”
  • “You may never get this chance again”
  • “You can’t say no, they need you”
  • “I should be as successful as he/she is”

Again, maybe you’re in the midst of deciding whether you will pay heed to temptation or resist. I wrote this post for you and for me because there’s so much evidence of how better life is when you don’t give in.

If you would like more help with this topic, reach out to me directly.

The Crossroads of 2012

Where do you find yourself in the early part of 2012? I realize we're in the infancy of the year, but as I've noted before, things can take shape quickly. Are you at a crossroads?

Crossroads are very much like earthquakes.  As with the earthquake, much is shaken, rattled and removed. The elements are good and bad, happy and sad, danger and opportunity. This can be vexing in a culture where we often only want the good stuff, or so we think.

Maybe this is the year to re-define.

The crossroads of 2012 will certainly look different to you than for me. But one thing is certain, your response to it will be the difference-maker. You carry a responsibility that is inescapable. This is a good thing.

Forced to Be Authentic

What if we awoke to a world where you had no choice but to be authentic?  A flood causing  your authenticity, or the lack thereof, to be easily detected by those coming in contact with you.  This would have scared me to death 10 years ago.  Thankfully, not the case now.

I'm struck by how much time can be spent getting back our identity from a world that seems bent on taking and counterfeiting it.  Even more tragic are those who never get it back or care to attempt the feat. It's as if there's a daunting figure who scares you into giving up dreaming, giving up taking a chance, giving up the willingness to be laughed at.  And then you're convinced to take the position pill of safety and conformity.

The following concert clip is from Peter Gabriel.  I don't know if he ever confirmed it, but I've read that the song is about a major shift in our ability to see the authenticity in other people.  And instead of me trying to explain in a half way, take a peak at the clip or read the lyrics below the video:


When the night shows
the signals grow on radios
All the strange things
they come and go, as early warnings
Stranded starfish have no place to hide
still waiting for the swollen Easter tide
There's no point in direction we cannot
even choose a side.

I took the old track
the hollow shoulder, across the waters
On the tall cliffs
they were getting older, sons and daughters
The jaded underworld was riding high
Waves of steel hurled metal at the sky
and as the nail sunk in the cloud, the rain
was warm and soaked the crowd.

Lord, here comes the flood
We'll say goodbye to flesh and blood
If again the seas are silent
in any still alive
It'll be those who gave their island to survive
Drink up, dreamers, you're running dry.

When the flood calls
You have no home, you have no walls
In the thunder crash
You're a thousand minds, within a flash
Don't be afraid to cry at what you see
The actors gone, there's only you and me
And if we break before the dawn, they'll
use up what we used to be.

Lord, here comes the flood
We'll say goodbye to flesh and blood
If again the seas are silent
in any still alive
It'll be those who gave their island to survive
Drink up, dreamers, you're running dry.

There is no doubt, the only way you're going to have a life worth remembering is getting to (or back to) a place of being "real."  For whatever hell you encounter in doing it, worth the effort is an apt response to that crossroads.  My prayer and energy goes out to you.

Matching Your Values to Your Words

Do your words match your values?  Not to perfection, but do you live out what you tell the world?  Is your story verifiable?  This is important because if they don't match-up, your wasting time.  And time is a gift.

I had a conversation with my wife last night about a couple we know that is heading for trouble.  The irony is they know it.  But being unsure of what to do, they just keep going.  The husband is very successful in the career and money sphere.  And his pursuits are steering the ship.  I consider him deluded.  If you asked him he'd say he values his family.  Huh?

Now the deal is this.  Everybody has been given the management role in regards to their life.  So I'm not in charge-except in my own life.  That said, I don't think the couple I mentioned desires the negative outcomes of their actions.  I see them like so many others when it comes to their circumstances.  Many people feel like they have no options.  But We do have options, and a lot of them.  But are we willing to do the work that will leave us vulnerable, in pain or afraid? 

This is the Rubicon.

I know it's a harder road to be focused on your words matching up to your values, but think about the following:

  1. Who or what deceived us into believing that relationships, missions, careers, etc., are supposed to be a breeze to deal with?
  2. The life you want will never be handed to you in a box wrapped in red ribbon.
  3. Maybe others are watching you for the inspiration to go forward.
  4. As hard as it may be to hear, often we spend way too much time trying capture the butterfly of happiness.  Maybe we should be still for a second or two and let the butterfly come to us.
  5. Our values are who we are.  This is true even if you try to deny it.
  6. Voices from the past are a part of history, leave them there.  Stop trying to resurrect what is, and should be, dead.
  7. You are responsible-fully.