MICHAEL ANTHONY BLOG
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WHERE IS THE 21st CENTURY KNIGHT? THE CONSEQUENCES OF DISCOVERING (or rediscovering) your role as a knight in shining armor are so significant and so staggering that you will be unrecognizable once the revolution has begun. Your only need is to keep your revolution rolling . . .
Has chivalry died, or is it merely sleeping, having been distracted by the lesser things in life that often take us away from living lives of greatness?
All around us, civilization is crumbling. Politically, morally, financially. And where are we? Our homes are in disrepair, overrun by bad knights, ogres and dragons. The dams of life have been breached. Lines have been crossed, not blurred. And yet the overwhelming majority of us are carrying on as if life itself were an Xbox adventure. We are living life as if it were a game – a game that will, at any moment, soon be over – and then we will tend to more important matters. But there are no more important matters. This is LIFE.
The idea of being the factor of influence – the person who hears the damsel’s cry of distress and rides in to fight the dragon, take on the dark night, and restores the kingdom is long gone. In fact, nobody seems to do more than give a glancing thought at doing so. And when they do, they become easily distracted with the original cause – save the Kingdom and the subjects – thinking it’s about their own fame, security and kingdom instead. How easily we are distracted these days from noble, eternally significant things.
Narcissism is now confused with heroism.The differences, however, are striking, and vital to understand. Be careful, or you could go through life missing the knight-hood you could have otherwise embraced. The life of a narcissist will be forgotten, but a knight’s life is so epic, so significant and so monumental that it truly lives forever. Do you want to be forgotten or remembered? What’s your legacy? Right now, it’s being built by the choices you’re making. And the choices you make each day are either characterized as being centered upon yourself or others. In the final analysis, you are either a narcissist or a knight. Which are you?
There are huge differences between a narcissist and a knight, and here are just a few as food for thought:
1. A narcissist’s world revolves around himself. A knight’s world revolves around his King, the Kingdom and the subjects therein. A narcissist has made himself King, with his own kingdom. Everyone and everything is an obstacle to the narcissists objective – self rule, self praise, admiration by others and the perpetual pursuit of keeping the subjects focused on him. Narcissists are adept at bringing things back to themselves, unable and unwilling to let others focus on anything but the king and kingdom in which they rule and reign. A knight is interested in guarding and strengthening the rule of a King they were knighted to serve and defend. The subjects, not the knighthood, is important. A knight serves with all his strength to defend and encourage others to causes more noble than himself.
2. A narcissist’s goal is self protection; a knight’s goal is to protect the King, the Kingdom and the subjects. A night’s entire life is dedicated to others, not himself. A knight has no time for self-centered living. He is busy slaying the dragons that have paralyzed others with fear. Narcissists don’t save the day. They’re don’t think about others. They’re consumed with themselves. Narcissists save themselves because it’s self, not others, that matter most. A knight fights for and saves others, placing his own life at risk for the good of others – a cause and Kingdom more important than himself.
3. A narcissist’s goal is comfort, convenience and pleasure; a knight’s goal is the comfort, convenience and pleasure of the King, the Kingdom and the subjects. This week, the President of the United States visited a Costco and said these words about the company’s CEO,
“Craig is a wonderful guy, but he’s not in this for philanthropy. He’s a business man. He looking at the bottom line but he sees that if he’s doing right by Costco’s workers then they can buy that 80 inch TV, too.”*
The President made his comments (via teleprompter and a speech writer) with great gusto. He appeared passionate and serious, appealing to the narcissist in us all, as if the ultimate goal of a CEO were to acquire material things. This, so it was presented, is the goal for which peasants should also aspire.
How quickly we abandon the great things in life for the trivial. Things made of plastic. I’m pretty sure there is a higher pursuit in life than an 80″ television. Especially while the country is accelerating its decent into a moral free fall. Especially when our spouses need attention and our children need leaders. Take my word for it. At the end of your life, neither you nor anyone else will remember the 80″ television. You’ve been duped into thinking the lesser things in life are what life is all about. Stop it. Start thinking like a knight.
4. Narcissists wait for someone else to fight; knights don’t wait – they do the dirty work for the sake of the King, the Kingdom and the subjects. The narcissist has a weak stomach for conflict. He can’t face battles because he is too busy feeding himself. It’s obvious that our society is a kingdom of narcissists bent on pleasure and self-gratification. Nobody wants to fight anymore. We all want to play games, watch television, eat food, enjoy the latest fashions, and build bigger, more spectacular whatevers. We’re too busy pursuing things which, in 100 years, won’t matter. 100 years from now no one will be writing about the majority of things we let consume our lives today.
It should be clear to everyone that we’ve lost our way. But when a leader doesn’t realize this, and actually thinks the lost way is the right way – that pleasure is the greatest good of man, it’s time to run for the hills. But wait a minute. Narcissists run for the hills. Knights stand and fight. They ride in and save the day.Knights fight, recapture, re-establish and revive. Knights, not narcissists, are heroes.
5. Narcissists produce more narcissists for a kingdom that will eventually crumble from within; knights produce future kings, future princes and princesses for a Kingdom that will endure forever. The legacy of the narcissist is forgettable in light of eternity, but the legacy of a knight is the stuff of legends history.
Which are you, a narcissist or knight?Which would your spouse say you are? Your children? How about the people at your work place? Your church? Do you believe Rome is burning? What do you intend to do about it? Your response reveals the narcissist – or knight – within. We are all waiting for the knight to ride in and save the day, when all along we have the helmet, the sword, the armor. They’re for battle, not museums.
Grab your helmet. Put on your armor. Grip your sword. I wish I could say “stand your ground”. The problem is we’ve lost ground. It’s time to take ground back while we still have time. We have dragons to slay. Damsels to rescue. A Kingdom to advance. A King to serve.
Right now, you should be making history. Someday, your children may ask why you chose the lesser things in life over the greater. They will. Unless, of course, you are a narcissist. In that case, your children won’t even understand what you did. They will be too busy figuring out how they too can get that 80″ flat screen.
Beware the narcissist. Resurrect the knight.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Go even deeper. Listen to the January 26, 2014 podcast, FOUR THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER ASSUME with the free Godfactor App, available through iTunes (search for “Godfactor”) and the Google Store. You’ll find the podcast in the Flight Lounge. It’s message #42 in the series called A Doctor’s Narrative From the Gospel of Luke. You can also listen at GraceYork.com
“On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. . .” – Luke 9:37-39
If you are serious about soaring higher with God, there are FOUR THINGS you should never assume – and we learn what they are through the story of a young man who was harassed all his life. The story, and the lessons, are found in Luke 9:37-43 . . .
1: NEVER ASSUME A PHYSICAL PROBLEM IS JUST A PHYSICAL PROBLEM. In fact, the physical world sometimes merely reflects the underlying reality found in the spirit world. The young man seemed to have a condition that mimicked epilepsy or at least insanity influenced by the cycles of the moon. But his real problem was not physical at all. Behind his physical symptoms was a serious spiritual problem. This can be true not only in the area of illness, but also relationships, money or any other problem we face in life. Don’t assume the problem you are facing is merely physical. It could really be spiritual, with symptoms overflowing into your physical world.
2. NEVER ASSUME THAT IF YOU PURSUE GOD, AND FOLLOW HIM CLOSELY, YOU’RE IN FOR SMOOTH SAILING. A fallacy (heresy?) being spread in Christian circles is that if a person really follows God, all will go well for them. Nothing could be further from the truth. If your number one ambition is to live a comfortable life of convenience, you’re in for a let down in your walk with God. While God protects His followers, a real disciple of Jesus Christ is in for a life of adventurous opposition. If your ambition is to follow God, you will, by definition be opposed. Jesus was opposed by men and demons. If you follow Jesus, why would you think you’d be exempt from what the Master Himself faced habitually?
3. NEVER ASSUME YOU CAN DO GOD’S WORK WITHOUT FAITH. You don’t need faith in yourself. You need faith in God. Have you begun to serve God only to find yourself ironically operating without faith – or far less faith than you should have? And what do you do if you find yourself in the shoes of the young man’s son – with his head below water, drowning in a sea of pain and uncertainty? You do what he did – cry out to God. His prayer was “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). The biggest irony of all is a man or woman trying to do “God’s work” without faith. Forget it. It can’t be done. The same is true of a church or ministry. You must have faith if you intend to do God’s work, God’s way.
4. NEVER ASSUME YOU CAN DO GOD’S WORK WITHOUT PRAYER. How much prayer? Probably more than you realize. Any lasting, significant work of God, by God and for God (where people are partnering with Him) requires the people involved to be people of prayer. Not babbling prayer. Lip service means and does nothing. It must be prayer characterized by faith. It’s easy to begin working for God, and to start that work with dependence upon Him, in prayer. But with the passage of time and the business of life, we can begin to stray from Him. We don’t necessarily see the connection, but to stray in prayer is to stray from God. How do I know this to be true? From my own life. I’m the lead pastor of a large and growing church. I have a family. There is never a lack of things to be done, people to see, scraped elbows to bandage up or marital romance to rekindle. I fumble as a matter of expertise. And all I do is supposed to be for the glory of God, in His power? I’ll tell you what, I struggle with that! I really, really do. It’s hard to balance a life of faith living down here, outside of Eden – but it’s possible. And this is what God calls us to do. It’s who God calls us to be. It’s something we can shoot for while we rest in the knowledge that it’s a journey and a process. Who knows, maybe in reading this you’ll even offer up a prayer or two for me. God knows I could use it!
It’s never too late to fire up your faith and take your next steps with God. Don’t be discouraged. Today is a great day to take your next steps. Tomorrow is overrated, and yesterday is old news. You have this moment, and in this moment you can make the wise, right, eternally significant decision to move forward. This has practical implications right here, right now. In the physical and spiritual realms.
TAKE A MOMENT TO LISTEN to yesterday’s message, entitled “4 THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER ASSUME” with the Godfactor App, on iTunes (search for “Godfactor”) or through GraceYork.com. It’s Message #42 in the series entitled A Doctor’s Narrative Through the Gospel of Luke. You may have even been there for the message, in person, but that doesn’t mean you really heard it. Considering what’s at stake in your life, it’s probably worth another listen or two, and worth sharing with a friend of yours who may need a boost in their walk with God.
“the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc.; the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group.”*
Culture is a lot like the wind. It’s everywhere. But where does it come from? Our work places, homes, churches, schools and neighborhoods all have a particular culture. Culture is the characteristic reputation, feel and environment of a place, or group of people. Your home, for instance, can be characterized as loving or hostile, peaceful or hectic. Take a church, for instance. No matter the size, every church can be described by words that tell us something about its culture. Is it impersonal or warm? Does it feel small, even if it is large? Is it relaxed or formal? It’s all a matter of culture. How a home, church, business, neighborhood or organization develops its particular culture is a matter of the peoplewho make it up. Culture comes from the people.
So the question is simple, poignant and important: How are you influencing the culture around you? Whether you realize it or not, you have more influence in impacting the culture than you realize. When you understand that somebody has to influence culture, why not take the next step and accept responsibility for the culture around you? How about YOU being a person who positively influences the culture in your home, work place, neighborhood or church? It’s not just possible – it’s probable – IF you begin living with great intentionality as a positive influence in the lives of the people around you. Cultural change begins with personal intentionality. You have to accept responsibility to change the culture for the glory of God.
Consider a sling shot – or a catapult. Each has the ability to take something and throw it forward. Have you ever considered becoming a “cultural catapult” for God’s glory? What has God been teaching you that could be a positive influence in the life of even one person – if you only shared it? Now you’re catching my drift. You do have something positive to give to someone else – and it’s precisely that positive contribution that will be a catalyst for cultural change. Your home is waiting for it. Your business is dying for it. Your neighborhood needs it. Your church can’t go another day without it.
Q: When will your home become more loving?
A: When you become a more loving person.
Q: When will your church become more personable, more friendly?
A: When you become a more personable, friendly person.
Q: When will my work place become a more enjoyable place to make a living?
A: When you become a more enjoyable person to work with.
Is it possible to change every aspect of the culture you find yourself in? Absolutely not. But you just may find it’s absolutely possible – and even probable – to be a cultural catapult who has far more influence on the culture God’s placed you in that you have realized so far.
God put you where you are to display His glory, His presence, His character traits. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are great traits to pursue above all else in your life. They are great things to place on the launching pad of your life. They change everything – and this is what a cultural catapult does.
It’s never too late to become a cultural catapult. It’s never too late to take your role as a catapult for the glory and Kingdom of God seriously. Why not start . . . right now? If you ask God to help you, you will find He is more than willing – and entirely able – to use you in positive ways that will influence the lives of the people around you. And when that begins to happen, you will have made the transition into becoming a cultural catapult. The world is waiting for you to launch the glory of God into your environment.
Go for it. God is with you.
Listen to the January 19, 2014 podcast, F.A.T. – Here’s What You Can Do With That Platform in our Flight Lounge, with the Godfactor App, on iTunes, or on GraceYork.com
“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.”
– Exodus 34:29
Everyone has a platform. Some know it – but don’t know what to do with it. They use it poorly, if at all. Others don’t realize their platform, and haven’t a clue how to use it. Very few realize their platform, embrace it, and use it well. Which describes you? How are you using your platform?
Moses was a mighty man of God. To this day, he is considered the quintessential Hebrew – a deliverer who had a tight walk with God, intelligence, humility and a heart for people. He met with God, and talked with Him, as a man meets and talks with another man. And, when his life was over, he was buried by God Himself, in an undisclosed location (no doubt to keep people from worshiping Him rather than his God). And what was the purpose of Moses’ entire life? To point people to God. He had a platform, and knew how to use it.
How ironic – and distasteful – it would have been if Moses tried to share the platform with God. That would have been a losing battle. And, we wouldn’t be reading about Moses the way we do today. The way Moses handled his platform is what makes him so commendable. It determined his hero status, and his eternal legacy.
If you have a relationship with God, you too have been given a platform. Like Moses’, your platform is to also point people to God, never yourself. Yes, people will not realize this the way you must. They will put you on a platform and begin to worship you, even if subtly, even if in miniscule ways. But your job is to help them, as Moses did, see the glory of God. You must see yourself as a reflector of God’s glory – and nothing more.
While every one of us has varying degrees of talent, education and opportunity (success is where opportunity meets preparation), and we cannot determine the height or reach of our platform, we can determine how we use our platform. In fact, the way we use our platform may determine whether or not we maintain it, lose it, or are given an even larger platform from which to “speak” with the totality of our lives.
How much talent do you have? How about education? In some ways, it really doesn’t matter. Stop dreaming about a larger platform, where people will recognize you. Start focusing on using the platform you have, right now, for the glory of God. Somewhere on this earth you’ll find people with less than what you’ve got – yet they’re doing more than you’re doing. They’ve embraced their platform, determined to use it humbly, wisely. The issue is really not a matter of how much you have of anything. It’s a matter of how much you’re doing with what you now have.
Dreaming of greener pastures is overrated. Planting a harvest in whatever soil you’ve been given is really the only thing you can do. But it’s also the most important thing you can do.
How are you using your platform? Not the one you dream of having – the one you actually have, right now? What’s keeping you from embracing it, and using it with exceptional leverage, for the glory of God? It’s not a matter of whether or not it’s the right thing to do. You know it is. It’s a matter of whether or not you do the right thing. And, whether or not you do the right thing is really what determines everything . . .