National Crisis Intervention Training Institute, Inc.
We at the National Crisis Intervention Training Institute despise "time bandits," and are dedicated to battling and overcoming them on a daily basis.
When I developed the "Way Out of the Box Seminar - the Successful Christianity Edition" Course (2006), I discussed a dozen different tricks, traps, enticements, and nasty habits which are almost guaranteed to sabotage you; tripping you up on the "Road to Excellence"...by serving as the Ultimate Time Bandits. While the following material was originally designed to be presented to church groups, the general concepts apply to everyone. Even if you do not put credence in the Bible, you might or might not find the Scriptural references to be interesting, if not practical and relevant to you. Therefore, I've included them in this article.
The Hob-Goblins (Time Bandits) which Sabotage Our Success are:
Hob-Goblin Number One: "Problem-focusing, not Solution-focusing."
Try this: Pick up any object that can be easily held in your hand. Imagine it is your problem. Start out holding it out at arm's length, and focus on it. As you do so, you will see that everything behind it can be seen, but that if you are intensely focusing on the hand-held object, the background is slightly out of focus. Now, keep your eyes on the object in your hand, and gradually move it closer to your face...closer and closer, continuing to focus on it. You will notice that the object appears to become bigger, and the rest of the things in the background become increasingly out of focus, then are eventually not visible at all, because the object is now so close it obstructs your view. It also appears now to be HUGE, but has, in reality, not grown a bit. Only your perception of that object has changed.
That is what happens when we become so focused on our problems that the possible solutions become a blur, then invisible. Get it?
Proverbs 3:5 (ESV): "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding."
Philippians 4:13 (ESV): "I can do all things thorough Him who strengthens me."
Proverbs 3:6 (ESV): In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths."
Hob-Goblin Number Two: Worry and Mind-Reading.
How many of you drink Dr. Pepper or Diet Dr. Pepper fountain drinks? Have you noticed that they typically take an extra one-to-two minutes for the foam to die down, compared to many other fountain drinks (Diet Pepsi or Pepsi, for example)? If you drink one per day for a year, that amounts to 730 minutes, which, over ten years, is 7300 minutes. That is 121 hours, which is slightly over three one-week vacations (@ 40 hrs./week)...that you spent....waiting on foam. Now think about losing your keys. Have you ever lost them, and took five minutes to find them? If you did that every day for ten years, you would have spent 7.6 forty-hour vacations....looking for your keys.
"Wait a minute," you ask: "Granted, I might drink a fountain drink every day, but if I lost my keys every day for 10 years, that would probably indicate that I had something profoundly wrong with me. Right?" True. Of course, you wouldn't waste that much time losing your keys....but how many of you spend at least five minutes per day.......WORRYING?
I am a firm believer that a human being is psychologically, cognitively, spiritually, emotionally, and, quite possibly, physically incapable of WORRYING ABOUT SOMETHING, and DOING SOMETHING ABOUT THE THING, ISSUE, OR PERSON THEY ARE WORRYING ABOUT at the same time. WORRY IS A MALIGNANT, LIFE-SUCKING, QUALITY-OF-LIFE-ROBBING VAMPIRE that is designed by the enemy to destroy us. Worry is, as a man once told me, "Taking on responsibility that God never intended us to have to begin with." The key to solving problems that we are worrying about is to first transform worry into something that we can work with: "DYNAMIC CONCERN"...which is NOT the same as worrying. Dynamic Concern, like "Caring," is not merely something we feel, it is something we DO.
At this point in your reading, I recommend you go to the "Free Forms and Resources" page of our website, download the "Picking Up Straws" exercise, and complete it.
As for mind-reading, what I am referring to here is our human tendency to read people's minds and try to figure out what they think about us....sometimes to the point of distraction and destruction. Let me simply say this about that: What someone else thinks about you is none of your business. Ruminate on that awhile. Oh, and by the way: What does the Bible have to say about worry?
Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV) --right after those cool verses about the lilies of the field, the birds, et cetera: "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you."
Hob-Goblin Number Three: "Clutter, Eye Candy, and Other Visual Distractions.
On a value-to-valueless scale, we tend to see people, priorities, responsibilities and other things of importance as either Treasures, Trinkets, Trouble, or Trash. Treasures are things like our Relationship with God, our Relationship with Our Loved Ones, et cetera. In each of those, it is important to KEEP OUR EYES ON THE PRIZE, and to not allow ourselves to become distracted by proverbial trinkets that are pretty, but also pretty cheap; attractive, but plastic; entertaining, but temporal. Many things, situations, relationships, and people in our lives can draw our attention away from what God intends to be our true priorities, which we are to focus upon, within the comforting, protecting grasp of His Will. Ultimately, when it comes to those Ultimate Prizes, none are more important than God's Kingdom and His Righteousness.
Matthew 6:33 (ESV): "But seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you."
Philippians 3:14 (ESV): "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Hob-Goblin Number Four: Gossip and Slander.
A man once told me that gossip is "talking negatively about someone to someone who isn't a part of the problem, or the solution to the problem." There are myriad reasons why gossip is a lousy idea, and why it, and slander, are likened to the sin of murder in the Scriptures. Gossip can destroy reputations, irreparably damage relationships, create schisms and dysfunctional triangles among human beings, and cripple effectiveness.
In professional relationships, it also has a strong tendency to damage the reputation and credibility of the person(s) doing the gossiping. Plus, it is a supreme time bandit.
Proverbs 10:18 (ESV): "The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool."
Proverbs 11:13 (ESV): "Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered."
Hob-Goblin Number Five: Discouragement.
Courage is having the will, fortitude, resolve, and capability to do the right thing, when you are afraid to do so. Courage is not the lack of fear; it is action in spite of fear. To ENcourage someone is to instill in them the will, fortitude, resolve, and capability to do the right thing, when the person is afraid to do so. to DIScourage someone is to take away the will, fortitude, resolve, and capability to do the right thing, when a person is afraid to do the right thing. That is why discouragement is so deadly, and is one of the major bad-boy Hob-Goblins.
Matthew 5:2-12; Re: God's Encouragement to Us.
"And He opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the Peacemakers [law enforcement], for they shall be called Sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in Heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
Have you ever wondered who all of the beatitudes were written in third person, except for the last one? I have. I have thought about that a lot. I think it is possibly because not all of the first eight applied to every single person in the crowd. HOWEVER, the last one, which started with "Blessed are you...." DID apply to everyone that was present at the time. All of us, from time to time, will be target of lies and slander. Next time you feel alone and isolated because of that form of persecution, ask yourself two things: "Is this happening to me on God's account, or because of something I have done wrong," and "Who else has this happened to?" You're in pretty good company. The prophets, and JESUS HIMSELF, were targets of this type of persecution.
Hob-Goblin Number Six: Regret and Retro-Vision.
There is no toxin like regret. It is far more damaging that even guilt, and can be as crippling as shame, because of how regret often occurs when it is difficult or impossible to repair relationships. Retro-vision (always looking into the past) causes collisions and interruptions of life itself.
II Corinthins 7:10 (ESV): "For Godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death."
On that note, I offer this poem that I wrote in 2015...directed to Surviving Parents who are regret- and guilt-ridden, due to unresolved relationship problems that existed prior to their child's death.
By Drinking From His Cup of Hope
By Joel Johnson
There is no toxin like regret;
It poisons hurting souls, and yet,
Propelled by pain we rush to fill
Our cups with that most bitter swill.
"If I could go back to that day,"
These useless words we often say.
"Oh, wouldn't it be so sublime
If I could just go back in time?"
The truth, however, is that we
Can't cast our eyes ahead and see
The future, if our yesterday
Consumes us as we while away
In dark, foreboding guilt-wrought pain;
Our peace devoured by our self-blame.
We must learn how to pierce the night
By looking to tomorrow's light.
I hate time bandits for they take
Our peace as we oft lie awake.
Condemned by self, we dwell upon
Mistakes and tragedies long-gone.
We must learn to embrace our past;
To grow from it, but then, long last,
Tuck it away, and venture forth
To find how much our future's worth.
Then we can finally find God's Peace:
A Perfect Hope that shall not cease.
Our past is gone, so let's not waste
The sweetest lessons we might taste
When God converts our bitter shame
Into a drink free of self-blame:
More sweet than wine, we'll learn to cope
By Drinking From His Cup of Hope.
Copyright 2015, Joel Johnson
Hob-Goblin Number Seven: Shame and Secrecy.
Shame is more toxic than any other force in our lives, especially because of our tendency to bury and hide it, and to allow it to ferment inside us. Like the vile contents of a septic tank, the longer it stews, mixing with other negative, debilitating feelings such as self-blame, self-hatred, embarrassment, powerlessness, hopelessness, and the above-mentioned REGRET, the longer our shame becomes a fertile field out of which erupt all sorts of mental disorders, and life-interrupting/endangering problems such as addiction, suicidality, self-sabotage, et cetera.
Now, when it comes to our own personal behavior, we sometimes commit acts for which we SHOULD feel "ashamed," but that is not the same as locking into an eternal condition of toxic shame. Through the freedom of Christ and His Hope of Redemption manifested on the cross, we can be free of that toxic filth forever.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is is seated at the right hand of the Throne of God." ...Hebrews 12:2 (ESV)
Hob-Goblin Number Eight: Deity Impersonation and Perfectionism.
Have you known anyone who blatantly lied on their resume, fabricating education, training, and experience to get a job? They may get the job that they wanted, but will probably found out very quickly that getting a job and keeping a job are entirely two different things. Spiritually, human beings sometimes do the same thing: they take on God's job, and end up doing an abysmal job of it. The most-cited portion of the acclaimed "Serenity Prayer" states,
"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference."
As an aside, the older I have gotten, the more I've tried to adhere to that prayer; but I have added another prayer to my repertoire, entitled:
The Senility Prayer
God grant me the ability to forget the people I do not like,
The good fortune to only encounter the people I DO like,
And the eyesight to tell the difference.
So many times in our lives, we as Christians get the natural division of labor confused among ourselves and God. We attempt to control and change things and circumstances around us, take responsibility for those things which are God's responsibility, and run around "playing God" all day long.
Perfectionism is a slap in the face of God. It is tantamount to saying, "God, I can't wait until I am totally self-sufficient; perfect in every way. Then, I won't need you any more." Have you ever wondered why and how we can make a satellite and telescope that will take a thousand years to get to its destination in a far-away galaxy, but we can't make a set of tires that lasts over 60,000 miles? Or a car that will never break down?
The answer is: We can. But "planned obsolescence" ensures that we will keep coming back to buy more tires and cars. Even if we paid $250,000 for a car, if it lasted forever, the auto industry would eventually lose, because when our descendants from several generations to come are watching the pictures that came back from that satellite, they would be sitting in our car, on the original set of tires.
God designed us to break down and to need Him; to rely upon Him, and to continue to communicate with Him. To try to become "as the most high" is not only a slap in His Face, it is what got Lucifer and his minions in the trouble they are in now.
Isaiah 14:13 (ESV) - "You said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the North.'"
Hob-Goblin Number Nine: Admitting, But Not Confessing.
In the realm of interview and interrogation, investigators learn that an "admission" is a statement that may tend to lead toward confession, but that it is only a precursor to "confession," which is telling the truth about our culpability in something that we did. When we confess to God, we are not just telling him what we did wrong. To do that is no big deal, because He already knows what we did. He is omniscient. When we confess to God, we are AGREEING WITH HIM about what we did wrong, not just admitting we did it. Confession involves seeing our sin from God's perspective; finding it as repugnant as He does, and demonstrating that change of heart and mind through repentance.
Admission may make us feel better, but it doesn't make us better.
I John 1:9 (ESV) - "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Which leads us right into...
Hob-Goblin Number Ten: False Repentance.
Repentance means to turn around and walk in the opposite way of our former sinful direction. Repentance goes hand-in-hand with admission and confession, and is necessary to complete the cycle of forgiveness available to us as believers in Jesus. If we settle for admitting what we did, or even confessing what we did, if we don't repent, we will stay in our sinful cycle of self-destruction.
Some people engage in false repentance in order to feel better. One of the most common ways to do that is to do a bunch of religious stuff in lieu of repentance, in an effort to assuage our guilty feelings. Keep in mind that feelings of guilt are indicative of our conscience, and a calling from God to repent. It is in our nature. Yet, God does not desire for us to keep on feeling guilty; He desires for us to confess and repent. But he also does not want us to pay for our sins by doing religious stuff. He wants us to turn away from our sinful lifestyle, and go in the opposite direction.
Proverbs 14:23 (ESV): "All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty."
Luke 3:7-9 (ESV): "He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, 'You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."
Hob-Goblin Number Eleven: "Busy-ness."
Have you ever had one of those days when you were so busy stamping out grass fires, that you looked behind you to discover that the whole forest was ablaze? How about a week of that nonsense? A month? A year? Years? Sometimes we can get so caught up in "busy-ness," that we fail at taking care of business. This miserable condition is sometimes caused by exercising misplaced priorities, sacrificing the mission to which we have been appointed in order to appease others or to satisfy someone else's priorities, et cetera. This type of Busy-ness ties in directly with "False Repentance."
Careful evaluation of what is truly important, eternal, or at the very least long-lasting is one of the first and most important steps to defeating this horrible Hob-Goblin. Each and every day, strive to do no harm, and to make a positive difference in someone's life in the name of Christ. If you do that, you have not wasted your time.
Matthew 6:33 also applies here, as well, as does...
Galatians 6:9-10 (ESV): "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith."
Hob-Goblin Number Twelve: Toxic Procrastination.
Some people habitually procrastinate, and are skilled at it...while some people have taken procrastination to a whole new level, and have made it into a fine art. While novice or average Procrastinators ignore or defy the adage, "Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today," the truly artistic, accomplished, Master Procrastinator lives by the motto, "Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until DAY after tomorrow!" Procrastination is a deadly force, because of the false sense of emotional comfort we receive when we make the decision to procrastinate, and tell ourselves we will later do what we probably won't ever get around to doing. It also joins hands with "False Repentance," and "Admission without Confession" (Hobgoblins # 10 and #11), when we make a mental decision to repent, but never get around to acting on that decision. Making the mental decision makes us feel better, as our pain diminishes. When the pain diminishes, we lose incentive to change. In that sense, Toxic Procrastination becomes an addictive, self-sabotaging force in our lives, that can lead to a spiritual death.
Proverbs 27:1 (ESV): "Do not boast about tomorrow, for ou do not know what a day may bring."
Luke 12:40 (ESV): "You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."
Ephesians 5: 15-17 (ESV): "Be very careful, then, how you live--- not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is."
Thus ends the lesson re: the Twelve Key Obstacles to excellence...and to SUCCESS.
...Joel Johnson, Recovering Perfectionist