To live as effective relational beings, there are many skills and experiences that are important to make the most of our impact on this planet. There are many things we can assume people know how to do and practice. Surprisingly, there are many critical skills, practices and mindsets that have never been taught.
In ministering to the broken places of people’s lives for decades, I assumed that everyone knew how to practice some foundational habits, but were actually never trained and mentored in.
If there was a life skills coaching course I hosted, here are a few of the following classes I would have of things people were never really taught.
1. How to put together a budget and actually keep it, while also knowing how to best invest your finances.
I rarely meet a person who was effectively taught how to budget their money and develop healthy spending habits. Those who do it taught themselves. It seems that everyone just ends up spending everything that comes in and more, with no training on how to delay gratification or how to put aside money for intentional goals.
2. How to look at people in the eye and have effective conversations.
Shake hands with people and they don’t know how to have an effective exchange. Yet relational connection is the most important arena of life. When were we ever taught how to have effective conversations, where we get to know another person, while sharing our own story?
Most are content to stare at their phones or sit quietly with their heads down, mainly because they were never taught the importance of looking someone in the eye and having a confident conversation. Your greatest impact lies in how you are able to be yourself, yet have an effective, heart-felt communication with someone that adds value to their life.
3. How to have a phone conversation, healthy text interaction or even write a letter.
I can’t tell you how many times I have voicemail messages where people talk like they know me and assume I know what they want. Today, people think its ok to not return an honest request. Ignoring emails is considered acceptable. Not responding to a reasonable text message or online message. I am astounded that grown adults don’t know how to write an email or letter with proper grammar and sharing without coming across mean or accusatory. I have read horrendously expressed emails and when talking to the person, they claim, “I never meant to come across that way.” I often reply by saying, “Did you read it before you sent it?”
4. How to care about where you work so you give your best.
It doesn’t matter what organization it is, a business, church or home; what you see in the care and maintenance shows the excellence that people have towards it. It it important that we be taught the importance of giving our very best to every organization we are a part of.
We are losing the importance of giving excellence to our job, where we don’t just show up to get a paycheck, but we take ownership in our job, so as to add value to the organization. When I coach people in their work, I encourage them to show up to work early, not just on time. And be willing to stay a few minutes later; to give that little extra that makes your company shine. I also encourage them to be extraordinary towards coworkers and their bosses; regularly asking their overseers, “How can I add further value to you and this company?”
5. How to wear clothes that fit your body type, wear makeup and groom yourself.
It is my opinion that every person is beautiful. They just need the right accessories to bring out their beauty. A well known segment on TV shows is the “makeover” segments, where people are given a fresh look to present themselves in their best light.
I watch this and think, “This is something that should have been imparted to us all along.” We were never taught this, or we experienced brokenness in our lives that stole the value of releasing the beauty of who we are.
I love the web site, The Art of Manliness, because in all their articles and resources, they practically communicate habits and practices that reinforce the power found in masculinity. How many men have lost their sense of what it means to be a man, and it gets reflected in how they care for themselves, dress and present themselves to the world? How many just stop caring?
Years ago, I remember my wife and I praying for a woman who was in need of physical healing. One of the thoughts that came to her was, “Tell her to go home and put on a dress.” This thought was a bit random, but trusting God was leading me, I told her, “I feel like God is speaking to me about you and wearing dresses.” She began to weep, because over the years, she lost the sense of her personal beauty as a female. In trying to be strong, she lost the power found in her beauty and femininity.
Many women, out of their brokenness, get stuck in bringing out their beauty in how they dress, put on makeup and care for themselves. I often find that people get stuck trailing back to the time of brokenness in their life. You can literally see it on their appearance. If they carry an 80s kind of style and you wonder why they haven’t moved on, you can often find there is a pain leading back to that time and they have been emotionally “stuck” ever since.
If money weren’t an issue, it would be amazing for every person to have a stylist teach us the best kind of clothing for our body type, how to best groom ourselves and give our best to our body’s care. Too many are wearing clothes that are too tight and do not bring out their best features. Or they are accentuating features they shouldn’t be. KnowwhatImean?
6. How to eat for maximum nutrition.
Most people’s eating habits trace back to their childhood; the good and the bad. We often fall back to what is familiar, and this includes how and what we eat. Nutritional understanding has dramatically changed from 40 years ago. Many food myths have been exposed, like eating “low fat” or consuming artificial sweeteners can help you lose weight (still not sure people know those are both lies).
We eat at least 3 times a day and drink all the time. Yet when was the last time you remember sitting through some teaching or guidance on how to get the best nutrition for longevity and health?
7. How to patiently wait for something we want.
There is something my generation and many generations after me do not fully understand–the price to be paid for things that are of value. We have such an instant culture today, no one knows how to wait for anything. We don’t want to wait in line. We hate waiting to hear back from someone. We don’t want to wait to watch a tv episode so we binge the whole season. Waiting for the right spouse is excruciating, so we settle for the first person who shows us attention.
When we want to buy something, we don’t wait and save up for it. We buy it now on credit or we spend our rent money on it. Today, culture sees no point in waiting for marriage to have sex, so let we indulge NOW.
Your body can easily be trained to focus on avoiding pain and move towards pleasure all the time. Yet this does not teach us discipline, relentlessness and self-control. Learning to wait is one of the most powerful traits to carry, because it produces a greater realm of patience in you that you do not currently possess. The Bible says when you are patient, you are complete and lacking nothing! (James 1). But none of us have been taught the value of delaying gratification for the greater blessing.
8. How to be grateful and stop complaining.
One of the most powerful weapons you have available to you right now is gratitude. Thanksgiving literally opens up heaven your thoughts, because it recognizes God’s goodness in any situation. Thanksgiving makes way for believing and focusing on what God is doing and honing in on what is
Complaining is demonic food. It pulls us from the place of simple belief and keeps us wandering in the wilderness. Whenever we lose a heart of gratitude, we lose sight of who God is, because He is good.
Gratitude recognizes and highlights goodness.
Have we been taught the power of thanksgiving; learning what it means to have a grateful heart in all things? Was this modeled for us? Yet it is one of the most important skills you can have to help you soar in difficult times.
9. How to do conflict resolution.
In over 20 years of ministry and helping people, I have been overwhelmed at how little skills are manifesting when it comes to conflict resolution. I have sat in hours and hours of mediating and coaching; helping people learn how to talk to someone and work through a conflict in a healthy manner. Conflict resolution should be taught in every church, school and family. Those who know how to maneuver through relational conflict effectively will be those who rise above the norm. This is why I included a chapter on conflict resolution in my my book, “Bitter Free!”
10. How to speak in front of an audience.
One of the most important skills in life is communication. Everything rises and falls on our ability to convey a message and share our hearts. In fact, God’s plan totally rests on His word being spoken and heard by the hearts of people. Yes He anoints us, but are we developing skills that He can work with? The number 1 fear today is public speaking, which shows us the enemy’s number one assault against people–keep them from being spokespeople for God.
I find one of the greatest ways to defeat fear of speaking in front of people is simply to keep doing it.
Question: What skill in this list do you think is the most critical for life? What skill would you add to this list?