Define or Refine by Jere Johnson

​This guest post is from my youngest brother.  You’ll appreciate his insights. 
There was a young man years ago that failed in his job, failed in his business, failed in public office, had a mental breakdown, lost the love of his life, and then was elected to be our President.  No, it was not Donald Trump, but our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln.  However, what many people do not know was that in almost every year that he suffered a setback, he responded with a success in another area of his life.  

Everyday, people all over the world experience tremendous success and/or devastating failure. But it is how they individually respond that will determine if their circumstance will define who they are or refine who they will become. 

While watching my son at a basketball game recently, he made a poor pass and was taken out of the game and was ridiculed and embarrassed by his coach on the bench.  I could tell by my son’s body language that he allowed what the coach was saying to define who he was in the moment.

A defining moment is an event that happens to a person that is seen to clearly start a change for future occurrences.  These moments can have both positive or negative effects.  In many cases it creates a negative response or effect for the person involved.  

A salesman who loses the huge bid is defined as a can’t-close-the-deal guy or a player who misses a last second shot and loses the game is defined as a loser.  Are these defining moments actually true?  The sad reality is these moments can label a person and convince them that they will always be a loser.

But there is hope!  

Countless men and women in history used their defining moments and turned them into refining opportunities for growth and future success.  To refine something you put it to the test by making the necessary changes to become better.  Lincoln could have allowed all these past failures to define him, but he used each situation to refine and change for greater successful.

Where are you at today?  Are you being defined by what others are saying about you or are you using their comments/actions to refine you to something greater? 

The greatest person to ever walk this earth (no, still not Donald Trump) was defined by the leaders of his day as a lunatic, liar, and loser.  He was mocked, mired, and maligned to point of death.  Society’s defining moment for him was his death, death on a cross. But this is not how it was finished.  He knew that his death did not define who He was, but it was merely the beginning of His refining moment…his resurrection three days later.  This labeled lunatic, liar, loser was truly our Lord, Jesus Christ.  

Christ throughout the Bible shows us so many societal defining moments He turned to refining ministry.  How can you follow the greatest leader to ever live and take devastating defining moments, and create redemptive refining moments in your life?  

Here are some practical ways to move beyond defining to refining:
1. Get a notebook and write down every time someone “defines” you…you can’t do this or you will never do that…use these moments/times as fuel to refine and re-stoke your fire for greater goals.

2. Don’t let what you can’t do stop you from what you can do.  Coach John Wooden preached this maxim to his UCLA teams and 10 National titles later we all knew their greatness.

3. Believe in yourself.  There might be a day that you are the only one who does believe in you, but never give up on something you truly believe in.  Your next sale or shot is counting on you to come through. 

4. Next chance you get, prove them wrong and show them no matter what they say or what they do, you will not be defined by it, but take what they say and help it refine you into something greater!

I don’t know about you, but I am glad that Abraham Lincoln was not defined by his failures, but used them to refine who he ultimately became, a great man of compassion and secured freedom for all future generations.  It’s now your time…don’t let anything or anyone define your life. 

YOU refine it to an amazing successful future!

Follow Jere on LinkedIn at:

Jere and his wife, Stacey, live in Crystal Lake, Illinois.

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