Faith and Resilience

Faith and Resilience

In 2014, Julie K. Hersh, a writer for Psychology Today Online posted a question on Facebook asking readers to share their tactics for building resilience. Their top response was “faith.”

The response isn’t surprising. Faith links our present circumstances to our vision for the future. Hope is similar but wraps our present struggles in an image of better times. Both faith and hope are crucial elements of resilience, “the process of positive adaptation in the face of significant adversity.”

Resilient people have the capability to move ahead in the face of difficult circumstances.

In a blog titled “The Resilience of Faith,” author Jenni White states, “Faith can best be understood as the way in which an individual draws upon and enters into the life of God.”

Faith requires discipline of the emotions and the mind. Those of us who place our trust in the eternal, loving, just, omniscient, and all-powerful God of the Bible, place our faith in Someone who understands and knows our deepest sorrows, who is all-powerful and is for us. This faith gives us hope for a certain future and the strength to move forward in spite of our circumstances.

How Faith Builds Resilience

  • Faith gives us the vision to see beyond victimization.Faith gives us the heart to search for meaning in the messes of life.
  • Faith builds discipline, as we look beyond what is to what will be.
  • Faith is a tool against rumination.
  • Faith is the starting point of our relationship with God, the source of our faith.
  • Christians—those who accept by faith the gift that Jesus offers—gain access to the power of God.
  • The power of faith does not lie in faith itself, but in faith’s object. Christians place their faith in an all-powerful God. We trust His power and His strength to carry us beyond impossible circumstances.

The Source of Our Faith

Faith itself is purposeless if we place that faith in a limited, unloving, non-reasoning, or inconsistent object. Our source of faith must be placed in an intellect bigger than our own who is interested in our welfare and control any circumstance. This is the role of faith for Bible-believing Christians. They boldly move forward because they place their confidence in a personal God who loves them.

Building Organizational Resilience

The psychological health of organizations, just like individuals, hinges on the capacity to bounce back or recover from significant setbacks. Managers need to help their employees navigate layoffs, restructuring, budget cuts, institutional change, economic downturns, and challenging interpersonal dynamics.

So how can faith-based and non faith-based establishments help create resilience in their employees and create cultures of resilience within their establishments?

First, anticipate and acknowledge the reality of adversity. All organizations experience challenges and change. Anticipating and preparing for challenging situations reduces stress and creates a sense of preparedness and confidence. Stress and anxiety are expected responses. Create realistic strategies for addressing those factors.

Be personally involved. Employees need personal responses to stressful conditions. Educate yourself about the stress-producing effects of decisions, policies, the economy, administrative changes, and other elements. Who is the most vulnerable? What do they fear? How can you offer support? Personal communication and support builds resilience.

Share encouraging personal experiences. Draw from your personal experience and share positive stories. Ask others within your organization to share their experiences as well. Build a culture of positivity as you evaluate factors that contributed to past success. Create a culture of appreciation and celebrate staff successes.

Communicate Positively. Employees and staff are reassured when they feel they are kept within the communication loop. Keep the tone and outlook realistic, yet positive. Monitor employees’ attitudes and offer frequent encouragement. Create a culture of connectedness where everyone feels valued and included.

Reward and encourage positive problem-solving and service. Encourage your employees to think outside the box. Provide opportunities for creative problem-solving and organizational and community service. Encourage diverse opinions and perspectives. Develop mentoring programs.

Regularly assess organizational health. Good managers identify what factors can be controlled and what factors cannot be controlled. They focus on factors within their sphere of control. Good managers ask for help and communicate high standards for employee performance, accountability and commitment. Good managers challenge their employees and understand that organizational growth and resilience occurs only if people feel supported when they are required to meet challenges.

What about you? I’d love to hear from you!

What mechanisms are in place in your organization that help promote a culture of resilience and well-being?

How has faith helped you in building resilience?

Peace and Health,

Dr. Clem

How to Become an Everyday Hero

When we think about heroes, characters with super-powers or people who perform death-defying acts of courage typically spring to our minds. But USA Today recently reported that 20% of Americans have done heroic deeds. Professor Philip Zimbardo from Stanford University conducted a study that was supported by the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. Using a national sample of 4,000 adults, Zimbardo’s team discovered that 20% of participants qualified as heroes.

How could this be true?

 These participants had

  • helped during a dangerous emergency,
  • taken a stand against injustice, or
  • sacrificed for a stranger.

Heroes are ordinary people,” Zimbardo states. “You become a hero by doing an extraordinary deed.”

Who Are the Heroes in Your Life?

We all face opportunities to step up, do the extraordinary, and become a hero to someone.

Sometimes those we hold dear fall short during times of need, and the people we expect to spark our hope shroud it in their own despair. Interestingly, Zimbardo’s study also revealed that someone is more likely to act in a heroic capacity if they have walked through personal trauma or have been involved in compassionate outreach.

The world longs for heroes, and we can see the evidence in top-running movies and televisions shows. Social psychologist Scott Allison of Richmond, Virginia puts it this way: “We love heroes because of what they offer us—hope for a better world.”

So how do we become an everyday hero? I suggest the following:

  1. Respect people and live peacefully with others. My mother always said, “Don’t underestimate anyone because you never know what tomorrow brings.”  Sometimes when we are happy, strong, and powerful, we are tempted to ignore the least among us. However, we never know where heroes will come from.
  2. Trust God to bring the right people and circumstances into your life at the right time. Proverbs 16:9 tells us “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” God may send a hero to speak wisdom, to intervene on your behalf, or to stand beside you as an advocate.
  3. Manage your expectations of people. The people you believe will be your heroes may not be equipped to help you and may need help themselves.
  4. Acknowledge people who step up. Gratitude opens doors and fosters a hero’s heart. Heroes often place others first as a lifestyle.  
  5. Be a hero to someone else. This may be as simple as making a phone call, taking time to listen, checking on someone, answering a call, showing unexpected kindness, standing beside someone against injustice, helping to open closed doors, or promoting someone’s well being. Use your power and influence to make a difference.
  6. Stand beside ‘heroes in the making.’ Support the heroic efforts of others and encourage family, friends, and those in your circle of influence to join you. Model what it means to act as a hero and a person of integrity, honor, and positive influence, and consider mentoring others.

I thank God for everyday heroes—people who positively influenced not only my life but the lives of my friends and loved ones and in so doing made the world a better place. I salute you and dedicate this blog to you and to all everyday heroes.

Can you name someone who’s been an unlikely hero in your life? How did their action influence you? I’d love to hear your story.

Peace & Health!

Dr. Clem

10 Strategies for Balanced Living

Photo Credit: Unsplash

One Saturday afternoon, I took a break and reached out to friends I had not been in touch with for a long time. During one conversation, I questioned a friend who seemed to have it all together.

“How do you accomplish everything you do as a mother, wife, community volunteer, and employee with a full-time, demanding job and still find time to exercise, eat healthy, and take time for personal growth?”

Her answer was simple.

“I work to balance my priorities, but it’s not easy.”

My friend’s response confirmed what I had learned over the years: successful personal growth flows from intentional living. Effective individuals schedule time for development because they live with vision and purpose.

Living with vision and purpose requires us to balance our busy daily lives with our personal development goals.

I’ve found the following strategies helpful in learning to live a balanced life while making time for personal growth:

  1. Identify areas of your life to target for growth that will help you become the person you want to be.
  2. Schedule 15 minutes every day to learn. Read, watch challenging videos, listen to podcasts or audio books, or seek mentoring.
  3. Schedule time slots each week to do things that inspire you, fulfill you, or help you meet a goal, even if it is small steps.
  4. Become comfortable with the realities of balance. Various seasons of life will require you to focus on one area more than another, depending upon needs and circumstances.
  5. Be realistic. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Your work will always be there. It’s okay to occasionally leave items unchecked on your to-do list.
  6. Set firm boundaries around your availability. Notify colleagues, clients, and family of your schedule. Explain that setting boundaries makes it possible for you to be 100% there for them when you are “on the clock” with them.
  7. Take technology breaks. This allows you to be focused and productive and releases you from the tyranny of notifications and calls.
  8. Schedule brain-intensive tasks during your most productive hours, and complete low-energy jobs during your ‘slower’ times of the day.
  9. Delegate tasks and consider paying someone to do house cleaning, yard work, or errands.
  10. Last, but definitely not least in priority, schedule important family and personal activities such as regular vacations. Then, treat them as top priorities because they are. Enjoy your family, relax in the sun, hike, and tour your favorite locale—whatever energizes you, renews your soul, and draws you closer to those you love.

Now, what about you? How do you balance personal development, professional life, and family priorities? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Peace and Health,

Dr. Clem

Tips for Becoming an Academic Success

Dr. Clementine Msengi ©2018

 What does it mean to be academically successful? You may think it means achieving the highest grades in your classes, but there’s much more to it than that. Academic success also involves the kind of person you are the influence you choose to have on others. Academic success can be measured by your investment in becoming the possible best version of you by maximizing your educational experiences. Here are a few tips for how you can achieve this goal.

Get involved and get to know people. Build a support system and become part of a support system for others. Get to know your school and its resources. Take advantage of organizations and campus events. Participate positively in class and outside the classroom from the very first day.

Participate. Go to your classes. Professors do not always follow the content of a textbook. Tests and exams are often based on lectures, discussions, and class participation. You can’t know a professor’s expectations unless you’re present in their classroom. Choose a seat in front, use body language that shows you’re engaged, answer questions, participate in discussions, come prepared, take notes, and work to the best of your ability . . . and put away your cell phone.

Don’t wait to ask for help. Make an appointment with the campus tutoring center to learn how to review material, master content, and maximize your learning. If you’re having trouble, talk to your professor right away.

Get to know your instructor. Visit your professor during office hours during the first few weeks of class and introduce yourself. Ask what you can do to be successful. Know each professor’s policies on attendance, missed classes, missed and/or late assignments, make-up work, due dates, penalties for late work, special circumstances, cell phone use, and other matters.

Accept constructive criticism. Professors provide valuable feedback when they critique your work. They provide their observations so you can learn. Approach your assignments with a teachable spirit. If you find your work marked up, be grateful for the significant time that your professor or teach invested helping you learn to improve. Instructors who provide little feedback rob students of the opportunity to learn. Accept feedback positively and learn from it.

Get organized. Use a calendar or planner.Schedule major assignments, quizzes, tests, and exams. Include study time, work, and campus activities. Professors assume that a student studies two hours outside of class for every hour spent in class. A student carrying an average load of 16-18 hours per week should study 32-38 hours a week in addition to class time. College is equivalent to a full-time job, and time management is critical for success.

Take comprehensive notes. Learn to summarize and identify main points.

Write down anything the professor writes on the board or presents by PowerPoint. If you have questions or are confused, ask for clarification during class or immediately after. If you have difficulty taking good notes, find someone in class who does it well, and ask if they can teach you how to organize as you listen and write.

Challenge yourself. Lean on support systems to help you study: use the campus tutoring center or join study groups. Look for student tutors who have passed the course already. Be open to thinking critically about new points of view and learning from people whose backgrounds are different than yours.

Remember, academic success is not about a grade—it’s about investing in yourself as you build the character and skills for a successful future.