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Accepting The Worst
Christians are optimists. We know the Lord is with us and we always expect the best. And yet, many of those same Christians struggle with Worry. Why is that? Well, maybe it's because we are so prayerful about it going right, that we haven't prepared ourselves to handle it going poorly. And the fear of it not working out can be crushing for people. In Dale Carnegie's book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, he identifies one sure fire way to be content day after day, situation after situation, no matter the outcome. Check it out in today's podcast: Accepting the Worst!
Hello, welcome to the excel still more podcast. I am your host, Kris Emerson and we are here to talk about tips and strategies that you can employ to deepen your faith, improve your relationships, and just get the most out of your life. Thank you for joining. Let's get started.
All right. Today I'd like to begin by asking a couple of questions just to make sure that you and I are on the same page. Do you ever feel like you have issues with worry? Does anxiety become a problem and just getting through everyday life? Here we are trying to get better. We want to excel still more. We want to "Be Wise Small", all the stuff we talk about and then some little thing can pop up and it causes us so much stress and discouragement and it concerns us so greatly that we can completely lose track of where we're going. We pretty much just pile that under the term "worry:. It's something a lot of people deal with. I do and you probably do as well. Now here's what's interesting about that. It's very easy for me to show you biblically that is not the way Jesus wants us to live.
He wants us to stay focused on the peace that he provides. He wants us to continually rejoice in who he is and when we face things that are difficult and we will, he expects us to face that with a sense of courage and resolve. And here's the thing, if I could just push this a little bit further, this idea of worry and anxiety is something that quite frankly Jesus said should not be a part of the Christian's life. Do you remember in the sermon on the mountain, not only did he open up by talking about how Christians will continue to live blessed lives as they face extreme and difficult circumstances, He goes on to say in Matthew Chapter six, do not worry. Take no thought. That is, do not let your mind be mentally divided from who you are and what you're doing. Three times it says, do not worry and you probably remember that he wasn't talking about things like the grade that your kid's going to get on his next test or if it's going to rain next week because you have plans.
He was talking about whether or not you'd have your next meal or a place to lay your head or clothes to wear. He said, don't even worry about that. You put your trust in me, you let me lead the way, and you won't even need to be anxious about the basic necessities of life. Now, if you're like me, that hits home because I feel like I let myself get distracted and discouraged by things that aren't near as serious as that. Now, you probably also know that the New Testament gives very clear instruction on how to overcome that worry and get right back on track. Philippians chapter four would be the place for that. Not only is it written by a guy who's in prison at the time, not only is the entire theme of the book to rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice, but in Philippians chapter four verse six it directly addresses anxiety.
Be anxious for nothing, not anything, not things that happen every day and annoy you, not things that come in from left field that you never saw. Be anxious for nothing but in everything, no matter what it is, in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. It goes on to talk about a peace that only he can provide that's bigger than the problem. It's always bigger than the problem and surpasses comprehension that
can lead you into the arms of Christ and help you valiantly address that issue. That sounds great, doesn't it? We pray about it. We remember how thankful we are for our blessings. We rely on his strength and we persevere. That verse covers it in a very direct way, but there are some other tips and strategies that can help you overcome worry. And when you employ those things in combination with thankful prayer, relying on the power of God, well, you're going to find a peace this week.
You're going to find a focus this week that maybe has alluded you for a long time. So here's where our tip comes from. Our episode title is "Accepting the Worst. Now, I don't know how that hits you. I think the first time I read that I thought, how's that supposed to help me with worry? It sounds like a negative and pessimistic view of things. So here's how I'm going to overcome my troubles. I'm going to look at it and just expect the worst all the time. Well, did you catch that? I made a change. Our episode title is not expect the worst. I never expect the worst. I don't know about you. I'm a child of God. I live in the palm of the mighty God's hand. I always expect the best. If I pray for health and safety, I am expecting to be healthy and safe.
We are God's people. When our requests align with God's providence, it's a go 100% of the time and no one will ever take that away from you. So we aren't saying to expect the worst, but we are saying that you have to put yourself in a position where you can accept it if you have to. What do we mean by that? What we mean is sometimes things don't work out. Sometimes what we prayed for or asked for or searched for is not in alignment with what God wants to provide for us right now and so it's not going to work out. In fact, it may come out the exact opposite of what you think and that's where our anxiety comes from. It's this idea that this may not work out. This may end up being worse than I ever imagined. This may end up being trouble and so here we are hoping for good things, but this idea that it's not going to work out just nags at us makes us pessimistic and fearful of bad results.
I surely would hate to live my life like that every day. Thinking unless this works out, I'm going to be destroyed. Now, what's funny about that is nobody should ever feel that way. We know that life has ups and downs, but for a lot of people, when things don't work out or just the anticipation of failure is enough to completely destroy their demeanor and distanced them from God. So here's the tip. What if you decided to accept the worst? Now, I'm going to walk you through that today, but I have to tell you where it comes from. If you follow this podcast, you already know I love Dale Carnegie. He was an exceptional writer in the 20th century, He knew people so well and gives great advice for practical living. He interviewed thousands of people. He wrote incredible books about human nature. His most familiar work, "how to win friends and influence people" was featured in an episode we did a couple of weeks ago about learning people's names, but my second favorite book by Dale Carnegie, I found this in a used bookstore on a recommendation from a friend about a year ago, is titled "how to stop worrying and start living".
Now he references Jesus here. If you pick up this book, you're going to hear some of those same verses about how Jesus told us not to do that and how we need to put our courage in him and prayer and all of that, but he also taps into just the way people think and how some small renovations in the way we process things and the way we anticipate things can make all the difference in the world, no matter what the outcome is. It's really rich stuff. This book I advise if you find this, how to stop worrying and start living, get that book and listen. Having read through that and taking notes and tried just about all of it, I can tell you now what's the single best piece of advice derived from that book. The one tactic that I still employ, I'm telling you, week in and out is to accept the worst.
And here's the idea. It breaks down into three points, so let me lay them all out and I'll illustrate it a few ways and then challenge you at the end to implement it in your own life and would love to hear feedback on this. It consists of three steps. To quote the book, "the next time, trouble with a capital T backs you up into a corner. Try this magical formula. Number one, ask yourself, what is the worst that can possibly happen if I cannot solve this problem?" Now, this has been big for me. You have to be reasonable about it, but if you have something in front of you that you're concerned about, go ahead and project yourself forward through that moment just a bit. If it doesn't work out, I'm expecting the best, but if that's not God's plan for me in this situation, let's go ahead and think about it.
What is the worst possible reasonable outcome? Now, listen carefully. You have to be reasonable about this. Not every outcome's worst possible conclusion is a fiery death, rolling down a cliff or something. We have to be reasonable, but go ahead and see yourself experiencing what it would look like if it really didn't work out. Let me give you some examples. The other day, my son and I had planned to fly to Colorado for a few days, but the airline we were using was going through some conflict with their workers and lots of flights were being canceled and we weren't going to know until that day whether we were going to be able to get on the plane or not. And look, when we got there, 30% of all the flights going out that day had already been canceled. But here's the thing. Three days before when I found out that it was all kind of up in the air, I sat him down and I said, look man, here's the situation.
We hope we get to go. I'm expecting it's all going to be perfectly fine. We're going to pack, we're going to the airport, it's going to be great, but there's a possibility that we may not make this flight. The worst reasonable thing that can happen. Some of you are thinking, well, the worst thing that could happen is you take the flight and it crashes or something. Yeah, okay. Yeah, I guess so, but I'm talking about within reason, you have to hang on to things here. The worst reasonable outcome I told my son was that everything gets canceled and we don't get to take this trip, no skiing for us this week. And I said, look, you just need to ready yourself for that because if that happens, we're going to do the best we can to reschedule. We'll work some other things, but we don't want to be crushed if that's the outcome.
So we went to the airport expecting the best, but we were already acclimated to failure on this endeavor. Now, as I said, a lot of flights were canceled, but ours was still on and we were able to make the trip. But just knowing that no matter what happened, we were going to be okay... look, I don't know how those three days before the trip went for him, but for me, I was totally at peace with that. And again, if you're just willing to take a couple of minutes here and think about it before you get into it, you can do this in a lot of things. Maybe you're about to have a conversation with someone this week, a confrontation of sorts. Some correction needs to be leveled out. Some changes need to be made. If you're wise and you approach that the best possible way, you should expect good results, but what would the worst look like?
Like, what's the worst thing that could happen? Maybe they turn and walk away or they're angry with you in some capacity and you have to put yourself in a position that says, look, I'm going to do this on Tuesday. I hope it'll work out, but I've already visualized the worst possible outcome and I'm okay with that. I can live with that. That will not be the end of the world. In fact, that's the second piece of advice. The first one was, what is the worst that can possibly happen if I cannot solve this problem? The second one is prepare yourself mentally to accept the worst if necessary. Remember, this anxiety, this discouragement, distraction and worry is this idea that I don't know what's going to happen, but it could go poorly! Okay, so visualize it going poorly. See yourself handling that. See yourself accepting it, thinking, you know what? I still have my family. I still have my life.
This is not the end of the world. Then you don't have anything to worry about. If I already know I can handle it. If it doesn't go well, then I don't have to spend the next three days worried about it not going well. I use this strategy all the time. Today, just today we had to take one of our kids to the doctor. He'd had the flu for the last week or so, but he was showing some symptoms that weren't consistent with the flu, so we called the doctor and the doctor says something like, that doesn't sound like it's flu related. It could be something else. Now, as a parent, when you hear something like that, you instantly go to these completely unrealistic, incredibly minute percentage outcomes that don't make any sense at all and start to worry about them.
Now, truth be told, it could be bad news, but we've got to be reasonable about it. So that's the first thing I did today. I thought, okay, what if it is something else? What are some possibilities? So I thought through a few of those possibilities and then I decided he hadn't even gone yet to the doctor and I decided, okay, I'm expecting him to be fine. I've prayed about that and I know that God is in control, but if it turns out to be one of these other things, I can accept that, he can accept that, my wife can accept that. It may mean another week of medication, it may mean that he misses more school, whatever we can work through that. I am mentally prepared for a rough outcome. So I didn't even worry about it, didn't give it a second thought. We go to the doctor and it turns out he's fine.
And really if you think about it, that's usually the way it works out, which of course leads us to at least something we should mention one time. And that is most of the things we get all concerned and upset and anxious and worried about never even happen, especially if you've accepted the worst. Do you know how often the worst is what happens? Nearly never. So if you've come to grips with that, you're almost certainly going to be able to handle whatever happens. Now that leads us to our third thing. I needed to give you all three points before we're done. The first one, what's the worst reasonable outcome? The second one, prepare yourself mentally to accept it. And then lastly, whenever possible, calmly try to improve upon the worst, which you have already mentally agreed to accept. And I gotta tell you: I love this last point.
Something we see all the time is people are so worried about things that they're almost petrified about it. They don't want to think about it, they don't want to look at it, they don't want to get prepared for it. They just hope that it doesn't happen. And then they sit there worried. And then sometimes bad things do happen that could have easily been prevented. But instead of that, I've looked at the issue in front of me, I've accepted the worst possible outcome. I'm mentally in the right place for that. Now I'm all freed up. I'm freed up not just to pray and be at peace. I'm freed up to maybe try a few things to help out pace it. A lot of the things we're worried about, if we would just get in a place where we had a positive attitude and we did a few things to try and prevent it, most of those things, which by the way don't happen all that often anyway; most of those bad results are avoided by doing a few things calmly.
Remember that conversation we talked about earlier? Maybe that's something you're worried about. Some confrontation. Well instead of just sort of ignoring it until the moment and then pouring it all out there and just being all shocked when it doesn't work out, what if you already thought it through several days ahead and so instead of worrying about it, you were just nice to that person for the next couple of days? You brought them some coffee, you did something kind for them, and maybe you even introduce the topic a little bit or told them that you had some things on your mind. You prepared for success. Instead of not thinking about it because it worried you, you decided to take it head on and prepare for it, and now your probability of success just went through the roof. You see this time wasted worrying about things can be used to prevent the very thing we would have been worried about to begin with.
That just good usage of our time. So listen, don't forget what Jesus said. First of all, he said, don't live a life like that. Don't live a life with a divided mind. He's pretty powerful and he can take care of you. And part of that, as we said, should not be overlooked. And that is the need to pray. Pray with thankfulness for what you have. Lay your burdens at the feet of God, like cinderblocks hitting the floor, dropped them at his feet. He can handle it, but also use a little bit of wisdom along the way. After you've come out of that prayer, feeling courageous, look at the event. Consider what might go wrong. Get yourself in the right place to handle that and look at ways to out pace poor results. Remember this though, we are optimists. We are blessed by God, so we always expect the best. We live
in a state of expectation of the blessings of God, so go about your day today expecting the best, but prepare yourself for success no matter what, by also accepting the worst.
Thank you so much for listening today. If you enjoyed this program, we encourage you to share with your friends. You can tell them about the podcast. You can share the content from the excel still more Facebook page. All of that is really helpful. Also, remember, if you're an apple user, subscribe rate and review. It makes an enormous difference. And please keep in mind whatever you do today in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, excel still more.
Kris Emerson, a loving husband, father of four, and gospel preacher, takes a few minutes to go over some important life changing and spirituals insights.
- How can Dale Carnegie help you avoid worry every day
- How to expect the best and accept the worst at the same time
- How to look ahead and potential issues and handle them before they even happen
- What can you do to accept less than ideal outcomes
- How can you improve on poor results with patience and wisdom