As a teen, I was part of a tiny Catholic youth group.
In that group, I was called “St. Francis” because I loved Lady Poverty, wore the crummiest shirts, the most horrid brown sandals, and prayed in the chapel the whole day. (Actually, I slept most of the time, but that’s just a secret between you and me.)
One of my friends was called “Brother Leo” because he imitated me, the way the real Brother Leo imitated his master, St. Francis.
If I prayed in a particular way—with my eyes closed, my hands clasped, my head bent down and tilted to the left—he’d pray in the same way.
If I wore an ugly shirt because of my love for poverty, he’d wear the same thing.
Because I was good-looking, he’d try to be good-looking. (Haha.)
One day, his family left for the US for good, and we lost touch…
Six years later, he returned for a visit. The old youth group was excited to have a little reunion. So we met up with “Brother Leo” again.
When I saw him at the reunion, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Nor could anyone in the room. Brother Leo was wearing a loud purple shirt with a gold band around his neck. And in thick slang, he greeted us, “Hey Dude!”
That wasn’t so bad.
While all of us were picking up our jaws from the floor, he said, “Let’s go out and look for a real parteeeh. Let’s look for some chicks! Man, I love girls!”
The transformation was unbelievable.
Where was the prayerful, quiet, humble, pure guy that we knew?
Here’s what I learned from life: We need to deliberately shape our outer world before it shapes us.
What Are The Two Most Powerful Forces That Shape Your Life?
It was Charlie “Tremendous” Jones who said that You will be in five years the sum total of the books you read and the people you are around.
I believe the two most powerful forces that shape our life are our relationships and our media. I repeat: If you know that your outer world shapes you, make a decision now to shape your outer world. Because you can!
Here’s a story of someone who didn’t use this power…
The Story Of A Wise King That Wasn’t So Wise After All
The Guinness Book of World Records says that no one beats King Solomon when it comes to wives. The guy had 700 wives with 300 concubines.
Believe me, I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes on Valentines Day. The chaos! While walking around his palace, he’d say to one, “I love you Leah,”; And to another, “I love you Rachael,”; And to another still, “I love you… uh, Melissa or Melanie?”
Here’s what the Bible says: King Solomon loved many foreign women… They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. (How many of you know that just because you’re romantically in love with someone DOESN’T mean that you’re supposed to be with that person?) As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God…
The wisest man on Earth didn’t choose his relationships well.
If you don’t want to commit his mistake, let me share with you 3 powerful steps to create your outer world.
The 3 Powerful Steps To Re-Create Your Outer World
I guarantee you. If you do these 3 steps, you’ll not only be free from enslaving habits, you’ll actually grow yourself and fulfil your greatest dreams.
Step #1: Say No to Toxic People
Step #2: Say Yes to Terrific People
Step #3: Control Your Media
Let me explain these steps one by one…
To All Those Who Want To Experience God’s Power In Their Lives…
Say No to Toxic People
There are many types of Toxic Persons, but let me focus on 6 types that you should avoid:
Toxic Person #1: Those who encourage your addiction
Toxic Person #2: Those who constantly hurt you
Toxic Person #3: Those who control you through force
Toxic Person #4: Those who control you through manipulation
Toxic Person #5: Those who pass their responsibilities to you
Toxic Person #6: Those who whine about life and invalidate you
Do you have Toxic People in your life? God says, Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.
Let’s heed those wise words!
Let’s find out if you have Toxic People in your life…
Toxic Person #1:
Those Who Encourage Your Addiction
You know this story very well because it happens too often.
My friend “Jim” was a drug addict. He entered a rehab for a year. In that entire year, Jim didn’t touch the drug. He went back home a new man.
Not a few days after, an old friend who used to take drugs with Jim visited him at home and offered him shabu. Jim said no, “I don’t take that anymore.” But as the days progressed, he kept on meeting his old friends. After only three months, Jim snorted shabu again—and his addiction was more severe than before.
Question: What caused his downfall?
Answer: He shaped his inner world, but he didn’t shape his outer world.
He needed a new set of friends. He needed a new itinerary. He also needed new hobbies, new music, new activities…
It’s pretty obvious. If you’re an alcoholic, stop hanging out with friends who drink. Hang out with new friends who don’t. If you’re a gambler, cut friendships with other gamblers. Hang out with people who don’t gamble. And so on.
Many people don’t use their power to choose their friends. They just accept the people who call up, visit, and appear on their doorstep.
Big mistake. Don’t do that. Jesus says If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
Go out and choose the kind of people you like to become. (More on this later.)
Toxic Person #2:
Those Who Constantly Hurt You
Do you avoid danger?
If you see a rabid Doberman, foaming in the mouth, sharp fangs exposed, racing towards you at top speed, would you run away as fast as Flash? Or would you stand there with a smile, stretch out your hand and say, “Here kitty, kitty…”
I bet you’d run faster than you ever did in your entire life.
Unless you have a death wish.
The Wise Book says a prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple (foolish) keep going and suffer for it.
Here’s a sad fact. After my years of counselling hordes of people, I’ve realized many have a death wish when it comes to choosing their boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, business partners, spiritual leaders, organizations, and friends.
Because they choose abusers.
They get physically abused. Verbally abused. Emotionally abused. Spiritually abused.
And after an abusive relationship breaks up, they jump into another abusive relationship. Insane, I tell you. But after 27 years in ministry, it’s more common than you think.
I have only one explanation for this crazy phenomenon: Victims like being victims. Why? Perhaps because they want to pay for their sins. Or perhaps they feel they deserve the punishment. Or perhaps they feel superior to the abuser. Or perhaps that’s how they get the empathy from other people.
But this is sick.
Let me shout this to the rooftops: Get rid of all abusers in you life!
Don’t Just Stand There—Do Something!
If your spouse is an abuser, get away as far as possible from him or her. I’m not saying get a divorce right away. But don’t live in the same house with an abuser until the person gets help and gets healed.
If your boyfriend or girlfriend is an abuser, what are you doing still sticking with that person? You should have left the first time abuse took place.
If your organization, fraternity, club, prayer group, or church demeans you, manipulates you, drains you, abuses you—why are you still there? Look for a group that blesses you and nourishes you.
If your business partner steals from you, cheats on you, or disrespects you—get out, sell out, and find another business partner.
Remember: When you’re with an abuser, you create more inner pain, and inner pain can produce more hidden addictions.
Jesus says, Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces. You are sacred. You are the pearls. So don’t throw yourself to dogs and pigs.
Some people however may not be obviously abusers, but they abuse you in a less obvious way…
Toxic Person #3:
Those Who Control You Through Force
There are people who control you through subtle aggression. They intimidate you. They’re bigger. They’re louder. They’re scary. They’re bullies in nice clothes.
The Controller could be your husband. Or your grandmother. Or your friend. Or your boss.
Let me tell you a story I read recently…
One day, a young guy was walking on a dark street. Suddenly, out of an Acacia tree, an old man wrapped in a black robe appeared. His eyes were fierce, his face pale, his beard unkempt. He pushed a black book towards the young man and ordered, “You need to read this book! Buy it for P700.”
The young man was shocked and mumbled, “I don’t have P700…”
But the elderly man spoke with a louder voice, “You need to read this book! Give me P700.” So with shaking hands, the lad fumbled with his wallet and handed P700 to him. The mysterious man placed the black book in the chap’s hand and said, “Whatever you do, never look at the last page. Or you will regret it.” He then walked towards the field behind them and suddenly disappeared!
The young man went home, shaken to the core. In the evening, he started reading the book. It was all about ghosts and werewolves and vampires! After awhile, he grew tired, closed the book and went to bed.
But he couldn’t sleep. Tossing and turning, the young man could only think of one thing: What was on the last page of the book? What will I regret seeing there?
Finally, he couldn’t take the suspense any longer. With every ounce of courage he could muster, he grabbed the black book. With trembling fingers, he opened it to the last page…
And when he saw it, at once, waves of regret filled him!
The last page was empty.
Except for a small note that said, “P49.50, National Bookstore.”
Friend, never get intimidated to do what you don’t want to do.
Because often, you’ll get robbed.
Toxic Person #4:
Those Who Control You Through Manipulation
There is another kind of Controller that doesn’t do it through aggression but through manipulation. In an even more subtle way, they will control you.
My example is Delilah, the girlfriend of Samson.
The Bible says Samson loved Delilah. But it doesn’t say that Delilah loved Samson. Instead, Delilah used Samson. Delilah needed Samson. (When will we realize that need is different from love?) As you read the story, you realize that Delilah never loved Samson at all.
Remember, “Controllers” are “Users”, and Delilah was a Controller. (Do you know of any “Users” in your life?)
One day, Delilah was approached by her Philistine leaders. They wanted to capture Samson but couldn’t because of his magical strength. So they offered her 1,100 Shekels from each of them if she could discover the secret of his supernatural strength.
So she went to Samson and asked, “How can anyone capture you?”
First, he lied. Samson said, “If you tie me with brand new ropes, I’ll be as weak as any man.” And while he slept, Delilah tied him up with brand new ropes and called the soldiers of the Philistine leaders to capture him. But like snapping thread, Samson broke free from the ropes and chased after the men.
Wasn’t that enough proof for Delilah’s deception?
If I were Samson, I would simply have said to her, “Delilah, you’re a snake. You don’t love me. This relationship is over. Get out of my life!”
But Samson didn’t do it. He tolerated her. And so Delilah sat on the lap of Samson and with a pout and a hurt look, she said, “You don’t love me, Samson…” (Her finger probably toying with his hair.)
“But I do!” Samson said defensively.
“No, you don’t,” she purred, “You lied to me. You haven’t told me the secret of your strength.” (Controllers like turning the table and pointing your mistakes, while hiding their glaring mistakes.)
Finally, out of exasperation, Samson says, “Okay, okay! Cut my hair and I’ll be as weak as any man.” And while he slept, Delilah cut his hair. We know the end of the story. Samson was captured, his eyes gouged out, and he was imprisoned until he died while pushing two pillars.
Because Samson loved Delilah, he was desperate to believe in the lie that she also loved him. But she didn’t.
Who are the Delilahs in your life?
Here’s the truth: Samson may have been romantically attracted to Delilah, but he really didn’t love her. If he really loved her, he would have told her off and shooed her away. That was the kind of love she needed.
Toxic Person #5:
Those Who Pass Their Responsibilities To You
One day, a woman was chatting with her neighbor.
“I feel really good today. I started out this morning with an act of unselfish generosity. I gave a five hundred Peso bill to a bum.”
“Wow, you gave a bum five hundred Pesos?” her neighbor asked, “My gosh, that’s a lot of money. What did your husband say about it?”
“Oh, he thought it was the proper thing to do,” she said, “my husband said, ‘Thanks.’”
Many people are just like that woman. They have bums in their lives, and these bums are friends and family.
In other words, they are hosts to parasites.
Remember: In biology, parasites can’t exist without a host. So the reason there are parasites is because there are people who like to play the role of host.
Are you a host to a human parasite? Someone who depends on you for money? Or for housing? Or for your service?
The human parasite isn’t a quadriplegic lying down in bed with a feeding tube stuck to his throat. The parasite is an otherwise healthy human being that simply wants you to be responsible for his life, period. He doesn’t want to take responsibility for his own life. He looks to you for his sole salvation. If you don’t help him, he’ll die.
Deep inside, you feel used. You really want to say “No more!” but you can’t because you feel guilty. In the process, you have lost your boundaries. When you do, there is so much inner pain within, and you escape through your hidden addictions.
Bad news: You think you’re doing good, but you really aren’t.
There’s A Difference Between
Feeling Good And Doing Good
Giving to a parasite makes you feel good.
But that doesn’t make it good. (Yep, there’s a difference.)
It assuages your guilt. But in fact, you’re causing more harm than good. You’re really a thief. You’re stealing their self-worth. More than that, when you take away the bad consequences of their irresponsibility through your constant rescuing, you take away the fuel that would have forced them to change.
Some justify helping a parasite by quoting Galatians 6:2 when St. Paul says, “Carry each other burdens…” But 3 verses later, St. Paul also says, “Each one should carry his own load.” That means if a parasite asks for your help, the best way to help him is to say ‘No’.
I give a lot. Dole outs are fine when there’s a real emergency. But I stop giving when his daily life becomes an emergency. Because most of my giving is focused on teaching people how to fish, not just giving fish. I give when I know the person will learn how to stand on his own two feet one day.
Finally, there’s a last type of Toxic Person you need to avoid…
Toxic Person #6:
Those Who Whine About Life and Invalidate You
There are people who are constantly negative—and they suck your energy dry. Believe me, after talking with them, you feel as though the sky is darker, the world is uglier, and life is more miserable than ever.
Whiners complain about everything. The heat. The cold. The boss. The money. The government. On and on and on. It never stops.
Whiners are bad, but invalidators are worse. Invalidators are whiners too, but instead of just criticizing the world, they specialize in criticizing you. When you mention a plan, a dream, or an original idea, you’ll hear an invalidator say, “You? Do that?” He’ll roll up his eyes, shake his head, and smirk. These pompous know-it-alls believe they know you and your future more than God. Before an invalidator, you’ll always remain small. Size up the invalidator’s “friends”, and you’ll discover other “small” people who bow down to his majesty.
Whiners will steal away your joy. Invalidators will steal away your dreams. If you don’t watch out, they’ll infect you with their virus and you’ll become a professional cynic like them.
Whiners and invalidators are losers. If your friends are losers, get a new set of friends. I’m not saying that you dump them. God wants you to love them. But you don’t have to hangout with them. Instead, hangout with people who respect you. And people who inspire you. And people who put their energies to build up rather than destroy. And people of life and beauty and love.
By The Way, Are You The Toxic Person?
Avoiding toxic people is difficult.
Avoiding being the toxic person is even more difficult.
What if you’re the abuser, or controller, or manipulator, or parasite, or whiner, or invalidator?
Ask people close by for their honest feedback.
If they say, “Yes,” own up to your behavior, quick. And get to work!
(What you’ll do is beyond the scope of this article, but I hope to discuss that another time.)
Say Yes to Terrific People
What is shaping you now?
The Good Book says, Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. If you’re with terrific people, then these terrific people are sharpening you….
Terrific Person #1: Those Who Nourish You Emotionally
Terrific Person #2: Those Who Nourish You Spiritually
Terrific Person #3: Those Who Nourish You Intellectually
Terrific Person #4: Spend Time With God, Who Else?
Terrific Person #1:
Those Who Nourish You Emotionally
There are really only two types of great people in this world.
The first type of great person: After talking to him, you walk out impressed at how great that person is. You are dwarfed by his greatness.
Here’s the second type of great person: After talking to him, you walk out impressed at how great you are. You walk out a giant yourself—as big or even bigger than that great person.
Hang out with the second type of great person.
Hang out with people who make you feel important, respected, and worthy.
One of my mentors has a powerful way of making me feel important.
He’s a true blue, genuine Billionaire. But he treats me like I was more important than he is. It’s the small things that he does that make me leave his presence believing I’m special. The way he listens to me. The way he respects my opinion. The way he doesn’t laugh at my silly questions. Even common sense courtesy and respect. For example, after our meeting in his office, he’ll walk with me to my car. He won’t leave me until he knows I’m in my car and ready to go. Small things that tell me I’m a great man.
Look for people like that.
Terrific Person #2:
Those Who Nourish You Spiritually
You’re a soul with a temporary earthly existence.
Thus, your most important need is to be spiritually nourished.
I believe that many people are spiritually malnourished and they need God’s Word in their lives.
But more than knowledge, a spiritual leader should feed you with God’s love.
How? By his own love for you.
He doesn’t teach you because of pride. He teaches you because of love.
That’s where I want to grow—and boy do I have a long way to go.
When a spiritual leader believes he’s better, holier, and more righteous than anyone else in church, be wary. A good spiritual leader knows his faults and acknowledges them before everyone.
Look for your source of regularly spiritual nourishment.
Terrific Person #3:
Those Who Nourish You Intellectually
Do you have dreams?
Who are the people in the world that have already fulfilled your dream?
Hang out with them—and pick their brains.
Listen to their talks. Read their books. Attend their seminars.
There are two kinds of teachers. The first kind of teacher has a lot of book knowledge and nothing else. The second type of teacher has experiential knowledge, with mud on her shoes, blisters on her hands, and scars in her heart. She’s someone who teaches from her battlefield experience. Look for the second type of teacher.
For example, if I want to grow my organization, Light of Jesus, to the next level, I had to search for the second type of teacher: Those who actually built huge organizations.
So one day, I visited Bro. Mike Velarde of El Shaddai to learn from him. Bro. Mike and I may have different styles and beliefs (and different fashion tastes too), but as an organizer, no one can match his ability to gather one million people in Luneta. Bro. Mike has been so kind and gracious to me, sharing his vast experience. You may not like his red barong, but if you can build an organization as big as El Shaddai (probably 8 million members),I guess you can wear any kind of barong you want.
And would you believe? I’m also learning church-building strategies from Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, now heading 3-million members in only 22 short years. I don’t agree with his theology. When we’re together, my Bishop friends and I debate with him about his doctrines. (We regularly meet because we’re all members of the Presidential Council for Values Formation under Malacanang, working for the country.) But that doesn’t stop me from admiring Pastor Apollo’s excellent leadership skills. So when we meet, aside from theological debate, I sit down with him and learn his church-building strategies. Pastor Apollo has been very gracious to me too, and I’ve learned a lot in the area of church growth.
I also have financial mentors who are millionaires and billionaires.
I have family mentors who have great marriages and are fantastic parents.
I have spiritual mentors who live with profound love and holiness and inspire me to do the same.
Go and get terrific people in your life.
Don’t Get Derailed When Your
Old Friends Become Jealous
I’ve expanded my inner circle of friends.
Sometimes, my old inner circle becomes jealous. They say in Taglish, “Bo, others ka na.” They say that I have replaced them.
No, I have not. I’ve not replaced my inner circle, I’ve just expanded it.
My inner circle now includes leaders, preachers, businessmen, real estate investors, bishops, computer gurus, marketing experts, educators, authors, etc.
In fact, if you want to keep on growing, you’ve got to keep growing your inner circle of friends. There’s no other way.
One last thing: Check the net-worth of the people you hangout with. Most likely, you’ll mirror each other’s average income. If you want an increase in your income, hangout with people who earn, save, invest, and give more than you do. Learn from them!
Terrific Person #4:
Spend Time With God, Who Else?
Need I say more?
Jesus was committed to daily prayer: And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he (Jesus) went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.
But here’s the problem: Many people don’t worship God, but a caricature of God.
If you really examine their God, He’s cruel, legalistic, insecure, and tyrannical.
We need to change our image of God, because we become exactly like the God we worship. In the end, we too will become cruel, legalistic, insecure, and tyrannical. (Have you ever wondered why many religious people are poor reflections of the love of God? This is the reason.)
We’ll discuss more of this in another article very soon.
Control Your Media
Remember the two powerful forces that shape your life.
First are relationships.
Second is media.
Like relationships, say “No” to toxic media and say “Yes” to terrific media.
When it comes to media, remember one very important thing: You have very limited time. Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, has exactly the same amount of hours a beggar has. When it comes to time, we’re all equal.
So if you watch dumb, useless, mindless, inane TV shows like those broadcasted today, you’re throwing away precious time—and money. Time that you should have used for more inspiring media.
People wonder why there’s no growth in their life.
One probable answer: Because they waste so much time in front of the TV set. Noonday shows. Showbiz gossip. Telenovelas.
I urge you to read inspiring books instead. Or watch great movies. Or listen to terrific talks. If you want to grow, control your media.
Are You The Good Samaritan?
The most controversial part in this article is saying “No” to Toxic People.
But let me insist that one of the reasons why we have hidden addictions is because we’re escaping from the inner pain of having no personal boundaries. We keep on saying yes to toxic people, we’re actually losing control of our lives. This lost of control is maddening and subconsciously drives us to where we seemingly feel have control—our hidden addiction. When we drink, or smoke, or lust, or shop constantly, or eat compulsively, or become religiously addicted, we feel some semblance of control. (Obviously, it’s fake. We really have no control over this area as well.)
Friend, you need to set boundaries. Or the world will conquer you.
If you grew up listening to sermons about the Good Samaritan in Church , you were trained to help people and feel guilty when you don’t.
Remember the story? A guy was robbed and left dying on the road. A Priest and a Teacher of the Law passed by and didn’t bother to stop. The Samaritan however stopped, bandaged his wounds, took him in an inn, and paid for all his expenses.
Wow, what a loving man.
But we usually take for granted a very important part of that story: After helping the wounded man, the Good Samaritan actually left him with the inn keeper because he had to take care of his own business! He didn’t forget his own life! How could he keep on helping if he doesn’t keep earning from his business?
Here’s another lesson: The Good Samaritan also asked help from others–the innkeeper. Because you don’t help alone. You’re not superman.
Friend, be the Good Samaritan.
Because the Good Samaritan didn’t love others only.
He also loved himself.
My friend, if you want to create a new inner world, you need to create a new outer world. Jesus said, And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but new wine is for fresh skins.
God is giving you new wine for your life.
Make new wineskins!
James Parmis Ministries – www.JamesParmis.com