“For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”

// 2 Timothy 3:2-5

We may look at this list of negative attributes and think they feel messy and heavy. We may also realize how familiar they are, or that we carry one of them with us. Paul is highlighting people and characteristics to avoid, to not let seep into our lives because these things deny God’s power as they all point to self. Whether it's a toxic relationship that brings about a spirit of pride and arrogance, or it's an internal battle we struggle with, Paul instructs us to be free of it all.

Every morning when we wake up, we have the choice of how to clothe ourselves. We choose what to live by that day, and how we affect those around us. We can dare to be different, to break the cultural norm of an individualist mindset is so prevalent in this city. And when we find the sweet spot of life where God is reflected in our day-to-day, we attract others who are of the same accord.

What if we become leaders by breaking free of these attributes? We are called to be excellent in what we do. By having Christ-like characteristics and godliness erupting out of us, we can change our industries; we can cause our bosses to change, our relationships to change. To make this a reality, we have to avoid the characteristics Paul lists, and ensure that we surround ourselves with people who uplift us, strengthen us, and fight the good fight with us.

We are made complete in Him: we have God’s heart in our hearts. So, we can rid ourselves of these toxins that seep in. We can realize God wants to be the source of our relationships. Our relationships are fulfilled when we let Him in and make Him the foundation on which we grow, because ungodly characteristics flee when our feet are planted firm in our faith. We must build relationships with others that attract God and attract others to Him. In doing so, we may change the culture of this city.

// Grace Hazelgrove