Templates and Triggers
I was barely 13 years old and quite a skinny, short, 13 year old at that. Our school had arranged a wilderness camp whereby we were all shipped out into the middle of nowhere and taught survival skills.
Well I guess what survival meant to most of our leaders was a completely different concept to what I had in mind. My greatest challenge came the moment they handed us our rucksacks.
They had obviously got some old army rejects and on my little frame this thing was twice my size. By the time I had packed it full with all of my “necessities” I could hardly stand up – never mind go on a 5 mile hike!
I made the mistake that so many new campers made. I packed it full of canned foods, drinks and books I thought I might need along the way. How heavy could one book be right?
After a mile, I was out of breath, by the time we reached two I had blisters rising up out of my blisters. By the time the third mile was on the horizon I was happy to dump all my canned food and fast for the duration of our trip.
It is no surprise that still years later, I shudder at the thought of braving a hike or the ‘great outdoors.’ If you know me personally, you now have a keen insight to why my idea of a getaway is room service and a fully equipped bathroom, over a lumpy sleeping bag and a leaky tent!
I might have been just a naive 13 year old, but I wonder if you realize how fully packed your own spiritual backpack is right now.
You see the Lord has called us to run this race with all endurance and like me you are heading out on an adventure where all the survival skills you have will count.
When it comes to the realm of leadership and your spiritual walk, you will learn, as I did, that carrying around unnecessary baggage will only weigh you down.
“Hebrews 12:1 There since we also are surrounded with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily besets [us], and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” (AMIV)
The Race You Have Run Up Until Now
You see, it has taken a lot of effort on your part to run this race up until now. Through all the principles you have learned along the way, you have pushed against the odds.
You have been like an athlete who has had his body pushed to the limit. You have stretched yourself and with the help of the Lord, you have risen up.
Look at how far you have come! You have already accomplished so much. You have defied the odds and you have become stronger. Slowly you started to get the upper hand. Slowly you started to win this race.
But it does not come naturally does it? Not at all. Each time you press forward, it costs you. The ministry, the finances and the opportunities do not just fall into your lap.
You have to work hard for them. You have to exercise your faith, do spiritual warfare and stand on the Word daily. Yes, you are finally getting ahead in this race – but at what cost?
What If I Had to Tell You That There Was an Easier Way?
What if I had to tell you that you could run this race in rest? How about if I said that you did not need to keep trying so hard all of the time?
How about if I told you that you could start to see more fruit in your life for less effort?
Is There Really a Shortcut?
What you do not realize is that you have been trying to run this race with a very heavy weight on your back. While you are pushing forward all of the time, you start to take ground. However if you stop for just a moment, it starts to weigh you down again.
Do you feel that you have to work hard to press forward with your ministry?
Do you feel that nothing comes easy to you?
The Word says that the Lord’s yoke is easy and that His burden is light. This weight you feel is not of the Lord and I want to help set you free of it.
You do not need to carry this heavy rucksack around with you any longer! Step by step we are going to dig deep inside of it and pull out all those heavy weights that have been added to it.
There Is Good News…
Do you know what the good news is? You have been pushing against so many odds for so long now, that when we lighten your load, you are going to fly!
All that faith and pushing through is going to pay off in a big way! So how about it? Ready to lighten that load and to put all these weights aside?
Name That Weight
There is a reason why the writer of Hebrews says that we should lay aside every weight and then follows that statement with…and every sin that so easily besets us. You see, the secret lies in those few words.
If you have read The Way of Blessing, you will already be familiar with the concept of curses and also of templates, but I want to really bring these principles home to you in this teaching.
Perhaps you have looked at the things that happened to you in the past as little hindrances. You look at the hurts and even your own anger and you tuck it back into the past, feeling that is where they belong.
What you do not realize, child of God is that you did not tuck them into the past. Instead you tucked them into your rucksack and now they are weighing you down.
You know when I was on that long hike, it did not matter if I looked at my rucksack or not. It did not matter if I believed the rucksack was there or not. My aching shoulders and back told me clearly that it was there.
It does not matter if you are afraid to look at the past or even at your failures. It does not matter if you refuse to delve into the things that you know you should. Just because you do not want to look at it, does not mean that it is not there.
Step by step, these things are weighing you down and what you need is a process of conviction, healing and victory!
Consider how you grew up. As a young child you probably did not know the Lord like you do now. You certainly did not have the firm scriptural foundation in your life that you have right now.
One Thing That We All Have in Common
In fact, you knew very little about the world around you. And so each time you faced a difficult or painful situation, you would have reacted to that situation out of what was already inside of you.
Now tell me, what is the one thing that we are ALL born with? Regardless of whether we know Christ or not, every single human is born with one overpowering force that has been given power ever since Adam said “yes” to Eve.
Without the knowledge of the Word and of the Lord Jesus that you have now, I guarantee that most of the choices you made growing up were based on the flesh and not on the Word.
Here is the problem though. Something quite incredible happened the very first time you make that choice.
A Template is Formed
When a child faces a stressful situation for the very first time, how is that child likely to respond? Well unless that child was Jesus Christ, they are likely to respond in the flesh.
The problem though, is that the moment they do that, they have created a foundation for life. Every time they face that same event again in the future, before they can even think about it, the sinful response will come out.
Give that child another 20 or 30 years though and you have an adult with some seriously messed up templates all based on sinful reaction.
Let’s Make This Practical
Not sure if you understand me? Why don’t we go to the beginning of your hike through life? Why don’t we go back to the beginning and see what the Lord shows.
Can you remember your first day at school? Now for me, I had many such days. In fact by the time I left high school, I had experienced 12 different school uniforms, ‘first days’ and new starts.
I was small and insecure. I did not make friends easily, which made me a good target for other kids needing to prove something. I remember sitting in the classroom feeling as comfortable as a baby lamb in the lion exhibit at the zoo.
I remember what looked like one of the popular kids coming up and asking me questions about myself. I thought, “Hey this will not be so bad.” So I opened up and shared.
That same person was the first to make fun of me and turn those things I said against me.
I can almost feel you squirming in your shoes. Now I might have been a Pastor’s kid, but that does not mean I was walking in the spirit 24/7. No my first response was anger, hurt and bitterness. Why shouldn’t it be?
It was my parent’s fault for making me go to another school. It was the kids fault for making fun of me. The world was at fault and I reveled in it.
It is experiences such as these that formed a good and solid template. The template looked like this:
My response when faced with these circumstances?
We grow up and notch experiences such as these down to, “that’s just life.” But is it? Are these experiences just normal phases of growing up?
They are if they do not leave hurts or scars. These can be overlooked if you reacted correctly to that situation.
I too covered this over and grew up in the Lord. I started even to rise up in ministry and managed to avoid getting myself into a situation like that again. You see, behind the pulpit, it was easy to have the upper hand.
The Lord would not leave it at that though. He had other plans. Being a good preacher was not good enough. I came to learn that to change lives, you need to get involved in people’s lives. It meant getting off the pulpit and going to where the people were.
That meant putting myself in a position that mirrored the one I just described.
20 Years Later…
We had a seminar and I was comfortable behind the pulpit. However as things worked out, we ended up doing a lot of social interaction with everyone afterwards. This became a trend in our ministry and one I now love.
I was hardly thrilled back then though. The moment I stepped into the room after the meeting, it was if a gun was triggered inside of me and I felt myself walking down an old road.
Without even trying, suddenly feelings of fear, insecurity and bitterness started to rise up.
WHAT WAS GOING ON?
I am meant to be ministering to these people, but all I wanted to do was run away.
The Lord had set the stage beautifully for me. He had arranged a set of circumstances that mirrored that childhood experience to a tee.
Without even trying, all those crazy emotions and irrational fears rose up out of me. I wanted to run out of the room and hide.
Fortunately for me though, I did have an upper hand this time. I had the teachings by Apostle Les! I knew what a trigger felt like when I had one.
I had some weights to pull out of my rucksack. Perhaps while I was behind the pulpit, I could get away with it, but now the race was on. Those weights that were hidden for so long were being exposed and they had to go.
I am sure that by now you realize that I am not just spilling my guts for your pure entertainment. I am getting to a point here.
That one silly template could seriously have hindered my ministry had I not dealt with it. If I had not dealt with it, it could very well have changed the entire course of what I am doing for God right now. I certainly would not be so closely involved with others.
I would not be a mentor or a spiritual parent. Most of all, I would never have gotten close enough to anyone to reach them for Jesus.
Child of God, the weights you are carrying around are more deadly than you realize. Not only are they weighing you down now, but they are set to steal the blessing that God has in store for you.
So how about it? Ready to ditch those weights?
Oh yes, just in case you are wondering, I was able to deal with that template. I think the relationship I have with you is proof of that!
What to Watch Out For
Identifying a trigger is probably the biggest step forward. I have found that even though I know the principles well, it still takes me a while to “get it.”
That is why it helps if you have a team or a spouse that can help identify when you are not acting like yourself.
Seeing it from the outside
What I am about to share, Apostle Les goes into great detail in the Way of Blessing, so I am not going to reteach it all.
What I am going to give you here is a head’s up. Imagine you are sitting across the way from me and I am handing out all my secrets on leadership.
No one knows you better than your spouse. Of course if you have spiritual parents or a mentor, then you will find that God will use them first to point things out to you.
Do not think that just because you know the principles that it is obvious. Very often you need someone from the outside to say, “Hey! Do you know you have a huge CRUCIFY ME sticker on your back?!”
If you are the spouse or mentor, you will notice that someone is triggering by identifying the points listed below. Mark these and keep them handy, because you will find yourself using them over and over again.
When someone is triggering they will not be in control of their emotions. This might mean expressing loudly, or even clamming up.
I have found that when someone is triggering to something from the past, they suddenly start telling stories from that era. Now just because someone is telling an old story, it does not mean that they are triggering! However if they start telling old stories out of nowhere, it can indicate that something from that era is being stirred up.
This is a very clear sign. If you have been working with someone for a very long time and suddenly they start acting childlike or reverting back to behavior from the past, the chances are, you are looking at a trigger.
In my personal experience, in working with folks whose first language is not English, when they trigger, they suddenly struggle to speak English! I know it sounds crazy, but look out for that one.
Out of nowhere, that person begins to act strangely. Perhaps trying to relive events from the past or act in ways that they never have before.
Now the thing is, when those templates are stirred up, so is the sin and the license the enemy was given! It is like that rucksack not only contains rocks, but sometimes snakes that lie hidden. You start shaking weights and the snakes will get uncomfortable and start crawling out.
Ok…I know it is not a pretty picture, but I think it illustrates my point. If there is a sudden onslaught of things being lost, broken or stolen and if you are fighting with everyone around you then there is a curse in the camp!
Add that to these other points and you can see a trigger loud and clear.
Seeing it from within
If you are the one triggering, these points apply to you as well. Look out for emotions that are raging out of control
Dealing With it – Step by Step
Ok, there is no doubt about it – there is something that God is exposing. Something that happened to you in the past is causing some serious problems in your present. How do you deal with it?
Well a good start would be to read the Transformed by His Presence book, but I am not going to be so mean as to say that and leave you hanging.
Nope, I am certainly the lady of step 1…2…3… so I do not plan to disappoint you.
Like I said, identifying that you are triggering is your first big leap forwarding. Just by “seeing” it, you will immediately feel the emotions ebb.
So how about we move on to Step 1 shall we?
Step 1: Identify it
Consider how you are feeling right now, then ask yourself this question,
“When was the last time I felt this exact same way?”
Continue to ask yourself this question and trace back those memories until as far back as you can identify. This is where spiritual revelation really counts and why having a prophet around during a time like this is the best.
It is how we can function as a team. If you have a mentor, you are in a good place. Let your mentor walk through these memories with you. It is a lot easier than trying to do it alone.
Continue working through your memories until the earliest and most painful one sticks out to you the most.
You will usually identify the memory that ‘started it all’ because when you bring it back to your memory, you still feel the sting in it.
Step 2: Change it!
Now identifying the original template is not enough. You responded badly back there. Ok, let’s make it practical again.
Considering all I have taught so far, have any templates of the past come to your mind? Is there a situation in particular that stands out to you? Do you still feel the sting in that memory?
Ok, now let me ask you, “How did you react to that situation?”
Rebellion? Anger? Fear? Jealousy?
You know your own heart and you know where the Lord is putting His finger. This feeling you have bottled up inside is the very thing that is keeping this template anchored in your life. Are you ready to let it go?
Then you begin by applying James 4:7. Submit yourself to the Lord and then you can deal with the enemy. Let your anger go. Repent of the sinful response.
This is the first stage. The second stage is to forgive the person that offended or hurt you.
The easiest way to do this is to see them through the Lord’s eyes. Take yourself out of the situation a bit and to see things from their point of view.
This is very powerful! Give this a try right now. Bring up the memory that is bothering you. Now try to see this situation through the other person’s eyes.
Let me use my own template as an illustration for you.
In my mind, I see those kids picking on me. Laughing and making fun of my shabby clothes. Firstly I let go of the bitterness and fear, because Jesus is standing right behind me. I am not alone anymore. He is right there and He is on my side!
I let go of my anger and I take His hand. Then I look at those kids and see something I did not before. They are caught in a system of their own. To stay popular, that kid always has to keep ahead of the pack. They have a continual expectation and striving in them to keep up with everyone else.
The others cannot reach out to me, because it would mean also being teased. They are not willing to pay that price. So they play along. Ignorant. They do not know the Lord and they do not know any better. What kind of models have they had?
If I allow myself to be angry, I am no better than them. I see Jesus pick me up and carry me out of that situation. They stay limited in their thinking, but I can take this situation and use it to rise up.
Do you get the idea? Allow Jesus into your memory right now, and you will also begin to get the victory!
Step 3: Kick the Devil Out!
So many people just want to blame the devil for everything and go right into warfare when things go wrong. No that is why James tells us to submit our hearts first. Deal with the beam in your own eye and you will have all the strength you need to deal with the enemy.
Once you have dealt with your own sin, only then are you ready to get rid of the enemy in your life.
He was only too happy to keep you angry and bitter. He was only too happy to help your fear along. He was also only too happy to encourage you to become strong and controlling, to prevent you from rising up.
However along with that has come a host of other things that are not a blessing! Now that you have dealt with your heart, stand up in boldness and tell the enemy to leave.
Struggling with Generational Curses
What I am sharing here is the best way to deal with generational curses. Your sinful templates are what keep those generational curses securely in place.
Any bitterness towards your parents? How about a sense of fear, obligation or jealousy? All of these things keep your templates anchored in your life and make your race hard to run.
It is time to lay aside the weights child of God. It is time to not only run this race that is before you, but to win it!
You will find that the Lord will take you through seasons of dealing with sinful templates. It is a major part of prophetic training, but every leader will find the Lord dealing with things at one time or another.
I am pretty sure after reading this though, that you will start living it, so expect it. You will experience seasons of victory and rest and seasons of dealings.
So where are you at right now? If your spiritual muscles are straining and you feel that the Lord is cutting you down to bare essentials, then rejoice!
“John 15:2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away: and every [branch] that bears fruit, he purges it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
3 Now you are clean through the word that I have spoken to you.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine; no more can you, unless you abide in me.” (AMIV)
If you feel that purging, then rejoice because the Lord saw something of value in you. He saw you as a branch worth pruning.
Allow Him to remove the dead branches from your life so that you can be fruitful once again. Then the next time you gear yourself for the race that is ahead, the weights will be gone. That rucksack will be empty.
You will not only run the race with endurance, but you will fly.
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