Goal: To understand the nature of God (His Love and Wisdom for Our Heart) as Healthy Adults 

“We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity” – Step 2

We love because He first loved us” – I John 4:19 (TNIV)

Healthy Adult Characteristic #1 – LOVE: You knew it was coming!  The titles of all the books I’ve written begin with “Cultivating Love,” as the virtue Love is core to the Healthy Adult work I engage in and am biased toward, especially in my work as a Psychotherapist. I so appreciate the virtue Love, because it is the cornerstone and the foundation upon which all Healthy Adult behavior is built!  But what are the behavioral building blocks that rest upon the strong foundation of Love? 

My research has led me to understand that Agape Love has ten components to it (LoveEsteemCherishRespectFavor,HonorAcceptPrizeRelish and Devotion) and nine specific “fruit” (LoveJoyPeacePatienceKindnessGoodness,FaithfulnessGentleness and Self-Control).  These words or “descriptors of Agape” as I’ve called them, not only explain what Love is, but also how we (and others around us) benefit from the demonstration of these characteristics, especially when these virtues are “converted” into practical, observable and impactful behaviors that yield valuable outcomes for all involved (yourself and the recipient!).  

Together, as a unit, these nineteen core components of Love are freely and abundantly given to us by the Spirit of God for our personal edification and growth, and are to be a part of our Healthy Adult mode actions and response to others, as we endeavor to function like a conduit for healthy manifestations of love to flow from us into those around us, who may be quite thirsty for this distinct and valuable demonstration of love!  Please visit the webpages linked to the words above, as they provide salient information about the meaning of each component/descriptor, which like the virtue and fruit they are, I’ve found to be edifying, invigorating, beautiful to observe and nutritious to the body, mind, soul, spirit, and relationship when developed and demonstrated by our Healthy Adult. 

I’m curious about your definition of Love, however, I’m thankful you’re allowing me to offer my definition of the term(s), and how these characteristics of Love could be helpful in your life and your relationships. 

If it helps, let me encourage you to view these terms as you would an “upgraded” version of a software program that’s being uploaded into the hardware of your life (your body, mind, soul, spirit, actions, relationships, etc.).  Research informs us that as humans, our brain, mind, senses, relationships are wired to receive a “superlative” type of love that we’re capable of giving, and when healthy forms of love are given (or received) via your Healthy Adult, is helps us to function and operate optimally and effectively.

Look at the table below.  How would you feel if you were able to produce or receive the behaviors in the right column versus the left?  How would you feel if you received the behaviors motivated and prompted by Love?  If you received this healthy manifestation of love, would you be motivated to deliver to others the same type of love that has been given and “modeled” to you?  What would the reciprocal expression of love resemble, from you to your “neighbor?”

Imagine how encouraging, impactful, and different your life could be, if you received inspirationempowerment, and guidance from your Higher Power on a daily basis to grow into the mature person who consistently engaged in insightful thinking that resulted in purposeful actions that left you feeling confident in your person and connected and at peace in your encounters with others. In short, this is one of the many benefits furnished to us based on our continuous and conscious contact with God and be encouraged because “Love never fails” – I Corinthians 13:8 (TNIV). However, there’s another benefit, when as a Healthy Adult you live in and practice Healthy Adult Mode behaviors seasoned with Agape Love: the benefit is called Wisdom, the next characteristic!

Healthy Adult Characteristic #2 – WISDOM:    

“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.  She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.  Long life is in her right hand; in her left are riches and honor.  Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.  She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed” – Proverbs 3:13 – 18 (TNIV).

We looked at the Wisdom, this second Healthy Adult Mode characteristic in “The Portrait of Wisdom,” and I encourage you to reacquaint yourself with that post for additional insights about the meaning and application of this virtue.  Here, I’ll simply remind you of my shortened definition of Wisdom, which means “to become skilled at living,” and before moving on to the final virtue in this post, I’d like to pass along three brief points regarding the demonstration of Wisdom and Healthy Adult Mode behaviors.

First, becoming wise, then demonstrating wise behavior as a Healthy Adult infers a process of learning and growing in knowledge of Love, then discerning and understanding when, where and how the timely and practical application of love will create the best outcome possible, based on your insight and understanding of what is needed at that very moment.  

Second, becoming wise, then demonstrating wise behavior as a Healthy Adult infers you’ll get better, and feel more confident and competent due to the continued practice of listening, understanding, and delivering wise behaviors at appropriate moments, in your encounters with others. Growing then applying your “knowledgeability” consistently and practically when the life situation arises and needs a practical and loving response means you’ll become familiar, adept, and skilled in the affairs of life, because you’ve taken “7 Core Area” matters to heart and you’re responding proficiently.

Finally, when you remain open and maintain your conscious contact with your God through the practice of your spiritual disciplines, God helps you to take wisdom to another level. This occurs because your whole heart, mind, soul, spirit, thoughts and resulting actions are being infused with the “immaterial” but very important virtues and values that matter in the heart of God (i.e., love, mercy, compassion, empathy, understanding, wisdom, and any of the nineteen core components of Love).

When your “operating software and system” is thinking and functioning in this Healthy Adult mode, you’re not only making wise, insightful and informed decisions per the life situations that need wisdom, but you’re also co-creating (with God) unforeseen but necessary outcomes that are therapeutic, healing and of course fruitful, for yourself and others around you! These results are possible simply because your whole heart, mind and strength are focused on knowing and growing in love, which leads to skilled behaviors demonstrated by the Healthy Adult that you are! So here’s what the 7 Core Areas may resemble with the addition and application of Wisdom:

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness” –  James 3: 17 – 18 (TNIV).

Healthy Adult Characteristic #3 – HEART

“Love the Lord your God with all (Greek word “Holos,” which is our English word “Whole”) your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”– Matthew 22:37 – 39 (TNIV).

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored in his heart (and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored in his heart).  For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. – Luke 7: 45 (TNIV).

The final Healthy Adult characteristic in this subsection is your Heart. The meaning with this Healthy Adult mode characteristic is when the Love of God permeates your whole person, all your 7 Core Areas, and assists you to think, create then act with wisdom consistently, resulting in skilled and competent living, then your heart (which to the Greeks is the seat of your desires, feelings, affection, and passions) has been changed.

A changed heart means you’re taking life issues that matter to heart, and a changed heart that’s infused with what matters to God recycles then demonstrates loving and wise behavior that breathes life into the heart, soul, and mind of yourself (as self-care is repeated) and repetitiously into the lives of others, because these characteristics are the cornerstone and focus of how Healthy Adults strive to live.

“Be very careful then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…” – Ephesians 5: 15 (TNIV)

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent (Greek word “Arete,” which is our English word Virtue), or praiseworthy, think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received from me, or seen in me, put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” – Philippians 4: 8 – 9 (TNIV).

Suggested Activity: Visit the links in this document to obtain detailed information about love, wisdom and the heart.  As you read, practice your spiritual disciplines to hear from your God then compose your own Column A (Behaviors to Eliminate) and Column B (Adult Behaviors to Demonstrate).  Focus on practicing the Healthy Adult Mode behaviors you’ve identified over 30 – 60 – or 90-day periods of activity.

Skill to developThe ability to demonstrate wise and healthy manifestations of love from and to the heart. 

Next: Spiritual #11: Your Spiritual Healthy Adult Mode Behaviors (Part 2 — Loving Yourself)

Thanks for reading this excerpt from Cultivating Love: Wisdom for Life. As time permits, please visit the other blogs written by Dr. Ken McGill: Daily Bread for Life and “3–2–5–4–24″ for additional information that could be helpful.

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Thank you Dr. McGill!
    I really enjoy your post. I learn so much from them.


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About Dr Ken McGill

Dr. Ken McGill is an ordained minister and has been involved in counseling for more than 25 years. Dr. McGill holds a Bachelor's degree in Religion from Pacific Christian College (now Hope International University), a Certificate of Completion in the Alcohol and Drug Studies/Counseling Program from the University of California at Los Angeles and a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University. Dr. McGill received his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Family Psychology from Azusa Pacific University in May, 2003. Dr. McGill's dissertation focused on the development of an integrated treatment program for the sexually addicted homeless population, and Ken was "personally mentored" by dissertation committee member Dr. Patrick Carnes, a pioneer in the field of sex addiction work. Dr. McGill authored a chapter in the text The Clinical Management of Sex Addiction, with his chapter addressing the homeless and sex addiction. Dr. McGill is also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the States of Texas and California and Mississippi, and is a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, through the International Institute for Trauma and Addictive Professionals (IITAP). Dr. McGill had a private practice in Glendora, CA (Aspen Counseling Center), Inglewood, CA (Faithful Central Bible Church), and Hattiesburg, MS (River of Life Church), specializing in the following areas with individuals, couples, families, groups and psychoeducational training: addictions and recovery, pre-marital, marital and family counseling, issues related to traumatization and abuse, as well as depression, grief, loss, anger management and men's and women's issues. Dr. McGill also provided psychotherapeutic treatment with Student-Athletes on the University of Southern Mississippi Football and Men's Basketball teams. Dr. McGill served as the Director of the Gentle Path Program, which is a seven-week residential program, for people who are challenged with sexual addiction, sexual anorexia, and relationship issues. Dr. McGill also supervised Doctoral students in the Southern Mississippi Psychology Internship Consortium with the University of Southern Mississippi. Dr. McGill was inducted into the Azusa Pacific University Academic Hall of Honor, School of Behavioral and Applied Sciences, in October, 2010. Dr. McGill currently works as a Private practice clinician with an office in Plano, Texas, providing treatment with people who are challenged in the areas mentioned above.


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