Tuesday, November 28 2017
“I’ve got your back…”
Anonymous friend, paraphrased
Good morning, friends! I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving; mine was utterly forgettable, but let’s leave that story for later. We have delayed business for this week. Let’s get to it!
Today’s message is not about me. I promise. It may sound like it but it isn’t. It’s about you, but I have to start with me. This past Friday was a health challenge day for me. It started simple, became more difficult later in the day, and by very early morning Saturday it became complicated. I was down for the count and didn’t know when it would end. That’s not good for ministers; we have Sunday duties. Saturday morning I knew I would not be able to attend to my Sunday duties so I contacted a friend. I hoped he could find a substitute in his network on short notice. Instead, very quickly he replied, “I’ve got your back.” That’s not exactly what he said but that is what I heard. Have you ever heard that? Have you ever said that? It matters.
My youngest child recently suggested that a friend would be an “adult” when he turned 13, no longer a “child”. We talked about that transition and agreed that dates and ages have little to do with maturity. The key, I told him, was the development of the ability to think less of self and more of others in positive ways. If anyone has ever “had your back” as I had this weekend then you know how it feels. It feels great when someone picks you up, cleans up your mess, pays your debt, completes your project, etc. When you need help and someone joyfully provides it is wonderful. Any child could tell you that.
But as I said this message is about you, not me, not my friend, or my son, just you. The child in you says, “I need someone to get my back.” That’s OK. It happens to all of us sometimes. The adult in you, does it ever say, “I’ve got your back.”? That’s what the world needs more of. You have friends who could use a blessing. You meet strangers who could use a blessing. Everybody needs a blessing every now and then. Will the adult in you be a blessing to someone else?
· Who do you know who could use a hand today?
· What do you have in abundance you could use to help someone today?
· What’s keeping you from “having someone’s back” more often?
There’s nothing wrong with needing the hand of blessing once in a while yourself but you have it in you to do more. You have it in you to be the hand of blessing regularly for other persons. Will you? I have faith you will. Try it today, and have a great week!
Monday, November 20 2017
"The reason people should care about this is that anywhere there is groundwater there is almost always going to be challenges in managing it, because it's difficult to see, it's difficult to monitor, it's easy to think that it's everlasting."
Good morning, friends! Did you remember to pack your long johns for the fall trip? I needed mine this morning, that’s for sure! Let’s get to it.
In my line of work disagreements are commonplace. Everyone has an opinion on most things and sometimes the disagreements become arguments. I used to get involved in such give and take until that fateful day I realized we were always disagreeing, arguing, talking about the wrong things. Why did we never talk about the right things? Because they are difficult to see, difficult to monitor, and we think they are everlasting. Whether you know it or not this delusional affliction affects you, too.
Consider a simple list of genuinely valuable aspects of your life: love, friendships, health, mental acuity, and financial security. There may be other important things but this list will do for today. In the course of a day how much time do you spend focused on the maintenance or improvement of one of these values? Probably not much; we take them for granted and generally expect them to be everlasting. Why? Because they are difficult to see and difficult to monitor so we generally avoid them to focus on things more easily controlled.
As a “list” person I know the value of focusing on minor things; marking off easy victories is intoxicating. But some things are hard to “list”, particularly the more important matters. Perhaps they seem too ethereal, or opaque, or obtuse. Whatever, as the old saying goes, “Expect what you inspect.” If you don’t give generous time to your important matters, your truly important matters, what do you expect? Exactly.
·What would a short list of your valuable matters be?
·What would your life look like if you began giving better attention to them?
·What can you do this week to start the process?
I think I’ll contact three friends this week just to communicate. I may do three for many weeks. What will you do? Whatever it is I expect you’ll do great. Happy Thanksgiving, friends! And have a great week.
Monday, November 13 2017
“We make our choices mindfully and then live them mindlessly.”
Ellen Langer, paraphrase
Good morning, friends! Are you ready for a great week? I hope so because your attitude is far more important than you realize. So let’s get to it!
Ellen Langer has been a mindfulness guru for nearly 50 years but her focus is not on the meditation side of things. She specializes in the living side, the working out of what mindfulness means in the daily life. It’s complicated stuff on the one hand, intuitive on the other. Suffice it to say I listened to a podcast interview twice to understand her and may listen a third time. But it is that good.
Take for example today’s quote. It’s spot on. Think of the last big choice you made: a big purchase, a big relationship, a big change, something big and/or meaningful. Most of us are smart enough to be “all in” when we face big choices. We focus, consider, compare, simplify, and do all manner of thinking that requires being pretty present, in the moment, all in. And then once the decision is made we move on through the experience as mindlessly as possible, as “all out” as we possibly can be! We often choose our purchases with great care and then use them as if they are nothing. We take pains to create relationships and once secured take them for granted. We raise our senses of awareness when considering change and then live in the change with indifference. Curious, to say the very least.
Don’t ask me to define “mindfulness” for you beyond “all in” and “consciously aware and appreciative”, yet imagine if we put mindfulness into the majority of life that doesn’t include decisions? If you take one objective step back to look at all the places, spaces and people that make up your life there’s a lot of room for quality of life improvement if you make the mindful living choice. Still, you must ask yourself, “Which has more value: mindful or mindless living?”
· What are five good realities of your work that would make work seem better?
· What three new good things can you notice about each close relationship to create joy in you?
· What good benefits do you have from your latest important purchase, and how can you enjoy it today?
A little change in attitude, or focus, can make a world of difference in your living. Make the mindful choice today and ride a wave of joy. It may be the best choice you make for years! Have a wonderful week!
Monday, November 06 2017
“Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.”
Good morning, friends! I hope you didn’t show up for work an hour early today! Time changed this weekend so let’s not waste any more. Let’s get to it.
Yesterday. Didn’t the Beatles sing a pretty popular song about that place? They may have made a lot of money on the song but I’ll bet they didn’t get there. Nobody can, but boy do we try to drag it along into today. I’ve commented before about my “Hero Theory”, how we all live in the best of our past, and most of us have a “Goat Story”, the failure we just can’t let go of. It’s all a yesterday game.
I doubt I need to tell anyone about Babe Ruth’s story. He was the undisputed King of Swing in baseball during the roaring 20’s. But if there is an unforgiving medium in this culture it is sport; win a championship last year and you can still be a goat if you don’t win this year. Just ask the Cubs. What has this to do with life? Much. Life may be a little more forgiving than sport (mercy, grace, forgiveness, etc.) but not much. Every day is filled with new expectations, opportunities, challenges, and more. Yesterday can’t do much to help today and it can harm it aplenty if we can’t let it go.
Studies and reports consistently show that the most common trait of successful people is showing up every day. Successes and setbacks are regular occurrences but showing up is an absolute must. The Babe knew that and as long as his health held out he did, year after year. What about you?
* Whatever success you have in mind, are you showing up every day?
* Are you taking every day as new or dragging the carcasses of Hero and Goat along?
* What would today look like for you if you just left yesterday out of it?
Take a day, any day, and try to live it on its own terms. Make whatever you can of it. Don’t be constrained by any negative thinking. Just wake up and give the day all you have. I’ll bet you’ll do something great! I have great faith in you, that’s for sure! Have a wonderful week.