Monday, November 30 2020
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
John F. Kennedy
Good morning, friends! I hope your Thanksgiving experience was wonderful in some way and safe in every way. We live in challenging times, but these are our times. Now, let’s get to it.
I understand that I am a wordy person. It’s not just that I love words; I treasure them. And as the great philosopher Sting once wrote (no pun intended), “Poets, priests and politicians, have words to thank for their positions.” So I accept the power that words play in my life. But I also understand that words have limited power in important ways, maybe in the most important ways.
One of the most eventful experiences of my work is the funeral. Emotions are high and deep. In many cases we are at our very most vulnerable. And I find words to be the least effective tools in these times. No one ever remembers the words of a funeral. What we remember are the actions. Who was there? Who helped me in some way when I was most down? These actions stick with us.
I’m not suggesting that words don’t matter; they do! We long to hear kind words, affirming words, sincere words and more. We know how good words can be. And how bad. But we also know that words are not the best expression of any emotion, thought or idea. Actions are.
The former President speaks of the connection between gratitude and action. Did you think of that connection last week? As you were counting your blessings as thankfulness, did you equally count your opportunities to show thankfulness as well as speak it? That’s the challenge. We default to words when we should be aspiring to actions.
So the next time an idea, or an emotion, or anything that calls words from you arises, challenge yourself to think of any action or three that might convey the same point. And this time default to the actions. You may begin a trend that will change your life. Have a wonderful week!
Monday, November 23 2020
“The secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda.”
John C. Maxwell
Good morning, friends! I hope your weekend was blessed in many ways. Mine was a bit crazy, but today is a new day. Let’s get to it!
Success is a topic I’ve studied off and on for 35 years. From the time I started college in earnest I’ve been fascinated by less the question of who is successful and more by the question of why were they successful. And what I’ve learned has both fascinated me and formed me. It all has to do with the matter of magnitude.
We tend to view success through the lens of greatness, which is not entirely the same thing. Still, big successes are complicated matters; it takes a ton of factors, all working together in the right way. No one can predict or plan for great success. All one can do is prepare for and plan for the near future. On the other extreme, the success that is reachable for every one of us is the experience mostly affected by our own efforts.
· If you (or I) move effectively every day for one year, regardless of whatever else happens, we will be far healthier.
· If you (or I) consistently make simple choices that have a long-term view, instead of immediate satisfaction, we will have greater wealth.
· If you (or I) reach out to people in friendly ways every day for years we will have more quality relationships than we can count.
· If you (or I) seek self-improvement every day for one, two, or ten years we will climb ladders we once thought too high.
If you are looking closely, you should notice that the key to everyday successes that are important for your life is your daily agenda, or, put another way, daily habits. What you do today, intentionally, and tomorrow, and every day after that affects your life in the most powerful ways, certainly in ways you control.
ü Did you begin today with a success-oriented agenda?
ü Do you have ideas of the successes you want?
ü What would be a good habit for tomorrow to enable success?
Remember this: you are far more in control of the everyday, ordinary successes that matter to your life than anything else. It’s your habits, or daily agenda, that make the difference. Nothing else. Get to it!
And happy Thanksgiving!
Monday, November 16 2020
“If you don’t sow, you don’t reap. You don’t even have a chance.”
Good afternoon, friends! I hope you are blessed today. Actually, I know you are blessed today; what I really hope is that you know it, and show it. But on to bigger things. Let’s get to it.
The older I get (and at 55 I do feel old…) the more I realize that the most important truths in life are pretty simple, pretty few and pretty powerful. We clutter our lives with so many cliches and truisms that we too often forget what is of most importance. I’m on a quest to remember and reflect those most important, simple truths.
And today’s truth is a perfect example. Reaping and sowing. The apostle Paul famously said, “A person will reap what they sow.” That truth is so simple it can stand up to the one of the most basic mathematical theories we all learned, the commutative property. In case you have forgotten, when adding or multiplying numbers, the order of the numbers will not affect the outcome of the solution. 2 x 3 = 6 just as much as 3 x 2 = 6. The same is true for our quote.
You reap what you sow. If you don’t reap, you don’t sow. Both equally true, but not equally remembered, kind of like the commutative property (it’s OK if you didn’t remember it.). Why does this simple truth matter? Because our lives are incredibly dependent on our sowing, completely dependent perhaps. Whatever you are experiencing in your life, in any measure or any area, you have and/or are sowing it. You reap what you sow. Conversely, if you want anything other than what you are experiencing, you MUST begin to sow it. If you don’t, you won’t reap.
You may be struggling with my simplicity today, but I promise you that you likely have some “wants” or even “needs” that are not being met in your life. And you may be blaming the lack on someone else, or some circumstance, or God knows what else. I’m reminding you it’s a business of reaping and sowing. And it isn’t too late.
To quote Mr. Rohm, if you want even a chance at something, anything, you’d better get to the business of sowing it. Otherwise, the harvest will be pretty dead. But if you do, the chances are great you’ll have a nice harvest. That’s incredibly simple stuff, but even more incredible is how often I forget it. Now you know, and have a wonderful week!
Monday, November 09 2020
“It is the mother of gratitude that gives birth to happiness.”
Good morning, friends, and thank you for welcoming me back! Last week our internet was out for a few days after the big storm rolled through town, but I’m back at it and here it is! Let’s get to it!
Only once is my ministry have I seen more clearly the grand interplay of scripture and my world: 9/11. In that case it was evil. Anyone with eyes could see it, and I consider myself naïve for not seeing it all the time, but for that week I saw it clearly. Recently I’m having another “eyes opened” experience and kicking myself for being slow. This time it is happiness, or joy, whatever the word, the feeling of goodness inside. What I’m seeing is how cheaply we value our inner goodness and therefore give it away for nothing.
The quote-master for today cobbled together three common “traps” of our happiness. They are not thieves; we give our inner goodness away for little or nothing. What are the supposed traps? Postponing happiness, making others happy first, and contrast/comparison. I’m sure there are other traps, but these will do for the most part.
Postponing happiness is the idea, “I will be happy when…” When? When get more money, or reach a goal, or rid myself of some hindrance, or anything really that is in the future. Making others happy first is self-evident. And contrast/comparison is placing our happiness in the hands or experience of someone else. With the recent election I’ve witnessed many people gain a new happy face, and many other people lose their happy face. Ironically, this awareness makes me sad.
Before I go too far, let me get to the point. Value to the highest degree your happiness/joy. Be aware of the traps that can easily diminish it, and don’t give your happiness away for nothing. Happiness traps are everywhere! Be grateful and protective, and live a better life with your inner goodness glowing. And have a wonderful week!
1 John 4:4