Archives For January 2014

Under construction barrierThere are times when we just wish we were done. It may be a project around the house or even a long trip in the car. We simply want to be at the finishing point.

Wouldn’t it be nice if our character was like that? What if we could develop courage and never think about it again?

What if we could learn to love really well and then put that one to rest?

We know that is not how life works. On the other hand, are we daily pursuing the development of our character? It’s actually harder than you think. On the other hand it’s not, in that we have daily opportunities to build upon our character.

Let’s take a look at several aspects of our character.

Courage: every day we are faced with choices between convenience and courage. Paul reminds Timothy that God has not given us the spirit of fear. 1 Timothy 1:6.

Discipline: this is doing today so you can have what you want tomorrow. Just like the boxer trains for the next match so we must do things today with tomorrow in sight. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV).

Delayed Gratification: sometimes we just have to work for something or wait on God’s timing. Jesus faced this in His own ministry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread” (Matthew 4:3 ESV).

Contentment: being thankful for what we have is always a challenge while we are on the journey to attaining or accomplishing more. But godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6 ESV)

Perseverance: the test of your character is what it takes to stop you. This phrase has been repeated countless times. The apostle Paul was able to come to the end of his life saying, I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7 ESV)

Love: this is not to be understood as a noun. It is a verb! That means it takes work just like all the other aspects of character. This one goes right up at the top. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Realize you will never be done. You can’t work on one and then go to the next one. No. You must work at spinning all the plates at the same time. Daily you will have opportunities to continue construction on your character.

How’s the building coming?

 

 

Error iconIn 2 Timothy Paul tells Timothy to fan into flame the gift within him.  Have you ever tried to fan into flame a fire that did not exist?  That’s like trying to stir  up a gift that is not in you.

A few years ago I went to downtown Charlottesville and bought a guitar.  I am not even close to a musician.  So why did I do that?  Because I thought I should work on a weakness.  Who knows, perhaps if I could spend hours upon hours and learn how to play a few chords I could make a difference.  Fat chance!

When I was in college I was not a fan of literature.  As a result, my lack of interest led to me getting a ‘D’ in the class.  My professor called me in to see if she could uncover the problem in my life.  I was straight up with her.  I told her I did not like literature.  Not trying to hurt her feelings, but I was being honest.

So she proceeds to ask how I was doing in my other classes.  Hated to break the news, but I had ‘A’s in all my other classes.  Why?  Because I loved those classes.  They all centered around my major, my main interest, my strength if you will.

In the end I got rid of the guitar.  Buying it was a huge error on my part. I have since given up trying to work on my weaknesses.  Forget about those areas you get a ‘D’ in.  Focus your attention in the area(s) where you get an ‘A.’  That’s where you are truly gifted.  Stir it up as Paul says.

Have you identified what gift or strength you need to stir up or improve upon?

Male And Female Look At Electronic Tablet In ParkWouldn’t  you agree that we have unnecessarily complicated relationships. Sure we overlook some simple things.

But what if we could do some simple things?

That alone would send many marriages to a whole new level.

There really isn’t anything new under the sun. In business it may be more face to face meetings, phone calls, or emails.

In my marriage here is a list of some of my deliberate acts. After you read them write out your own. I am assuming that you have some. If not you need to start ASAP or you will not have a relationship!

I…

1. Take out the trash.

2. Empty the dishwasher.

3. Clean all the toilets.

4. Run menial errands that Carol doesn’t want to do.

5. Go to Sams (because she doesn’t want to).

6. Go to Walmart (same reason as above).

7. Sit and talk.

8. Pick up some of my clutter.

9. Read together in bed.

10. Help with the chickens when it is 10 degrees outside.

11. Do projects around the house together.

12. Do things that are inconvenient for her.

13. Drive her places, like Kohl’s, just to be with her and keep her from doing it alone.

14. Tell her when I’ll be home.

There is nothing major in the above list. Yet they definitely enhance our marriage. As I said, it is not complicated. And still people struggle in their relationships.

It’s time to write out your own list. If you find yourself struggling after you get to number 3, you may have a lot of homework in your future. Your list may be vastly different, because you are not like me and your spouse is not like Carol.

Deliberate acts. Your relationships cannot survive without them!

Working_SteelErectionMost of us have at least a small streak of laziness, procrastination, or lack of focus within us.

On the other hand, we also want our bosses at work to trust us to get the job done.

I don’t remember exactly when it happened for me.  While working for my dad in steel erection it was not unusual for him to pop up on the job site at random times. Actually he tended to show up like some type of stealth bomber.  No one ever saw him drive up, but then all of a sudden there he was!

And if there was a loose bolt on the job he noticed it.  Yes, even if there were 2,368 bolts.  If there was just one loose he saw it.  He simply had that type of uncanny ability.

To be fair dad often showed up just to show up.  He would chat with the guys for a little bit and then off he went.

Then one day I noticed. A month went by and dad never showed up even one time.

While dad never questioned my work or my ability to get the job done, he was not much on verbal affirmation.

His actions however, spoke volumes.

Before, I knew he trusted me, now I KNEW he trusted me.

It reminds me of a verse in Genesis.  While Joseph was in prison “the chief jailer did not supervise anything under Joseph’s charge…”

Why?

He was trustworthy at work.

Can the same be said about you? What can you do today to become even more trustworthy?

When the new iPad came out, called the iPad Air, it had a faster chip, was lighter, thinner, and narrower.

On the outside the wider bezels were narrowed because of advances in technology. The reason for the wider bezels was simply that it was too easy to unintentionally touch the edge of the screen and disrupt your work.

Apple was able to narrow the bezels because they were able to engineer the software to distinguish between intentional and unintentional touches.

Wow! What if we could reengineer all relationships with that type of software.

What if we could eliminate all misunderstandings from a relationship?

What if no feelings were hurt by unintentional acts?

What if there were no more silent treatments?

What if arguments which started due to a misunderstanding became a thing of the past?

What if we could eliminate phrases like:

“That’s not what I said.”

“I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“I had no idea how I was coming across.”

Perhaps we could narrow the bezels in our own relationships if we reengineered out thinking, our habits, our tone of voice, our sensitivity, and our focus on ourselves.

Like the iPad Air, a life with less misunderstandings will lead to happier and more fulfilling relationships.

In  my last two posts I talked about the NFL Playoffs regarding your passion and personal discipline.

Today let’s move to your workplace.

What do the following have in common?

Gossip.

Criticism.

Finger pointing.

Lack of motivation.

Chronic complaining.

Answer: Poor attitude. We can spot it from a distance. We despise it in others, yet we tolerate it in ourselves.

Attitude, the third and final part of your personal PDA, is all important.

Yet all of us are susceptible to a bad attitude. Actually it can happen in an instant.

Life has a way of doing that to us. Our car breaks down or we get a cold right as we are beginning a vacation. Yes, things like this can happen at the worst possible time.

Our attitude affects us, those around us, our view of the future, our assessment of the present, and how determined we will be in facing new challenges.

Our attitude is one of our greatest assets. You know that already. If you could choose between two people with whom to work, little skill/great attitude, or highly skilled/bad attitude, my guess is you are going with the great attitude.

Skills can be taught. Attitudes not so much.

Your attitude is either helping you or hindering you.

The good news is you can choose your attitude.

Choose wisely and live at a higher level. You will be happier and so will those around you!

Once again let’s gain some insight from the NFL Playoffs.  Let me start by saying that everyone knows that Peyton Manning continually attempts to get the defensive line to jump with his unique style of calling signals.

In the San Diego/Denver game I’m sure that was talked about among the coaches and players.  Easy enough.  Or perhaps not so easy.

During the game the defensive line jumped into the neutral zone bringing upon themselves a five yard penalty.  Not once, but several times.

Why?  Lack of discipline.

Actually the game turned out to be decided by just seven points, one touchdown.

In a close game those multiply penalties absolutely kill you.

As I said in the last post just lacking in one of these areas in your personal PDA can kick your butt. Someone said, “If if could kick the person responsible for most of my problems I wouldn’t be able to sit down for a week.”

The defensive line still may not be sitting down!

This is not always as easy as it sounds.  Typically there are several things in our day or week that we simply are not fond of doing.

That’s why it takes discipline.

We know what we need to do.  San Diego knew they needed to be aware of the hard count and not jump.

Discipline is doing what needs to be done even though you don’t want to do it, so you can eventually do what you want to do.

Had San Diego not jumped off sides, they may be still playing.  That’s what they wanted to do.

Discipline, or the lack of discipline kept them from their wants.

Today, identify just one thing that needs your attention and go out and do it.

Before you get the idea that I am a little out of date, I am not talking about digital technology.  Plus most of us have converted to using our phones as our PDAs.

I want to address three huge issues in all of our lives.  As you know I often draw life lessons from the sports world, and while watching this past weekend these three stood out and were difference makers.

If one of these three is missing you may wind up beating yourself.

Let me illustrate.

P is for Passion.  Even sports fans have little desire to watch games that lack passion.  It’s not unusual for NBA fans to skip most of the regular season and only tune in for the playoffs.  I confess, I fit into that category.

During the San Francisco/Carolina game Steve Smith brought the passion in the first half.  However, after he got banged up he showed less passion.  As his passion subsided so did the teams.

It’s not unusual for one person on a team to fuel the passion for the rest of the team.  During the second half as Carolina’s passion weakened the game eventually got away from them.

A high level of passion would have made a difference in the second half and perhaps changed the outcome of the game.

Passion alone can sometimes make all the difference.

So when you head out the door take passion with you.  Take it to work.  Take it to your next meeting. Take it to your next conversation.

Passion; How is the first trait of your personal PDA?

IMG_0089Several years ago our family took a road trip out west. Actually we have taken several. On this particular trip we were visiting the Badlands in South Dakota. To set the stage it was hot and unbearable weather to camp in.

So we planned to leave and drive east until we found a hotel to stay in. Unfortunately as I returned to the car, anxious to leave and get out of the heat, I noticed we had a flat tire.

Of course, flat tires are not a big deal.  That’s what spare tires are for. However, I’m not a fan of changing tires in 100 degree temperatures.

I was able to talk the rest of the family into leaving, much to their chagrin. We had brought along a 12-volt air pump so I was able to put some air in the tire. I knew that with the heat, if I kept driving the tire would stay hot enough to retain adequate air pressure.

Now I am not recommending you try that unless you have the heat in your favor as well as the size of the hole in your tire. Let’s face it, if you have a slice in your tire this will not work.

Be that as it may, we pumped up the tire and jumped on to the interstate. Exits are not close together, but I did stop at the first exit to check the air pressure. It was fine, so on we went.

We finally found an exit with a really nice hotel. In fact, we actually fell in love with the place. It had very clean rooms, large indoor swimming pool, and a nice breakfast.

To top it off there was a full service gas station right across the street which made it easy to get the tire fixed before anyone got up the next morning.

Too often in life we allow setbacks or unfortunate circumstances to dictate our mood. Yes, I have actually succumbed to such things.

But if we had not had the flat tire we would not have found a hotel chain that we wound up staying at again at a future time.

Not only that we had a great time and all of agreed that the flat tire turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

We are several days into 2014. Like me you have your trip planned out, but have you thought about the setbacks? They are coming, and you may have to rewrite your travel plans.

In many ways January is the height of the losing season.  College football games, the NFL Playoffs, and personal reminders about 2013.

After all, that’s where New Year’s Resolutions came from.  Failures or losses from the previous year are acknowledged and drive us into a new year.

Losses.  Sometimes that’s where our focus is.  Losses happen.  If everyone won all the time there would be no inspiration to change.

Many losses sting for a long time.  Whether it’s a championship game or a marital breakup or the loss of a job.

You can’t just shake it off in five minutes or five days or even five months.

Let’s admit it hurts.  But let’s not quit playing.

5 Ways to Comeback After a Loss

1. Expect some horrible days. That’s normal.

2. Don’t take it personally.  Yes, you experienced a loss, but that does not mean you are a loser. Auburn lost the National Championship game.  Trust me.  They are not a bunch of losers.  Neither are you unless you pack it in and quit.

3. You may have to forgive someone.  He missed a tackle, your spouse forgot it was your anniversary, or someone forgot to pick you up from the mechanics.  Forgive and move forward.

4. Lose the guilt.  We spend too much time focusing on what we did to contribute to the loss.  The truth is you alone were likely not responsible for the loss.

5. Get back in the game. Never forget that others are watching. Your kids, your coworkers, and your teammates.  Write down on a piece of paper what you think a winner would do after a devastating defeat.  Then go do that.  You know what to do.

Fascinating. You already know what to do.  You already know the answer to the question, How do you come back after a loss?