Without a doubt a couple tends to put more time into planning a wedding than they do their marriage. Now I totally understand. In one sense they assume they are completely ready for what’s coming. Unfortunately that is not always the case. Now I don’t want to add to the bad press that marriage gets. I only want to point out that we can do better.
However, that does not mean that marriage is destined to be hard and difficult. Could it be that too many of us make it more difficult than is necessary?
One exercise that I encourage and find helpful is to simply take the ABC’s and come up with 26 helpful principles that will add value to the marriage.
So here is a sample. But I would encourage you to come up with your own.
A – Attitude. We all know that our attitudes can change for the worse quickly, even over small things. Just getting cut off in traffic can ruin our whole day. It shouldn’t. Chose to maintain a positive attitude. You will be glad you did.
B – Books. I once heard someone say that they had never encountered a problem that they could not read their way out of. So read some good books on marriage. Before you have problems. Keep one on the night stand next to your bed.
C – Communication. Some have called this the KEY to a great marriage. The reason this is sometimes difficult is that men communicate facts and women communicate feelings. Those are very different. But the only way to understand your spouse is to communicate.
D – Dream. Together. Plan your next vacation. Have a bucket list of things you want to do together. Start planning next summer’s vacation today. Why wait? I love doing this with Carol. She is better at some things. I am better at others. I can plan schedules, driving distances to be covered, and where we need to stay. Carol fills in the details, those things I forget about. And she is better at packing cars and suitcases. Marriage is better together.
In my next post we will look at more of The ABC’s of Marriage.
Are you ready to write your own list?
This is a guest post by my 17-year-old son, Gabe Henderson. He's in 11th grade and wrote this article for a school assignment. His interests include skiing and golf, and he runs a Minecraft server in his spare time.
Have you ever wanted to do something big, but all you get are little jobs? Frustration is understandable. We love doing the big things because we get more recognition that way. And of course, we love recognition, so the big, important things are typically what we strive to do.
If you find yourself suffering from a lack of recognition, then you should meet David.
The Israelites had a major problem: a group called the Philistines who lived nearby. They were a cruel, barbaric faction that seemed to enjoy attacking them. Eventually, King Saul of Israel took his army out to fight the Philistines, but the Philistines had a secret weapon — a giant man named Goliath. Goliath fought the terrified Israelites single-handedly.
King Saul himself was scared, but who wouldn’t be? Goliath was so terrifying that he could only be described as monstrous. The reward for killing the giant was great. So great in fact, that anyone would be after it, right? Wrong. Everyone in Saul’s army was afraid after watching many others be defeated by the giant. It wasn’t just Goliath’s monstrous strength, but his stature. Goliath stood over nine feet tall, and he wore the best armor that the Philistines could offer. No Israelite had enough confidence to volunteer…until David came along.
David was not a soldier. He just took care sheep, all day, every day. As a shepherd, he spent his days out in fields protecting his sheep from harm and from wild animals. While that may sound exciting, it wasn’t an everyday thing for sheep to be attacked. It was more likely that they would wander off, and he would have to retrieve them.
David’s brothers, however, were on the battlefront, where David thought they were fighting for the good of Israel. Unfortunately, the giant Goliath stopped all progress in that area. This was unknown to David’s father, who instructed him to take some food rations out to his brothers. Upon arrival, David heard the shouts of Goliath. Of course, the shouts were not very friendly. They were mostly taunts toward Israel, mocking everything from their manhood to God himself.
David was outraged. It was because of his lowly job of shepherding that David had the confidence to say, “I will stop this giant. My God and I will do it!” After all, several times in his career as a shepherd, David was protected by God from animals like lions or bears. This gave David the confidence that God would protect him.
That’s exactly what happened. David went to a stream, and found five, perfect stones. He took one of the stones, put it into his slingshot, and met Goliath on the battlefield. Goliath roared with scorn when he saw the puny David approaching. David took no notice of the taunts, and simply hurled his stone at the giant. A soft “plunk” was heard, and then Goliath was no longer boasting, but falling. Falling face forward into the dirt and showing no signs of getting back up. David had won.
What about you? Do you feel like God only wants you to do small things that nobody notices? It just may be that God is using these small jobs to prepare you for something great. 1 Corinthians 10 says “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” It worked for David, and it’s the best way for you to live your life, too.
Recently I had coffee with a friend who had worked with Lou Gerstner, one of my favorite CEO’s. Back in the 1990’s IBM was about to go under. They reported the biggest corporate loss of all time, and Gerstner was brought in to restructure and rebuild the company.
While initially IBM was forced to lay people off, today they boast a workforce of 400,000 and the company is thriving. However, in the midst of the turmoil Gerstner fired the #1 producer in the company!
Why would he do that? Because the employee operated against the cultural value of teamwork. On a side note I totally understand. At New Hope Church we believe people are hurting and living with a great deal of stress. The church should be the one place they can come and be accepted and welcomed. If you have a hard time accepting everyone, then you would be uncomfortable in a leadership role at New Hope. One of our core tenets is a welcoming atmosphere.
Back to IBM. After they fired their #1 producer what was the fallout? There wasn’t one. The company never missed a beat.
Think about it. The #1 producer was not indispensable.
As Seth Godin said in his book Linchpin, “Every day, bosses, customers, and investors make hard choices about whom to support and whom to eliminate, downsize, or avoid.”
In most fields tenure is no longer a guarantee. You must show up every day living out the company values.
Perhaps now you know the answer to the question, “Are you indispensable?”
A little girl starts out having princess birthday parties. She dresses up. She starts looking around and asking Am I pretty enough?
Then she becomes a teenager and asks Am I thin enough? In college she wonders Am I smart enough? When she moves along in her career she asks Am I successful enough? She gets married and her thoughts are Am I good enough? With the first child comes Am I providing enough?
The questions, the doubts, and the scarcity mindset flood our insecure minds. We jump on Facebook and Instagram and count up the number of likes. Do I have enough likes? Probably not. In fact, enough never is quite enough. So we continue to live in shame, insecurity, and self doubt.
What if there was some truth in the idea that we will never measure up? What if that was, in some ways, good news?
One of the more fascinating passages in the Bible is in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10. Fascinating because this particular passage is right in the middle of several chapters of genealogies. Most skip these. After all they don’t tend to hold our attention very well.
There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request. (NLT)
Just two verses. But notice his attitude. He knew he was lacking and that was a good thing. It was that feeling of not being enough that drove Him to the Lord to ask for God’s blessing on his life. God has enough; actually, He has plenty. When I was a little boy I went to my dad because he had more than I did.
Before we get to Jabez, we have to read through forty-three other names. Why is Jabez given two verses? The writer of the book of Chronicles puts an emphasis on prayer in the book. Could it be that he stopped at Jabez because Jabez put an emphasis on prayer in his own life?
As a believer, one of the healthiest attitudes we can have is one of scarcity, which in turn leads us to an attitude of abundance because we have been driven to God in prayer. God’s abundant grace is available to those who pray. Our focus is taken off of ourselves and put on the Lord. That’s healthy.
Apparently Jabez’s life didn’t start out so well. We are not given the details and it really doesn’t matter. The family may have had very little, or perhaps his mother was a single mom, or maybe his mother died in childbirth.
Just as the writer of Chronicles did not focus on Jabez’ background, so it also doesn’t matter where you find yourself at this particular stage in your life. Perhaps you are living in an era of scarcity. Don’t let that discourage you. Let it drive you to prayer so that God can change your attitude to one of abundance.
That is what happened for Jabez. He began to ask God to bless him, enlarge his territory, and provide protection so that his life would never go back to a point where he was living without God’s help.
Let’s break this passage into three parts, which will lead to three action items–three things you need to do.
Oh, that you would bless me…
1. Pray every day for God’s abundance. It may be that you need more patience. Maybe it’s more kindness. We could all use a little more self control. I don’t know what you need to pray for, but when God invades your life and abundance is noticed, God is glorified.
By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. John 15:8 (ESV)
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23a (NLT)
God is able to produce abundance in your life. So ask for it.
…expand my territory!
2. Get ready for more. If you are praying for ten more clients, are you ready to service ten more clients? Maybe you aren’t ready, so God hasn’t answered your prayer yet.
Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!
3. Stay dependent. Once God blesses you, there will be the temptation to believe you did it through your personality, your talents, your giftedness, or your training. Don’t fall into that trap.
Listen to Zechariah 4:6 (ESV) Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.
Let go of your scarcity attitude and replace it with an attitude of abundance.
For me my dad was my role model when it comes to work. Granted, he could be called a workaholic with total justification. And he did go overboard. Perhaps it had something to do with his childhood. He never finished the 8th grade, and his family was very poor with little indoor plumbing, if you know what I mean. Let’s just say that if you had to go to the bathroom in the winter time you made it quick!
However, he taught me some things that will always be a part of me.
Another person who I have admired from a distance is Jack Welch, the well known former CEO of GE. Once he was asked about the secret to success.
Without hesitating he unequivocally said, “Find out what your boss wants and then over-deliver.”
My dad personified that.
Here were a few of his work rules. I use the word rules because in my dad’s way of thinking this is simply the way it is. Any other approach was simply unacceptable.
1. Show up ten minutes early. Hit the ground running. Walk around and make sure everyone has what they need to start the day. We all know how easy it is to waste the first ten minutes of a work day.
2. Stay late. Walk around the job site and start planning for the next day. Even today successful business people suggest that one of their secrets to success is planning the next day the day before.
3. Know what your boss wants done. For those of us working for dad this was easy. He was more than very clear as to what he expected.
4. Then exceed those expectations. Here is how it played out for my dad. He was a crane operator in the steel erection business. While the guys were eating lunch my dad would wipe down the crane and keep it spotless. Put an emphasis on “spotless” and you get an idea of what I am talking about. That would exceed anyone’s expectations. And no one would ever expect you to do it during lunch!
5. Never lower the bar. My dad never did.
And one day someone noticed. Outside the company. When this particular person was looking for a business partner for his company, he thought of my dad. And my dad was offered an opportunity that changed his life.
My dad never set out to run and own his own business. It was the furthest thing from his mind. He didn’t set out to be different. He never set out to WOW others.
He just did those five things and he stood out at work. And it paid off in a big way. Anyone can do these five things. This week you can stand out at work.
Will you? It’s your choice.
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?
How many of us charge into the New Year determined that this year will be different?
So we set off and begin setting goals, some ambitious but unattainable. Some marginal but uninspiring. Some too far in the future and unclear.
Nonetheless, we set out writing down how this year will be different.
Weight and physical fitness. Check.
Get out of debt. Check.
Date night once a month. Check.
Stop smoking. Check.
Now that we are one week into the New Year are we satisfied that we are on track?
Or is it possible that we have overlooked the most important of all?
What about some Soul Resolutions? Quite simply, these have to do with seemingly intangibles of life. Although in many respects they are not.
How many of us have addressed our irritability with the proper resolution? Oh sure, we say things like, “This year I am going to be less irritable.” And that’s it. We have done nothing to address the issue other than simply “Say it.”
For the record go ahead and add to the list things like moodiness, pride, obnoxiousness, resentment, and anger. I can’t tell you how many people I know who will continue to struggle with these unless their soul changes.
All of us will continue to damage our own lives and those around us if we neglect our soul.
With that in mind let me give you five quick hits for your soul.
1. Spend fifteen minutes a day reading your Bible and praying.
2. Pray for people you know who are hurting and serve them in any way you can. Sometimes all you can do is pray.
3. Connect with others regularly in order to share your burdens and also allow them to share theirs.
4. Give regularly and generously to the church you attend. Yesterday at New Hope we heard the testimony of a family who began tithing two years ago and how it changed their lives.
5. Pray for those you now who do not attend church and invite them when appropriate. Once again, at New Hope I am starting a series January 12 entitled, Faith in the Midst of Pain and Suffering. At the core it is a message about the soul. And it will be very helpful for anyone you know.
Those five things are not hard to do. They do not take a lot of time. The downside is you cannot measure the health of your soul in a week’s time or sometime a year. As I mention earlier, we have a family that now two years later one of their soul resolutions is very visible.
As the New Year gets underway in earnest this week, and you look over your aspirations for 2014, ask Am I Missing Something?
Growing up my dad was a strong proponent of hard work. Physical labor was always admired and held in high esteem in our house.
Now while I was more than ready to work, I also had a fondness for reading. Even as a kid I would sometimes sit and read in an encyclopedia. In fact, back then our family would purchase the yearly update to the World Book Encyclopedia. I would always find time to read part of that yearly volume.
Now that I am in the ministry I continue to read, about 500 pages per week. I am always reading, researching, and writing.
One of the hardest mental concepts I have had to overcome is that I am really working even when physical labor is not involved. Ministry includes things like reading, writing messages, meeting with people, and praying. And while the apostle Paul said that he labored in praying, most people cannot identify prayer alongside hard labor.
Abraham Lincoln grew up in an agrarian society in which physical labor was highly valued. Yet Lincoln found himself reading.
Of course, in his day, reading was somewhat frowned upon. His own cousin considered him lazy, actually very lazy. To the cousin all Lincoln wanted to do was read and write poetry.
However, it was his reading that eventually paved the way for him to seek the presidency of the United States. Somewhere along the way he became comfortable challenging the old concept that placed a high value on physical labor and a low value on reading and writing.
Somewhere in the recesses of your mind you are holding on to a concept that may be holding you back from being who you were meant to be. Whatever your vision, it may not be encouraged by your peers.