It’s About People Dummy

This morning I received a phone call from a coworker telling me about how another coworker of ours had died. To say I was shocked is an understatement. Death has a way of doing this thing where it creeps up on us, rearing its ugly head when we least expect it. I’ve heard it said how we never know what a day may hold until we actually enter into it and experience things much like turning of the pages of a good book to reveal what the story holds, but today’s story wasn’t starting out too good.

Driving to my mother’s house, I had some time so I decided to pray for this young man’s family. Having lived through the death of my youngest son ten years ago, and my father just last year, I found myself in a very introspective mood as I prayed. I began to think to myself about my coworker and the interactions we had in the few years I knew him. As I was thinking along these lines, I was reminded of a scene from the movie Master & Commander in which the captain of the ship gives a eulogy for a crew member who has died.

The simple truth is, not all of us become the men we once hoped we might be. But we are all God’s creatures. If there are those among us who thought ill of Mr. Hollom, or spoke ill of him, or failed him in respect of fellowship. . . then we ask for your forgiveness, Lord. And we ask for his. God be praised.

As I mulled this scene over in my mind I couldn’t help but wonder if I had failed this man at work in the respect of fellowship. I know I didn’t think or speak ill of him, but did I do everything I could have in being a good person to him? Which then led me to question my interactions with everyone I come in contact with. As I said I was in an introspective mood, and if I was to answer honestly, I probably have not done the best with people in the respect of fellowship. Let me say here and now, if you’re reading this and I have ever treated you in any way which made you feel anything other than valued and validated by me, please forgive me.

You know it is so easy to give lip service to ideas without truly living up to them. What’s worse though is when you give lip service to something you believe in, and actually think you are living up to it. And that is where I found myself during this time of travel this morning; realizing I have been real good at talking about it, just not so good at walking it out. Man I love these times when God shows up and stirs my pot so to speak. It’s painful to come to this type of realization, but at the same time if you can push past the fact you have fallen short in an area, ask His forgiveness and make the necessary changes, life can be so much better.

At 57, I realize God is not through with me yet. (Thank You Jesus!) And while I was never intentionally mean to my coworker, I could have been a better man in regards to my fellowship with him; asking about his life, family, hopes and dreams. While it may be too late to do this with him now, it’s not too late for me to make changes with everyone else I come into contact with. And this is what I intend to do, and promised God I would start doing.

This isn’t a quick fix, and truthfully I’m not really even sure what this is going to look like; after all I’ve had 57 years to become the way I am, and I am smart enough to know it’ll take time to make changes. But I do know this, somedays I’ll do great and others I may not, but like in all the great stories, the sun always shines a little bit brighter after there is a gloomy day. So on the days where I miss it and perhaps fail in terms of offering fellowship to those around me, I’ll get up the next day, quote Lamentations 3:23 and try again.

For the Kingdom and the King, shalom!

The Little Foxes

In the book of Songs 2:15 NLT Solomon says, “Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming!” I find it very interesting this is in the book about love and marriage. One thing I’ve learned in almost 30 years of marriage, is it’s not the big things that try to make a shambles of my relationship with my bride, it’s the stupid little things. Just like water dripping on a rock constantly doesn’t appear to be doing anything, but over time it will wear away at the rock until it is destroyed. This one thing would change the course of marriages around the world.

Stop allowing the little things to mess up the relationship you have with your spouse. You know what I’m talking about too, those little irritants which eventually become big things which cause the death of marriages. The pet peeves, which to other people are nothing, but to you cause aggravation. I’ll give you an example from my own life. For some reason my bride never puts her seatbelt on until we’re driving down the road. I mean, how hard is it to buckle up before putting the car into gear? But even though it bugs me that she does this, I’ve learned to just put it out of my mind, looking at it as one of those little idiosyncrasies which make me love her all the more. It’s a matter of perspective, much like everything else in life.

Now looking at this Scripture and using the law of opposites we can see if little things can destroy your marriage, then it’s possible that doing little things can also make your marriage better. For instance, I don’t wait for my bride to say something about taking out the trash, I make sure it is done before she has too. I look for little things I can do to help to make her life a little bit better. I’m amazed at how many men gripe and complain about their wives. Getting all indignant when they’ve been asked to empty the dishwasher or do a load of wash. Really? Is it more important to make this a big thing when in actuality it is just a tiny thing which can help you in the long run? After all we all know if momma ain’t happy, then nobody is happy. Right?

Let me write this where the fellas can understand it just a little bit better. If you want to have sex with your wife, then doing little things to make your marriage better will help with this. What woman  wants to have sex with a guy who gripes about having to do things around the house? Doing things for your bride pays dividends unlike anything else out there in the world. And ladies sex motivates guys, it’s the truth regardless of what you think. Maybe you could use this to your advantage, and I don’t mean as a tool to get what you want, but if your husband is making an effort, then do a little something’ somethin’ for him, you’ll be amazed.

Let’s start doing little things to make our marriages better, and stop doing the things which hinder it. After all, most of those little things are really stupid and we shouldn’t give them any attention any way, right?

Living out God’s Word in everyday life!

 

Who Changes Your Mind?

“I should’ve done more!”  “I could’ve done more!” “What could I have done to make them change?”  “I should’ve said more!”  “I should’ve loved more!”  

These are all thoughts which have run through my mind at one time or another when it came to situations I’ve had in my relationships with people. These thoughts usually come during a time where things aren’t going the way I think they should, or had hoped they would. For many years I tried, (unsuccessfully I might add) to get people around me to see the error of their ways by trying to get them to live by my convictions. It took several years, and many arguments for me to realize the impossibility of this.

I really came to understand this when people would try to get me to make changes in my own life by telling me what I needed to do. I found it very aggravating when they didn’t agree with things I felt were okay in my life, and would try to force me to change. They were never able to get me to see their convictions as my own, and consequently I came to the realization I couldn’t change anyone else’s convictions either. This was one of the most freeing in days of my life too. It meant I no longer had to try and police the lives of those around me, and was finally able to focus on my life and what I was doing.

In James 4:17 it says, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” Look closer at what it says here, it is sin to know what YOU ought to do and then not do it. James is not telling us to pay attention to what others are doing, he is telling us to focus on what we ought to be doing. This is where I was missing it, and where so many other people miss it too. God never called anyone to point out the mistakes or missteps of others. He called us to follow Him and to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12) In plain english this means God wants you to focus on your own walk with Him and not so much the walk of others.

I don’t mean God wants you to ignore the lives of the people around you. He wants you to be a positive influence on everyone you meet, He just doesn’t need you pointing out everything they do wrong. One of the things I’ve learned in 53 years is I already know when I’m doing something wrong and really don’t need it pointed out. Most of the time, I’m already beating myself up about it anyway. The thing which helps me the most, is seeing someone live out what I’m struggling with in a positive way. When I see someone else overcoming whatever thing I’m struggling with, then I know there is hope for me as well.

Truthfully when someone points out what I’m doing wrong and tells me about it, I just want to scream, “Don’t tell me!” like Arthur Spooner from the sitcom King of Queens. I’m sure it’s the same with you too, none of us like to be told what to do. I’ve found out if I’ll spend more time on what I’m supposed to be doing in my life and stop telling others what to do with theirs, things become much simpler. And as the old acronym K.I.S.S. says; “Keep It Simple Stupid”.

Let’s stop pointing out the things other people can do to change their lives, and work on our own. Because I believe when we get our house in order and follow the Lord the way He wants us to, it will cause those around us to do what it is says in 1 Peter 3:15;

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Living for Jesus with an honest and transparent life…

Oh Crap, I’m Frank Shirley!

I love the movie “Christmas Vacation” with all its goofiness and one-liners.  I was thinking about people this morning, and what value I place on them when I had an image of Frank Shirley; Clark Griswold’s boss pop into my head.

At the end of the movie, Cousin Eddy has kidnapped Frank and brings him to Clark as a Christmas present.  After Clark tells him what a lousy thing he’s done by suspending all the Christmas bonuses, Frank reconsiders the decision he made and says, “Sometimes things look good on paper, but lose their luster when you see how it affects real folks. I guess a healthy bottom line doesn’t mean much if to get it, you have to hurt the ones you depend on. It’s people that make the difference. Little people like you. So, Carl… whatever you got last year, add… 20%.”

It is a feel good moment in the movie, but I know I wasn’t thinking about this scene today just so I could have a chuckle.  No, it is because if I was to be totally honest with you, the truth is; I am Frank Shirley when it comes to people and the relationships in my life.

I have to remind myself daily people are important and have not been placed in my way just to cause me problems. Okay, so this is not the best revelation about me I’ve ever shared, but it’s true none the less.

I’m a driven person who likes to get things done.  For me, if I’ve got something on my to-do list, then I’ve got to check it off the list before taking time to do anything else, including spending any time talking, or developing my relationship with others.  I guess this makes me look like a jerk even though I’m not; I just have this need deep down inside to finish what I’ve started before doing anything else.

I’ve heard it said the most important thing in life are the relationships we make.  I have to ask myself, how well have I done this?  At the end of my life what will be said about me?  Will there be hundreds of people at my funeral saying I was a good man who loved his family and friends well, or will the consensus be I was a good man, but one who placed a higher priority on getting stuff done instead of people?

This kind of makes me think maybe I am a jerk.  I don’t want to be thought of this way, so it looks like a change is in order.  Where do I go from here?  How do I learn to place a higher value on people than I do right now?  Will it take being kidnapped by someone’s crazy family member to get me to the place where I’ll make the necessary changes?  I hope not.

Help me out here, what things do you do to build and develop the relationships in your life?  How do you juggle the need to get things done, and not pushing people aside while you’re doing them?  Post in the comments please, because I don’t want to be Frank Shirley anymore.

Now you know what I think, tell me what you think.