Is Your Gratitude Obvious to Others?

GratitudeA few years ago, I read everything I could find by Henri Nouwen.

His writings were formative and very encouraging.  On one occasion, I read his book Gracias.  The book is actually a journal chronicling Nouwen’s time spent in Peru and Bolivia.  Near the end of the book, he writes:

The title of this journal summarizes what I found, learned, and heard.  The word that I kept hearing, wherever I went, was: Gracias!  It sounded like the refrain from a long ballad of events.  Gracias a usted, gracias a Dios, muchas gracias — thank you, thanks be to God, many thanks!  I saw thousands of poor and hungry children, I met many young men and women without money, a job, or a decent place to live.  I spent long hours with sick, elderly people, and I witnessed more misery and pain than ever before in my life.  But in the midst of it all, that word lifted me again and again to a new realm of seeing and hearing: Gracias!  Thanks!  (Henri Nouwen, Gracias!, p. 187)

Question:

When have you felt particularly moved by someone’s gratitude?  What made the situation particularly moving?

 

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

Writing
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This post received 580 comments!   See Rachel Gardner on “Writing a One Sentence Summary.” A very good post for anyone who attempts to write.

Hero of the year

I like this!  CNN has posted their nominees for “Hero of the year.”  These stories are inspiring and encouraging.

Hesitant to throw anything away?

See this piece from The New York Times.  Jane Brody has written a fine post, “It’s Time to Say Good-Bye to All that Stuff.  (I needed to read this!)  I put a link here last week.  You may have missed it.  Here it is again.

Preparing presentations?

If you make presentations (talks, messages, classes, sermons, and any other presentation before a group), I encourage you to visit Nancy Duarte’s website as well as Victoria Labalme’s website. Some very helpful and practical material here.  I have read two of Duarte’s books, slide-ology and Resonate.  Both of these books are good and were very helpful in helping me think through the creation of a presentation.  Her most recent Ted talk is “The secret structure of great talks.”

Ministry Inside.99

mask_photography4But what will people think?

Years ago, Charlotte and I were walking across a parking lot of a large church building in Kansas City.  We had an appointment with a marriage therapist.  This was our first visit with him.

I was nervous.

I was nervous that someone who I knew might see me.   I was nervous they would find out that we were going to a counselor to talk about our marriage.

The truth is that I was more concerned about how we looked, than the reality of our our lives.

No, we were not in a crisis.  We were not dealing with any sort of trauma or disaster within our marriage.  But, we were dealing with an important issue.

We were stuck.

We knew we needed to make some real adjustments but we were unsure what to do.

Yet, I was not as concerned at that moment about addressing those realities as I was the appearance.  I was more concerned about the possibility of another’s perception than the reality of our relationship.

This is not a good place to be.  In fact, it is embarrassing to think about this now.  Yet, sometimes church leaders can find themselves worrying more about a possible perception instead of addressing the reality of their lives.

Unfortunately, this can get even worse.  Church leaders can attempt to control and shut down what their family members are actually experiencing.

Church leaders can communicate to their families that they need to act like everything is ok, even when it isn’t. There are some real consequences to this behavior. 

Free Copy of Tim Keller’s New Book to Be Given Away

KellerLike many, I have been blessed by Tim Keller’s books.  Keller’s newest book, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work (written with Katherine Leary Alsdorf) will no doubt be an interesting and helpful.

This Friday, one copy of this book will be given away in a drawing to readers of this blog.  Don’t miss this opportunity to win a copy of this new book.  You can enter this drawing by simply leaving a comment below.

In EVERY GOOD ENDEAVOR, both Christian and non-Christian readers will find insight for such important questions as:

  • How do I choose a profession that fits my skills and has meaning?
  • Can I stay true to my values and still advance in my field?
  • How do I connect what I learn on Sunday morning with what I do the rest of the week?
  • How do I make the difficult choices that must be made in the course of a successful career?

Keller writes, “work—and lots of it—is an indispensable component in a meaningful human life. It is a supreme gift from God and one of the main things that gives our lives purpose.”

Again, to be eligible for this drawing on Friday, please leave a brief comment below.

 

Lifelong Learners Grow Emotionally and Relationally

learn1They may be pleasant and intelligent people. Very often, they are Christian people.   There are some people who have developed their thinking processes quite well. There are some who have the capacity to grasp intellectual complexities and make sense of them.

Yet, some of these same people never seem to grow up emotionally.

Yet, there are people whohave just never been able to progress or move ahead in terms of allowing the Gospel to make a difference in the way they handle their emotions.

Lifelong learners are willing to learn and grow. Learning, however, is not limited to mental, cognitive growth. A commitment to be a lifelong learner is not just a commitment to read more books.

No, we make the commitment to grow relationally and emotionally.

A few years ago, I read Peter Scazzero’s The Emotionally Healthy Church. A good book.   This particular paragraph in the Introduction (p. 17) caught my attention:

The sad truth is that too little difference exists, in terms of emotional and relational maturity, between God’s people inside the church and those outside who claim no relationship to Jesus Christ. Even more alarming, when you go beyond the praise and worship of our large meetings and conventions and into the homes and small-group meetings of God’s people, you often find a valley littered by broken and failed relationships.

5 Marks of Mature Behavior

maturityEmotionally immature people can do great damage to others. This is compounded when these same people perceive themselves to be spiritually mature.

I’ve seen this far too often.  A few examples:

1.  Years ago, a “spiritually mature” person explained to me over lunch why he didn’t have to forgive a family member for the way this person had treated him.  (He had accused this family member of swindling him in a financial deal.) This “spiritually mature” person concluded that he did not have to forgive this person because Jesus did not address situations exactly like his.

2.  A person who saw himself as “spiritually mature” was not on speaking terms with a person who had been a longtime friend.  This “spiritually mature” person would not speak unless spoken too.  He would deliberately move to the other side of a room if it appeared he would be in close proximity of his former friend.  This became obvious to others.  On one occasion, he was confronted about the problem that existed between the two and denied there was any problem.

So how does a person seeking maturity behave?

A maturing person seeks to behave appropriately (instead of allowing raw emotion to dictate one’s response).

A maturing person seeks to grow and display the virtues of Christ (instead of yielding to one’s own fleshly appetites).

A maturing person desires to display love (instead of yielding to one’s moodiness or impulsivity).

A maturing person takes responsibility for her emotions (instead of justifying foolish, self-absorbed behavior).

A maturing person is known for integrity and truthfulness (instead of being known for manipulation and a self-seeking attitude.)

I like the following thoughts by Peter Scazzero:

It’s taking people beyond outward changes and moving into the depths of their interior life in order to be transformed.

We look at this process in two broad strokes. First, we say that every Christian should have a contemplative life. Simply put, that means that each follower of Christ needs to cultivate a deep relationship with Christ—without living off other people’s spiritual lives. That requires slowing down and structuring your whole life in such a way that Christ really becomes your Center.

Secondly, emotionally healthy spirituality means that emotional maturity and spiritual maturity go hand in hand. It’s simply not possible to become spiritually mature while you remain emotionally immature. And emotional maturity really boils down to one thing: love. So if you’re critical, defensive, touchy, unapproachable, insecure—telltale signs of emotional immaturity—you can’t be spiritually mature. It doesn’t matter how “anointed” you are or how much Bible knowledge you have. Love is that indispensable mark of maturity. Emotionally healthy spirituality unpacks what that looks like (“The Spiritual Importance of Becoming an Emotionally Healthy Preacher,”   

Question:

How would you describe the behavior who is serious about maturing?

 

Monday Start (Resources for the Week)

Quick-StartCoffee!

World’s 10 best cities for coffee.  Some I guessed.  Some I would have never guessed!

Roots

My friend Allan Stanglin (Amarillo, Tx.) has written a nice post in which he describes his gratitude for the congregation in Dallas where both of us find our roots.

Books

Scot McKnight comments on a number of new books which are worth noting.

Time and Productivity

This is a good piece regarding how to stop procrastinating.  Offers some practical suggestions.

Spiritual Formation

See this fine post by Scot McKnight entitled Spiritual Formation Movement – a Challenge.  In the post, he interacts with Andy Stanley’s new book, Deep and Wide.

Meetings

If you lead meetings, do everyone around you a favor and listen to this podcast by Michael Hyatt.  I learned several good practices here.

Longest Return (See this video!)

“Mission (Texas) Sharyland High special teams ace Sean Landez returned a Mission (Texas) Edinburg North High field goal 109.9 yards for a touchdown during Sharyland’s 48-7 rout of Edinburg North.” (Yahoo Sports).  See the complete article here.