5 People I Admire

Microsoft Word - anniversary11. I admire people who are respectful and gracious in their speech. I knew someone who would regularly say, “I’m just being honest.” In his mind, this seemed to excuse his crass, rude, and insulting remarks. Yet, speaking with honesty does not give one the license to put away their sensitivity filter and say whatever might happen to pass through their brain. I know people who are honest and transparent. Yet, they do not speak at the expense of others. They are not condescending or insulting. Rather, these people have a way of communicating in ways that actually invite others to hear.

2. I admire people who are quick to say “I’m sorry.” In a culture that seems to respond to most every problem by blaming others, it is refreshing to have someone say “I’m sorry.” I admire people who are quick to take personal responsibility and slow to blame.

3. I admire people who build up instead of destroy. These people are more focused on the impact they have on others than on what they are able to get out of the relationship. This calls for maturity on the part of a person. I knew a couple who were both attractive and likable. However, shortly after meeting them, I noticed that she walked with her shoulders slumped and would look down and barely make eye contact in a conversation. Then I began to hear about how “heavy-handed” he was toward her. In fact, he was very domineering toward her. Builders do not treat their spouses this way.

4. I admire people who don’t have to be the center of attention. Some people are obviously uncomfortable if they are not the center of a gathering. Yet, the truth is that others have stories that could be told; they have jokes that could be shared, etc. I enjoy being with people who do not feel compelled to dominate a conversation or pull away emotionally if they are not at the center.

5. I admire people who spread joy instead of cynicism. Anyone can be cranky, sour, and bitter. A friend of mine once told me about a preacher who was so negative and bitter that even his sermons on grace were depressing.

Three Signs of Arrogance

Career-Prep-Old-Arrogant-FeaturedNow, of course, you might say, “Not me! No way I am even remotely an arrogant person.” Sometimes we think of people who act pompous and immediately conclude that we are certainly not arrogant.

Yet, arrogance sometimes comes out in people who think they are:


This is the person whose idea of friendship is to associate with people who have something to offer him.  In other words, this person wants friends who in some way cause him to feel better than others.  Meanwhile, this same person may have no interest in being friends with someone who seems inferior.

Some people who are arrogant have little respect for the experience or knowledge of others.  They can quickly become self-appointed experts on preaching, finances, or building/remodeling.  A friend of mine once described another man as having a very pompous way about him.


This is the person who thinks she is a bit smarter than most.  In fact, she sees peers who have experienced serious moral failure as basically being weak or stupid.  In her mind, she is far too smart to ever become encumbered with such behavior.

To some, she seems almost reckless in her dealings with the opposite sex.  Sometimes she is flirty with men at work.  Her husband recently expressed his discomfort with texts that she sent to one co-worker in particular.  She believes that she is smarter than most people and that what she is doing at work is innocent fun.  She doesn’t seem to be worried about temptation thinking she is far too smart to mess up her marriage.

More important.

Some people think they are more important than others.  Now they don’t necessarily say this; however, this comes through clearly in talk.  Their friends are most often high profile people who make a lot of money, enjoy visibility in the community, or have a job title that commands respect.

This may be the minister who spoke about how the congregation couldn’t do without him.  Or it may be the woman who was stopped by the police for speeding and wanted the officer to know that her husband was a prominent attorney in town. Or this may be a businessman who regularly drops the names of important people he ate lunch with this week.

Arrogant people are usually highly self-conscious people who are so focused on themselves and their image that they rarely take the time or energy to pay attention to another.


What might a person be missing in life by holding on to such an attitude? 


Do They Think They Have You Figured Out?

Honest-conversationSome people think they have you figured out.

When this happens to me, I sometimes find it irritating.

I notice this when I am talking to someone and trying to explain a situation or dilemma. Some will nod and even interrupt.

“Oh yeah, I know all about that.”

Then the person goes on to explain his similar situation.  Or, a person explains that she understands and comprehends your struggle.  In fact, she believes she knows exactly what to do.  In the meantime, you have been unable to finish your story because the person keeps interrupting.

This is irritating.

Yet, I have been guilty of the same behavior.

  • I think I have someone’s dilemma figured out.
  • I think I know what to do.
  • I think I understand how someone feels.
  • I think I have an answer.

I remember a few specific occasions when I blurted out my response to someone’s story before they ever finished their sentence.  When I have done this, that person’s final words seem to fade away, as my own words and sentences overpower the conversation.

Yet, so often what others want is to simply be heard.

Two suggestions.

Ask clarifying questions.

People want to see that a listener is really attempting to understand what is being said.  Asking clarifying questions can be helpful toward better comprehending and grasping what another is saying.

“What did you mean by that?”

“How did you feel when she said that to you?”

“How long has this situation been this difficult?”

Speak back what you have heard.

This is especially important when another’s dilemma is complicated, involved, or is somewhat confusing.

“Ok, I think I heard you say this situation become more difficult when the next manager attempted to implement the new policy.  As a result your department became very chaotic.  Is this accurate?”

The other person then has the opportunity to clarify or elaborate on what what was just said.

Ultimately, I want others to feel like I really listened and tried to comprehend what they were saying.



What are some of the characteristics of good listeners that you know?


Can I Trust This Person?

trust_meter2-450x300Good question!  This is a question that many of us ask regularly.

Not long ago, a friend expressed his appreciation for our relationship.  He spoke of how often he had confided in me through the years.  I came away from that conversation not only appreciating our friendship more but with greater resolve to always be a trustworthy friend to him.

Far too often we learn that some people are just not trustworthy.

  • A person sabotages an initiative of a co-worker behind her back while being nice to when she is present.
  • You learn that a man in your community apparently has been living a double life that totally violates the convictions he claims to hold.
  • A student plagiarizes material that she used for a research paper.
  • A friend tells someone else some information that you shared with him in confidence.

In friendships, in a church, or in a working relationship, it is especially important to know that you can trust another with what you say and what is said to you.

There is absolutely no substitute for being trustworthy.

Three suggestions:

1.  Consider a person’s manner.  If he regularly gossips, breaks the confidence of others, and bad-mouths people, do not expect him to speak differently regarding you in your absence.

2.  At the very least, consider the reputation of another.  A person once said to me regarding a mutual acquaintance, “Do not tell him anything that you do not want repeated to others.”  That turned out to be very wise counsel.  On the other hand, I was recently advised regarding a mutual friend, “You know that you can confide in him.  So many of us do.”  He had earned a very good reputation.

3.  Express appreciation to those you have found to be trustworthy.  Such relationships are not to be taken for granted.  In a culture where trust is often broken, others might be encouraged to occasionally hear you express your appreciation for their trustworthiness.

When You Realize You are Out of Control

outofcontrolOne night I was driving home from my job at UPS.  It was about midnight and was raining. I was in college and was driving my father’s car, which I rarely drove.  As I recall, my car was in the shop being repaired.  I was on Stemmons Expressway (I-35) and going much too fast considering the rain.  At one point, the car began to hydroplane on the water surface.  I remember wondering how I would stop.  The car began to do a 360 on the expressway.  I wondered if I was going to get hit from behind.  Finally after turning around completely, the car came to a stop. I then slowly began to drive ahead again.

I had been totally out of control.

Reynolds Price, novelist and longtime English professor at Duke, spoke at the 1992 Founder’s Day at Duke and challenged his audience with some observations regarding many students.

But you’ll find other sights that breed concern. . . . walk your attentive self through the quads.  Stand at a bus stop at noon rush-hour; roam the reading rooms of the libraries in the midst of term and the panic of exams.  Lastly, eat lunch in a dining hall and note the subjects of conversation and the words employed in student discussion.  (I’m speaking mostly of undergraduates, but not exclusively.) 

Try to conceal your consternation at what is often the main theme of discourse — something less interesting than sex and God, the topics of my time.  If for instance you can eat a whole meal in a moderately occupied Duke dining hall without transcribing a certain sentence at least once, I’ll treat you to the legal pain reliever of your choice.  The sentence runs more or less like this, in male or female voice – - “I can’t believe how drunk I was last night.” 

Considering that the social weekends of many students now begin – - indeed are licensed by us to begin – - at midday on Thursday and continue through the morning hours of Monday (as they never did in the old days of “country club” Duke), maybe the sentence is inevitable – - at least in the bankrupt America we’re conspiring to nurture so lovingly and toward which we blindly, or passively anyhow, wave our students.  

“I can’t believe how drunk I was last night.”

Totally out of control.

4 Questions to Ask Regarding Your Manner

catering-graphicI was on my way to the office and had stopped at the nearest Subway to get a sandwich.  There were three or four people in line.  The man at the cash register was talking with a customer who was picking up an order he had called in.  The customer was a big guy.  He was loud and intense.

The Subway employee was attempting to complete the transaction at the cash register.  The “giant subs” this customer had ordered were boxed and on the counter.  It appeared these sandwiches were for a group of people.

The guy was complaining about the price.  The cashier responded in a normal tone of voice and was very polite and professional.  Meanwhile, the customer became more intense about the purchase.  He said that he wasn’t about to pay the stated price and then demanded loudly that the price be adjusted to what he thought it should be.  He said that he had placed this same order a number of times in the past and it had been significantly less.

Then the guy said something that really got my attention:

“I’ve given you my tax exempt I.D. number and I know what the price ought to be!”

I cringed.  The guy was picking up something for a church.  Not only was he making a scene but he was letting everyone know that he represented a church.

What Has Helped You Feel Less Self-Conscious?

(I am away on a vacation/study break during the month of July. The posts that appear during the month are from the archives.)

I never intended to be a minister.


I grew up in a church. Over the years, there were probably a half-dozen ministers who preached at this church. As a child, I really didn’t know much about them. I only saw them from a distance. Yet, most of them seemed “different.” Not different in a Christian sort of way. Just different in terms of manner. I remember dark suits, pulpit voices, and distance. I don’t say this to be critical. I am just expressing what I sensed as a child.

So, I never intended to be a minister.

Yet, I am a minister. I have been in this role for 30 years. I mean the kind who preaches each Sunday and does various kinds of ministry “full-time.” (Whatever that means!)

How did I end up in this role? How did I come to believe that God wanted me to do this for a portion of my life? That is a long story. Yet, I can honestly tell you that during my younger years, I never gave a thought to wanting to be a minister.

If You Are Not Praying for Your Children

(I am away on a vacation/study break during the month of July. The posts that appear during the month are from the archives.)

If you as a parent are not praying for your children, then who is?

This occurred to me a few years ago as I thought about my prayer life and my own children. If I am not praying for my own children, then who is? Perhaps one of the greatest gifts that I can give to my children is faithful prayer.

Our children, whether small children or adults, live in a very difficult world. How important and encouraging for mom and dad to lift them up in prayer every single day of their lives.


My two children are now adults. Both are married. They each live a great distance from Charlotte and me. In some ways, we have little influence over what they do each day.

Yet, we lift them up in prayer each day, believing God will work intimately and powerfully in their lives wherever they are. We believe that God loves them, cares for them, and calls them to live under his rule. It is important that we pray for them.

How to Ruin a Good Relationship

(I am away on a vacation/study break during the month of July. The posts that appear during the month are from the archives.)

Lots of people are looking for the right relationship. Yet, so often these same people will then contribute to the demise of what otherwise might have been a very good relationship.

A few examples:

A woman thinks she has found a new friend. She becomes acquainted with another woman at work who is about her same age and they come from a similar background. They enjoy going to lunch and talking, and seem to have much in common. Yet, in a few months, the relationship ends and yes, there is lots of drama. This seems to happen again and again.

A minister and his wife have recently moved to a new community where he has begun working with a church in this new setting. He is excited about the new possibilities. Yet, in less than twelve months, it all changes. He is in major conflict with this congregation.


A guy and girl meet and everything seems right.She seems to have so many qualities that he has always wanted in another person. She thinks the same about him. In fact, this relationship seems “special.” Yet, in a matter of months things change. In spite of what they have invested in the relationship, neither will address his or her own issues.

Very often, the one phrase that might be repeated in each of these situations is:

“I just don’t know what happened.”