What You May as Well Forget

deleteHe snarled and complained about his job.  A friend of his, who worked for another company, had recently received a promotion.  “Some people get all the breaks!” He went on to talk about his friend who didn’t have to work near as hard as he did.  There was no sense of joy for his friend.  Nor did this man seem to take responsibility for anything related to his own career. Rather, he complained about how everyone else seems to get all the breaks.

I have learned there are some things in life that are best forgotten.  Now I haven’t always practiced this.  I can think of years in which I was stuck in unproductive thinking.  I allowed too much futile thinking to take up space and time.  Yet, how I think and what I focus on really do impact my life.

I want to suggest that some things need to be forgotten.

Forget what might have been.

Some people spend much of their energy focused on what might have been.  For them, life would have been great “if only.”  They are stuck in the past.

“If only my wife (or husband) was different.”

“If only I had taken a different job.”

“If only I had been treated fairly in my career.”

“If only I had gotten the breaks my brother-in-law received.”

Forget the entitlement.

Some people go through life believing they are entitled to a certain life.  This may be the young couple who believe they are entitled to a certain lifestyle (that may have taken their parents 35 years to afford.)  Others believe they are entitled to happiness and seem willing to break whatever commitments they’ve already made in order to experience this.  Years ago, a woman used this very expression in a conversation with me.  “I’m entitled to be happy” she said.  Two weeks later she left her husband and children.  People who are focused on their own sense of entitlement will break commitments and abandon relationships if they seem to stand in the way.

Forget the focus on someday.  

Some people are preoccupied with “someday.”  They speak as if life begins in the future.  Someday they plan to save money, get their finances in order, and live within their means.  Many people speak of changing their lives someday and quitting bad habits someday.  Yet life is experienced today not someday.

Each one of these approaches to life is a dead end street.  No progress is made when I am focused on any of these.  Life is happening today, not yesterday or someday.  I am entitled to nothing. Whatever good thing I experience in this life is a gift of God to be received with gratitude.

Question

What else needs to be forgotten?

 

 

Ministry Inside.134

conversation and coffeeI want to suggest a way of learning that I have practiced for many years.

For the last 35 years, I have learned from a variety of people by simply asking questions. These are questions that I have thought about in advance. My goal is to glean something helpful from these individuals. What I wish to learn shapes the questions that are asked.

Typically, I will ask a person to coffee, lunch, or simply spend some time at that person’s office.  We meet for an hour or less.

Some examples:

1. I interviewed the mayors of several of the communities where we lived in order to learn about the area. I simply asked these leaders for the opportunity to learn from them.

2. I have interviewed many, many preachers. I asked questions about ministry and preaching, as well as for guidance in experiencing a long term ministry. These conversations also included questions about spiritual formation, dealing with conflict, and overcoming discouragement.

3. I have interviewed business people. From these individuals I have learned much about personal organization, time management, and developing a process for getting things done.

4. I have interviewed husbands to learn about marriage. I have interviewed fathers to learn how to be a better father.

5. Finally, I have interviewed coaches, teachers, professors, and others to gain understanding about various aspects of work and life with the goal of personal growth.

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

July4Hopefully you had a great Fourth of July!  We spent the weekend with our daughter Jamie and son-in-law Cal.  We went to see Charlotte’s mom, her sister Carole, and brother-in-law Keith.  It was a great weekend.

Now for the resources.  Hopefully at least of one of these will be interesting and even helpful to you.

Reflections

This post contains reflections on Robert L. Johnston Jr. who was my Greek teacher at Abilene Christian University.  One semester, I took a Greek readings class with him and learned much about Greek, the text, and what it means to be a Christian gentleman.  I was the only one in this class.  Each day he served hot tea prior to reading the text.

The difference

Seth Godin says much in so few words.  See “The difference between impossible and nearly impossible.”

Evangelicalism

See Roger Olson’s fine post “How American Evangelicalism Has Changed . . .”  This made me pause and think.

Life

My Zombie, Myself, Why Modern Life Feels Rather Undead.”  From The New York Times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ministry Inside.133

thankful (1)I am very thankful. (Each Thursday I write a post with church leaders in mind. However, today I want to focus on what I am grateful for. Perhaps this will simulate your thinking and even your gratitude as you consider your own life.)

I am grateful for my family.

  • I am grateful for Charlotte who dared to move to Memphis at this point in our lives to begin a fresh new chapter in our ministry. I am blessed.
  • I am grateful for Christine, mother of two wonderful little boys. I can’t imagine a more attentive mother. So thankful for Phillip, a good and devoted husband and father.
  • I am grateful for Jamie, the social worker with such a heart. Thankful for the way she is thoughtful to so many. So thankful for Cal, an unassuming, gracious husband and man.
  • For those whom I’ve known for so many years. So grateful to receive those texts, e-mails, and handwritten notes. I take none of this for granted.

Just Close Your Eyes and Hope it Will Be All Right

closed-eyesSome of us seem to live by the adage, “If I don’t talk about it, it is not real.” Or put another way, “If I don’t talk about it then maybe it will go away.”

Consequently we close our eyes and hope it will go away.

Have you known anyone like this?

1. The doctor gives a stern warning to a 40-year-old man, “You have cancer. This has to be addressed immediately.” The man later tells friends, “I won’t be going back to the doctor anymore. I’m not about to undergo those treatments.” Just close your eyes and hope it will be all right.

2. The woman says nothing to her husband who exhibits all kinds of suspicious behavior. In front of their friends, they talk about their fantastic marriage. Meanwhile, at home they sit in silence, rarely speaking to one another. Just close your eyes and hope it will be all right.

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

Start2Reading

I heard Laura Nichol Speak last week in Pittsburg at the meeting of The Association of Theological Schools.  She is a business consultant from Houston.  Excellent presentations.  This reading list is from the Rios Advisors website.

Ebooks versus paper

See this article which appeared in the Financial Times “Ebooks vs paper” by Julian Baggini.

Basketball

Really like what NBA commissioner Adam Silver did during the draft for Baylor’s Isaiah Austin. Just days earlier Austin received news from doctors that he had a disease which would prevent him from ever playing competitive basketball.  Here Silver announces that the NBA has “drafted” Austin.

Resources

From Duke’s Faith and Leadership, Laura Nichol has written a fine piece “Rethinking capital – its more than money.”

Adolescents/Young Adults

Jan Hoffman recently had an interesting piece in The New York Times entitled “Cool at 13, Adrift at 23.”

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

start (1)Burnout!

Thom Rainer has written an important post regarding ministry and burnout.  See “Autopsy of a Burned Out Pastor: 13 Lessons.”  I suspect that any minister who has ever experienced burnout will relate to at least a portion of this post.

Church

You might read Skye Jethani’s thoughtful post “How Churches Became Cruise Ships.”

Important

I just read an important post!  The post by Terry Rush was important because it is exactly what I needed to hear today.  How easy it is to forget Resurrection power!  See “The Kingdom Energizing Factor.”

Memoirs

Michele Cushatt has updated her list of memoirs.  See “In Search of a Good Memoir (UPDATED).” By the way, Michele is an excellent writer.  Her blog is very good!

Sleep

Michael Hyatt has written an excellent post on the value of sleep and makes some great suggestions. I need all the help I can get with this subject!  See “6 Strategies to Sleep Soundly, Wake Rested, and Accomplish More.”

 

 

 

5 Ways to Mess Up Your Kids

MessMost parents I know love their children and want to do a good job with them.  Many of these people will do most anything to give their children a head start in life.  Some will go to extraordinary lengths to give their children an advantage.

Yet, it is possible to parent in such a way as to make it difficult for them to grow up, mature, and live as Christ-followers.

The following are some ways to mess up your kids:

1.  Model before them a self-centered life.  Focus on yourself, your pleasures, your desires, and your preferences.  Teach them by way of your example that life is all about “me.”

I was in a conversation with a woman who was abandoning her husband and children in order live her own life.  She wanted to believe that her leaving would have no long term impact on her children.

The reality is that our self-centered behaviors really do impact others.  They certainly impact our children.

Ministry Inside.132

no counterfeit logo [Converted]Beware of counterfeit ministry!

1. A church leader can become more concerned about image than reality. This church leader will spend much time and energy projecting a particular persona while the reality of this person’s life is elsewhere. In every generation, there is a temptation to want to appear cool, relevant, successful, sought after, important, etc. (Some words will resonate better than others. Nevertheless, the same principle is at work.) Unfortunately, that same person may be settling for a superficial spirituality instead of rigorous discipleship.

2. A church leader can speak one way in public settings while speaking very differently in private. Years ago, a woman shared with me her disappointment in a preacher who spoke warm words about a former elder at a church banquet. That same evening, he privately mocked and made fun of the same man he had honored in the public setting.

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

Start2Writing

From Daily Blog Tips by Ali Luke: See “Top Resource: 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2014 from the Write Life.”

Communication

See Melanie Pinola’s article in Lifehacker, “Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills.”

Dad

See the article by Katherine Shaver (Washington Post) “Do Father’s Day Cards that portray dad as an incompetent boob reflect today’s fathers?

Also note the review by Bruce Feiler (Washington Post)  Book Review: ‘Do Father’s Matter, on the science of fatherhood” by Paul Raeburn.

Mom

This is interesting.  I would really like to read the entire report.  See Geraldine Bedell’s “Mother’s of innovation” (Financial Times).