Gratitude For The Skill Of Others

We just had the opener for our garage door replaced, and I’m so grateful to the person who came out and installed it for us.

I’m not the handiest guy in the world.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some things I’m really good at, but installing stuff, like a garage door opener, is not one of them.  That’s why I’m grateful for the skills of others, and their willingness to offer those skills, be it in the market place, or out of their own generosity.

It reminds me that each of us have skills that we can offer others.  The skills we have may not seem like much to us, but to those who don’t have those skills, they’re valuable.  Therefore, since we all rely on the skills of others (when our skill level falls short) we should be willing to offer the skills we have to others. 

It’s a great way to thank those who have offered their skills to help us.

Doubling Down

This week’s post has a bent toward those of us who are Jesus followers.  Be forewarned.  😊

My family has been facing some challenging days recently with the passing of a significant family member.  Without going into details, a common question my siblings and I have been asking is, “How should we respond to some of the challenging behaviors of others?”. 

For me, the answer has been, “Double down on Jesus”. 

As a Christian, my goal is to follow Jesus’ teachings as laid out in Scripture, and align my life as closely as I can with Him.  That’s easy to do when things are going well, but it can be a different story when life gets challenging, and Jesus’ teaching feel totally contrary to how the world tells us we should respond or behave. 

When I find myself at this intersection with Jesus and the world, I pose some form of the following question to myself: “Jesus gives us very clear instruction on how we’re to behave as followers of His.  I either believe what Jesus says, or I don’t.  So, which is it?” 

This is the point where I double down on Jesus.

I decide that yes, I DO believe what He says, and, yes, I WILL align myself and my actions with His teaching.  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t always easy. To the contrary, it’s often very difficult.  However, Jesus never promised that we wouldn’t have difficulty or troubles.  He did promise that He’d be with us when we face them.  I have also found Him faithful in carrying us through difficult times, when we choose to follow Him and be obedient to His teaching, event when it’s difficult.

I’ve also realized that I don’t just need to double down on Jesus when times are tough.  I need to double down on Jesus every single day by spending time with Him, reading my Bible, and applying what I learn. 

Because I either believe what He says, or I don’t… and I do!

Develop Habits and Stick With Them

When things go sideways in life, it’s easy to withdraw, to close off and isolate yourself.  That’s the worst thing we can do.  The best thing we can do is stick to the healthy habits we’ve, hopefully, already established.

For example, when life throws you a curve, continue you to do the following:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Visit friends
  • Attend Church
  • Read
    • Bible
    • For pleasure
  • Partake in hobbies and activities you enjoy
  • Pray
  • Maintain your positive outlook
  • Don’t let the bad circumstance change who you are

This last one is the most important.

I have been reminded of this in the past week, so I thought I’d pass it along to you.  In addition, I encourage you to establish some good habits before you need them.

Establish Relationships Before They’re Needed

I had a significant family member pass away last week.  Through all the emotion and events that followed, I have been thankful to have my wife, brother, sister, brother-in-law and sister-in-law to go through this tough time with.  I’m grateful these relationships were firmly established when this major life event occurred. 

Make sure your important relationships are established before you need them.

There’s A Story There

It’s easy to look at a situation and think we have all the facts necessary to make a snap judgement.  Whether it’s a homeless person on the street with a sign asking for money, or certain behavior or opinion we don’t agree with, it amazes me how quickly we can go from observation to judgement, without realizing that there’s a story there.

No matter who you’re looking at, there is a story behind the person that brought them to where they are at that moment.  This story could have been written over years or decades, or maybe even over a few minutes.  These stories can be tragic or triumphant.  They can be unbelievable or even quite ordinary.  Peoples’ stories are as unique and varied as the people they are about.

The thing to remember, especially when we start feeling judgmental, is that we usually don’t know the whole story that shape the people we see.  We think we do, but in reality, we are often just mentally filling in the blanks.  That said, it reminds me that perhaps in place of judgement toward others, we would do better to offer grace and remember that we likely don’t know the whole story.

It Was Fun To Watch

Last Sunday morning, my wife and I were having breakfast at a local restaurant in Bandon Oregon.  There was a friendly gentleman that was greeting people with a smile and seating people as they came in, or taking their name, if there would be a short wait.  He was fun to watch! 

What was most fun to observe was when a family of 5 came in and was waiting for a table.  They had only been waiting less than 5 minutes when they decided to leave.  Right after they walked out the door, the friendly host came by and called their name.  When no one responded, he asked one of the waitresses, “Where’s Jennifer?”  (The person who had just left.)  When he realized they had left, he actually went out to the parking lot to look for them.  I watched as he found them, and kindly informed them that he had a table all ready for them.  They came back in and sat down.

I LOVE this guy’s commitment to the business and the customer all at the same time!  From a business standpoint, he was able to save a sale that could have easily been lost.  From a customer standpoint, he wanted to make sure that this family didn’t go away and have to find another place to eat, and potentially wait in line there too.  Like I mentioned before; this guy was fun to watch!

I don’t know if he was the owner of the place or an employee, but regardless, he was carrying out his duties with kindness an excellence.  May he be a model for us as we serve others.

Leaving Room

I have been teaching an adult Sunday School class at our church for about 15 years, and each class is a highlight of my week.  One of my favorite attributes of the class is the participation by the attendees.  It’s less of a lecture/lesson format than it is a guided discussion.  I really enjoy this format because it leaves room for the unexpected to occur.

By the “unexpected”, I mean that our discussion and study has options as to where it goes.  As I prepare each week, I look at the section of Scripture we’ll be studying, and I put together a flow of some interesting points for us to discuss.  I do this instead of writing out a word-for-word lecture/lesson, because a written-out lesson would make it hard pursue people’s questions or thoughts they have in the moment that are relevant to our discussion.  If I have a written out word-for-word lecture that I feel I must follow, then I take out any room to explore a thought that’s not in my lesson. 

That would be a shame, because very often in class, someone has a thought or question that takes us in a direction that I had not planned to go, but that deepens our understanding of the Scripture we were looking at.  If I was insistent on tightly defining every lesson, we would have missed out on so many rich and meaningful discussions that have deepened our understanding of Scripture.

Are there areas in your life that could use a little less control in order to leave some room for unexpected pleasant surprises to occur?  Consider that question the next time you’re planning an event or having a conversation with someone. 

It’s good to have a plan, but it’s also good to leave room along the way for the unexpected.

Simply Reconnecting

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had some really nice encounters with friends I haven’t seen in a few years.  It reminds me how quick time goes and how easy it is to lose touch with someone.  It also reminds me that it’s also easy to reconnect.

My friend Bob, that I used to work with several years ago, reached out via email earlier this week to see if my email address was still good and what I was up to.  Per Bob’s suggestion, we’ll be meeting up for lunch next week to reconnect and catch up.  I really admire Bob’s initiative to simply send an email suggest going to lunch.  I’m so grateful that he did, and I can’t wait to see him.

Bob’s initiative got me thinking who I should reach out to and reconnect.  Perhaps his initiative has you thinking about a friend you’ve lost touch with that you can reconnect with too.  I encourage you to do like Bob did and simply send an email or make a phone call and reconnect.

I’ll be following Bob’s lead and texting my friend Dave after I submit this post.  It will be good to reconnect with him too.      

Small Talk

During a conversation last week, the topic of small talk came up, and the consensus from most people in the group was that they didn’t like small talk and would rather not engage in it.  It was interesting to me, because I use to feel this same way many moons ago, until I realized how significant small talk is in forming connections with others.

Small talk with folks you don’t know can sometimes feel like you’re just talking for the sake of talking, with nothing of any real importance to say.  That’s how I viewed it until I realized that small talk are the planks in a bridge that lead to deeper connection and conversations.  Think about it, when was the last time you met someone and immediately jumped into a deep and meaningful conversation right off the bat?  It usually doesn’t work that way for me, but I’m open to the idea that maybe I’m doing something wrong. 

Based on my own experience, most conversations I’ve had with people I’ve just met are a series of comments and questions and listening in an effort to find common ground that a more enjoyable conversation can be built on.  I look at it like fly fishing.  You throw something out (like the weather, career, what they/you did last weekend, where they/you live) and see what you get.  I’m amazed how often small talk leads to a “bite”. 

So, the next time you find yourself engaged in small talk, instead of telling yourself the same story about how much you don’t like it, instead think of yourself on a “connection fishing expedition”.  Who knows, you just might land a big one!