Effort Is Required

One thing I’ve noticed playing the bass guitar for the last 5 years is that improvement takes effort.  I don’t get better because I’ve been playing for a certain amount of time.  I get better when I focus my efforts, and actually put in the time practicing.  There is no short cut or hack to bypass this step, unless my destination is mediocrity. 

That last sentence sounded a little harsh, but it’s true, and not just with bass guitar, but with anything we want to improve at.  Whether it’s communicating better with others, or improving our performance in a specific area, focused effort and time is the path to success.

Is there an area of your life where you’d like to see improvement?  If so, focused effort and time (along with the proper knowledge) is likely the path to seeing the improvement you desire.

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You Learn It Now Apply It

This week’s post is primarily a reminder for me to put into action what I learn.

During my electric bass lesson this week, I learned a new concept that appears to have some very practical application when I play on our worship team at church.  Now that I’ve gained this new knowledge, I have a choice:  I can either apply it, or forget it.

It seems like such a silly choice, doesn’t it?  “Of course, I’ll apply it!” is the response I tell myself.  However, I am surprised how often a good intention to apply newly acquired knowledge can be tossed aside when we get busy, or in some cases, just plain lazy. 

It takes effort to apply a new skill, yet it also takes effort to learn a new skill as well.  If I’m going to put forth the effort to learn something new, I need to follow through with the effort to apply that knowledge as well.  Otherwise, I’m just wasting my time.

So, let’s get out there (still talking to myself here, but feel free to follow along, if this is applicable to you) and start putting our knowledge into action.  New levels await!

Cause It To Happen

My wife and I just got back from a week-long trip to Boston.  We went with some friends to explore the town and learn more about ta place none of us had ever spent much time, but that all of us were eager to visit.

What always strikes me when we go on a trip or adventure is how it would never have occurred without some prior planning and forethought.  Think about it, you can have an adventure in mind, but without taking the steps to cause it to happen, it will remain an unfulfilled dream.  Our action is what transforms a dream into reality.

How cool that in order for much of our dreams to be realized, we simply need to put forth the effort required to bring them about.  The other side of that coin is that it is sad that we are often the ones standing in the way of our dreams, simply because we fail to take action.

What adventure are you dreaming of?  Take steps today to begin causing the dreams you have to happen.  Your future self will thank you for the memories

Trust

Have you ever heard anyone say, “I don’t trust anyone!”?  Have you ever said that yourself?  That comment makes me laugh, because each one of us puts our trust into others more than we realize.

For example, we trust that:

  • Cooks and staff at the restaurants we eat in are observing the proper health and safety procedures related to food storage, handling, and preparation
  • Letter carriers will deliver a correspondence you drop in the mail in an accurate and timely fashion
  • Gas pumps actually pump the type and grade of gasoline listed on the pump, versus diesel, water, or some liquid other that what the pump says.
  • Other drivers will stop when a traffic light is red, go when it’s green, and drive the proper direction in traffic, rather than just going whichever direction in whichever lane they feel like.

In all these examples, and hundreds of other daily scenarios, we are counting on others to be trustworthy.  This thought reminds me that others are expecting us to be trustworthy as well.  Let’s live in a way that the trust others have in us is well-placed.

Knowing and Doing

One of my favorite books in the Bible is James.  What I love most about it is that it is filled with hard-hitting, non-sugar-coated truth.  My favorite verse in this book is   1:22 where the author states, “Don’t merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says”.  This is a verse I often read as if James was speaking these words directly to me.

It’s easy to gain knowledge about how we SHOULD be behaving.  It’s quite another thing to take the knowledge we gain, and parlay it into action.  What good does it do to gain a bunch of knowledge that is beneficial to us, yet fail to put that knowledge into action?  If we spend a significant period of time (months, years, decades, a lifetime) we’ll wind up being nothing more than a bunch of over-educated under-achievers. 

Here’s a good question for all of us:  Is there some knowledge that I have that I need to put into action in order to see positive results?  If the answer is, “Yes” (which I’m sure it is for most of us), then take a small step today to begin putting that knowledge into action.  Because there’s a big difference between knowing and doing.  Knowing = knowledge.  Doing = results.

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.

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.