Saying Yes

As I was sitting down to write my weekly blog post, I got a text asking if I’d like to come over to someone’s house for dinner.  Initially, I thought about all the stuff that I wanted to get done that night, and that I should say, “No”. However, I then pondered just how important, really, were the things I’d be doing if I said, “No” to the invitation.  I replied to the text with, “I’ll be there!”

Sometimes when we get opportunities to do things, we think about reasons that would keep us from saying, “Yes”.  I’m going to challenge that line of thinking and start looking for reasons to accept.  This is just another reminder for me to be intentional with my choices versus defaulting to getting stuff done.

Sorry for the short post this week, but I’ve got a dinner engagement to get to!

What’s Motivating Them

I currently serve on our church board, where our pastor has us reading “Emotionally Healthy Discipleship”, in order to help us develop as a team as we lead our church.  I’m thankful we have a pastor that is intentional about growing the church’s staff and leadership.

One item that really stood out as I was reading this week was a section about how our experiences impact our mindset and how that influences how we make decisions.  Nothing new there, right?  We all know our experiences influence our decisions, but for some reason, this reality landed on me with an eye-opening air of newness this time.

As I was reading a case study of a church board making a decision, and how each member was making their decisions based on their past experience, I immediately thought of this scenario in the context of our own church board. 

We, as a board, have been through the decision-making process many times.  However, now I have a new perspective on how others’ decisions might be influenced by a completely different set of experiences than I have had, and vice versa.  Every person on our board (or any team for that matter) will filter their decisions through their own experience, just like me.

This reminds me that when someone comes to a different conclusion or decision than me, it’s not because they’re necessarily opposed to my view, but rather they are deciding based on their experience.  It also reminds me to ask questions to help understand why they came to that decision. 

I’m thankful for the broader perspective this simple reminder offers.   

Incorrect Assumptions

A couple of weeks ago in the adult Sunday school class I lead, I made a comment about a section of Scripture.  To preface my comment I stated, “We all know this […]”.  After some discussion, one of the newer people in the class spoke up and said, “You mentioned that ‘we all know this’, but I DON’T know this.”  The comment got my attention.

It’s so easy to assume that just because we know something, everyone else must obviously know it as well.  I was reminded that this is usually not the case.  For me, it’s important to be aware of this reality, so that I don’t inadvertently exclude people from classroom discussions, dialog in a meeting, or even a simple conversation by assuming they know what is being discussed.

I like to include people versus excluding them.  What I learned from the Sunday school class exchange is to stop assuming that folks know something and actually give space to check that assumption.  If my assumption is correct, great!  We can move forward.  If, however, my assumption is incorrect, then that presents a great opportunity for discussion to help bring others along, and event to learn something new myself.

There’s enough division and exclusion going on in the world, that I don’t need to add to it in my conversations and interactions.  How much better it is to test and assumption and gain clarification, than to move forward with the assumption, only to find out that it was incorrect.

I’m Glad I Noticed

I’ve been playing the electric bass guitar on the worship team at my church for about 3 years.  One of the many things I enjoy about being on the worship team is the view I get from being on stage.  It’s fun to look out and see the people in the audience and even the others on stage.  And sometimes, I’m fortunate to see things other people don’t.

For example, last week during the service, we had a young family come up and read some Scripture as part of the fourth Sunday of Advent.  The family consisted of mom, dad, and two young boys, who had to be about 4 and 7.  They stood in front of me and to the right, not more than about 10 feet away.

Mom and dad each read a section of scripture before handing the microphone to the 7-year-old, who began reading his lines in a nervous young voice.  As I was watching from behind, I noticed the dad place his hand on his oldest son’s shoulder in a gesture of support.  As the boy began to read, the dad moved his hand and began gently scratching the boys back, to provide comfort and reassure him that he was doing just fine.  It was a beautiful picture of a father being present.  I’m grateful that I had a front row seat to this event… and I’m glad I noticed.

From an elderly husband holding a door open for his wife, to a reassuring touch to a child from a loving parent, to a heart-felt slap on the back from a good friend, these types of touching scenes are happening all around us, and they often go unnoticed. 

I encourage you to keep your eyes open for these occurrences around you.  Not only will it make you feel good, but may it also encourage us to go and do likewise to those we care about. 

I’ve Got Time For That

Have you ever received a call from someone who is feeling down or overwhelmed, who just needs someone to talk to?  I got a call like that earlier this week while I was at work, and I had a choice to make.  Do I hurry to get them off the phone quickly because I’m busy and have a lot of stuff to get done, or do I carve out some time and listen to them?  I chose the latter.   

Before you think, “Good job!  You made the right choice!”, I must confess.  My initial thought was that I need to get off the phone.  It wasn’t until I started to hear how they were feeling about what they were experiencing, that I felt prompted not to ditch the call, but to actively listen to them.  (I think the Holy Spirit is good at prompting me like that.  I’m trying to get better at actually listening to Him.)     

We’ve all been there.  Sometimes we just want to be heard, to be acknowledged, or to have someone tell us, “Yeah, that sucks!”  or offer us a bit of encouragement.  What a blessing to think that we could provide that to someone else when they need it.

That’s something I’ve got time for.    

I’ll Do It Later…Whenever That Is

I have a lot of positive intentions pop into my head throughout the day.  One that I often get is that I should send a hand-written card to someone I happen to be thinking of.  (In the middle of all the technology around us, I still like sending hand-written cards.  Who’d have thought that going “old school” would make you stand out in the Internet age!)  My problem is that I often tell myself I’ll do that later.  All too often, however, “later” never comes.

This week I had the same thought pop into my head regrading someone I though could use an encouraging note.  Only this time, instead of saying I’ll do it later, I took a different approach.

I went to the closet and got out a card and envelop and put it on my desk where I work every day.  Then, I determined that I would get the card written during lunch and placed in the mail that same day.  And you know what?   IT WORKED!  I got the card written and sent!  Who’d have thought!

Sometimes our biggest barrier to following through on our intentions, is that we lack a plan, no matter how simple, to make it happen.  For me, the simple act of getting the card out and naming a time to write in it was all I needed to ensure I followed through on my intention.

The next time your mind offers up a good intention that will bless someone else, don’t just assume you’ll do it later.  Put together a quick, simple plan that will ensure you turn that intention into completed action.

The person you’re blessing will be grateful you had a plan.

Different Backgrounds Different Outlook

Here’s something we all know, but that I often forget… we don’t all have the same background and experiences shaping how we view ourselves and the world.

I can too easily assume that others have similar backgrounds and experiences as me.  That assumption is an easy connection to another equally false assumption; that what I would do or how I would think in a situation is how others should think.  That’s simply not true. 

Our experiences and backgrounds shape how we interpret what we see in the world, so it’s obvious that those with differing experiences would see things different that I would, and vice versa.

I like to frequently remind myself about this so that I don’t look up one day and realize that I’ve turned into a cranky old man, simply because I assume that the problem with everyone is that they don’t see the world the same way I do.

How Do You Do It

“How you do anything is how you do everything.”  ~Unknown

This saying causes me to pause and think about how I do things.  Specifically, how do I handle the small day to day things in my life.  Do I give my best effort or am I half-hearted in my efforts?

Now I’m not saying that we have to give 100% focused, top of our game effort on every little thing we do.  That would be not only exhausting, but also unnecessary!  The bigger question here, is what is our dominant mindset when we do things?  Do we regularly mail it in, or are we in the regular habit of giving our best effort?  Do we offer the minimum effort to get by, or do we regularly give a little beyond what’s needed?

It’s a good question to ask, and one we can pretty easily answer when we look at the results we’re getting in life.

On The Other Side

“What’s it like on the other side of me?”  ~ Pastor Amy

During the sermon at church last week, one of our pastors referenced this question that she often asks herself in relation to what it’s like for others to interact with her.  I though it was a great question I should start asking myself!

We all know what it’s like to be us.  We’re aware of our opinions, our values, and what we think.  However, are we aware of how those opinions come across when we’re talking to others?  Are we aware of possible no verbal signals, attitudes, tones of voice, judgement, or perceptions we may not mean to send, that others experience when communicating with us?

Pastor Amy’s question causes me to think about how I treat others (intentionally or unintentionally) when communicating with them.  It reminds me that communication is so much more than just words.

There Should Be A Website For That

Wal-Mart shoppers often get a bad rap.  There are websites out there that show pictures and behaviors of what some people think are stereotypical Wal-Mart shoppes.  However, I had a couple experiences last Saturday that shatters the typical stereotypes you’d see on such sites.

First, I was on the isle looking at plastic storage bins.  (So many choices!)  As I was comparing a couple options, I could see a shopper out of my peripheral vision push their shopping cart down the main isle.  I didn’t think anything of it until I heard a voice saying, “You don’t want to buy that one, because the plastic handles break off.”  I turned and noticed that lady was pointing to one of the bins I was looking at on the shelf.

“Really?”  I said, in a tone that invited her to tell me more. She told me that she had bought that particular bin recently and after using it for a short timeframe the handles had both broken off.  I told her I which plastic bin I was considering, as I pointed to its location on the shelf.  She said that one would be a much better choice.   

After grabbing the bin, I headed to the pet section where I was looking for some litter box solutions for our cats.  I had a couple of products in my hand when I heard another voice to my right.  “I just bought that one, and it’s really good.”  I turned to see another lady pointing to one of the products in my hand.  “Oh, really?  So, you like this one?”  I said, as I held up the product she was pointing to.  She asked if I minded a recommendation, to which I responded, “For sure!  What have you got?”. 

She told me about her recent purchase and how it has been working well for her cats.  We talked for a few minutes about some other options, and she bid me “good luck”. 

I think it was so great, in light of all the division and discord between people these days, that each of these ladies decided to offer their assistance to me for no other reason than to see that I made a good purchase. 

There should be a website to showcases people like that!