Teaching Well

March 31, 2023

A theme emerged from  the past day’s reading—teaching.

Made me think of a Graham Nash contribution to Crosby, Stills, & Nash

Teach your children well…


Teach your parents well…

Jesus taught wherever he went. Some of his teaching was recorded. Obviously, much not. But we have enough—especially if Christians would study his words.

In another place I read about good bosses who know their people and teach them what they’ll need to be better both at work and as a person.

We’ve had teachers at school who influenced us beyond the immediate lesson of math or writing or chemistry.

I’ve taught many things throughout my adult life. I hope that I’ve left some positive influence on at least a few.

We all need good teachers wherever we may find them. We all can be good teachers to those we meet along the way.

Searching Diligently

March 30, 2023

My morning chair for meditation and writing faces across a yard. This time of year I begin at dark and continue into the first light of dawn. Just before I can really see much outside, my eyes catch dark shapes flying low across the yard.

It’s the proverbial early bird searching for the worm. Robins have awakened. Soon I will see several hopping or running from spot to spot diligently looking for breakfast—for nourishment.

I should be at the same. Reading, reflection, meditation—diligently looking for food for the soul.

They are driven by basic survival needs—they find food or they die.

What drives us to search diligently for food for the spirit?

What causes us to become complacent and lazy? Can we admit that  sometimes we open today’s devotional or reading and fail to concentrate? Our spiritual energy has come to a low point.

It’s the routine of the chair that helps. We are there. We are aware. We awaken to the need and begin return to the word.

And now we are ready for the day.

Pay No Attention To What The Gossips Say

March 29, 2023

Some of this morning’s reading:

Pay no attention to what the gossips say

They call the wide-eyed flower Jasmine.

They call the wide-eyed flower a thorn.

The wide-eyed flower doesn’t care what they call it.

Labels blind and tear us apart.


I hear so much gossip, innuendo, the Bible calls it “whispering”. People rush to put a label on other human beings. Yet, we are all humans, children of God, made in the image of God.

Perhaps we could change our outlook on life. We could rest in the fruit of the Spirit. When we feel the urge to place a label on someone, we can pause, feel the tension between our thought and our spiritual outlook, and change our thought.

And when they label you…pay no attention. There is no need to respond. We live in the spirit and let the gossips go where the wind blows. Perhaps someday they will understand.

And we, ourselves? We will shun the urge to gossip and label about others.

A Smile To Diffuse Tension

March 28, 2023

We had been on vacation to visit my wife’s two sisters in different parts of Florida. After a long week of travel and visiting, we stood in the queue for our flight from Orlando back home. Our plane arrived late from Denver pushing our departure time back 30 minutes or so.

The joys of traveling to Orlando (on business or vacation for older people) are the kids excited for the trip down and then tired and crabby for the trip home.

Beside us in queue was a father and two daughters aged about 4 and 6. They (probably all three) were tired. The girls were typically crabby and squabbling like tired siblings are want to be. One was lying on the floor. At another point, the second laid down.

An older man crowding behind them suddenly said, “Excuse me. Excuse me. That girl kicked my suitcase.”

Dad responded by reprimanding his daughter. I was proud of myself for not saying to that man, “You sound just like a 6-year-old yourself. Who cares if she bumped your suitcase?” But, I remained silent rather than provoke a greater outburst.

I did smile at the little girl and told her we’d be boarding before long, and we’d all get home.

It didn’t help as much as I would have liked, but it did calm things a bit.

Later that night before bed, I was reading from the latest translation of Rumi’s poetry:

Your laughter turns the world to paradise.


That reminded me of some lines, less eloquent yet still meaningful, from the BeeGees:

Smile an everlasting smile
A smile can bring you near to me


Try a smile today. It works. Even when replying to something stupid you’ve seen on social media, smile as typing. Then delete. And smile at the thought of the entire farce.

Nothing Destroys Like Insecurity

March 27, 2023

I know that my outbursts of anger germinated from a deep insecurity. Insecure people stock up on weapons and use them unwisely. They lash out at people close to them. Any success they may earn quickly evaporates. 

Mike Allen, cofounder of one of my go-to news sources, Axios, shares from his experiences with several organizations:

Nothing destroys more relationships, teams or companies than insecure people in power, Jim VandeHei writes. Why it matters: Beneath all bad motives, bad behavior and bad people — at work and in life — lurks deep and dangerous insecurity. It’s an insidious form of cancer that spreads effortlessly — and quickly. A little insecurity is normal and healthy. It grounds and motivates us. I’m talking about insecurity so deep it shapes a person’s character and decision-making. 

Mike Allen, Axios

If you find yourself in relationship with insecurity, run, don’t walk, to your next opportunity.

Progress, not Perfection

March 24, 2023

The famous body builder and “governator” Arnold Schwarzenegger has started a daily newsletter meant to be a positive corner of the internet. His prescription is to do something a day at a time. Mark it off on your calendar and then do it the next day.

It’s a bit like the way the language learning app I’m using to learn Spanish, Duolingo, makes a game of things in one place celebrating daily learning streaks.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

What’s your message to anyone who is struggling to get started on their fitness journey? This is my favorite quote for any type of self journey: “progress, not perfection!”

Striving for perfection is a race to frustration. A step at a time makes a steady progression toward the goal. Make your first step or your next step now.

Note: you can sign up for his newsletter here.

Pleasing Crowds

March 23, 2023

Going with the crowd gives one false courage. Social media encourages you to “like” and “share” posts that others have copied from most likely some foreign group. When there are already 400 likes, not like seems traitorous. Danish theologian Søren Kierkegaard had something to say about the crowds.

Christ was crucified because he would have nothing to do with the crowd (even though he addressed himself to all). He did not want to form a party, an interest group, or a mass movement, but wanted to be what he was, the truth, which is related to the single individual. Therefore everyone who will genuinely serve the truth is by that very fact a martyr. To win a crowd is no art; for that only untruth is needed, nonsense, and a little knowledge of human passions. But no witness to the truth dares to get involved with the crowd.

Søren Kierkegaard

Politicians in many parts of the world are claiming Jesus as their leader and yet trying to be the leader of the crowd, instigator of new political parties.

Jesus would say, that’s the easy part. People are easily persuaded.

The hard part, living the life of a disciple, like Jesus told the rich young man (or ruler in some translations). Do the hard part and live.

Seek To Change Yourself

March 22, 2023

“To a disciple who was forever complaining about others, the Master said, ‘If it is peace you want, seek to change yourself, not other people. It is easier to protect your feet with slippers than to carpet the whole of the earth.’”​

Anthony de Mello​

I was president of a high school sports booster organization. A man approached me. “We really should be doing X,” he informed me.

“That’s a really good idea,” I replied. “Could you head up a team to work out the idea and implement it?”

I never heard from him again.

I think that is similar to the disciple above. It’s easy to sit back and think about other people. There are things other people could do. There are ways other people could behave. 

What’s important is you, yourself. What can you do? To lead? To seek peace? To seek justice?

First, change yourself. The rest follows.

What’s Next?

March 21, 2023

The importance of leadership to an organization—church, business, nonprofit, family—cannot be over stated. Weak or no leadership leaves the organization adrift.

Myth: for one to exert leadership, there must a formal top position on the organization chart. The org chart usually reflects management responsibilities. Leaders can be anywhere. The are people with care, who read widely and talk with many people, who see a possible worthwhile vision of what could be. They don’t dwell so much on why as for asking why not.

The way we think about our priorities makes a huge difference. Leaders of every stripe make one thing more than any other: decisions. In any environment with constraints (which is, actually, any environment), the decisions about time and resources–about what to do next–change everything. How do we decide what’s next? Is it based on urgency, proximity or values? First in/first out is not a strategy, it’s an excuse. Even worse is the one about the squeaky wheels.

Seth Godin

The next step as Seth suggests is decision. And this is the decision—what is the next right action? That is our focus from hour to hour.

Responsibility Can Only Be Borne

March 20, 2023

I remember the rise of Vaclav Havel—poet, playwright, anti-communist dissident, president of Czechoslovakia and later the Czech Republic. His observation was true then and still true today.

An enormous conflict between words and deeds is prevalent today: everyone talks about freedom, democracy, justice, human rights, about peace and saving the world from nuclear apocalypse; and at the same time, everyone, more or less, consciously or unconsciously, serves those values and ideals only to the extent necessary to serve himself and his “worldly” interests, personal interests, group interests, power interests, property interests, and state or great-power interests.…

Vaclav Havel

Many people claim to follow Jesus in most places of the world today. Each of us must reflect on what ideals we are really serving—with our money, feet, beliefs, soul.

And what to do?

So the power structures apparently have no other choice than to sink deeper into this vicious maelstrom, and contemporary people apparently have no other choice than to wait around until the final inhibition drops away. But who should begin? Who should break this vicious circle? Responsibility cannot be preached but only borne, and the only possible place to begin is with oneself.

Vaclav Havel

Just as “free speech” does not imply irresponsible speech, merely saying you are a Christian does not cut it. Jesus himself said so, “Many people will call Lord, Lord, but I will not know them.

Just like parents preach to their youth responsibility yet live irresponsible lives as a role model, so we cannot either preach or learn from preaching. We must seize responsibility and act as true disciples.

And, yes, I’m aware of the irony that I’m writing these words—a form of preaching. But I’d rather hope that I’m encouraging self-reflection and then right action.