Archive for the ‘Attitude’ Category

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.

Discipline–Strict With Ourselves Tolerant With Others

March 14, 2023

Ryan Holiday wrote a couple of books and then found a lucrative niche writing about the Stoics. One of the leading Stoic writers of the first century was Seneca, whose thoughts so closely mirrored those of Paul that later Christian writers thought he was one of the flock. The Stoics (including Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Epictitus, and others) were favorite thinkers influencing the founding leaders of the American Revolution.

Holiday, writing in his Daily Stoic newsletter, points out that Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and Roman leader Cato both kept to strict personal disciplines. They avoided the ease and comfort afforded to such prominent leaders in ancient Rome. However each held their brothers in great esteem even though they didn’t adhere to such discipline. Gandhi was another person who held to strict disciplines. Discussing his wife, though, he noted, “Kasturba takes tea in spite of the fact that she lives with me. She also takes coffee. I would even lovingly prepare it for her.”

I don’t want to be a critic, but an encourager. But I am an observer and am often disappointed. Vociferous Christians have turned off a majority of Americans through efforts to tell other people how they are wrong, or bad, or sinful. Their efforts to enforce their personal views through law further drive people away from the most important message of Jesus—that of love.

Let us encourage one another to “take care of the speck in our own eye rather than worrying about the log in others.” Developing some strong personal disciplines is not a bad idea, either.

Fooled By Perfect

March 9, 2023

You don’t have to be perfect.

I don’t have to be perfect.

Perhaps we need reminders like little Post-It Notes stuck everywhere. 

Perfect is the enemy of good. It’s also the enemy of relaxed, calm, confident. Perhaps also joy.

Sometimes we build a church with expectations that everyone within is perfect. Maybe we try to hide imperfections. We don’t want our imperfections to be found out.

Pretending to be perfect helps us when we want to point out some group of people and say, “We must exclude them, for they are sinners—they are not perfect…like us.”

Face it. The perfect life is beyond our power. We are not going to have

  • The perfect diet
  • The perfect workout
  • The perfect prayer life
  • The perfect relationship

Relax. Eat well, and if you eat something not on the perfect diet, well, so be it. As long as you mostly eat well. A little mistake while cooking may lead to a better taste. And trying to make other people perfect, well, that is only annoying to them and frustrating to you.

Look at the people Jesus surrounded himself with. Not a one was perfect. Even after the resurrection and receiving his final instructions, they still were not perfect. And they wrote books and letters showing they were not perfect. Yet, they changed the world.

Relax. Live in the moment. Build healthy habits. Orient yourself in the right direction. And if something slips once in a while, live with it.

You and I? We’re not perfect.

You Can’t Do It On Your Own

February 21, 2023

Jesus began his ministry with this message–change the direction of your life (repent). Why? Because the kingdom of heaven is here (actually here, there, everywhere).

We just have one response–part of it is awareness that we are not on the right path, the one pleasing to God. The other part is to choose to follow the right path.

Later, Jesus added a bit to this. Or he clarified. He said our response it to love God completely and to love our neighbor. When asked about who the neighbor was, he told a story where the neighbor was the most despised person his audience would think of.

Think of the person you would most despise–someone of a different race, someone of a different gender identity, someone from another country speaking a different language. That person you must love.

Later, again, Jesus told a story about a camel going through an eye of the needle. I’m not going to delve into different explanations of what that physical image was. What he was trying to explain is that it is almost impossible to be part of the kingdom of heaven through your own effort.

Loving doesn’t come easy.

But, God’s grace helps us. By living each moment with-God, we will be helped into that state of being in the kingdom where we can love those that we think are beyond love. We change our attitude (which means direction) and start walking along God’s path alongside God.

Part of that repentance thing is to realize we can make a choice but we can’t earn entry through our own efforts. But when we let God be God then we get that extra boost into the kingdom.

Then we truly find that capacity to love even our enemies and those we despise.

He Is God, I Am Not

February 15, 2023

I’m going to steal this phrase from Rich Dixon who writes on Jon Swanson’s blog every Wednesday. He tells the story of his paralysis and eventual working through it and eventually raising thousands of dollars for his children’s charity riding a hand-cranked bicycle on distance tours.

He’s God. I’m not.

Perhaps we all need to sear that into our mind. Into our soul.

All faiths. All genders. All ages.

He’s God. I’m not.

I choose to limit my news intake. Most of the time it’s meaningless to me. It just stirs up emotions with no way to release them. But I have an idea of what’s going on in the world. And politicians everywhere need to make this phrase part of their soul as they pass or try to pass laws as if they are god, he’s not.

How often have I acted or spoken as if I’m God, he’s not? I believe it’s the Baptists who use the term convicted as in when I finally realize I’ve done wrong. I stand convicted. How about you?

It actually should be a relief that I don’t have to be God any longer. I don’t have to make a career of telling people what to do with their lives. I let God take care of me, and I just serve others.

Thank you Rich for your story. And your ministry. And for giving me this phrase to meditate on and turn into personality–He’s God. I’m not.

Don’t Just Do It–Finish It

February 10, 2023

Consider this story told by Jesus.

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

I heard someone say that there are many books and teachers instructing with tips on how to begin. You know, get busy and get started.

How often have we been taught how to finish?

How often are we like the first three “seeds” in Jesus metaphorical farm?

  • We get an idea—write a book, cook a meal for someone, do a project—then the idea flits away like finches in the bush.
  • We get an idea. We’re going to take up painting. Or write that novel. Or prepare that meal to take to someone. We purchase the supplies. We’re all set. Then, something else comes to mind. All those supplies gather dust while we, well, flit off like those same finches.
  • We get an idea. Friends, neighbors, relatives, strangers even, tell us we’re crazy. We can never do that. We worry we’re not good enough. We never finish.

Jesus was right—again. We must learn to finish what we start. That makes for a satisfying life. Don’t be like the shoe slogan—just do it. Be more like—I did it, and I’m happy that I did.

Attitude Makes All the Difference

February 7, 2023

I am traveling again. Not as much as the old days in the industry, but it’s nice to get out after the pandemic lockdown days.

Traveling can be tiring. The three hour maintenance delay of my flight was not that stressful. Then a taxi to the conference hotel. Directly to the press conference room. Meet people, listen to presentations, take notes, digest information. Then to meet people, ask questions, absorb more information. Eat very little. Walk 1.5 miles to my hotel. It’s 9 pm and I’m tired. 

Now, the question is, I got in my steps, but when to do strength and flexibility work? 

It’s attitude. 

With a positive, energetic attitude, I can work in a little Yoga and write. Or, scan email from for the first time in several hours, send a couple of text messages, get in a few minutes of Duolingo language study to keep my 159-day streak alive, and go to bed.

It’s attitude that either allows me or prevents me from overeating 

It’s attitude that guides me to my daily mediation even with a different schedule and environment.

It’s my attitude that I must nurture. And allow it to guide me in the proper direction.

Guard your attitude. It makes all the difference.

Approaching The Study of the Bible

February 1, 2023

How do we approach the reading of the Bible? Any book, actually, but especially the Bible?

I try not to bring my prejudices and biases to my reading of the Bible; rather, I try to let the Bible speak to my prejudices and biases. At least, that is my goal.

A philosopher called Jacques Derrida thought that we cannot divorce any writing or reading from our prejudices. (Side note: I’ve been forever grateful that I ignored one of my English professor’s invitation to become an English major. They seemingly all became disciples of Derrida, which I am not.)

The early Christians read the Hebrew scriptures carefully and thoroughly. But they were not particularly interested in Jewish history or religion. They searched diligently for any mention of Jesus. Jewish scholars to this day are aghast at the interpretations that arose. But it satisfied the soul of the early Christians at the time.

But I wonder…do I search the Bible for sentences that reinforce my biases and prejudices? Am I searching for what Jesus is saying to me now, in my current situation? Am I searching for universal truth?

I just read through the Proverbs. I found many ideas that spoke clearly to me at this time in my life. I’ve read them before. But now there is perhaps deeper understanding.

I try to pause, open my heart and mind, and then read the thoughts there before me. Maybe that day something will open my eyes just a bit more and give me just a bit more of God’s Wisdom.

Do Things With Intention

January 25, 2023

When I attended a Baptist church, I noticed a favorite metaphor of the preachers was to divide people into the “lost” and the “found”.

I’ve thought about lost. I observed some neighbors. They were lost. What does a person do when lost, say in the woods. Experts say they wind up walking in circles. Without a map and no idea of direction, they drift.

I’ve observed people just drifting through life. No purpose. No courage. Usually too much alcohol. Not enough discipline to maintain good health or a steady job.

The road to hell is not paved with good intentions. It is paved with lack of intention.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

I heard this idea quoted on a podcast some time ago. I’ve been pondering it.

How does this apply?

I intend to get up from this chair, walk over to the community clubhouse, exercise with some walking and Yoga, sit in the hot water of the spa (we don’t have a sauna). Then I’ll come back home for breakfast followed by study and writing about technology and strategies used in manufacturing.

Perhaps what Maté (and the words of Jesus and the Proverbs) mean about intention are deeper than that. I approach God with intention. Pray with intention. Serve others with intention.

Rich and Poor Have This In Common

January 23, 2023

The rich and poor have this in common: the Lord is the maker of them all.—Proverbs

We humans are prone to divide people into groups—usually us and them. The “us” are then disposed to look down at the “them”. 

We forget that all humans are children of God. Perhaps we should learn to treat each person we meet or with whom we interact on social media as such. Perhaps our tone would become more temperate and, indeed, even more loving.

A smile and kind greeting upon meeting someone establishes a positive context. Doing so to your enemy takes the wind from their sail of enmity.

Do the smile and greeting often enough, it becomes your nature. People might even think you are a nice person, and treat you as such in return. That makes for a happier day.

We need all the happy days we can get.