Archive for the ‘Attitude’ Category

Thank You

November 24, 2022

I see very few people during a normal day. Still, there are opportunities to thank people for helping or for a kindness.

Almost all of my email replies of which there are many each day include a thank you. Even those annoying pitches from public relations people. They are doing their job. I thank them for noticing me.

Thank you to each of you who read these thoughts.

It is Thanksgiving holiday today in the US. Being a holiday means traditions–usually family gatherings. Or remembrance of past family gatherings. Maybe we remember to give thanks sometime during the day.

Holidays are nice, as long as we don’t stress out over them. Better still is to make every day a thanksgiving day. It improves our health and our attitudes and adds a little boost for those to whom we show a little appreciation.

Smooth Is Fast

November 17, 2022

I knew a man who never hurried, never raised his voice. He accomplished much.

I knew a man who managed by edict. He was a flurry of energy and orders and forcing others. He accomplished little.

The caption in an old cartoon called Pogo once had one character talking to another, “The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get.”

Slow is smooth; smooth is fast.

Two Kinds of People

November 9, 2022

Philosopher Blaise Pascal writing in the 17th Century observed, “There are two kinds of people one can call reasonable, those who serve God with all their heart because they know him and those who seek him with all their heart because they do not know him.”

Our churches have tended to venerate the former. They are comfortable with those who know God (or at least say that they do).

For those seekers among us who wish to know God but do not claim that certitude, the church knows not how to relate.

For those who seek, I encourage your seeking. It has been better in my life when I was not so certain.

Treating With Sensitivity and Humanity

October 14, 2022

I just finished “binge reading” Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse series of novels. Set in Oxford, England, Detective Chief Inspector Morse solves murders in his unique style assisted by loyal partner Detective Sergeant Lewis and boss Chief Superintendent Strange. The thirteen novels culminate in a moving finale.

Dexter drew the final resolution of both the murder case and the series with a series of scenes that handled the complex relationships with such sensitivity and humanity that I had to pause and reflect for quite a while.

What would happen, I wondered, if we stepped back and took a longer view at relationships both near and far and brought sensitivity and humanity to the reflection?

We sometimes (often?) judge motivations and actions quickly. Perhaps there is more to the story? Perhaps they weren’t out to get you? Perhaps they were protecting someone else? Yes, some people are devious. But most? Most just act the best they can at the time. We should consider them with sensitivity and humanity, and yes, even love.

And if you are a fan of murder mysteries, you cannot go far wrong by reading Dexter. His writing captures the scene and mood, and keeps you guessing along with Morse.

It Begins In The Heart

October 12, 2022

Whatever else happened, Jesus was most interested in the contents of the heart. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” What you value is related to the status of your heart.

Jesus valued people. You can tell from each of his interactions with people–even his enemies.

Some seek peace. Yet they exhibit anger and bitterness.

Some seek justice. Yet they exhibit bias and anger toward one group while saying they want justice for another. Justice is justice, no matter which clothes it is wearing.

What values color your heart? What do you say? James taught us that how we speak reflects the status of our heart. He also taught that what we do reveals the status of our heart.

Maybe we need a daily check-up?

Values

October 5, 2022

You are on your way to the local coffee house. A brother or sister of the human family is along the way. Obviously hurting. You stop to chat. “I believe Jesus can heal you,” you say. “If you believe the way I believe, you’ll be OK.”

What if Jesus were passing that person?

He would stop whatever he was doing wherever he was going. Stop. Look at the person. Deeply. In the eyes. Into the soul. “What do you want?” he’d ask. Then he’d do it.

Reflect upon the people that he had this interaction with. Remember, he was a Jewish rabbi (teacher). He was culturally bound to interact with Jewish people primarily. Seldom or never with outsiders.

Yet, Jesus listened, acted for, and valued

  • A Syro-Phoenician woman (2 strikes, woman and outsider)
  • A Roman army officer (not only an outsider, but also a hated oppressor)
  • Many people with skin diseases whom he actually touched
  • A Jewish woman with a disorder that caused her to be unclean who touched him

He cared, loved, wept, was moved by all these people who were hurting.

Whom did he not care for? Pompous religious people who thought they had all the answers.

An Invitation or a Threat?

September 22, 2022

Jesus began his public ministry proclaiming, “Repent and believe in the Good News.” Trevor Hudson writes in his new book, Seeking God: Finding Another Kind of Life with St. Ignatius and Dallas Willard, that when Jesus said this it was an invitation not a threat.

I ask of us, everyone who says they are either Christian or Jesus-Follower, how do we sound as we talk to people, post on social media, or write publicly?

What tone lies within our voice?

What does our body posture say? Is it congruent with what we say? Or, is it telling a different story?

I’ve read yet another study revealing further decline in the numbers of people in America who admit to being a Christian. Has the public messaging of some Christians turned off one or more generations?

What can each of us do about it wherever we live?

And, I agree with Hudson that both St. Ignatius and Dallas Willard can be great mentors to us. I have writings from each in my library. And, yes, I’ve read them. Reading is the easy part. Living out their words takes courage and discipline.

Are You Smart?

September 21, 2022

I picked these ideas up from Seth Godin. He is an acknowledged marketing guru. But his thinking is broader than that. An example follows.

Smart is no longer memorization. It’s not worth much.

Smart is no longer access to information. Everyone has that.

Smart is:

• Situational awareness

• Filtering information

• Troubleshooting

• Clarity of goals

• Good taste

• Empathy and compassion for others

• The ability to make decisions that further your goals

The good news is that smart is a choice, and smart is a skill.

This thinking applies broadly. People memorize great amounts of the Bible. Yet, nothing in their lives reflects any awareness of this knowledge. Jesus confronted the Pharisees of his time on this very point.

The question for us today. Where have we stopped with mere memorization? Where have we acted like someone “smart” putting the knowledge into action?

A Humble and Contrite Spirit

September 19, 2022

From Isaiah 66: 

But this is the one to whom I will look:

    he who is humble and contrite in spirit

    and trembles at my word.

We are watching a Scottish (supposedly) police drama series called Rebus. Rebus, a detective inspector, talks with a murder suspect at the end of an episode. The guy killed his father while the father was hitting the guy’s sister who was 9. The killing was never reported. Like most trauma buried in childhood, it came back to bite those involved.

The boy grew up to be successful in business and started a movement to help the poor globally. But the killing haunted his life. He told Rebus the killing was justified, seeking sympathy. Then he got in his expensive car and smirked as he drove away. At that, Rebus pulled out his mobile and called the police station. He gave description and registration of the car telling the duty sergeant to detain the driver for murder of his father.

I wonder if the “up yours” attitude of the killer tipped the scales.

I have done that in soccer matches. I was referee of an “Elite Eight” boys tournament contest one evening years ago. With the first half in its final few minutes, a defender committed a hard foul. I blew my whistle and ran to the spot. Yellow card or talking to debated in my mind. I approached the young man, “That was a hard foul.” He replied with a measure of pride in his voice, “Yes, it was.”

Yellow card / Caution. Or as they would say in England, he was in my book.

Pondering this, this thought from Isaiah entered my mind. A humble and contrite heart may not let you avoid all punishment. But it is a far better response than pride. And God’s grace will follow.

Opportunity for a Kindness

September 16, 2022

Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness–Seneca.

Many people follow Vitaliy Katsenelsen for his insights into value investing. He calls himself a “student of life.” He reflects this in his latest book Soul in the Game: The Art of a Meaningful Life. Katsenelsen was born in Soviet Russia and is a Jew. He emigrated to the US, has a masters degree in finance and runs a financial investing firm. This wealth of experience infuses the book.

He describes meeting with an economist/writer on a trip. “The second thing I learned from John: Be kind to everyone, all the time.” They walked into a bar to continue their conversation. John greeted every person in his path. He devoted his full attention on the server he chatted with as they sat.

How do you treat your servers or baristas? How do you treat everyone in your path?

Sometimes I think our politicians are still junior high kids. What if they all began to treat people with kindness?

What if, today, I treated everyone I meet with kindness?

Be kind.