Archive for the ‘Deciding’ Category

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.

Why Did They (I) Make That Decision

March 8, 2023

Birds sit in the bushes or on the electric cables. They suddenly fly off. I watched two robins in the yard outside my office window this morning. The hopped along the ground together. Then one flew one direction and the other went the opposite.

I wonder, what makes them decide to fly off? What makes them land somewhere, only to rest a few seconds and then fly again?

I joined a Baptist church for a few years. I had two uncles who were Seventh-Day Baptist ministers. I married a Baptist. I guess there was a magnetic pull. The Baptists are all about “The Decision.” All preaching is supposed to be about getting someone in the congregation to come forward to publicly announce they have made “The Decision.” (Note: I was raised Methodist. We didn’t sing all 127 verses of “Just As I Am”.)

I wondered. Do they do that due to persuasive, emotional preaching? Peer pressure? An internal nudge from the Spirit?

We all see people every day and wonder, “Why did they make that decision?”

Then we look in the mirror reflecting our life as it is now and wonder, “Why did we make that decision?”

Was it the TV detective Columbo who used to say, “It’s complicated”?

Well, it is. Or maybe not. Maybe just an inner urge to move, do something, go with the crowd. Or maybe respond to an inner prompting from God.

I hope it’s the latter.

Decisions Define Us

February 22, 2023

It began early.

The first decision—should I get up or stay in bed?

To decide whether or not to have coffee.

To decide to sit in that particular chair where I read something spiritual and helpful and then meditate or pray.

Shall I have porridge to start the day healthy by eating something that lowers cholesterol or perhaps an egg (an almost perfect food) or perhaps that jelly-filled doughnut because I feel weak and want a treat?

Shall I go out for a workout and exercise?

Our day is filled with decisions. Each decision defines us. What sort of person do we wish to be? Our decisions, whether made with intention or by emotion, determine the story.

I love the line from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where the old Crusader says in a dry, flat voice as Indiana Jones chooses which of the chalices was the one that held Christ’s blood according to myth—Choose wisely.


October 27, 2022

Robert Frost encountered a fork in the path he was walking. Knowing he could only take one, he took the one less traveled.

We are often presented with choices. Take either A or B, they say.

I often think neither.

Or, sometimes, both.

Maybe C occurs to me.

We Forgot To Choose

October 19, 2022

Viktor Frankl writing in Man’s Search for Meaning solidified the idea of our power to choose in my mind. The idea became one of my core beliefs. Ancient people knew that truth, the truth of choosing your attitude, your response, your life.

Seth Godin writes, “We are leaving the age of information and entering the age of choice. Not just choosing what we’ll consume, but who we will become. Who will we connect with, lead, trust, honor, dignify, isolate or believe? And how will we choose to walk through the world and what will we leave behind…”

Long-time technology pundit Steve Gillmor early on predicted companies on the Internet were all about capturing our attention. Now we read about the many psychological tricks companies such as Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and others use to capture and retain our attention. 

To whom do you choose to give your attention? And all the other choices Seth suggests?

I Choose Health, and Other Things

December 30, 2021

It happened many years ago. I remember lying on the bank of a creek in the warm spring sun watching otters play. I pulled out a cigarette. Back then I had taken up that disgusting habit for no apparent reason. The feeling of deep incongruity overcame me. How could I feel at one with nature and yet put such unhealthy stuff into my body? I stopped.

I learned to drink coffee with milk and sugar at university. And tea with sugar. One day grabbing a coffee in the break room at the manufacturing plant where I worked I became aware of the spoonfuls of stuff I was putting into my body (they used artificial creamer, of course). I stopped adding stuff to my coffee and tea–well, unless I have a cappuccino or, as I am now, having a chai tea.

I chose health.

Today, when faced with food or lifestyle choices, I have already chose. Or, if I choose to deviate, it is a conscious decision without guilt while knowing I will have to make up for it.

And I wear a mask and am vaccinated, because I’ve already made the choice for health. I understand those who fear needles or don’t want to “give in to authority”. I don’t agree, but I understand. I undertook a several year study into brain science and other physiology in order to understand. I won’t go into details, but suffice to say that the famous Descartes saying, “Cogito, ergo sum” was wrong. Reality is “Sum, ergo cogito.” For the Latin deprived, I am not a person because I think. Rather, I am, therefore I can think.

This is the week for New Year’s Resolutions. Or, does anyone make those anymore? Looking at the new year with a break in normal activities naturally leads to thinking of the future. I suggest choosing whom you will be. Not a resolution such as “I will lose 25 lbs.” which you will never do. Better are statements such as “I choose health” and “I choose to exercise every day.” Or, you can say, “I am the type of person who eats healthy and nutritious meals” or “I am the type of person who gets some exercise every day” or on another area “I am the type of person who gets up and writes three pages every day” or “I am the type of person who carries a sketch book and looks for interesting things to sketch every day.”

Edging Toward Normal

May 3, 2021

I’ve been back in Ohio this weekend for my first soccer weekend in two years. Sunny. Temperatures in the 70s. Beautiful weekend.

Of course, I witnessed all the varieties of personalities and emotions that are exhibited during competition. That would just be humanity. But 600 kids having fun and hopefully growing some. 1200 more or less parents cheering them on. Given 95 games very few examples of poor sportsmanship.

There is money to be made by the clubs sponsoring these American youth tournaments–of which there were four in southern Ohio this weekend. But not mega-millions.

We can contrast to the money grabbing of a half-dozen owners of the world’s largest soccer clubs recently. While our kids were playing, parents had mobile phones out tracking the events at Old Trafford in England where fans put on a giant protest about the owners of Manchester United leading that money hunt.

Once again, humanity. On the one hand, good competitive environment providing opportunities for kids. On the other hand ego, pride, greed.

Every moment of every day in which we draw breath, we get to make that choice. Are we helping other people? Are we wrapped up in our own pride and greed?

Choose wisely.

The Gate is Narrow and the Road is Hard

April 21, 2021

We’ve all seen it, I suppose. We are out in public, maybe at a grocery store with its overstimulating array of lights and products. And the small child who can’t take any more of the experience. The child starts screaming and crying. And the parent yells at the child to be quiet.

The parent’s yelling just adds to the level of sensory overstimulation. And things escalate. Threats and maybe a smack of the hand ensue.

The easy thing is to yell at kids to behave. The hard thing is to suck it up (literally suck in a deep breath) and tend to the child. The first is easy, yet not productive. The second is hard, but produces more quiet and a better relationship.

How often in life do we find ourselves with a similar choice? We can take the easy way of least amount of energy expended. We can suck it up and do the hard thing.

As Jesus was building to his climax in his teaching on the Galilean hillside, he taught, “The gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life. Few take it.”

It’s a challenge to us. Think of all the times in life where we took the easy way out. And then we were left to wonder, “What am I doing here?”

As we think about all the teachings in the message Jesus had just given, we know we are left with a choice. It’s all up to us to decide. We can suck it up and do the hard thing. The difficult thing. The thing that works out better in the end. That is the best way to life.

And The Point of the Sermon Is

April 8, 2021

A good keynote speech or sermon or presentation concludes with a point. Maybe an action item. Maybe a challenge.

Jesus had healed a bunch of people and talked with them. He then led them to a hillside by the Sea of Galilee and talked to them. The talk was about the kingdom of heaven and life there. That life was attainable starting right there.

He built through the talk that we call the Sermon on the Mount (found in Matthew chapters 5 through 7) and came to a conclusion. A summary point. A call to action.

There are two types of people–those who hear his words and act on them and those who don’t.

He illustrates.

The first type are like the man who builds his house on rock, on a solid foundation, a house that will withstand storms.

The second type are like a man who builds his house on sand, a weak and shifting foundation, a house that will be washed away.

That leaves every generation with the same decision. Will we be a disciple with a firm foundation? Or, will we drift like the shifting sands?

You Become What You Think About

January 27, 2021

This ancient insight holds that what your mind dwells on determines what sort of person you become.

The insight remains true when you find you have become a victim of something–perhaps bad health not caused by your poor choices, or perhaps a malicious boss, perhaps wrongly accused of something.

You are a victim. It is not your fault.

Now, what do you do?

Three times in a week, the insight of Viktor Frankl has come to my awareness. God must be telling me something. I’ll have to figure that out. Where am I being a victim? But, back to Frankl. He survived the Nazi concentration camps with this insight–you have the freedom to choose your response to the situation you find yourself in. Have you not yet read Man’s Search for Meaning? Perhaps it’s time.

You can whine, complain, seek sympathy, seek revenge, succumb to anger. Or, you can choose the most appropriate response to get yourself through.

Circumstances may have made us a victim of something. We can choose our response. Choose wisely.