Pet Peeves

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A student recently interviewed me for a class project. The questions focused on “pet peeves”…those behaviors or traits that tend to get under your skin.

I have a couple.  First, I don’t like it when folks remind me how busy they are…or how hard they are working. In this case, actions speak louder than words, right?

And I also frown when people bring problems to the table, but offer no possible solutions.

Jesus talked about bad behaviors often in the New Testament.

And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:20-23

We often think of sins categorically.  You know..you have the “big ones” that people can easily detect and are widely socially unacceptable. Then there are the “little ones” that are under the surface and not so evident…pride, deceit, lust and greed.

But God knows…and there is no category to sin in His eyes.  We know God’s pet peeves.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10

My prayer this week is to acknowledge the sin in my life and focus on making modifications in my behavior. I want to be pure from within.

And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Hidden Actions

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When my daughter was a little girl, she would often hide her face when she got in trouble. If she covered her eyes and couldn’t see us- how could we possibly see her?  It was cute…and made it tough to discipline her!

I’m really no different, however. I often have that same sentiment when there’s sin in my life. I try to hide it deep inside…containing it in my innermost thoughts. If no one can see my struggle- maybe it’s not a distraction or something that I need to address.

But God knows.

There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.  Luke 12:2-3

He knows of my sin. He knows my innermost thoughts.

For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. Mark 4:22

But God is faithful and forgiving.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

My prayer this week is to have the strength to address secret sin….to truly deal with those thoughts and actions that are keeping me from a closer walk with Jesus. Thoughts of anger, pride and selfishness.

Jesus wants to heal me. And thank God for this grace that flows so abundantly!

Please let me know how I may pray for you this week.

God bless.

 

 

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How many “likes” did I get?

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“You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus‬ ‭26:1‬ ‭

We recently hosted a speaker at my workplace that talked about mental health and wellness issues. She informed us that one of the prevailing crisises in the mental health world is the false reality that social media creates.

Instagram. Twitter. Snapchat. Facebook.  And the pressure to create the image of a “perfect” life.

Perfect kids. Perfect spouse. Perfect lifestyle. Popularity.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing our experiences with others, it can become an issue for our own mental health when we start comparing the “virtual lives” of others with our own flawed, broken lives.  Comparison- it’s been said- is the thief of joy.

She spoke of another issue with the wellness pitfalls of social media…and that we can use it to create idols of ourselves.

What? Idols of ourselves?

When we go beyond sharing and move toward logging how many “followers” we have….how many “likes” we get on a certain posting…how many “shares” we receive from a particular photo….we are in danger of building an idol of ourselves.

This hit my squarely in the chest. I use social media to promote my workplace and region, but I often catch myself trying to say the “right” thing or following how many responses I receive on my posts.

My prayer this week is that I look at social media at what it truly is: a platform for sharing a message or to stay connected with others. And I will also pray that I use it for good…and not be consumed with the pitfalls associated with self-promotion and vanity. I want to let the Lord’s love and grace radiate through my words, thoughts and images.

Please let me know how I may pray for you, too.

God bless you.

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New Year, same old Broken Me

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According to a recent study, 80% of New Year’s resolutions have failed by the second week of February.

That’s now.

That’s sobering.

We’ve all done it one time or another.  Pledge to lose 5 pounds. Save more money. Better manage our time.  Spend more time with our family.

And the statistics say that by the sixth week of the year- we’ve already abandoned our attempts to better ourselves or start fresh. We quit trying.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Fortunately, God’s love for us never fails.

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

There’s the promise of eternal life for the sinner.

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. John 5:24

There is a never-ending source of grace for each of us.

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.  Romans 6:14

This week my prayer will be to stay focused on Jesus when life’s obstacles enter my path…and to stay encouraged when I have the desire to lose hope.

Please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

 

 

 

 

 

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Trust

img_7350How do we establish trust?

A recent article from the Harvard Business Review article reports on a study that presents three critical elements leaders need to build trust within their organizations:  positive relationships, good judgement and consistency.

Over 87,000 participants contributed to this research…and I agree that all three elements are essential to becoming a leader worth following.

The Bible says a great deal about these three qualities.

In terms of positive relationships, we are given numerous ways to build and edify others.

  • Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
  • So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

The Bible gives us many ways to nurture and develop good judgement.

  • If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5
  • Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Proverbs 19:20

Consistency is encouraged.

  • Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. I Corinthians 15:58
  • Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. Matthew 5:37

God’s word is the ultimate leadership guidebook.

My prayer this week is to be more consistent in my daily study in the Word- and to commit these words to heart as I try to build more trust with all my relationships.

And please let me know how I may pray for you.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

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Free Lunch

Friday was a wild day.

Some unexpected news kept me in meetings all morning and I ended up having about twenty minutes to grab something to eat before my afternoon events started.

I darted to the Mexican resturant across the street from my office. The waiter asked if I wanted the usual (two grilled shrimp soft tacos with extra peppers and guacamole)- and I grunted out a distracted “yeah” while checking emails and missed phone calls.

After quickly eating my meal I headed up to the register. The manager, Renee, smiled and told me that there was “no charge.” Someone had paid for my lunch and left me a note.

“Thank you for all you do. Have a great weekend! Lunch is on me today.”

I was stunned. I quickly looked around the place to see if I could recognize who might have done this kind deed. Unfortunately, I was so distracted when I came in that I didn’t notice anyone.

It changed my day completely. I had been distracted…completely caught up in my work. I certainly didn’t deserve this gift, but I was grateful.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Salvation is a gift…a gift we shouldn’t ever take for granted. And we’ve done nothing to deserve it.

Jesus freely died on the Cross to ensure that we can live with him forever in Heaven.

No matter how busy or preoccupied we become, we must never overlook this precious gift from Jesus. It’s so pure, so awesome…and completely free of charge for us.

My prayer this week will be to reflect more intentionally about the gift of salvation. And I want to me more focused on giving gifts to others…a smile, a kind word, a helping hand or even a free lunch.

Please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Graduation: 10 things I wish I’d known 20 years ago

IMG_7650.jpgI had the honor of speaking at a commencement ceremony at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville last week.  It was an exciting afternoon- with happy graduates, proud family members and smiles everywhere.

As I began preparing my remarks, I realized that it was the 20th anniversary of my graduation from UT.  It was an exciting time.  I had just accepted my first “real” job on a college campus, I was about to marry Hollianne, and we were preparing to move to Ohio to begin our lives as a married couple.

Looking back, I realized how much I’ve learned in those twenty years.  I decided to share ten of these life lessons with the graduates.

10 things I wish I’d known 20 years ago:

10) Every decision you make in life impacts someone else.  Think about the implications of every choice you make.  One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.  Proverbs 14:16

9)  The job isn’t ever just about you.  The opportunity to have your job is a privilege.  Treat your coworkers with care…as equals.  Success is earned by working together as a team.  Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

8)  When it comes to “being in the know”, those who talk a lot usually aren’t in the know.  Idle talk is useless in the workplace.  Be a part of the solution…not a part of the problem.  Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  Ephesians 4:29

7)  Take tasks off your boss’ desk.  Leadership is a lonely activity.  Those that we serve in the workplace have numerous demands on their time, and they need to find people that they can trust.  Become someone worthy of that trust.  And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.  Matthew 5:41

6)  No task is too small for you.  Humility is a wonderful thing.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.  Luke 14:11

5)  You are replaceable.  No single person is essential to the success of a business.  You will never be bigger than the organization you serve.  When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.  Proverbs 11:2

4)  Everybody has a first name.  All people have worth.  All people deserve our respect.  It is essential that we know those people around us who are investing in the success of our organization.  Get to know their interests, their joys and their pain.  Invest in them.  Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Philippians 2:3

3)  Whatever task you are asked to do, do it with all your heart.  Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…  Colossians 3:23

2)  Dinner with your family is important. We are all busy.  We will never complete our to-do lists at the office.  But it is essential that we invest in those that we love…and that love us.  The work will always be there.  It’s important to build our relationships with those that bring us joy and renewal, too.  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  1 John 4:7

1)  When you don’t know what to do, remember to do no harm until you do.  Find good, trusted mentors and seek their counsel.  Wisdom comes from careful reflection and life experience- so seek help from those you trust when faced with difficult decisions.  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  James 1:5

Let’s pray for all the new graduates- high school and college- this week.  May they find success and peace during this period of transition, and may they glorify God in all that they do.

God bless you.

(reprinted from May 2015)

 

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