Friday, November 20, 2009

Each Day is a Gift.....

Roast of the Day: Medium

As we are fast approaching the Christmas season, I thought it only fitting that I blog about gifts.

Can you remember the excitement of Christmas back when you were a child? The anticipation of opening the gifts under the tree was almost unbearable. It didn't seem to matter what the gift was back then....only that someone loved us enough to wrap up something in pretty paper and give it to us. We would tear into that present with wild abandonment. We were not concerned about saving the pretty wrapping paper or the bow. We wanted to see what was inside the wrapping paper.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, we grew up...and opening presents became more of a tradition or ritual. We started neatly unwrapping the outer paper and folding it up, perhaps saving it for another use. Our excitement and anticipation over the gifts has become diminished and our reactions to the gifts is, at best, predictable. Pleasantries and gratitude are still communicated, but true feelings and raw emotion are seemingly all but gone from the experience.

You've heard it been said that "each day is a gift." Well then, I wonder....how are you opening that gift each morning? Has it become a ho-hum ritual for you each and everyday? Do you neatly fold back the pretty wrapping paper and say your obligatory 'thank you' - all the while waiting for your next gift to be opened? I, for one, believe we need to capture our childlike excitement once again. Imagine if we could wake up each morning and open our gift with the wild abandonment of our youth. Who knows what type of day is wrapped beneath that pretty paper, but the One who loves us and gave it to us.....Carpe Diem!

Monday, September 7, 2009

When was your last "I-exam"?

Roast of the Day: Medium Roast

I still remember the day in the fourth grade when I received the news that I needed to get eyeglasses. Our class had just taken the mandatory eye exam given by the school nurse, and I guess I failed (I should have been listening closer to the person reading off the chart in front of me). Anyway, I remember coming home from school in tears, realizing that this one event was going to change my life forever. Sure, I may have been a bit over dramatic at the time, but, come on, I was in the fourth grade....what can you expect.

What I failed to realize at the time was that my eyeglasses would vastly improve my vision. It wasn't until I put on my new glasses that I truly understood how bad my vision had been. For any of you that have experienced this phenomenon, you know what I'm talking about. Everything instantly became clearer and crisper. I could make out all of the jagged edges on the leaves of the trees, my perspective of things seemed so much clearer, and even the colors seemed more vivid. At the time, it was hard for me to believe that I hadn't noticed what I was missing earlier.

I believe there is quite a parallel here to our faith. Many of us are walking through our daily lives in a blur and we don't even know it. We are so used to 'seeing' things from our current perspective and we are missing out on the perfect 'vision' that God can provide. When we make the decision to put our faith in Christ, it's like putting on those eyeglasses for the first time. Our 'vision' becomes so much clearer and crisper, which transcends all areas of our lives.

However, as I am learning, we cannot simply put on our first pair of eyeglasses and be done with it. Over the past 30 some odd years, I've had to continually get my eyes re-examined - because over time, my eyes grow lazy and my vision slowly deteriorates. Without those eye examinations and my new prescriptions, I would slip back into settling for vision that is less than perfect. So, I believe, it is with our faith walk.

If we want to continue to make a difference and 'see' things through God's perspective, we must take the time for our own 'I' exams. These 'I-examinations', as I have coined them, should be things that challenge us in our walk, such as getting involved in a local church, becoming part of a small group, a commitment to read God's word, a mission trip, any number of things that will push us to 'see' the heart of God with more clarity and get His perspective.

So, I will leave you with this last thought to ponder, "When was your last 'I-exam'?"

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Coffee and Blogging: More Similarities

Roast of the Day: Light

Okay...thanks to the one new soul that took time to read my blog, I've been given new inspiration to try to update on a more regular basis, but we'll see...:)

It occurs to me that coffee and blogging have much more similarities than I first envisioned. Like coffee, the best blogs are fresh. No one wants to sift through and read blogs that have been growing stale sitting out here in cyberworld. Being a coffee connoisseur, I can tell you that similarly old, stale coffee grounds produce a very poor tasting brew. Thus, I am going to try my best to 'grind up' some fresh ideas on a weekly basis (no need to over commit) and share them once again. I plan to continue my 'Roast of the Day' rating to provide readers with a quick insight into the content, thereby determining if the posting is worth a read. A 'Light' roast will indicate a fun or light read. The 'Medium' roast will be more of a thought for the day - maybe something to ponder, while a 'Dark' roast will indicate a much more thoughtful or deeper insight....call it robust.

I hope those of you who take the time to read this blog will find some thought provoking, insightful nuggets that can lift your spirits - or in coffee terms, provide some much needed caffeine for your day.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Wisdom comes in small bites...

Roast of the day: Medium

What is wisdom? Can one equate intelligence to wisdom, or is wisdom something more? I believe wisdom is the discipline of choosing the right path every time we are confronted with a decision. Sure, intelligence can play a major role, but it is by no means synonymous with wisdom.

I once had the pleasure of hearing the well known author, Ken Blanchard, speak at a conference. He gave an amazing statistic regarding the number of decisions that each one of us make on a daily basis. Although a few of these decisions are very significant in nature, the vast majority of our daily choices could be labeled as mundane, or insignificant. If you are like me, you probably devote a great deal of energy and thoughtfulness into the major decisions that confront you on a daily basis - but what about the little choices? What about that car merging onto the interstate in front of you? Do you show courtesy and allow them to merge, or do you speed up to make sure you end up in front of them? What if we all took the time to consider every decision we make and ask the question, "Will this response make the world a better place, or a worse place?" I know this may seem like a trivial exercise in some circumstances, but I truly believe it is a discipline worth pursuing.

Through discipline and discernment, we can exercise our ability to make the right decisions - and with each right decision, grow incrementally in wisdom. One does not become wise overnight....wisdom comes in small bites...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Gotta Work on My 'IFs"

Roast of the day: Medium

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths." - Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)

Like many of you, I've read this particular passage countless times. A Scripture passage that is both a proverb and a promise. But today, God revealed some additional insight to me that I wish to share.

Like many of the promises found in Scripture, the passage can really be broken down into an IF-THEN statement. IF we....trust in the Lord with all our hearts, and we don't depend on our own understanding, and seek Him in all we do....THEN He will direct our paths. I think too many times I want the "then" without the effort of the "if." I find myself asking God to help guide me, or direct me in an upcoming decision without fully examining how I've been fulfilling my "if" requirements. Have I been trusting the Lord with ALL my heart? Is it possible that I've been leaning too heavily on my own knowledge and understanding? Have I truly been seeking His will in ALL I do?

Lord, help me work on my "IFs," before expecting the promises of Your "THENs."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My First Axiom for Leadership

Roast of the day: Medium

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Leadership Summit which is hosted by Willow Creek in Chicago. Our church is a satellite site for this event each year, and I found the experience very inspiring. Bill Hybels was one of the keynote speakers at the event. During one of his addresses, he introduced his latest book, Axioms, which I promptly purchased.

Bill defines axioms as leadership proverbs. In his book, he outlines about 76 axioms that he has come up with over the past 3 decades that are key ideas or thoughts for effective leadership. Each of these axioms are captured in simple phrases or proverbs that can be easily remembered and repeated. The concept is quite powerful.

During his teaching at the conference, Bill outlined one leadership principle that really rang true to me for effective leaders. As I did not find an axiom in his recent book that succinctly relates this idea, I've decided to come up with my own axiom to describe this key point in effective leadership. It is as follows:

Success Shared. Blame Beared.

The basic idea behind this axiom, or leadership proverb, is that to be an effective leader one must be willing to share credit with his/her team while at the same time take personal responsibility when things don't go according to plan. My feeling and experience is that leaders mastering this skill will find themselves surrounded by a team that is 'sold out to their cause' (whatever that might be). In my opinion, this is a key factor in effective leadership.

Unfortunately, it seems that as leaders we mess this up far too often. It's so easy to want to pin the success of a specific outcome to our chest or place the blame on the team when something doesn't go right. If you find yourself in a leadership position, try to remember this little axiom. I think it will serve you well.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Anticipatory Theory

Roast: Medium

A colleague of mine and I recently returned from a business trip in Florida. Our local sales representative played host during our visit and we had the pleasure of meeting his wonderful family. While having dinner together one evening, I seized the opportunity to pontificate on my theories of time and LRPs (if you are unfamiliar with this term, please refer back to my previous posts). I was intrigued and pleased to hear some of the interesting ideas that both our sales representative and his wife had on the subject. I thought I'd share a bit from that discussion.

If you've been a faithful reader of my blog, you know that I have a few theories on why the passage of time seems to accelerate as we grow older. However, after my discussion with my friends in Florida, I must admit that there are probably quite a few other theories that deserve investigation. One of the main ideas we discussed during dinner last week revolved around child-like anticipation. Thus, I have coined this as the Anticipatory Theory of Time.

The basic logic of this theory is that time will seem to pass slower when we are anticipating something of significance to take place. Do you remember as a child when your parents announced that the family would be taking vacation to Walt Disney World during Easter break? The months leading up to that planned vacation always seemed to take forever. Why is that? Even as an adult, I have experienced this same phenomenon as we plan our annual family vacations to both Door County and the Wisconsin Dells. It seems as if the anticipation of the upcoming event acts as a catalyst for slowing down time, at least in our minds. Granted, I have only been introduced to this notion recently, so I have not taken the time to ponder the full effects of anticipation - but I am intrigued by this new theory.

Perhaps when considering your next LRP (Life Reference Point) event, you should consider planning it well in advance. By combining both the ideas of LRPs and the Anticipatory Theory, you may find that slowing the passage of time is seemingly possible - at least on a relative basis.