Speaking With Wisdom

Almost all of us have said things we wish we hadn’t. A few weeks back, I was passing through our church lobby & greeting various attendees & I shot off my mouth. I felt totally stupid & wish I could stuff those words back in my mouth. But of course, I can’t.
Here’s some wisdom my friend told me that I’ve employed & found to be immensely helpful. When speaking, consider these questions:

  1. Should this be said?
  2. Am I the person to say this?
  3. Is this the right time to say this?

Feel free to share this with your fiends & friends ,)

When Listening Isn’t Enough

I’m a big advocate of listening. I think it’s essential that we listen to our kids, our mate, our friends, teachers, supervisors, pastors, political candidates, etc. Listening helps us learn, develops patience & is an essential ingredient for connecting with people. But alas, we cannot emphasize listening at the expense of doing. 
This morning I read Jesus’ brief parable that contrasts a wise man with a foolish man, at the end of Matthew 8. In this contrast, Jesus explains that the wise man listens to God & acts upon what he hears. The foolish man, however, listens but doesn’t do anything. Let’s allow God’s Word to inform & shape our actions. Let’s be “doers” & not just listeners 🙂

selective listening

Have you ever had one of those conversations where someone said something insensitive to you & you didn’t know if or how to respond?  This morning I was chatting with a lovely group of ladies & someone said something to me that was kind of zingy & I found myself suspended in that moment trying to figure out what to do.  Having given it some thought, here are some take aways I’m choosing that might help you as well:

  • benefit of the doubt:  I’m sure this person didn’t mean for her comment to be zingy & even if she did, I’m choosing to see her from a positive perspective
  • forgiving:  quick is better than nursing & rehearsing which only gives my emotions a fever
  • ignore:  rather than call this person out of their comment, I decided to dismiss the comment & adjust the conversation for a different trajectory (translation:  change the subject)
  • some people just have a zingy edge:  truth be known, we can always use some help with our diplomacy skills, so it’s best just to be fully graceful with the help of the Holy Spirit & know that we are all growing, learning and improving 🙂

Happy Labor Day weekend & feel free to share this post with your friends on FB & be sure to signup by email for this blog to keep some encouragement in your inbox 🙂

South Sudan Journey

I’ve been in South Sudan now for almost a week & have had the honor to travel to many different places, most of which I’d not be able to pronounce nor find on a map – it has all been a very wonderful experience. I’ve met some really great moms & seen some very fabulous babies, looking with Saving Moses for babies who have urgent needs & where the care is least available. South Sudan is an interesting place – it will celebrate its 2nd birthday next week, so in many respects, it is a baby country & it feels fresh from getting to travel around over the last week.
I’ve met beautiful people & seen some difficult situations but I feel hope in my heart for this nation because the people are wonderful. They’re kind, friendly, helpful, beautiful, generous, hospitable & very warm. They are very intelligent & have a confidence & hardiness to them after decades of conflict with their northern neighbors. I love getting to be with them, learn some of their language, culture, values, hopes & dreams. This is a wonderful country & I say, “happy early birthday South Sudan!” May you continue to develop, be strong & be great!
The attached pic is a burned down home from a rebel group who was causing some serious problems in a rural area. We visited this village today & learned that more than 100 people died here at the beginning of the month from the rebels

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South Sudan Journey

I’ve been in South Sudan now for almost a week & have had the honor to travel to many different places, most of which I’d not be able to pronounce nor find on a map – it has all been a very wonderful experience. I’ve met some really great moms & seen some very fabulous babies, looking with Saving Moses for babies who have urgent needs & where the care is least available. South Sudan is an interesting place – it will celebrate its 2nd birthday next week, so in many respects, it is a baby country & it feels fresh from getting to travel around over the last week.
I’ve met beautiful people & seen some difficult situations but I feel hope in my heart for this nation because the people are wonderful. They’re kind, friendly, helpful, beautiful, generous, hospitable & very warm. They are very intelligent & have a confidence & hardiness to them after decades of conflict with their northern neighbors. I love getting to be with them, learn some of their language, culture, values, hopes & dreams. This is a wonderful country & I say, “happy early birthday South Sudan!” May you continue to develop, be strong & be great!

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Lets take a walk

I like to take walks no matter what the season is because they can help me relax & kind of think through some things. The destination for the walk isn’t as important to me as the experience of just walking & enjoying being outside. With that being said, it’s important in our thinking to be mindful of how we are thinking & the things on which we are focusing. If we focus on hardship & struggles, such things tend to get magnified. If we keep our thoughts & focus on Jesus, who is walking with us everyday, then the hardships stay small in light of our loving Savior 🙂

selective hearing

When I was growing up, I had a 2nd family with whom I was really close & I noticed after some time, that the husband / dad had some hearing difficulties.  When I started to watch him more closely, I noticed that he could overhear “quiet” conversations in the next room, but would be oblivious to some conversations within his immediate hearing.  I thought this was really strange until someone pointed out that he had a hearing condition called “wife deafness.”  I had never heard of this condition & they explained to me that sometimes husbands or wives develop this impairment after several years of marriage – I got it, it was a joke, kind of ,)

While it was kind of funny to learn some of the quirky dynamics of my 2nd family, there’s some really good application that I use with this observation on a regular basis:  there are some voices & conversations that don’t need my attention nor do they help me to grow closer to God.  So some selective hearing is a good thing – like Jesus said in John 10, “My sheep know my voice & the voice of a stranger they won’t follow.” 😀

Listen, learn, lean

Listening is an interesting exercise – it requires us to be attentive, engaged & present with the person to whom we listen. It’s also an interesting thought to consider that we learn the best when we listen & not just talk.
In all of this, my most important focus is to listen to God, learn from God & lean into God. For me, I find that I lean & trust in God best when I’m learning from & listening to God. It’s also the converse for me that when I’m not listening to or learning from God, I find it more difficult to lean & trust in God. So lets be great learners, listeners & “leaners” 🙂

correction

I’ve been on both sides of this correction topic – receiving correction (Sarah, your performance is sub-standard and you’ll need to make significant improvements if you plan to continue in this role) and giving correction.  Neither position is very pleasant, but correction is very important and here are a few pointers:

  • if you’re receiving correction, be mindful to listen and not argue, deflect, make excuses or blame others.  If you receive the correction well and in a constructive way (regardless of how the person presents it), you can grow, learn, get stronger and be a better person.  If you receive correction poorly, you’ll probably have to go through the cycle again & it might be a more painful experience the next time around :/
  • if you’re giving correction, be mindful to deal with the behavior that needs to change without attacking the person and use several concrete examples of the wrong behavior.  It’s also necessary to be clear and firm, explaining to the recipient the preferred outcome or method for their actions.  Finally, be constructive and affirming, believing that the person can change.

There are heaps and heaps of wisdom in the Bible that pertain to correction, so please consider reading about the life of Eli in 1 Samuel 1-4 and also Hebrews 12, as starting points.  Let’s allow correction to be constructive in our lives 🙂

I want to be close

I like to be around my kids in all kinds of ways. I like to cuddle in bed with them when they’re waking up. I like to cook w them in the kitchen. I like to watch them play sports & perform. I like sitting & reading or watching basketball w them. I just like being around my kids & think that this is even more true in how God likes to be around us.
Maybe a reason that God is omni-present is because He likes to be around us so much 🙂
So here’s an interesting challenge: to flip the truth that God is always w us, let’s endeavor to be w God throughout each day – not just on Sundays or at church, but in the entirety of each day & in every place that we go. Just to be close to God.

your feedback please

Greetings!  I made a concerted effort in 2011 to blog more consistently & I’ve found this I like this format quite a bit.  If you’ve noticed, I try to do a couple of things:  stay brief, relevant & insightful.  At the same time, I’m not very interested in jumping into uber controversial subjects (politics, etc).  Sometimes I’ve done this better than at other times.  So what I’d like from you are suggestions:

  • are there topics you’d like me to write about?
  • do you have suggestions of things you’d like me to do or not do?
  • general thoughts?

Your feedback would be greatly appreciated and thanks MUCHOS for reading!!  I want to get better this year & I appreciate your help 🙂

ears to hear

Presently, I’m sitting in Starbucks & just thinking about the importance of what we hear.  Currently, the store is playing some nice music, there are some gentlemen discussing a business negotiation, some moms are enjoying a coffee & chat while the barista shouts out the latest drink order.  There are alot of things for my ears to absorb.  Its the same in your life – lots of noises and voices vying for your attention:  your phone, kids, spouse, bills, job, deadlines, . . . . .  It is our challenge to manage all these voices & remain productive & faithful to God’s purposes & designs for each of us. 
Here are some suggestions:

  • be selective with your attention:  in Starbucks there are lots of voices, noises and things to compete for my attention, but I’ve put on my earphones because I want to control what I listen to – not everything deserves your attention.
  • think about your expectations:  do you listen with underlying motives or judgments?  If we’re not careful, we can quickly sever conversations and even relationships when we don’t hear what we want.  Don’t take everything as rejection & be careful not to allow your insecurity to distort what someone may be trying to communicate.
  • Prioritize what you hear:  the most important thing you should hear or be mindful to listen to is Jesus.  In Mark 4:23, He says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  I pray that for each of us, He would help us to hear Him everyday through His Word, His actions and even His voice to us.  There is no voice more important than Jesus’ voice
  • listen to help:  if we’re not careful, we fall into the trap of only listening to what we enjoy or want to hear.  Sometimes the best way to use your attention is to lend a listening ear.  My friend Jim wisely told me that its more important to be interested than interesting.  With that in mind, pls take a quick moment to look at this video:  http://www.vimeo.com/20154183

Listening – what a gift 🙂

Holy Spirit part 2

The Holy Spirit is the master communicator – massively huge communicator.  When i started to think about this, it just totally amazed me.  When Jesus was introducing the Holy Spirit to His disciples, He talks about how the Holy Spirit will

  • teach,
  • remind,
  • convict & 
  • guide us, among other things. 

Jesus also tells us that the Holy Spirit will speak to us what He hears from our heavenly Father & that the Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus. 

It seems to me that the Holy Spirit is communicating with us perhaps more often than we realize.  I pray that today, you & i would be sensitive & receptive to the Holy Spirit speaking to & communicating with us – beyond our biases & limited understanding. 🙂

Can you think of some times when the Holy Spirit has communicated w you?  What was the outcome (s)?

mistranslation

I really like languages – they fascinate me in their ability to not merely communicate words but so much more than that.  But i find it interesting that even when we communicate w someone who has our common mother language, there’s PLENTY of room for mis-communication.  Here’s an interesting example:  several years ago, i was talking w a young man in our church who was EXTREMELY upset.  We were talking through a conflict that he was in & he made a statement that still haunts me today.  He said something to the affect that it was the hearers 100% responsibility to understand him, regardless of his poor communication skill.  This floored me & still makes me spin. 

Communication is a 2 way street – the hearer & the speaker should work together to be on the same page.  This is also true w God.  I think there are alot of times that God speaks w us, but we mistranslate what He’s saying.  This often happens because we don’t like what He’s saying or we didn’t listen for the whole message or we didn’t wait for Him to give us the context for application, or . . . .  Personally, i think God speaks w us, ALOT.  But let’s continually pray that He increases our abilities to understand Him & that He decreases our mistranslations 😉