Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Preferences or Convictions

I have spoken on the topic of leaving a legacy. For most of us this idea is as foreign as the south pole, we have seen movies, pictures and learned about it, but have never gone there. Often the difference here is your day to day living.  Is it a result of convictions or preferences?  Let me give you a few more pointers on how to live with the intensity of living with convictions.  Almost as if you only had 30 days left so that what is left over goes beyond you.

1) Say the words you are convicted to say.
Life is full of words we would love to take back and words we wished we had said. Never more apparent is this fact when a person is gone and passed. Use the moments you have now to say the words from your heart.  How do you know?  Simple it's something you feel you say from the bottom of your heart.  It's often driven by compassion, love or a desire to open up to another person.
If you only had 30 days to live, what would you say and to whom would you say it?  That is a good 5 minutes spent to live by convictions.

2) Do what your convictions drive you to do
I will put off today what I can do tomorrow one person said. In the end that person never got around to doing today. Each day brings new challenges to derail us from doing what keeps your life moving towards convictions.  Waiting tell tomorrow only bets on a game of chance and someday you will lose that bet and it’s going to hurt bad!
What is your unfinished assignment?

3) Live how your convictions want you to live
That is what it really comes down to, what is my living like. As a leader, father, husband I have watched my life in light of this statement.  I watch it in others.  I wish I could tell you that every person I have known lives as how their convictions would want them to, but too many don’t. If I was to sit with you for one month and observe your life what conclusion would I come to? Now try this observation on yourself and don’t forget what has got you to where you are.  Often that path of preferences or convictions is the sole source why you are at this point today.
If you could instantly change one thing about how you are living, what would it be?

There is a wise saying in an ancient book that expressed this perfectly... It says "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”

“The key to leaving a legacy is to live by one's convictions, not by our preferences.” Are you living by your preferences or your convictions?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Ripple Effect

The decisions you make and the actions you take affect those around you.

Rehoboam learned that lesson the hard way.  Rehoboam followed his father Solomon to the throne of Israel.  Solomon had exacted harsh labor on the people.  A delegation, led by Jeroboam, went to the new king and asked him to take away the harshness.

In private, Rehoboam asked his elder council what he should do.  They advised that he become a servant to the people, lighten their load, and the people would always be faithful servants to the king.

His circle of younger friends gave him just the opposite advice.  They told him to work the people harder.  He liked that idea, told the delegation his plans, and wound up with a divided kingdom.

At one time or another all of us are impacted by someone else’s decisions or actions.  When we suffer the negative consequences of another’s wrongheaded decision, God can redeem the situation.  Although Rehoboam wound up ruling only two tribes—Judah and Benjamin (as opposed to Jeroboam’s rule over ten tribes)—it was through Judah that Jesus came to us.  God can work, and often does what seems to us as his best work, in situations that seem the most difficult.

We should always consider how our decisions and actions affect those around us.  In “systems thinking” it is said that “you are the highest leverage point in any system you are in.”  More simply stated, you can make a difference. You are more “powerful” than you think you are––no matter your station in life.

Clint Eastwood’s film Invictus tells the story of Nelson Mandela’s use of the South African rugby team to help heal a nation divided by apartheid.  In one scene of the movie he explains to a team member, “Reconciliation starts here.  Forgiveness starts here.”  He knew his actions would have a ripple effect on those around him.  Eventually the blessing of that “ripple” washed across the nation.

Rehoboam made a bad decision, but it was really his father Solomon’s actions that divided the kingdom.  He forsook the one true God and chased after other “gods,” he neglected to serve the people and instead forced them to work harder, and he was focused on himself, as reflected in his accumulation of wives, gold, and horses in direct disobedience to God’s counsel.  His son Rehoboam was merely living out consequence of those decisions and actions.

Learn from Solomon’s mistake.  Love God first.  Love others second.  And serve those that do not yet know God.  You will be surprised to see how far your ripple will travel.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Wishing for more!

Over a recent Thanksgiving holiday I did my version of Black Friday shopping.  I slept in, had breakfast, took a shower, and then we all went out as a family.  I was rested, fresh, and full of energy.  After facing the frantic shoppers all morning they . . . well, they didn’t look so good.  BTW I do most of my shopping on my phone now.

Shopping has taken on a whole new meaning since the internet.  At one point a magazine was all we got to wish for a wonderful holiday season. For my kids it’s the toys R us catalog, but for me growing up it was the Sears Wish Book.

The first Sears Wish Book was printed in 1933.  (I don’t remember that. I looked it up.)  Over time it has diminished in size and was even discontinued at one point.  It was revived in 2007, but the one I saw was nothing in size compared to the books I remember from my youth.  Children today don’t really need one.  They have the Internet and their high tech toys to cruise the information highway to identify their holiday “wants.”  But “back in the day” the Sears Wish Book helped us answer the seasonal question: “If you could have anything for Christmas, what would you ask for?” 

Every year I would look through the catalogue and either dog-ear a page or circle our choices in pen.  I didn’t want Santa to miss my requests. 

You may not need the Sears Wish Book today, but you have some wishes too, don’t you?  Next Christmas how would you answer the question, “If you could have one thing in the world, what would it be?” 

Solomon had to answer that one.  He asked for wisdom.  And God gave it to him.  But by the end of his life he had accumulated more and more: more gold, more horses, more wives.  He had it all and wanted more.  In the midst of all these gifts he lost sight of the Giver.  He turned away from God and lost it all. 

Another King gave us another path to follow.  He had it all and gave it all . . . for us.  And regardless of the season of life you can guard yourself from the tyranny of too much stuff by giving.  Simply give so that others can simply live.   That’s what the King born as a baby in the manger did.