How well do you understand people? Why do people do the things they do? To understand people we must first realize that everyone is at a different place in life. Everyone has unique experiences, personality and abilities. God created each of us uniquely. That is why sometimes it is difficult to understand others, especially if they think, act and believe differently than we do.
To understand someone you first must be willing to listen to them and get to know them. It takes time to get to know someone, we can sometimes jump to conclusions about people based on a brief encounter with them. That is a dangerous thing to do. We can write someone off or judge someone before we begin to understand them.
I heard this story about a man and his three children. They were riding on the subway and the kids were being unruly. They were out of their seats, loud and pretty annoying. The father sat in his seat, just starring out the window. The people around the man and kids looked at each other with that look of annoyance. Finally one man decided to approach the father. He said “excuse me sir, but could you please manage your kids, they are out of control”. The man turned to him and said “I am so sorry, they just lost their mother. We are on our way home from the hospital. I guess they don’t know how to handle this and I don’t either.”
Immediately every one’s attitude changed. They now understood what was happening and it changed how they viewed the man, and the children. How often do we do that? We get irritated with someone and don’t know what they are going through. We get angry at the guy that cuts us off, but don’t know what is going on in his life. We get irritated at the co-worker that is late to work, but don’t know what she is going through at home. We don’t know the life the other person has lived, the hardships they have experienced, the grief they have been through, the pain they are in right now.
Remember that we all have different backgrounds, families, experiences and personalities. All of those things affect how we act, what we say and how we live. We all have lies we believe that influence the things we do. Once we understand that in others we can be more effective in helping them.
When we seek to understand people, it is much easier to be patient, forgiving and kind. Once you understand the person better then you can begin to speak truth to them in a loving way.
Today I am celebrating 20 years of marriage. As I reflect on all those years I must say it has been mostly good. Of course we have had some hard times, like every marriage. We have learned from those difficult times and continue to work at it. For a marriage to last it takes each person learning, changing and growing. Practicing forgiveness and working through conflict. It takes spending time together and communicating well.
My wife has been a huge part of my life and my growth. She has great discernment and can see things that I do not see. She has common sense, which helps me avoid mistakes, if I listen. She is very organized and pays attention to details, which has helped me improve in that area as well. She is thrifty and content, which has helped us financially. She has a love for cats, which has rubbed off on me as well.
She is an excellent cook and has learned a lot about eating and living healthy. That has helped me to lose weight and eat much more healthy. She also is a hard worker and I am amazed at how much she can get done. Sometimes I just stand back and watch her go. She also loves to volunteer and help out behind the scenes – I love that about her.
She is my best friend, and I am looking forward to many more years together.
Over the past month I have been challenged in multiple ways to examine what I really care about. It started when I heard this quote: “If you don’t know you can’t care”. How true is that? You are not going to care about something you don’t know about. You are not going to care about someone you don’t know.
So I started asking myself, what do you really care about? What do I think about all the time? What do you talk about? Where do I spend most of my free time? What do I make time for? Where do I spend my money?
It is very easy to live in our own little world and not care about anything outside of that. If we ignore the things around us like poverty, divorce, abuse, addictions, hunger and homelessness it does not just go away.
This weekend I went to our Free Methodist Annual conference. One of the reports was on how the Free Methodist church can reach out and make a difference with the poor, hurting and disenfranchised people around us. We heard many stories about efforts to make a difference. Food pantries, homeless shelters, food delivery, church in a local park in a poor neighborhood. It was exciting to hear that, yet I thought we can do more, I can do more. God has been working on my heart, breaking my heart for people in poverty, people struggling with addictions, people experiencing divorce and separation, families being torn apart. Those invisible people that are feeling abandoned and alone, hurting and hopeless.
I want my church, NewPointe, to be known as the church that cares, that takes the time to listen, that takes the time to invest in one person and one family at a time. Together we can impact our community in a profound and real way. It will take a new way of thinking and a new way of leading. I am praying and asking God to direct me in how we can make a bigger, longer lasting impact in peoples lives. Helping people become healthy, physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. What do you care about? Who do you care about? What breaks your heart?
I have been talking with many couples over the past several weeks. Many of the stories I hear are similar. Their tanks are empty and their feelings have changed. They are hurting, frustrated and tired. When your “love” tank is empty, the small things bother you and hurt you even more. If you are in a relationship, what are you doing to fill the other person’s tank? Have you been siphoning off or filling up their tank?
Maybe your tank is empty and you have no interest in filling the other person’s tank. On your own that will be hard, but ask God to help you take the first step in pouring something into their tank. Odds are they are running on empty as well. If you take the initiative the other person is much more likely to start filling your tank.
Now you need to know what fills their tank. Water will not run a car, it takes gasoline. You need to find out what their gasoline is and then pump it every day. Don’t wait on the other person start today – even a drop is better than nothing.
What are you going to do this week to change and grow? Where do you need to change and grow? In what area of your life are you struggling? How are you dealing with the hard things in your life? Who do you need to spend more time with? Less time with? What do you need to say no too? When will you start making some changes? Do you even need to make any changes?
This week you will continue on the journey, the adventure called your life. It can be filled with the same old stuff, or it could be filled with something unexpected. We don’t know what the upcoming week will hold. Or the next year for that matter. We cannot control what happens around us, and sometimes even what happens too us. However we can control how we respond, how we prepare, what we say and what we do.
It amazes me how many people wait until tragedy strikes or hardship hits before they begin to make changes. Unless the pain of remaining the same is greater than the pain of change we tend to not change. We wait until we have a health problem before we change the way we care for our bodies. We wait until a relationship is damaged before we make relational changes and start working on it. We wait until a financial crisis hits before we change our spending. We stuff our emotions until we explode. We avoid conflict until it gets so big it blows up in our face.
Start making the changes you need to make before the pain intensifies. It is never too late to make changes in your life. Ask God to help you discover the areas you need to work on. Go get help, seek counsel, read a book, listen to a CD, go to a seminar, spend more time with God, read your Bible, go on a fast, go on a spiritual retreat, work on a life plan, set some goals, change your calendar, add some things to your calendar, delete some things from your calendar, say no, say I don’t know, admit you need help. Do something this week, don’t wait. Start small and keep building on it. A year from now you can look back and see the progress you have made. You can do it.
Today I officiated at a funeral service for Jack Beans. It was a pleasure to meet his family and hear stories about this man. I could tell his family loved him deeply and that he had influenced them in a profound way. The legacy that he was leaving behind will go on for generations.
He was married for nearly 58 years to Esther whom he adored. He loved to be with her and spend time with her. They did everything together. What a great example to the rest of us on how to love your wife. He also was a very humble and self-less man. He loved to help and serve other people. He used his gifts and abilities to fix things and build things to bless his family and friends. He was always thinking about other people and how he could serve them to make their life a bit easier. He served his family, friends, country and community.
The family shared with me that he did not go to church much over the years. However, recently they started attending NewPointe with his daughter and grandchildren and he loved it. Before he got sick he came as often as he could. He loved the music, the messages and the environment. He felt welcomed and was growing in his faith. He also loved to see his grandchildren and great grandchildren loving church.
He recently shared with someone close to the family that he had faith in Jesus Christ as the forgiver of his sins and the leader of his life. Wow, that gets me excited, to know that he came to that understanding late in life. He was a forgiven man.
That is the best gift he could give to his family; the assurance of where he is going to spend eternity. The Bible says that God has placed eternity in the hearts of men, and that means that we will spend forever somewhere, either in the presence of God, or separated from Him. How great to know that Jack is with God right now and that we can see him again someday.
Here are some insights from Mark Sanborn on leadership. Mark was a speaker at the Maximum Impact Simulcast last Friday. He has a new book out called “Encore Effect”.
What if you were so good at your work, such an asset to your company (or family), such a remarkable leader that your boss (or spouse) or board of directors would do almost anything not to lose you to a competitor.
PDA stands for Performance Development Agenda. He challenged us to think two levels up instead of just one. Try to think about being a more remarkable performer, thinking two levels up. Be a more remarkable person, understanding who we are is critical. Help others become more remarkable, help others surpass themselves.
Mark said that both passion and process are needed for success. Passion is not enough, you need a process. This is the process he described:
School is never out for the encore performer. Passion is the fuel for remarkable performances.
I have been sitting in the Maximum Impact Simulcast at NewPointe today. I just finished listening to Liz Murray talk about her story of going from being homeless to attending Harvard. What an amazing story of growth. Her parents were both drug addicts and they lived in welfare her entire childhood. She described going days without food, eating ice because it felt like eating food. Splitting a tube of toothpaste with her sister and on.
She talked about making empowering decisions or dis-empowering decisions. Those moments in time when we can go either way. She said that self-pity will always lead us to dis-empowering decisions. After losing her mother to AIDS, she started to realize that she had to change something. She started to make empowering choices, like going to school, working hard, getting up ever morning. She ended up applying for a scholarship and getting it, which allowed her to get into Harvard.
Also heard from Linda Kaplan Thaler, John Maxwell, Kevin Carroll, Tony Blair, Al Weiss (Disney CEO), Mark Sanborn, Jack Nicklaus and Bill George. More on some of them later.
I have been reading the Message version of the Bible. Today I read Colossians. Chapter three is one of my favorite parts of the Bible. There is such good instruction on living life and how to handle our relationships and our work. Reading this really challenged me today and I hope it will challenge you as well. Take some time and read this several times. Ask God to speak to you about your life.
Colossians Chapter 3:
“So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.
3-4Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.
5-8And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It’s because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.
9-11Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.
12-14So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
15-17Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.
18Wives, understand and support your husbands by submitting to them in ways that honor the Master.
19Husbands, go all out in love for your wives. Don’t take advantage of them.
20Children, do what your parents tell you. This delights the Master no end.
21Parents, don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits.
22-25Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.”
This past week my friend and mentor Jim Mason turned 88 years old. I have gotten to know Jim over the past 10 years. I have had the privilege of serving with Jim in the Pastoral Care ministry at NewPointe Community Church. Jim is a retired pastor having served many Free Methodist churches over the past 40 plus years. Jim also served his country in WWII. He has shared some incredible stories with me about the war, pastoring a church, loving his family and his wife.
Jim is one of the most godly men I know. He is also the most humble man I know. I have had the honor of seeing him serve his family in times of crisis. I have gone to the hospital with him to call on sick people. I was amazed at his compassion and how he interacted with the nurses and staff. They loved him and many of them knew him.
He has been through some real hardships in his life, but through everything, he has kept a strong faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
He lost his wife last year and once again I was amazed at his level of compassion and faith. He served her through those hard days and never blamed God. He recently shared with me the final moments he had with her before she passed away. He has been an inspiration to me and has challenged me to be a better man, pastor, husband and child of God.
At 88 years old Jim continues to serve at church. He is in our prayer room every Sunday for all three services. He prays for every prayer request that comes in over the weekend. He writes letters and calls people that are struggling and hurting. He goes and visits people as much as possible. He stops in my office once or twice a week and always encourages me. He also encourages most of the other staff members as well. We pray together and talk about how we can help more people through the prayer/care ministry.
He also is passing on to his family a legacy that will out live him for decades. Jim I love you and appreciate your friendship, thanks for being a great example to me and others. Thanks for your obedience to Christ and your humble servant spirit. I know your rewards in heaven will be great.