The Butterfly Effect

When I prepare to write these devotionals, I often seek a number of resources to provide inspiration for this part of it. The second half that follows the scripture verse, usually just flows as if I’m being guided to write. I’m not bold enough to suggest that I have some sort of connection with the Holy Spirit but I believe that God is guiding me in this journey of writing and that He is using me to share the good news. I also believe that God uses each one us to share His news and to teach about salvation. We all just do it differently. When just one of us believes in everlasting life and we share that faith or belief with just one other person, we are starting to spread the word; all it takes is one person.

In 1963 Dr. Edward Lorenz proposed a theory called the Butterfly Effect. He suggested that a butterfly on one side of the world flapping its wings would move molecules of air that moved other molecules and the ripple of moving air molecules could create a hurricane on the other side of the planet. For almost thirty years this theory hung around the scientific community until it was proven in the mid-1990’s to be accurate. The Law of Sensitive Dependence Upon Initial Conditions is the official scientific law of the Butterfly Effect. One person can have an effect on others, who have an effect on others yet and so on. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a great example of the Butterfly Effect as he continues to inspire today and his beliefs about racial equality are still being developed. One person can make a difference. We just need to start flapping our wings.

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

We have no way of knowing when it will strike us or when the opportunity is right, but we can be sure that God will give us the opportunity to tell His story. We will have strength that we never knew we had or we will have the time to do something for someone else when we seem to hardly ever have time for ourselves. God does work in mysterious ways. The Holy Spirit is with us, God is working His plan and Jesus is our guide and salvation; yet they are one. It is a true test of faith to simply believe that three are one.

We don’t know where the wind will blow, how hard it will be or where it will go. We simply have to believe that it is present and moving. Imagine if every time the wind blew, it was God surrounding you with His warmth and strength. We are born of the Spirit, baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and free from sin through Jesus Christ who said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” We can reach millions of people by just telling one person about our faith in God and how we are saved through Jesus Christ. We can put the Butterfly Effect to work every day in our lives by demonstrating good Christian characteristics and taking a chance when the time is right to tell about our faith. All it takes is one person telling one other person and we begin moving mountains.

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Be an Example

“Walk the Talk” is just another way of saying, “Lead by Example”. People often think equate leading with leadership positions – supervisors, directors, Captains, Chiefs, or some other given title that is supposed to lead people. Regardless of your title, do you think of yourself as a leader? Every one of us is a leader at some point during our day. Mothers and Fathers who lead their children to school or provide guidance and leadership to their families, business professionals who set the example for others to follow (good or bad), Pastors leading their churches, housekeepers setting the standard in hotels and so on. Walking the talk every minute of every day and not letting down even for a moment is actually easier than it sounds.

Regardless of your position, be aware that people are watching you. When we don’t do as we say, they start asking, “Why should I trust this person? The military has a very good model for us to consider following when leading the way. The Generals running operations in the Middle East could certainly receive their reports and briefings from field units from the comfort of their offices in the Pentagon just as easily as they do from a forward command post in Afghanistan. They are in country just like the men and women they lead because setting the right example is important. They wear the same uniform, follow the same protocols and lead by example all of the time, not just when someone is looking. You may not always know it but someone is looking up to you every day. It might be the very customer that you are serving but they look to you for an example of customer service. We are always being watched, set the best example possible.

 

Deuteronomy 5:33 – “Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days…”

 

Jesus left us a great example to follow and that’s exactly what God wants from us. God knows we’ll struggle, only Jesus was perfect; that’s why it’s called following and not duplicating. God wants us to walk in the way, do as Jesus did by loving each other, being compassionate and caring for others, forgiving others and ourselves and learning the word of God. God’s grace has given us eternal life – to live, prosper and prolong our days.

He asks that we follow the example provided by His son, Jesus Christ. Spend time learning the examples given to us in the bible and then put those examples in front of you everyday. Practice daily what you learn and imagine Jesus saying to you “do as I do”. Whether you are a designated leader or dedicated employee, people are watching you every day. Learning the lessons given to us by Jesus, we will not only lead people in our businesses but we will provide everyone around us with a great Christian example to follow. Walking in the way of the Lord will be easier than you think.

Imitation is the greatest form…

We usually do not associate the words “love” and “workplace” without thinking of someone’s poor judgment. I’d like to suggest that we bring Christ’s example of love into our workplace. Among other things, we know Jesus as compassionate, caring, understanding, patient and overflowing with love. Leaders and followers need to be all of these as well. We all need to show compassion for our co-workers and our staff and we should care for them by looking out for their best interests. Sometimes that means having to deliver constructive criticism. It takes a lot of courage for someone to offer that type of criticism.

Oftentimes we are faced with having to be the one to tell someone else that their actions are having a negative effect on us or on our team. When giving someone constructive criticism, it should be delivered with compassion and care. If it’s done properly, constructive criticism can and should be received as a gift because it is being delivered as a present – genuinely given with thoughtful consideration of the person receiving it. We need to show understanding and patience to co-workers and staff. Making mistakes is okay, remember they cause learning to take place but making the same mistake over and over is the sign of a problem. Be patient with those around you especially if they are learning new systems, products or programs. Be slow to anger and disappointment, it shows that you care. All of these things combined show your love towards others, just as Christ loves us.

 Ephesians 5:1,2 – “Be imitators of God… as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us…”

We are so blessed that God loves us. When God handed down the Law contained in the Ten Commandments, the Israelites were afraid because they had seen God’s wrath first hand. As they continued to live according to their own ways, God spoke to them through the prophets giving the promise of a Savior. God wanted to be close to His children but sin was preventing that. God sent His only Son into this world to take upon the cross all of our sins.

Jesus suffered for us because of our sin, but He knew that it would bring reconciliation with God. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” The ultimate sign of love just for us – even if we didn’t deserve it. God knows what we need. We cannot live without sin as Christ did but we can live a life of love as Christ showed us to. Be an imitator, show others your love and when they ask you why or how you can do it, don’t hesitate to tell them where your strength comes from.

 

Taking Ourselves Too Seriously

A few weeks ago I worked with the U.S. Army conducting training for our Homeland Response Forces and had the opportunity to discuss the temperament of General Officers with a couple of junior officers. We started talking about people who were genuine and approachable. One of these officers told a story about a retired 3 star General who lives in the same area that he does. This retired General drives his old pick up truck around town, wears blue jeans and spends his time working his farmland. This Captain also spoke about a General that he once worked for who would take off his rank insignia after his “official duties” and visit with the soldiers, play cards and eat with them when he was in Afghanistan and Iraq; rank was not important to him.

Humility is defined as a modest or low view of one’s own importance and is a very unusual trait to find in people these days. An entire generation of people has been raised in an era in which “everyone gets a trophy” and they never learned about being humbled by a loss because everyone was equal. Being humble is something that we all can use a little more of and put into practice a little more often. We should strive to care more about others than we do ourselves.

“Therefore, whoever humbles himself like a child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 18:4

Being humble isn’t limited to those in leadership positions; it applies to all of us. When we start thinking that we are better than our neighbors or our co-workers, we have veered off track. Matthew is, of course, quoting Jesus here who is speaking to His disciples and follows this verse with “Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.” Jesus is telling us not to take ourselves too seriously and to be humble. Small children have do not developed the “skill” of being boastful or full of themselves until later in their development. Children are compassionate, listen to their parents, don’t think or speak poorly of others and usually don’t knowingly sin. We can learn a lot from them.

Jesus is telling us that we are not the most important thing in this world – to stop being so full of ourselves that we think we are the center of attention. We should humble ourselves, set our focus on God and accept more people rather than judging them. When we receive the most humble among, we receive Jesus. It isn’t a competition for things and accomplishments; it’s about being good children of God. Humility doesn’t mean you can’t be proud of what you’ve done but it does mean that what you’ve done doesn’t define you. No one will care what you do here on earth if all you do is serve your own needs. God wants us to serve each other and in order to do that, we must humble ourselves.