Don’t Give Up

There is a book by Kent Keith titled “Anyway, The Paradoxical Commandments” which lays out 10 paradoxical commandments of life. My favorite is # 10 which states “Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway”. Throughout my life as a leader, I have learned that no good deed will go unpunished. I have gone out of my way for someone to only have them do something that has caused me more aggravation later. I can’t tell you how many nights I was up late working on a “group” research project because one of my classmates failed to complete their part of a project. This kind of thing happens all of the time to people. They do their best and give others the benefit of the doubt only to later regret it. Leaders must continue to give their best despite what might happen.

I’ve seen organizational leaders lose faith in their people because they’ve been “kicked in the teeth” and now think that everyone in the organization is just a bunch of “winey babies”. They have no trust in anyone, they no longer involve the employees in decision-making and they have created a hostile work environment for their employees and themselves. Leaders must stand tall and continue to do what is right, at the right time and for everyone they lead because it’s their responsibility. Sure, leaders will “get kicked in the teeth” but that’s why it’s lonely at the top. People don’t always understand our roles but we know that we will make a difference and that is why we “give the world our best anyway”.

9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Galatians 6:9-10

This verse had a couple of options for things to talk about – doing good and not giving up. While I focused the first part on doing good, I’d like to add the “not giving up” part here. It is tiring always doing good, our sinful nature says “when will someone do good for me?” We seem to be able to justify shortcuts and doing the minimum in our minds. We go around doing things for others, for little recognition I might add, and all we ask in return is a little good coming our way; that’s not too much to ask. The end of verse 8 gives us the answer “the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

The “good” coming to you will come from the Holy Spirit. We are encouraged to “do good to all people” but “especially those who belong to the family of believers”. There are no options to be good only to those that are good to us or who won’t make our lives harder. Whether you are a leader, a follower or a loner, do not become weary of always doing good. No one said it was easy to be a disciple of Jesus Christ but the rewards are eternal. Go and do good – Anyway.

We reap what we sow

I’m in Washington DC this week to learn new techniques for governance and to work on Capital Hill with our Congressmen on issues that connect with our city. Tomorrow, the President will address the National League of Cities attendees, I’m sure, to express how important cities and towns are to America. We’ll be meeting with Senators McCain and Flake on Wednesday before we head home. Today, as we walked around the US Capital I said, “There are 535 Congressmen and thousands of staff people working here and nothing gets done”. It’s funny, only because it’s true. I walk around this town and can’t help but think of all of the wasted effort that has gone on for the past six years. Back home in Arizona, our legislature and Governor reached a budget deal that they have been working on for days – behind closed doors. It was finally released to the public on Friday and will probably be voted on by Wednesday this week. Its a budget that defunds education and increases prison spending – welcome to Arizona!

The whole concept of politics is starting to feel disgusting to me. My wife told someone tonight that if you want to insult me, call me a politician. It’s true. Why do we do the things that we do? Why are you doing the things that you are right now and who are you serving when you do them? I serve as an elected council member to serve my community and hopefully make a difference. I see others who serve in these capacities simply to feed their own egos. I was asked earlier this week why I’m not on twitter and my response was, “I don’t think that I’m so interesting that people will want to follow me”. I believe that I’m simply a servant. My work on this blog is about serving God and bringing the Word to the world. So, back to my questions – why are you doing what you do and who do you do it for? It’s okay to work to support yourself and to have fun. Some fundamentalists don’t want you to know that it’s okay to have fun but it is. You will reap what you sow; let it be something good.

8Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction: whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Galatians 6:8

As I look around Washington DC, I feel the sense of pleasing the flesh. In other bible versions of this verse, “the flesh” is replaced with “sinful spirit” and right now, that’s a better description of politics in Washington DC. What part of your sinful nature is driving your decision-making? We are all guilty of sin and will pay the price with our death. This verse reminds us that if we are pleasing ourselves, we will pay reap destruction (earthly death). However, if we are reaping to please God, we will be rewarded with eternal life; an eternal life found through the sacrifice of Jesus. Galatians 6:10 tells us exactly how to live our lives – “10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Serve God and His people but also serve others (do good to ALL people). There are no politics in that statement, there is no spin and there are no favors, its simple – do good! Our reward for working hard, getting shot down and working hard again is our eternal life with God the Father. God did not give us a pass or any vacation days from being His children nor does He deduct from us our sins that guaranteed our salvation through Jesus Christ.