I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, no matter where you are; it always a good time to be thankful. After a week of prayer and thanksgiving for all that we have, I thought focusing on praise might be a good follow-up. There is so much negativity in the world these days. No one, it seems, can escape being criticized these days. Black Friday sales brought angry shoppers pushing for the few sale items or upset people that who missed the deals. Not to mention the scores of people of who complained about being with their families on Thanksgiving Day. A day set aside for thanks and there was undoubtedly an awful lot of complaining. Where was the praise? My sister usually has most of the family to her house for dinner. She cooks all day, makes more than enough food and even opens her house to friends without their family nearby. She does a great job and we all have a great time. When we leave, everyone says thanks as they walk out the door but that is not what I think of when I say praise.
Sure, we could heap on the accolades but to truly praise her would be to call a day or two later to thank her again or even send an old fashioned “thank you card”. What about the other people in your life, how well do you do praising them? Try praising people that you work with or who have served somewhere or even helped you out. Don’t just say “thanks” but give them some praise with a specific reference like: “You did a great job on that special project, it really did the job for us” or “That was the best service we have had anywhere in a long time, you did a great job”. A little love and praise can carry someone a long way in this world of negativity. Allow me to thank you for reading this weekly and praise you for maintaining a connection to God through an unusual place and writer.
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation…” Isaiah 52:7
God loves it when we thank him for all that he has done for us, but he also likes the praise that should precede it. He is the one who makes all things possible. God is the giver of life and in Him, all things are possible. He is controlling all things and we have a hard time understanding or comprehending that. God is in control. Without Him, we are simply left to die a lonely short existence here on earth.
We can do nothing that will earn us a place in heaven; no amount of good works or tithing or kindness can earn for us what God has already given to us through His grace and mercy. Our salvation is found in one thing – faith in Jesus Christ as our savior. God sent His son into the world to save us from our sinful nature and our selves. Without God’s grace, we would not have our salvation. For us this means giving praise for the awesome things that God has done by bringing the good news to others or simply demonstrating the love that God has shown us. We do good works and give our tithes not to win God’s favor but as a demonstration of His love for us. As we enter this season of joy and gladness, we should also remember to praise the one who made it possible.
Look what I did! I am so awesome! Have you heard or said these words? I once saw a plaque that read, “I know I’m not perfect but I’m so close that it scares me”. We often hear people expressing their confidence in very strong ways. What about the people who lack that type of self-confidence? Is there something wrong with them? Who wouldn’t be proud of what they’ve done? I would suggest that it may not be the lack of confidence or no pride in their accomplishments, but it may be that they are simply too humble to talk about themselves. Humility is a God given talent and should be practiced but today’s world it is seen as a sign of weakness. The opposite of humility is boasting and those type of people are even harder to deal with. We all know someone who is always right and identifies how others have “screwed up” without ever considering their own role in the situation. They make everyone around them miserable because they have done no wrong.
In Arizona, its school referendum time. “I’ve got mine, too bad about yours”. I often hear people complain about school taxes because they don’t have any kids in the system so why should they pay school property taxes. “I got my kids through school with the help of others, but I shouldn’t take my turn”. This selfish mentality is driving our world apart; we’ve forgotten about caring for each other. We need to watch over each other, we’re all we’ve got. I’ve got a picture frame on my desk that says, “It won’t matter what my bank balance was, the size house I lived in, or the type of car that I drove but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.” If you change the part – “life of a child” and make it “the life of another human being” we get a little closer to God’s will. Go make a difference.
8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my LORD, for whose sake I have lost all things. 9…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. Philippians 3:8-9
Paul had everything in his life that he could want. He was considered a great man and was feared by many until he came face to face with Jesus Christ. Paul gave up everything (even his name) to follow Jesus. He was a righteous man under the law as a Pharisee; he told others what to do and people obeyed him. Jesus showed him the way to everlasting life, and he spent years in prison writing and telling of the good news. He’d lost everything and yet was grateful for his faith in Jesus Christ.
He realized that he was nothing without his faith in Jesus and the righteousness that comes from God. Paul was humble, steadfast in his faith, shared the good news whenever he could, encouraged others with his letters and remained focused on what God wanted him to do. The power, the social status, the envy, and the confidence that he had before, he considered a loss now that he has the knowledge of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Everything that we have is lost too if we don’t have the same faith in our savior Jesus Christ. Share the good news about having eternal life through faith in Him and all that God has done for you. You will make a difference in the life of another human being.
Zig Ziglar once said, “You can’t get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good.” I wonder how Zig would feel today, eight months into a pandemic? A lot can be said about having a positive attitude. I’ve written before about my wife’s unbelievably positive spirit. I only wish that it would rub off on me – she does too. Last week our daughter pointed out to me, “you’re really crabby lately so I don’t know how you’ll react.” I responded by telling her to get used to it because I’m not getting younger. We laughed. I have no doubt that its true, but it still made me think about positive attitudes and how they are truly contagious.
I know what happens in the workplace when people are positive and how that energy fuels a team to excellence. In today’s world, it is hard to stay positive. I’m not the type to simply ignore what is happening all around me and tell myself that “it isn’t as bad as everyone says” or not take a look down the road for the long-term consequences of actions occurring today; that’s just years of consequence management training taking over. I’m learning that the key is not to focus on those things but direct my energies into things that do matter. I’ve not mastered it yet, but this is the time of the year to be joyful so that should help. Having a positive attitude can certainly make a big difference in how it affects your day to day personality. Face each day with the right mindset and you’ll enjoy the best life has to offer. I know I need to try harder.
“And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” – Romans 10:15
The difficulty with understanding this verse is knowing whether or not you were sent to preach. We are commanded to “go and make disciples of all men and nations”. I’d suggest that this single verse tells us that we are sent to preach. Bringing good news can come in many forms, passing out water to the homeless on hot days, distributing flyers about upcoming church events, witnessing to the lost and having a positive outlook on life are just a few. The good news of being positive can simply be found in the act of having a positive attitude.
People can look to you as the example of positive thinking and modeling the way of the Lord. When they finally come to realize where you get your strength from, you will have the courage to profess your faith openly. When people ask about your positive outlook and attitude, you can tell them you have no fears or worries because of our savior Jesus Christ. I speak from experience when I tell you that this is easier said than done. I have so many blessings that I have no reason be negative, but I find myself there more often than I’d like. For me, it just another reminder that I need God’s help and guidance to keep pressing onward.
A key component of the job for every supervisor is to develop the people around you. Today, coaching and mentoring have taken on a greater importance for the workforce. The current generation of employees want to be challenged and seem to have a short attention span at times. This generation is the “everyone gets a trophy” generation and this need for feedback has been brought into the work place. They require regular feedback (coaching) and seek rewards (rises/promotions) at a much higher rate. I’m not saying anything is wrong with their wants/needs; I’m saying it is different. I’ve been passionate about developing people since my first days in the fire service.
I started in 1982 and was taught by a great man who was also passionate. My first Captain was a commanding man, a former Marine, who was very authoritarian yet compassionate. He wanted to make sure that we knew our jobs and could do them well. My first training officer passed along everything he knew and encouraged constant learning. He yelled at you when you deserved it and praised you when you earned it. He always left us knowing what was important. We need more of those people today, ones that aren’t afraid to share their knowledge because you might end up becoming smarter than they are. Pass on what you know, you will be making an impact all around you.
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:3
Here is another example of a single verse that tells the whole story of the Bible – Christ died for our sins. Paul is teaching the people of Corinth through his letters. There were no lecture halls, no handouts, no power point slides or videos, just Paul’s letters. He never stopped teaching. He wrote to the Thessalonians, the Philippians and the Romans too. He never lost his passion for teaching God’s promises and word to everyone he could reach.
Obviously, St. Paul’s mentor was a little more than a salty old Marine but he understood that keeping the knowledge and wisdom that was bestowed upon him was not an option. He could have kept it to himself and had people coming to him but God was with him and he understood that his role in this life was to share the good news. God uses us in many different ways to do the same. We need to pass on what is the first importance: Christ died for our sins. Make an impact in all that you do, teaching, witnessing, living Godly lives, helping others or sharing the Good news. We can all make a difference if we remember that we are doing God’s work and not our own.