Purpose

I’ve written before that I believe most people function in “orbits” when it comes to their attitude, motivation, drive or simple ability to get along. If the peak of our performance were to be the center, our attitude can be found somewhere in an oval shaped orbit. Sometimes we are very close, while other times we are far away. When we are far away from our peak, things get a little troubling. We are crabby or we don’t feel like doing anything. Our motivation and drive are really hard to find. When we love what we’re doing, we are in close orbit and when we loathe what we do, we are farther out. Sometimes our orbit even grows in size and we are pushed to an even farther away.

No matter what your position in life is: supervisor, employee, executive, line staff, mom. dad, brother or sister; you have to know what keeps you going, what makes you peak? Lisa finds her center point every day at the gym. It’s what gets her up at 4am, everyday. Some people find it in their work because it gives them satisfaction while others find it in their friends. The important thing is to know what “does it” for you. It’s when people lose their focus or their drive that trouble begins. Find your focus and ask yourself where you are in your personal orbit, and then get close to the peak. Smiles and satisfaction await you.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and gooddeeds.” Hebrews 10:24

Some people live near their focus point all of the time. These are the people that ALWAYS have a smile and kind word. They are the ones who can inspire. Do you have people in your life that inspire you and do you inspire others? It’s harder to know if you inspire others but I would guess that everyone does and they simply don’t realize it. Our human nature is to be social; we were not intended to be solitary creatures, God gave Eve to Adam to keep him company.

This verse asks us how we can help each other live Godly lives of love and goodness. It is meant to be a question whose answer lies in being social. If you accept the orbits concept, you will know when you are at your peak, which is when you should be helping those around you. When you are in deep orbit, you should seek those who will bring you back through positive encouragement, love and good deeds. When people are in deep orbit, they can become lost and that is when the devil steps in to lead them astray. If you are losing sight of your center point, surround yourself with those that can spur you on toward love. The bible should be a place of inspiration and is filled with examples of God’s love. If you are at your center point, share your joy with others and become a source of positive influence.

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Encouragement

No matter how strong or independent we might think that we are, we all need encouragement. When we have kids, we encourage them all of the time; whether they are walking for the first time or going through potty training. We start our lives with so much encouragement only to watch it fade away into cynicism. After encouraging comes guiding and directing, which is followed by a little criticism before we simply stop doing anything. “They’re adults, they will have to figure it out” is how we justify doing nothing. Sure, as adult children they may push back and resist and we (as parents) will eventually just stop. This attitude also takes over at work with us. We rarely encourage co-workers or hear encouragement from others. I would suggest that our human soul needs it, otherwise we become so cynical that we can seem negative.

Sports teams are full of encouraging moments on the bench. Watch a team score a touchdown or a player hit a homerun and you will see encouragement at its peak. Supervisors have a responsibility to encourage their people along the way. Not every hit is a homerun but sometimes the only thing driving people to try harder is just a little encouragement. For me, I’d been working about 12 years before I heard someone say, “great job”. Perhaps it was the first time I actually did something right 😉 but I was on a pretty successful career path. Supervisors at that time simply didn’t acknowledge good work. We need to change that. I often use restaurant servers as examples because I watch them as they work and they work hard! Tell them what a nice job they did for you. An extra tip says one thing but taking the time to tell them how they did will mean the world. Then, take that concept and start spreading to multiple aspects of your life, watch people’s reaction and sit back and smile.

“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

Have you ever had one of those crazy experiences or maybe even a horrible string of days at work and then, when it was over, wonder how you made it through it all? Where do you find your strength and inspiration? Some of us can be motivated or inspired by other people while others are motivated by greed and winning.

If you are reading this blog, my guess is that the latter doesn’t do much for you. Sure, people can be motivating and we can be inspired by the strength or wisdom of someone but, behind it all is the Lord Himself. He goes before you to light paths and order things so that those people are in your life. They may be put there years before He needs to use them, but He knows that you’ll need them. Stop and think about all of the really horrible things that have happened in your life and then think about the places, people and circumstances that kept you going. At the time they seemed random but if you carefully look back, you will see God at work. He promised to never leave you so do not be afraid or discouraged; God right there with you – every step of the way.

The Good of Suffering

Why are all the good people suffering? It seems that too often we hear about someone who has lived very honorably getting sick while someone who has been a rotten person lives on. It’s frustrating because life might actually appear to punish the good. We never hear about “that guy” getting cancer or the evil person at work being involved in a horrible accident. It’s always good people. We aren’t asking for it to happen to bad people but we notice that they seem to never have these problems. In response to this question of, Why?; I have two immediate thoughts: 1) God needs good people to spread His word through their actions and trials and 2), I don’t know any rotten people well enough to know if they are sick. I digress, so I started to dwell on my first thought. Good people who get sick always become a source of inspiration for others in some way.

This past weekend the State of Arizona and United States of America lost Senator John McCain to cancer. I’ve had the honor to meet with Senator McCain on a number of occasions and found that his courage to do what was right always exceeded his obligation to his party. I’ve known several people who have had serious illnesses and they were inspiring to me as they fought through the challenges; they did the inspiring. So the answer to the question is not why but what are we to learn from this? Are you supposed to be a stronger supporter? Are you supposed to learn about the strength of prayer or how to trust in God? We are all God’s children and He gives us only what we can handle, so what are we going to do with the opportunity that God has presented? Rotten people might not seem to have these problems but if they are truly rotten to the core, then they have eternal problems to deal with.

“All whom the Father gives me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never drive away.” John 6:37

God sent us all to Jesus – period. If Jesus won’t drive us way, what does? Many will answer that it’s sin but God took care of that on the cross at Calvary. Sin will not separate us from God’s love. I’ll suggest that the devil is the one who drives us away from our Savior Jesus Christ. He tempts us all of the time and disease is just one of his tools to turn us away from God. Many times people ask “why did God do this to her?” “Why does God let this happen?” It isn’t God. It’s the devil’s powerful way to make us doubt God’s love in our lives. The devil wants us to turn away from God and will stop at nothing to do it. Jesus will NOT drive us away!

God can use the pain of disease or injury to show us His love, strength and compassion. God inspires good people to do great things as a result of these bad events. The anniversary of the September 11thattacks is coming up and people often ask, Where was God that day? He was saving thousands of people to do great things and he was inspiring others to be strong in the face of tragedy. Have you ever spoken to someone who was there that day? They tell great stories about the people they lost or they tell of how they found strength in the following years to carry on. They became the inspiration for someone else. This week, make a conscious effort to be inspired by someone or to inspire someone; show the devil your love for God and that you belong to Him.

Why did you do that?

I seem to frequently ask the ask the question: “Why did you do that? Or “Why would you do that?” I have no idea how or where the phrase entered my speech but I use it often. Sometimes, it lessens the “are you crazy?” thought in my mind but I guess that in the end, people who hear my question are probably hearing the crazy one anyway. I started wondering though, why do I do the things that I do? Personally, I’m not into the fame or recognition of things. I won’t lie, I like to know when people appreciate my work for them but I usually don’t hear about it so I’ve grown accustomed to not hearing it. Public service is usually a thankless job. However, working for the public is not a thankless job, it is just the opposite – fulfilling. What drives the work that you do? What drives your work ethic either at home or “in the office”? During this past week, the U.S. watched the Super Bowl preparations from right near my home. We witnessed a player from the NFL team Seahawks sit for nearly an hour during a press conference answer each question asked of him by reporters with: “I’m only here so I don’t get fined”. He forgot who put him there and why they require media day interviews – it’s all about the fans. But not to this player, it was all about him. Think about what drives you: the money, the fear of getting fired or the satisfaction of your work. I would suggest that what drives you, defines you and people can see that a mile away. Find your inner strength, know why you do what you do and then do it to the best of your ability. No one loses when you do your best.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

“Do it all for the glory of God”. I could almost end this devotion right here. What else is there to say? Every step you take, every decision you make, and every move you make should be to the glory of God. Your boss may not see or appreciate what you do at work but work hard anyway because it brings glory to God. Your spouse or kids may not know what you go through, but do your best because it brings glory to God. What would happen if God were to stop by and evaluate your work, would He be pleased? Did you cut corners or take longer to get the work done because “you weren’t feeling like it today”. Your work or vocation is a gift from God. Regardless of what you think of your job, He may be training you for something greater or perhaps is putting you in the just the right place to make a difference in someone else’s life. God’s plan is greater than our understanding and we should be ready to serve Him with gladness. Now when someone asks you, “why did you do that?”, you can confidently answer that you were doing it the glory of God.

Inspiration

Someone my wife knows someone who posted on Facebook “why do good people get sick and the rotten people of the world don’t?” It’s a frustrating question because it might actually appear that way. We never hear about “that guy” getting cancer or the evil person at work being involved in a horrible accident. It’s always good people. We aren’t asking for it to happen to bad people but we notice that they seem to never have these problems. In response to this question, I had two immediate thoughts: God needs good people to spread His word through their actions and trials and I don’t know any rotten people well enough to know if they are sick. After that, I started to dwell on my first thought. Good people who get sick always become a source of inspiration for others in some way. Fellow blogger (he’s a real writer) Michael Bradley (mbtimetraveler.com) posted this weekend about a couple he knows that both have cancer; he was inspired. This couple has a friend who started a “gofundme.com” account to help them pay for the medical bills; he was inspired. I’ve known several people who have had serious illnesses and they were inspiring to me as they fought through the challenges; they did the inspiring. So the answer to the question is not why but what are we to learn from this? Are you supposed to be a stronger supporter? Are you supposed to learn about the strength of prayer or how to trust in God? We are all God’s children and He gives us only what we can handle, so what are we going to do with the opportunity that God has presented? Rotten people might not seem to have these problems but if they are truly rotten to the core, then they have eternal problems to deal with.

“All whom the Father gives me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never drive away.” John 6:37

God sent us all to Jesus – period. If Jesus won’t drive us way, what does? Many will answer that it’s sin but God took care of that on the cross at Calvary. Sin will not separate us from God’s love. I’ll suggest that the devil is the one who drives us away from our Savior Jesus Christ. He tempts us all of the time and disease is just one of his tools to turn us away from God. Many times people ask “why did God do this to her?” “Why does God let this happen?” It isn’t God. It’s the devil’s powerful way to make us doubt God’s love in our lives. The devil wants us to turn away from God and will stop at nothing to do it. Jesus will NOT drive us away! God can use the pain of disease or injury to show us His love, strength and compassion. God inspires good people to do great things as a result of these bad events. This week is the anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Where was God that day? He was saving thousands of people to do great things and he was inspiring others to be strong in the face of tragedy. Have you ever spoken to someone who was there that day? They tell great stories about the people they lost or they tell of how they found strength in the following years to carry on. They became the inspiration for someone else. This week, make a conscious effort to be inspired by someone or to inspire someone; show the devil your love for God and that you belong to Him.

Sowing and Reaping

Have you ever stopped to think about all of the people that have helped you in your life? There are teachers who helped mold your mind or shaped your learning, there people that you’ve met who have shaped your worldview and there are strangers that have helped in ways that you don’t even know about. If we were to list them all, it would be too long to comprehend. We all have had people put in our lives that played a significant role in shaping a part of our lives. Some of them have given us great advice or simply been there to listen and others created a pathway for us to follow behind them. The latter did what is referred to as “the heavy lifting”. Both the advisor and the trailblazer are significant to us in our development. I taught an ethics class for the fire academy this past week and I was reminded about how our lives, values and morals are shaped. It is a constant process, for most of us anyway. People are shaping and teaching us constantly; some are reinforcing our beliefs while others are changing our worldview. The whole dialog got me thinking about whom I’ve relied on in my life to help make me who I am today. Lisa and I realized this weekend that we met 30 years ago in January, which by the way, neither one of us can remember the specific date. Besides being unable to comprehend being together that long, we both know how much we have influenced each other. I’m not getting mushy here. I also know that there are about a dozen people who were there for me as I traversed my career; some reminding me to slow down and others pushing me on because they saw something that I hadn’t. I know that I have had little to do with who I am and that others had done the heavy lifting. Some took chances on me, others pulled me up into opportunities while people like Lisa were there adjusting to be everything else I needed. Give thanks for those people in your lives and then let them know how much you appreciate all that they’ve done.

37Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”  John 4:37-38

This verse is Jesus speaking to his disciples after he met the Samaritan woman at the water well. Jesus is the sower, He did the hard work for us but we will reap the reward; eternal life through Him. Jesus also is speaking of those before Him, the prophets and those doing the work that God commanded, allowing us to all reap the benefits of their labor. So, is the sowing all done now that we have God’s word and salvation through Jesus? I don’t believe so. “One sows and another reaps’ is true”. As disciples we still have a harvest to tend to as is said in John 4:35 “…look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” We are the ones that have reaped the goodness of the harvest but we also have some sowing to do. Let’s get out there and sow the good news of Jesus Christ. I bet some of you are saying, “Are you kidding? You want me to go and preach to others?” I’m suggesting that you be a witness of God’s love and grace. He has blessed each of us with specific talents or gifts to sow the fields. Some can sing, some can write, some have strong arms and backs but all have love and the belief that we can make a difference. God is with you and He has already given you what you need to be the person that changes lives. Look around your life and see what He has done for you and then look for ways to pass it on to others. The fields are ripe!

Better late than never…

Ten days ago I spent five days on Hilton Head Island, SC with our very dear friends from Boston. We usually see them about two or three times a year and have tried to travel to different spots in the US when we do. This year they bought a “retirement home” on the island. They are about 8-10 years away from actually retiring but the market was right so they plunged. It is all part of their plan and with a little faith; they finally got what they dreamed of. I spent time talking to Scott about goals and dreams while we were there. He was so clear about his vision. We all need a vision for our lives. Most of us live year to year and we don’t think about we want 3-5 years down the road. What will your life look like then? Visioning is difficult especially when we try personal visioning. On the plane returning home, I read an article about Google managers and how they are asked to create a vision for their team or section and then communicate about it regularly. As the business changes, they communicate how those changes impact the vision. Organizations create vision statements, leaders have visions of what they want to accomplish and we should too. Have faith in your abilities to accomplish them; you can do anything you set your mind to.

“He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”  Matthew 17:20

Christmas is two days from now! All of our planning for the holiday will finally come together. God gave THE ultimate gift that day, His Son. This day was prophesied throughout the ages. Even John the Baptist talked about “someone who is greater than I”. God set His vision in motion and found that the only way to make it “a reality” was to send us a savior. God’s vision depends on just one thing – our faith in Jesus Christ as our savior. Matthew is encouraging us to keep our faith (even if it is small) and remain strong in our belief. If we can be strong in faith, nothing will be impossible. Whatever your vision of the future looks like, keep your faith in Jesus Christ strong. A future without Christ in it is not a future, it’s the end. Eternal life is hard to put into a vision of our future here on earth but we don’t have eternal life without faith in Jesus – they are mutually exclusive. Enjoy the birthday party today (Christmas), I hope you are spending it with your family or friends or both. Ask God for help in crafting your vision for this life and let your imagination run wild for what eternal life will be like. Merry Christmas!

Stars

Most people who rise to a leadership position are considered “stars”. Even in politics they talk about the “rising stars of the party”. I’ve said here before that leadership is an honor and a privilege that when accepted, comes with great responsibility. The biggest mistake new leaders make is thinking that they are done learning. To remain wise, all good leaders need to remain current on trends and remain inspired to lead others. We all find inspiration in different forms, so it is important to know how you are inspired. When a leader is inspired, they will inspire those around them. Even the brightest stars will eventually burn out. Leading is about inspiring others to greatness. Many professionals are required to seek “continuing education” in order to remain current. A leader should do it because they want to not because they have to.

“Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” Daniel 12:3

Leading others to righteousness sounds like a big task, let alone lead many to righteousness. In typical human fashion, we can’t see ourselves doing that. God gave the world, in a single star shining in the darkness of the North, THE light of the world. Jesus spread the word of God with only 12 disciples. Out of a single man – a single star – came the salvation for all mankind. The analogies are plentiful here – a single flashlight can lead to safety, a single decision, etc. God gave us freedom from sin and everlasting life through His son, one man, Jesus Christ. When you ask yourself – “what can I do?” you should think of yourself as that single light. This is the time of year people will be open to hearing about Christ. Take the opportunity to lead one to righteousness. Like stars that fill the night sky, you’ll never know what you might be the start of.