Positively Negative

Zig Ziglar once said, “You can’t get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good.” A lot can be said about having a positive attitude. I’ve also written before about my wife’s unbelievably positive spirit. I only wish that it would rub off on me – she does too. We have season tickets to our local “professional” hockey team. I use quotes because they really don’t play like professionals. It has been a rough few seasons for hockey here in the desert. The couple that sits next to us also has season tickets. A week or so ago, Rick was getting on the team about various playmaking efforts. He can be a relentless critic when they don’t play well. I found that I too was becoming very critical that night. His poor wife was sandwiched between us; listening to our criticism the first 20 minutes of the game. I heard her turn to him and tell him to stop the negative comments. I didn’t realize until that second that I was doing it too.

The team ended up losing anyway but it was a big lesson for me; negativity can spread. We were just picking on the team but our comments fueled each other. I’ve admitted that I’m not the most optimistic person so it hard for me to imagine what it would be like if our comments were positive. I know what happens in the workplace when people are positive and how that energy fuels a team to excellence. I guess I took for granted what happens when the opposite takes place in a social setting. Usually people just walk away from a “Debbie Downer” but my seatmate was trapped. 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. 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 lie 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 to be negative but I find myself there more often than I’d like. For me, it is just another reminder that I need God’s help and guidance to keep pressing onward. Where do your feet stand?

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Keep Clean

When I read today’s verse, I immediately thought of the phrase “you are what you eat”. I realize that there is little connection between today’s verse and the phrase but lateIy I’ve been working hard to eat better and well; I digress. Leaders of all kinds must choose their words carefully. One of the most powerful tools a leader has is encouragement. There are so many stresses in people’s lives, in addition to their struggles to do the best work they can, that they often feel overwhelmed or simply disconnected from others. We rarely hear “good job” from the people we work with or those close to us. Sometimes, we are just too busy to say it or we don’t take the time to. For leaders, that can be a disaster. We have to acknowledge our people and the work that they do for us – even if it’s “their job”. A simple “thanks” or “nice work” can go a long way in motivating someone. We don’t know what is happening in their lives and this simple gesture can be what keeps them going. I used to work for a woman who did this all the time. At first, I was surprised to hear it because no one in military style organizations ever gives a compliment. It reminded me that I was doing good work and that someone appreciated it. The old saying is that “if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all”. If you never say anything nice or encouraging, then are people walking around thinking that you have nothing nice to say? It’s what comes out of your mouth that means more than what you think or write about someone. Well said is better than well written. Spread a little good will and watch the smiles. Then smile yourself, knowing that you were the cause.

“What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.’”  Matthew 15:11

This was Jesus speaking to the Pharisees when they saw the Disciples eating with dirty hands. But that isn’t where the story stopped. I usually don’t add more bible verses to the weekly devotion but it seems to fit here. In Matthew 15:17-20, Jesus went on to say: 17“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’”

We have to ask ourselves here: what’s in our hearts? Do you go through your life with the “do as I say, not as I do” attitude? In the end, we are all “unclean”. Every one of us will say something hurtful, have immoral thoughts about stealing or wishing harm on to someone, gossiping and in some cases, we’ll act on them. We are all guilty at one point in time or another; we are unclean. The good news is that Jesus Christ wrapped us in pure white clothing when he took our sins with Him to the cross. He made us clean for all of eternity through our faith in Christ. God knows what is in our hearts and hears what comes out of our mouths, yet He has cleansed us and given us eternal life. No tricks, no works, no negotiations, simply forgiveness given to us from the grace of God. Now that should make you smile!

Shiny, Happy People…

We all have heard about the rising stars and shining stars but what about the constant stars? Those people, that every day, shine in all that they do. These are the people who jump in to help others at work, have smile even when it’s snowing in Phoenix and are simply great to be around. These people are just great to be around. They don’t want the spotlight or ask for attention; in fact, they are the ones usually shining the spotlight onto others. When we think of the next great leader, we tend to overlook those who shine consistently. Now ask yourself, what do you do for these people? Do you find yourself going to them just because YOU need a pick me up? It’s hard to imagine what keeps these people positive all of the time, but they do it. I had a peer once in my career who worked for another agency. We used to see each other for meetings once a month or sometimes more frequently but after every time I saw him, I always found myself saying what a great guy he is. I would try to be more like him and still try today. Despite my best efforts and intent, I’m just not the “smile when its snowing guy”. I do however; make sure that if I have people like in my life, that I let them know how much I enjoy their company and focus time on them. We all need positive people our lives and should seek them out regularly, not to improve our own disposition, but to mutually benefit each other.

Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking. Ezekiel 1:28

For the first seven years of his ministry, Ezekiel faithfully relayed to his fellow Jews the stern, heart-rending, hope-crushing word of divine judgment: Because of all her sins, Jerusalem would fall. The only hope the prophet was authorized to extend to his hearers was that of living at peace with themselves and with God during their exile. Once news was received that Jerusalem had fallen, Ezekiel’s message turned to the Lord’s consoling word of hope for his people—they would experience revival, restoration and a glorious future as the redeemed and perfected kingdom of God in the world. Ezekiel had become the constant star in people’s lives. He was there for everyone. Some may argue that it was easy; God was speaking to him directly. God speaks to us every day too. We just need to listen. It’s the phone call that comes in the middle of an argument or the unexpected check that comes in the mail when your bills are late. God is with us all day, every day; we just need to learn to listen for Him. Send your worries to God, pray daily, give thanks for what you have and be assured that your sins are forgiven. Then, stop and listen for God.