Praise

Constructive criticism. Just the name makes me think “what an oxymoron”; what can be constructive about criticism? Having given out my fair share of it, I’m sure that it was an oxymoron to the person receiving it. I had always believed that it should be given as gift and received as one too. It takes courage to tell someone how they might improve or try something differently. It was when I started studying the concept of employee coaching that it really made sense. In coaching, the supervisor is not criticizing the employee but they are offering constructive observations about behaviors, seeking to understand the goals of the employee and attempting to align those goals with those of the organization. Effective employee coaching can go along way toward building up an employee, not criticizing them.

What does the word “praise” mean to you when you hear it? For many, it’s only something you do at church. Our society has become so negative that all we seem to hear is criticism and negativity. We should be throwing around a little more praise for people and the things they do. Think about the last time you told a server at a restaurant that they did a good job. You may have tipped well, but saying something will make it mean much more. I’m not suggesting that you walk around all day telling everyone “good job” but more often than not, they never really know unless someone says something. The next time the chance presents itself; tell someone how much you appreciated their work or advice. Not only will you make someone’s day but also you will be surprised how good you will feel about yourself.

“Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done.” 1 Chronicles 16:8

I often reflect on a verse from Paul in one of his letters to the Corinthians that essentially says – we cannot understand the wisdom or the timelines of God. We don’t understand why things happen and we become frustrated when our prayers are not answered right a way. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about bad things happening to good people and how we simply cannot understand His ways. I also suggested that we seek to understand why these things happen.

We should not criticize what is happening but give praise and thanks for all that God has done. The person who is sick has been given another day to experience; the person who is financially struggling is being prepared for something greater or perhaps being drawn to God. We need to give more thanks and praise. In prayer, God can handle our requests and our questioning of His wisdom, but He can also handle our moments of praise and thanksgiving. Our praise should not remain silent in prayers but they should be shared with the “nations”. Spread the good news about what God has done, He deserves it.

Interruptions

Compared to last year, I’ve had it pretty easy this year from a traveling perspective. Unfortunately, I’m getting on a plane tomorrow for another work assignment. My brother once warned me that I should never complain about being too busy. Despite less traveling, my calendar seems full of meetings, activities and appointments. I’ve said in the past that my calendar is an alligator that I’m constantly wrestling it. An alligator’s strength is in its tail and its ability to fling itself around to avoid a predator. I still haven’t figured out where the tail of my calendar actual is but I’m pretty busy until May 8th. The things that are designed to make us more productive – cell phones, emails, text messages and calendars are actually slowing us down. We are too busy worrying about today that we seldom worry about tomorrow.

Time management techniques are vitally important for everyone, no matter your position, to be successful. A number of studies show that it takes the average worker 25 minutes to recover from an interruption caused by e-mail or text message. Think of the number of e-mails and texts that you received during the workday which interrupted you – how much time does that add up to? If you save just 10 minutes every hour of your day, you will add 80 minutes of productivity back to your workday; that kind of productivity gets noticed. Invest in learning good techniques to manage your time like preparing for the next workday and limiting interruptions; you’ll be surprised how good you’ll feel about your work.

“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself…” Matthew 6:34

Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord…” God is at work in your life. He is executing a plan right now – without interruption! We are being bombarded with self-help information and pressure to maintain a work-life balance that we don’t let God in to do His work in our lives. We have to remember that it’s God’s plan and His timeline.

We shouldn’t be so worried about tomorrow that we forget what is important. Right now, is a good time to focus on today and the gifts you possess to have a great day. So, don’t worry about tomorrow; let God do that, he can handle it. Give praise to God for each day and be patient – His plan for you will be revealed on His timeline. In the meantime, take care of today because tomorrow is taking care of itself.