Several days ago I wrote about the character trait of orderliness as I identified that as my lowest or worst of the 26 character traits that I study, read about, and evaluate my life by. I am working on that one for the next month in hopes of moving it from the bottom. The problem with moving one from the bottom is there is now a new worst. When I become more orderly in the use of my tools, books, papers etc the new bottom dweller on my list of 26 will be “Thoughtful/Gentle/Gracious”. “Orderliness” is very important in accomplishing a lot with my life, being productive, and bearing much fruit for God, but the lack of orderliness doesn’t impact my relationships with people much if at all. One of the characteristics of my life is that I am almost always in a hurry trying to get as much done as possible. There are times when I choose to shift myself into low gear and just relax and enjoy the situation and the people I am with, but I don’t do that very often. I enjoy working as fast as I can, getting as much done as possible, and checking everything off on my “todo” list. When I get my life cranked up and I am in high gear interruptions irritate me, and most often the cause of the interruption is a person with a need or a problem. It can be a simple one like my grandson, Courage’s chain coming off of his bicycle, and he wanting me to put it back on for him or it can be a much more significant need where someone sends me a text message wanting some advice on their tough marriage or their rebellious kids. Every evening I end the day thinking about the day, examining my life for sins I have committed and then confessing them to God so as to experience His forgiveness. Probably the most often recognized and confessed sin in 2018 is being insensitive to people who pop into my life all day long. I want to be a thoughtful, gentle, gracious, caring, sensitive person, but boy, oh boy does it ever take some focus, determination and effort to improve much.
Good leadership is tricky. Leaders are in front, which means they are initiating, casting vision, modeling, and encouraging. Good leaders are driven by noble, God inspired goals that change the world, if even a little bit. Good leaders inspire and motivate others to help them accomplish these noble goals. Change is a basic requirement for growth and accomplishment, but change produces stress and unrest. Good leaders initiate change and manage change with wisdom. It is like going around a sharp corner on a motorcycle, you want to go fast, but stay on the road. Good leaders value and pursue healthy relationships in those being led as a key part of leading. Healthy relationships are marked by unity and joy, as everyone rides the motorcycle around the sharp corner together with no one wobbling the bike causing a wreck. Good leaders are driven by the vision, but they are equally driven by the change and growth they can initiate in the lives of those being led. Good leadership is tricky. Good leaders think about the vision constantly, they pray about it, they plead with God for hours about it, they want it and will do most anything to accomplish it. But good leaders know God isn’t going to plop it into their lap. It will be accomplished by spiritually gifted people functioning together in unity as if they were one person, one body. Good leadership is tricky because each of these spiritually gifted people are in various stages of growth and maturity, and some of them get freaked out going around a corner fast on a motorcycle. Each of these individuals have their own ideas on how to accomplish the vision, and their ideas are important to them. Each of these individuals have their own dreams and goals, their own lives that compete for time, energy, and money with the leaders vision. Whooooeeeeee, I have made myself tired writing this, I think I will take a nap.
I have 70 goals for the year, because I am 70😀, and they all are super, but a few of them are extra super! (1) I am going to focus on Philippians and Colossians this year in my study, I am also going to memorize both books word perfect. I am going to write 30 sermons from my study and preach them in our 8:00 am class that starts the first Sunday in October, and in our Wednesday night service. (2) A small group of us are going to leave June 1st for a 2,000 mile bicycle trip that will take one month. We are leaving Jefferson, riding to Glacier National Park, and back to Jefferson in a circular route, camping along the way. (3) I am going to read 20 really good books this next year. (3) I am going to listen to 100 really good sermons, many of them while I am riding my bicycle. (4) Patty and I celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary this year on August 24th, and on August 22nd we are leaving for the Steen’s Mts and will camp there together for one month. I will get most of my 30 sermons on Philippians and Colossians written during this time, as well as kill an elk and a deer, catch lots of trout in Fish Lake, and have hours of conversation with Patty about whatever she wants to talk about. Patty will get lots of rest, read lots of books, go sightseeing with me, and cook amazing meals for us. (5) I will start and oversee two “Satellite ” churches. This goal has me totally excited, and consumes much of my daytime thinking, and will be the focus of much of the goal of reading 20 books, and listening to 100 sermons. (6) I will write material, a syllabus, and prepare 12 hours of teaching for a seminar that Jefferson Baptist Church will host January 20th through the 22nd, called “Leading for Change”. (7) I will start on my project of building a 3 wheeled car from scratch.
The other 63 goals aren’t quite as big as these, but they are really cool. I read all 70 everyday which really lights my fire.
So, I am going to become more orderly and less messy. I am not going to become an “Obsessive-Compulsive” neat freak, or “Anal Retentive” or “Compulsive Decluttering”, all listed as mental disorders. I am going to make 1 Corinthians 14:40 my key verse in my pursuit of excellence in this area of orderliness, “But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.” My definition for orderliness is ” keeping my work areas organized for the sake of efficient accomplishment of my goals and tasks”. The discipline or inner strength required to keep my surroundings organized will then be the discipline and inner strength that keeps my soul organized. Externally, organization enhances my productivity, and internally being organized moves me to greater accomplishments. Ideas seldom become reality, because the person who has the idea can’t think orderly enough, that is in a linear way, sequentially, so that a plan is formulated, a dream is realized.
My life often seems a great illustration of the “Second Law of Thermodynamics” which in part says, “Left to themselves things will move towards chaos and confusion, and away from order and beauty”. Which means I must exert some control over this natural tendency for my extension cords to get tangled up all on their own while laying in a drawer.
In thinking through my plan to organize my work place surroundings, I will begin by adding this commitment to my early morning prayer of commitment, “today I will end any session of work in my shop or office with a time of putting things where they belong.” I will pray that commitment every morning for two weeks and then evaluate progress, and go from there.
I have this list of 26 character traits that I have used for a number of years to help in my pursuit of character and maturity. I focus on one a week through the year getting to each one twice. For a little variety I spent the evening going over the 26 traits, and I put them in order, my strongest at the top and my weakest at the bottom. I have decided I am going to spend a month focusing on my weakest one, and see if I can move it up a few spots, and then maybe focus on the new weakest character trait after that. After thinking about each one of the 26, I have a pretty obvious bottom 5, and the winner is, or I guess a more accurate word, the loser is “orderliness”.
God is obviously orderly in nature. It only takes a little reading about the universe, the stars, their orbits to see creation is amazingly orderly. The rising and setting of the sun can be predicted within seconds years in the future because of God’s orderliness in creation.
There seems to me to be several areas of orderliness, and I am weak in one and strong in the other so as I pursue growth I would like my weak area to match my strong area. One would be our physical surroundings that we use to accomplish our job, duties, goals, and hobbies. Orderliness would be “a place for everything, and everything in its place”. Orderliness would result in increased efficiency and production, and would reduce frustration and stress. Things are where they are supposed to be and little time is lost trying to find something that is needed. The opposite of orderliness would be disorder and messiness. I am a very messy person if you look at my shop, my office, my fishing tackle box, my Man room, and the trunk of my car. I have made several attempts to organize my stuff, but tend to revert back to my messy self when I get in a hurry doing something and the effort to put everything back where it belongs seems like more effort than it is worth.
Another area of orderliness would be our mental life. An orderly person would have a clear set of priorities in life that would control how his time was spent. They would mentally manage time so that important things got done, and they would accomplish a lot with their life that mattered because their thinking was not confused or disorderly.
So my goal is to become as organized in the use of my physical surroundings as I am in my thinking. The reason would be to become more productive with the use of my time, but another significant reason would be the personal pleasure from seeing things look good. When I build something it is very rewarding to look at it and to think “good work, that looks nice”. God looked at His creation at the end of each day and said, “It is good”.
I tend to think like most in their weak areas, “that’s just who I am”, and it is just easier to function in the default setting, but a I know that is the attitude of a loser, so I will conquer it, but whooee I am not looking forward to the number of days I am going to lose on this one before I get it down. It is just so comfortable being messy.
I got up at 6 am and went steelhead fishing with one of my sons on the Alsea River. We bank fished from day light until 9:30 am, and caught nothing, but fishing is always fun, then we headed home. Kids and grandkids showed up about noon and we ate, opened gifts, ate, played with gifts, ate, talked, ate, watched NBA basketball, ate and everyone went home. During the giving and opening gift time Patty asked all the grandkids why we gave gifts, and they answered with a variety of great answers from God giving Jesus as a gift to us, to the wise men giving gifts to Jesus. The grandkids all play together amazingly well, truly enjoying each other’s company and fellowship from the oldest to the youngest. The boys ran around outside having “air soft” wars, and drove the go cart in hundreds of circles in the field, the girls did face painting, “dress up”, talked, cleaned out an old attic room full of junk for their “room”. I wasn’t involved much in most of what went on except the eating, I contributed a little to a few of the conversations, but mostly listened, observed, and took cat naps. In spite of the low activity and involvement on my part these kinds of days are at the top of my list of favorite days. Not much makes me feel more fulfilled and blessed than days like today. Thank you Lord for blessing Patty and I with such a wonderful family. Help us and use us in the lives of many in JBC to teach, encourage, model, and pray for them so that marriages improve and grow stronger, parenting skills improve, and unity and love in families and relationships grow stronger and abound in love more and more in the days ahead.
A question I get asked often is how do I honor a person who hurt me, wronged me, who hates me. In the Old Testament, the prophet Ezekiel was told by God that his wife was going to die that night, and God told him that He wanted Elijah to not mourn or grieve over his wife’s death, she did die and Elijah says, ” I did as God commanded me”. Whenever I read that passage I wonder what I would do if God said to me that Patty was going to die unexpectedly, and He wanted me to act normal, with no grief or sadness. I think I could do it, in spite of how I would feel from the great loss, because God commanded me to do it. There are certain rules and laws in the New Testament that are very counterintuitive, and therefore we feel justified in doing things our way instead of God’s. Here is a classic one that Jesus says in Luke 6:27-28 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Here is a similar command from the apostle Paul in Romans 12:20-21 “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
If we are truly followers of Jesus Christ, doing hard things ought to be what we do, that’s who we are. God has infinite power available for us to live life with great strength, faithfulness, and obedience to Him, but if we are going to do the easy way, the world’s way, our way we are on our own.
When we honor a person we are giving worth and value to them as a person. Some of the key people that God commands us to honor is our parents, our spouse, our bosses, and our leaders.
1 Timothy 6:1. (Applied today, this verse is about bosses and employees)All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against.
1 Peter 3:7 You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
Ephesians 6:2. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise.
1 Peter 2:17. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
I honor Patty by listening to her, and paying sincere attention to her words. That is a key way that I honor all people in my life. I dishonor them by ignoring them.
I honor Patty by acknowledging her presence warmly when she comes home or I do, when she walks into a room, even if I am engrossed in a book or conversing with a group of people. I honor all people by greeting or welcoming them cheerfully. I dishonor them by ignoring them.
I honor Patty by praising her and thanking her for all that she does for me and others. I give honor by taking the time to think of those things she has done, and to craft a statement that communicates clearly my appreciation for them. I honor others in this way as well. I dishonor Patty and others by taking them for granted and rarely saying thank you.
Choosing to honor others as a discipline in obedience to God’s Word is the starting point, and as we persevere in this discipline over time it will become a character trait.
The biggest problem is that we honor those who honor us, and we dishonor those who dishonor us. That is an easy way of acting and takes little discipline, and will never turn into a character trait. An additional problem is that we justify that conditional honoring of others as just, fair, and right.
I don’t get sick very often, in fact, the other day I was boasting that I couldn’t remember the last time I got sick. Than yesterday when I woke up feeling like dirt I remembered the last time I was sick, and I also remembered that right before I got sick I had said, “I never get sick”. My recovery plan is to stay in bed all day, and have Patty take care of me, though she is leaving for church right now so I will be on my own for awhile. The most effective thing she does to make me feel better is to pat me on the head and say, “poor boy” with a very sympathetic tone in her voice, only like she can do it. It is almost like magic, the power she has to make me feel better! As she is leaving she brings me some crackers, my medicine, a bottle of water, puts another blanket on me, and asks if there is anything else she can do for me. If I didn’t feel so rotten, this would the life. I think I might fake being sick occasionally! We bought this hospital bed 3 or 4 years ago to help me sleep with the Parkinson’s, so I can raise up my head and be able to write this and read while I am being nursed back to health by my wife. It is quite amazing the power a flu bug has to change a macho, tough guy into a whimpering weakling, though it is the groans that prompts Patty to hurry over to my side asking what she can do to help me feel better. Patty is a very sympathetic nurse for me when I get sick, but if I wake up tomorrow still sick, I think I will be on my own, so that is my plan, take full advantage of Patty today, and back to normal tomorrow.
Certain events make me feel really, really good, and happy. They are just a major upper in my life, and I am always so appreciative to whoever helped bring the event about and in my life, and I praise and thank the Lord as well. Have you ever thought about the things, events, that are your favorites? The song in the movie “Sound of Music”, “These are a Few of my Favorite Things” always pops into my mind when I am feeling good because of some circumstances that have occurred. I have never written down all the particular events that are my favorite things, but I have thought about it, and then I would rank them from most favorite down. I have killed one really big bull elk in my hunting days, and that was a major happy event. Fishing is always a major source of “feel good” thoughts. Our kids and their families are close to the top of the list for sure. Another list could be all the events that make me sad, that is a long list, as is yours, I am sure. One of the things that happens regularly in my life is a person becomes a follower of Jesus, grows, and becomes a strong disciple of Jesus who is bearing much fruit with their life, and then for some reason falls away, and goes back to their old way of living. It always catches me by surprise and makes me very sad and depressed as I try to figure out why. Occasionally someone who fell away and I haven’t heard from them for a long time, comes back to the Lord. This event brings so much joy into my life, especially some who return with more devotion than ever, full of fire and passion. Again, I wonder, ” What happened?”Sometimes I find out, usually I don’t, but it doesn’t matter, that is still one of my favorite things.