Friday, December 28, 2007

P4E.054 I Am Third

"The Lord is first; my family and friends are second; I am third."
Gale Sayers - football player, writer, entrepreneur, motivational speaker

Like many people, as the New Year approaches I'm looking at the priorities that I desire to take into 2008. I remember reading the autobiography "I Am Third," by Gale Sayers many years ago and being impressed with the priorities that he set down there.

When asked "which is the great commandment in the Law?" Jesus responded "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."

Focusing on the second commandment for a minute, I'd like to propose a "strategy" for myself and for you. The message of Christ is consistently one of sacrificial love. He died so that we might have eternal life. We know this. But Scripture reiterates it over and over again. Philippians 2:3-4 says it well,

"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others."

The strategy I propose is simply this: I put others first. Others' desires, passions, wishes, tastes, interests, priorities, values, ideas, direction come before my own. How do I know what they are? To implement the strategy and know what they are I have to show an interest in others and ask questions. Does this mean I would act unethically or immorally if others wanted it? No. Does this mean that I would ungraciously demand that others' wishes be acted upon if they in-turn deferred to my wishes? No. But these things rarely happen on a day-to-day basis. On a day-to day basis, I have a "help" that God has provided for me to practice with.

What usually happens is that I want to eat a certain thing for dinner and my spouse wants something else. I want to see a certain movie and my wife wants to see another. I have a passion for this time consuming activity and my wife has another passion that would take the same time. I value money and things and Gwen values people and relationships. Does this means that I die to myself? That I no longer exist? Yes....and no. This is the mystery of Christianity. My natural self dies. My fleshly desires and spirit die. My godly spirit is lives. Sacrificial love lives in me....if I exercise it.

Consider the meaning of Galatians 5:24, "Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." and of Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me..." and of John 3:30, "He must increase, but I must decrease." These are the priorities that I want to take into 2008 and beyond. I am third. God help me...and you too!

Happy New Year! Kim

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

P4E.053 I'll Begin Again

I'm alive! Alive!
I've got a chance to change
and I will not be the man I was.
I'll begin again, I will build my life,
I will live to know that I've fulfilled my life.
I'll begin today, throw away the past,
and the future I build will be something that will last.
I will take the time I have left to live,
and I'll give it all that I have left to give.
I will live my days for my fellow men,
and I'll live in praise of that moment when
I was able to begin again.
I will start a-new, I will make amends,
and I'll make quite certain that the story ends
on a note of hope, on a strong amen,
and I'll thank the world and remember when
I was able to begin again."

Movie: "Scrooge" 1970, with Albert Finney as Ebenezer Scrooge,
based on the book "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens
Song: "I'll Begin Again" sung by Ebenezer Scrooge
on Christmas morning after being haunted by three ghosts
Lyrics: Leslie Bricusse

I've ruined many a holiday for my family and myself. By my attitude, actions and words (or lack thereof). I was not haunted by three ghosts, but I did have some epiphanies along the way. The first of which was to realize that my wife was not my enemy, but rather, my help. I do thank God for Gwen and the help that she gives me.

Guys ask me, "How did you change?" The fact is, I know and I don't know. I do know that I have changed. They say that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. I've taken that to heart. I know now that impatience, frustration and anger did not, do not, serve me well.

When I opened up to Gwen and told her what was going on in my mind and heart, she was able to identify and label what was going on as "warped." When I would fail when faced with difficult circumstances, Gwen would tell me "Whatever you're doing obviously isn't working. Try something different! ANYTHING!" I thank God for that help. I never would have known,otherwise.

So now, I use a Life Partners shortcut to Christlikeness. Whatever "natural" response I would "normally" have to difficult circumstances, I stop and do the opposite. It does require self-awareness and discipline, but gets easier with practice. And it's a sure-fire way to do something different (better). Every time I'm faced with a difficult circumstance I get a chance to "begin again" by changing my bad (or non) responses to better, more engaged, responses. This sure helps keep the "Merry" in Christmas. God give me the strength and wisdom to continue (and you too!)

Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 14, 2007

P4E.052 Sticks and Stones

Question: Why did anyone ever come up with the rhyme "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?"
Answer: Because they do.

A basic tenet of psychology is that others can't make you feel. Here's a quote from Jason E. Johns, a "personal success coach," that sums up the psychology: "Believe it or not, each of you are in control of yourself and how you feel. You can choose to feel anyway you want. Right now, you could choose to feel happy; or I am sure you could choose to feel sad. Just by thinking about it, you could change how you feel." But, the fact is that this psychology had to arise as a rebuttal to the fact that others can, in fact, affect my feelings.

Recently, I've personally felt, or have witnessed others feel: unappreciated, unimportant, unintroduced, unacknowledged, small, insignificant, inferior and rejected. I think it's important to acknowledge that these feelings are real, not to deny them or that others may have made me feel them. It's important because I'm looking at the flip side of the coin; that I have the capacity to make others feel these same things. It's important to dwell on the feelings to see and feel how they feel. These particular feelings don't feel so good.

As a Believer, I'll take any chance I can to connect with Christ. One of the ways that I've been taught to connect with Him is to evaluate my feelings and ask myself he question, "Did Christ ever feel these same feelings?" I remember one particular event in Scripture where Christ healed ten lepers and only one returned to thank Him. His questions ring in my ears, "Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine--where are they?" It certainly must have made Him feel unappreciated. It's important to me that I feel what He felt and He felt what I feel. Over 2,000 years and the emotion, the feeling is the same one.

Another question that I ask myself, in the pursuit of Christlikeness, is "Have I made others feel this way (especially the one closest to me, my wife)?" The Holidays are fraught with the danger of being insensitive. One Thanksgiving not so long ago (I tell you this story to my shame) I gathered the family around in a circle for a pre-Thanksgiving feast prayer in which I completely neglected to give thanks for my wife's herculean effort to make the holiday a great one. She had cleaned, and decorated, made phone calls and invitations, made calligraphied name tags to designate where people would sit and cooked a gigantic feast (without much help from me). Well sure, she could have said to herself, "I am in control of myself and how I feel. I can chose to feel anyway I want..." But the fact is, I made her feel unappreciated, unimportant, unintroduced, unacknowledged, small, insignificant, inferior and rejected. She had every right to expect a very different response from the one who vowed to "honor and cherish" her.

Knowing what I know now, I am so sorry for this. It was very wrong of me. I know now how awful it feels to feel these feelings. How troubled I am that I can be the cause of these feelings in others, especially my wonderful wife. How different I want to be in the present and the future! God help me and strengthen me in this commitment.

Take care of yourself (and other's feelings!)
Merry Christmas
Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All Men (and Women)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

P4E.051 20 Questions

There used to be a radio quiz program called "20 Questions." In the game, the questioner would ask the answerer as many as 20 "yes," "no," or "maybe" questions to determine what subject the answerer had chosen. The questioner used deductive reasoning and creativity to guess the answerer's subject within 20 questions to win the game. The show gave rise to the phrase "What is this, 20 questions?" when someone feels like they're being grilled.

The reason I bring this up is that I've had to jump start my ability to communicate. My wife has impressed on me that a major aspect to communicating is to ask questions. Not as an interrogation method, but to let her know that I'm interested and that I care. She describes conversation as like tennis; a back and forth process. A process that lets the other person know I'm engaged, listening, watching and aware.

I know how good it feels when someone really expresses an interest in me, in who I am, by asking me more than just superficial questions. I get the feeling that they care, that they are impressed by what they are hearing, interested to know me more and place value on me. Knowing how others can affect me this way, I know that I can and should develop the ability to do the same for others. Especially my wife.

As men, we are naturally mechanical and think that conversations with our wives are to be an informational exchange of facts. Conversational questions are not for the purpose of gathering facts and information. This is a place where women are quite different from men.

"Women are not always looking for answers to the questions they ask. They are looking for conversation as a means to gaining an entrance into their husband's heart. Don't just look at the words she is saying. What is going on in her heart that is making her say what she is saying? She needs understanding."

Ken Nair, founder of Life Partners (

As prospective spiritual leaders, we could learn some lessons (receive some "help") from our helpmates in this area. Asking questions for the purpose of gaining an entrance into our wife's heart. That sounds like a very good thing.

Peace, Kim