resolutions that happen to be made at the start of a new year

Do you ever wonder what other people really think about you? Beneath the superficial greetings and pleasantries, what do they like about you? What do they struggle with? I am not being paranoid or self-obsessed (am I?), but I am in the middle of a process at the moment where I am considering the real me – strengths and weaknesses, warts and all- and seeking to see how I can be better.

I am making some resolutions about myself which coincidentally happen to be occurring at the beginning of January, but have nothing to do with New Year’s Resolutions: these are deeper and (perhaps) will affect how people perceive me and interact with the real me.

  1. Smile – ever since I was little people have asked me what is worrying me. I think my natural ‘relaxed’ face looks a bit worried / concerned. So smiling will help to counteract this. But it can come across as superficial, so what I am praying and seeking is that the joy in my life shows more in my face; that the pleasure of being with other people causes my mouth to curve upwards; that the knowledge of being adopted into The Royal Family shines out more from within through my face. People naturally prefer us to smile at them than scowl!
  2. Listen. I am aware that I can talk a lot. I wonder if sometimes it’s a defence mechanism because I am a bit introverted. I struggle to make small-talk (never been good at that) so I respond by waffling on about me and telling endless jokes. This blog gives me the opportunity to spout forth about me (pretentious? moi?) so I resolve to listen more to other people. I am trying to learn ways of training myself to shut up and show people that I am interested in them by asking the right questions and listening to what they say in response.
  3. Honesty. Ministers can project ‘supercope’. I wonder sometimes if we have to in order to survive. We are expected to be there for people, to prepare fresh sermons each week, to lead meetings, to visit, to pray, to serve. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. I LOVE this calling. But I am not doing myself or anyone else any favours if I am coming across as having it all together all the time, always getting everything right and being able to do everything. I am realising that I am not good at everything. (well, duh!). I am realising that I need to delegate better, and more. I am realising that I need to tell the inner control-freak to calm down a bit. I am realising that I need to release people to use their gifts. And part of this is being honest with myself and them – admitting when I get things wrong, admitting that I need help, admitting that I am not superminister (I wear my pants inside my trousers).

Those three seem good places to start. You may be thinking that they are not very spiritual, but I would disagree. The changes will take place best if I work with God’s Spirit to help me. The changes can be superficial if they are not embedded within the real me, and the best way of doing that is to ask for the Creator to carry out an upgrade!

Be blessed, be a blessing.

A strong young man at the construction site was bragging that he could outdo anyone in a feat of strength. He made a special case of making fun of Morris, one of the older workmen. After several minutes, Morris had enough.

“Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is?” he said. “I will bet a week’s wages that I can haul something in a wheelbarrow over to that outbuilding that you won’t be able to wheel back.”

“You’re on, old man,” the braggart replied. “It’s a bet! Let’s see what you got.”

Morris reached out and grabbed the wheelbarrow by the handles. Then, nodding to the young man, he said, “All right. Get in.”

The morning after the concert the night before

Last night’s gig (see yesterday’s bloggage) was an enlightening experience. I was (to my immense surprise) not the oldest person in the mosh pit. My ears are not still ringing. And I did laugh out loud. And I am blogging under the influence of sleep deprivation.

But the most enlightening thing was seeing how Sally responded once Paul Weller had come on stage. (You really do need to read yesterday’s bloggage in order to understand the context). I had forgotten just how enthusiastic a fan she is, and I think those around us were a bit surprised too. She threw off a couple of decades and danced, jumped, waved her hands, sang, screamed and generally threw herself into being a fan at a concert by her favourite singer. You can see some dodgy pictures of the concert taken on my dodgy phone in the slideshow.

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The journey home was interesting too. We came home on a train that left London at about midnight, full of people who had been to Christmas parties and were a bit the worse for wear for drink. A group of lads decided to serenade the whole carriage with a range of out of tune and very loud songs. Those who remained breathed a collective sigh of relief when they got off at Shenfield. And there were a few people around us who got into deep conversations with one another. These were people who were complete strangers to each other, but ended up sharing some deeply personal things.

Reflecting on all of these events I have a few thoughts:

1. Why aren’t we all as overtly exuberantly enthusiastic about Jesus as Sally was about Paul Weller? David was criticised by his wife for dancing in an undignified way in his underwear (the text may be a euphemism for dancing so everyone could see that he was a true scotsman, if you get my meaning). His response: “It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.” (2 Samuel 6)  I am not suggesting we shed our clothes in church, or even necessarily dance, but perhaps we can shed some of our reserve and concern about what others may think of us and just… worship!

2. How come complete strangers can share deep things with one another and many of God’s people interact superficially with one another – and perhaps too with God? Is it about trust, freedom, or that we don’t love each other as much as we could?

3. Do we annoy our neighbours with the good news of Jesus? I know that sometimes our church events outside can disturb the local shopkeepers. I know that sometimes street preachers and evangelists in the town can upset passers-by. But how about those whom Jesus calls our neighbours – are we too caught up in ourselves to wonder about the impact we are making on them?

Be blessed, be a blessing.

 

 

vroom

I am soon going to be getting into the car and head off to the Conference I mentioned last week. Before I go I thought I would put fingers to keyboard and leave you with a thought and a joke.

Sebastian Vettel (Pic:Getty)I was impressed with Sebastian Vettel over the weekend. In case you don’t know, he is a Formula 1 racing driver for the Red Bull team and won the World Championship. He was overcome with emotion immediately afterwards: not knowing whether to laugh or cry and managing to do both. I can’t imagine how he felt but he was open and honest enough to show his emotions.

Bless him

One of the ways in which we are able to grow closer together as followers of Jesus is if we are honest with each other. The knee-jerk reaction to being asked how we are is ‘Fine, thanks’. There are times when we are not fine and if we do not admit that how will people know to pray for us and support us?

Bless you

The tenuous link with this joke is crying…

After tucking their three-year-old child Sammy in for bed one night, his parents heard sobbing coming from his room. 

       
      Rushing back in, they found him crying hysterically. He managed to tell them that he had swallowed a penny and he was sure he was going to die. No amount of talking was helping. 
       
      His father, in an attempt to calm him down, palmed a penny from his pocket and pretended to pull it from Sammy’s ear. Sammy was delighted. 
       
      In a flash, he snatched it from his father’s hand, swallowed, and then cheerfully demanded, “Do it again, Dad!”