motivation, inspiration, perspiration

I have been reading a bit recently (and doing some personal reflection) on different strengths and weaknesses, different preferred learning styles and different ways of looking at life’s problems and blessings. We are all different. If that comment shocked you, welcome back to the real world from wherever you have been cocooned for the rest of your life.

But recognising and acknowledging those differences is important. Once we have done that we can start to consider how we can accommodate those differences in our relationships.

One thing I read recently in a book designed to help us be better people and maximise ourselves (yes it is American) was saying that we should spend more time playing to our strengths and less time trying to improve our weaknesses. I can see that there is some wisdom in that. If Usain Bolt decided to become a marathon runner he would probably finish last, but because he trains and works to his strength as a sprinter he is awesome.

But there’s something that niggles me about that attitude. If we only ever focus on our strengths, how will we grow as a more rounded human being? If we only maximise the bits we are good at, do we settle for less than adequate in other areas of our life?

In our evening service this Sunday we will be looking again at spiritual gifts: 1 Corinthians 14. I reckon that these gifts are often latent within us and God’s Spirit simply wakes them up, enhances them (perhaps) and gives us the courage and desire to use them. Look at Moses. He resisted God’s call, saying that he was no good and couldn’t speak well in public. Later events tend to affirm that God was right (He will be glad to know He has my endorsement!).

Look at yourself. You may find that in your daily life you have to do things that are ‘outside your comfort zone’, but you do them and having done them you have the confidence to try again (unless you fall flat on your face). God’s Spirit takes what we offer him and asks us to  do what he knows we can do with his help.

This is not, “I can do anything I put my mind to,” or, “you can do it if you want it badly enough.” Those are blatantly not true. You won’t be able to fly unaided no matter how badly you want to. But you can do anything God wants you to. He will motivate you, inspire you, equip you and encourage you but you need to put it into practice, practice, practice.

He has the resources (many of them planted in you already), the grace, the encouragement and the wisdom to be able to help you help him help others.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

1. How many charismatics does it take to change a light bulb?
Only one since his/her hands are in the air anyway

2. How many Calvinists does it take to change a light bulb?
None. God has predestined when the lights will be on. Or… Calvinists do not change light bulbs. They simply read out the instructions and pray the light bulb will decide to change itself.

3. How many Baptists does it take to change a light bulb?

4. No. Really, how many Baptists does it take to change a light bulb?
At least 15. One to change the light bulb, and three committees to approve the change and decide who brings the potato salad.

5. How many TV evangelists does it take to change a light bulb?
One. but for the message of light to continue, send in your donation today.

6. How many fundamentalists does it take to change a light bulb?
Only one because anymore would be compromise and ecumenical standards of light would slip.

7. How many Anglicans or Catholics does it take to change a light bulb?
None. They always use candles.

clean your glasses

(You can’t be optimistic through a misty optic!)

Recently I have been working through a process of analysing my strengths and weaknesses and (with the help of the lovely lady called Tracy) have been analysing my preferences – my personal style, how interact with others, and how I make decisions. This has been incredibly beneficial. As well as helping me to understand myself better, and why I think all react in certain ways, it is also helped me realise how people respond to me. I won’t go into all of the details, but one of the helpful reflections is in developing strategies for recognising and responding to those whose way of looking at life is different to my own.

I hope that this will help me as an individual, as a husband and father, as a team member, and as a Minister. I will be trying to work through these findings and may occasionally news about them on this blog. I hope that that will not be too self-indulgent but may help you understand me better, and perhaps even understand yourself a little better too. So, what’s today’s subject?

Apparently I am a ‘glass half full’ sort of person, although that optimism is occasionally misplaced. (It has been pointed out that the glass is always full – it’s just that sometimes it is more full of air than fluid). Except when I’m feeling in a grotty mood (often because I’m tired), I do think that I am a relatively optimistic person. I am not prone to Eeyore moments. I tend to look at life positively and consider possibilities rather than focusing on difficulties and problems. I think to this might be linked to my love of laughter and humour, which I appreciate can come across sometimes as flippancy (sorry if that’s the case for you). I wonder how much this is my natural personality and how much comes from my Christian faith.

In the light of the facts of Jesus’ resurrection I find it difficult to be pessimistic about life. The empty tomb, the testimony of the guards, the transformation of the disciples, the statements by those who met Jesus after his resurrection, the rapid spread of the early church led by eyewitnesses, and my own experiences of Jesus’ presence in my own life all points towards an ultimately optimistic future.

I know that for some people life at the moment might be quite dark and that for others Eeyore might be their patron saint, but that does not alter the facts of my faith. I hope and pray that my optimism does not make you feel uncomfortable or awkward but instead might provide hope and the expectation of a brighter future. If you find me to be over enthusiastic please gently let me know. At the same time, however, please feel free to borrow some of my optimism if yours is lacking.

Be blessed, be a blessing

Grandpa was celebrating his 100th birthday and everybody complimented him on how athletic and well-preserved he appeared. “Folks,” he said to the assembled throng, “I will tell you the secret of my success. I have spent a considerable amount of time in the open air everyday day for some 75 years now.”

The celebrants were impressed and asked how he managed to keep up his rigorous fitness regime.

“Well, you see my wife and I were married 75 years ago. On our wedding night, we made a solemn pledge. Whenever we had a fight, the one who was proved wrong would go outside and take a walk.”