Doing the Right Thing

Last week in my weekly devotional I talked about the topic of guilt.  Do you feel guilty often?  I think most of us are human enough that we do feel guilt from time to time and feel bad about the things we’ve done or choices we’ve made. We should feel guilty about sins we commit and people we hurt because it means that God is working in us, and we recognize when we do things we shouldn’t.  Today I wasn’t planning on talking about guilt, but about doing the right thing.

Do you sometimes choose to do the right thing because you know it will be the easy thing?  That rather than maybe getting caught for cutting corners or having to redo things you just do the right thing the first time? I know I do.   I like shortcuts as much as the next person, but sometimes those shortcuts aren’t so short and it’s just easier to do the right thing the first time.

What about doing the right thing because it feels good? What about treating others with respect because that’s how you want to be treated? What about doing things for the right reason period?  What about doing the right thing because God says to in the Bible?  This week I challenge you to do the right thing.  Treat others with respect, go the extra mile to do things right, do things right the first time, say ‘thank you’ and ‘bless you’ often and choose to make a difference doing right not only because it will feel good, but because it’s what God calls His people to do.

“So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”  Acts 24:16

Secrets and Sharing

This week I’ve been thinking about how well we know people.  Some of us are really secretive and don’t like to share anything, others of us seem to share our whole lives with the world.  But with the media today how much of what we see is real and how much is marketing, right?  Sometimes we’ll think we know someone really well only to find out we really don’t know them at all!  And other times we know people so well we can predict their words and actions.

It can be really intimidating to us when people know us.  Why? Because when they know us that well they can call us out on our BS and procrastination and bad habits.  It’s not fun to be called out on that stuff, even if it is necessary sometimes.  So because we fear being called out some of us try to stay away from others as much as possible or build fake relationships.  I call them fake not because the people aren’t real, but because you’re not being real with the people.

However, one of the best decisions you can make, one that’s ultimately essential to your health and sanity, is to have at least one person you can be completely honest and open with, without fear of judgement.  Personally, I believe that honesty is one of the best policies.  If we’re not honest with the people in our lives, soon we won’t be honest with ourselves.

Each day we’ve got a choice whether we’re going to open up to the people in our lives or if we’re going to hide who we are and how unique, special and interesting we are.  Don’t be afraid of your quirks or getting close, instead learn how to make the most of the time you have with the people you love.

“I don’t have any fear of intimacy, but rather thrive on it, which is rare in a public person.” Jack Nicholson

The Victory in Vulnerability

Today’s topic is a doozy: vulnerability.  It’s not a topic people like to talk about because we don’t like to admit that we’re not perfect.  We don’t like others knowing that we’re not the rock star they think we are all the time.  No, we’re less-than-perfect.  But the good news is that that’s OK.

As much as you may think the secret to success is being right all the time, it’s just as often, if not more often, about being wrong.  But, not just about being wrong, but about your ability to transform the wrong into something very right.  This ability not only makes you stand out as someone who is a leader, it also gives you unlimited power and potential. When you’re able to see beyond the mistake you’ve made to what can be done with what you’ve learned you’ve freed yourself from being someone who just makes mistakes to someone who transforms.

We don’t really have a choice in whether or not we have vulnerabilities, each of us do.  But when we choose to show them to other people it gives us first and foremost a connection with them.  When they see that we’re not perfect, they feel more comfortable with being honest with us about the struggles they’re dealing with.  Think about your relationships.  When you’re acting like you’re always right and always capable and don’t admit any weaknesses to your partner very often your partner tends to resent you for having it all together.  But by being honest with your partner about the things you do struggle with it’s easier to work together to fix the issues and support each other through your personal struggles.

Today I encourage you to reveal even a little glimpse of your vulnerabilities and weaknesses to someone important to you.  Let them know that you’re human and that their support and encouragement matters to you.

“In reality, vulnerability is a strength. All great leaders have vulnerability. So, in order to help you grow into a more powerful and courageous leader, I want you to be vulnerable.”  Darren Hardy

Be Faithful to Yourself

Being faithful means being honest with ourselves at all times: when we get that gut feeling to take a detour, when we have too much evidence to prove that our kids are doing something not right, when we know we have to leave our job because it’s slowly killing us, when we have been just getting by in life instead of passionately thriving. It’s not easy to be honest with ourselves always, it’s much easier to make up excuses or accept the lies we’re told. But having been there I know that sometimes it’s one story too many, one lie too many, one extra project too many and things just crack.

It’s when we’re not faithful to the loving, caring, compassionate, supportive, growing, people-needing person that we are that things can get ugly. When we lie to ourselves and others, when we procrastinate, when we continue to put our sub-par work that doesn’t reflect the capable and smart humans that we are that we need to realize that we’re not only not being faithful but we’re damaging ourselves and the world around us.

But when we choose to be the bigger person, make the choice that isn’t the easiest but is right, when we choose to take action and stand up for ourselves is when we begin to be honest about who we are and what we need in life and begin to be faithful to ourselves. Trust me when I tell you that there are plenty of people around the world trying to copy each other that the world doesn’t need another copycat. I meet them on a weekly basis because they’re frustrated that they can’t make themselves fit into someone else’s shoes and they can’t understand why it’s not working.

The world doesn’t go round by all of us being presidents, civil activists, parents or burger lovers. The world thrives on our unique differences, but only when we’re faithful to letting them free into the world. If we want to see the world continue down the dark and dirty rabbit hole it’s been heading in in many ways we should continue to join up with groups that kill, steal, hurt and conquer. But if we want a world that we don’t worry about whether or not we’ll wake up the next day, if we’ll be safe on an airline or boat or what our neighbors are really doing behind closed doors, we need to start making some changes and bring our unique talents and abilities that help the world grow and thrive to the table.

There will always be people who think it’s better to be faithful to the dark side, at least as long as there’s sin in the world. But the evidence is pretty compelling that those types of people only bring destruction to the world, not life and happiness. I don’t know about you, but I know which one I want to be part of.

“Endeavour to be faithful, and if there is any beauty in your thought, your style will be beautiful; if there is any real emotion to express, the expression will be moving.” George Henry Lewes

Problems or Symptoms?

This month we’ve been talking about being gentle.  Being gentle isn’t always easy. We tend to screw up often and spend too much time beating ourselves up about it.  We deal a lot in the emotions that are associated with anger, frustration, fear, failure, loss and betrayal, all of which are a far cry from being gentle.  But there are very few situations in which a hard hand really does the trick, such as highly at risk teens who still have a chance of turning things around.  In most cases wiping the proverbial slate clean won’t do it.  Why?  Well, let’s take a look at hoarders.

You’re probably familiar with hoarders, they’re people who keep all kinds of stuff, so much so that it impacts their, and their families, lives.  Some people may think that the thing to do is just get rid of all their junk and that will solve the problem.  But that’s not the case for most hoarders.  Hoarding in most people points to a much deeper emotional or mental problem that won’t be fixed by removing all their stuff.  Why?  Because the stuff is the presentation of the issue, not the issue itself.  Yes, the stuff needs to go, but the removal needs to be accompanied with counseling that will continue long after the stuff is gone.

So the next time you’ve got a situation, don’t get out the bulldozer before you know what’s really going on.  Chances are very good that there’s something beneath the surface you’re missing. Take the time to ask yourself some questions or talk with someone else to get a new perspective on the situation.  Sometimes it’s necessary to take quick action, but more often than not quick actions initially mean that you’ll have to fix or redo things later because what you thought was the problem actually was just another symptom.

“That inner voice has both gentleness and clarity. So to get to authenticity, you really keep going down to the bone, to the honesty, and the inevitability of something.” Meredith Monk

Universal Kindness

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Mark Twain

In a world with so many different people, cultures and likes and dislikes, while you usually can find at least one point in common with someone, there’s one way to always connect with them: be kind.  Even if you don’t really like kids, getting down to their level and asking about the stuffed animal held tightly in their hands will usually make them smile at you and tell you about them.  A word of kindness can also cool an argument, pacify a disgruntled customer or make someone’s day.  A door held open with a smile is something that can be appreciated in any language or culture.

One thing I struggle with on a regular basis is understanding why people choose to be nasty, lie, cheat and steal. What makes people choose those actions and words instead of kindness and honesty?  I’ve lied and spoken some things later I regretted in the past, most of us have.  When I decided to build a business I was adamant that it would be one of honesty, integrity and openness.  I refused to work with or for someone any longer who chose to destroy rather than build up any longer.  I know that not every business or job in the world, or even relationship, is unhealthy, but I have met many and was tired of seeing people hurt and struggle.

The choice I’ve made, and the choice I hope you’ve made, is one of kindness and integrity.  I make partnerships both in business and life with others who are conscious about their impact on the world, who believe that every day is a new opportunity, and that any situation can be overcome.  Blindness, deafness, financial loss, physical location, these are not what truly makes us who we are.  Rather, our ethics, attitude and actions do.  What kindnesses can you do today?

Tell the Truth

In John 8:32 Jesus said: “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

In this simple statement we’re given clarity about how we should live our relationships and lives.  It’s not always easy to be truthful, nor does the truth always sit right with people.  Sometimes we even tell ourselves that truth isn’t the best policy.  Even when we tell half-truths to people we can feel a stab of guilt accompany the statement.  After all, how many TV shows have you watched where the person is sitting in a chair being questioned and all of a sudden then jump out of the chair yelling “OK!  I admit it!  I admit it!!”?  Very few of us can hold up to relentless guilt.

In John 8:32, Jesus isn’t just talking about being honest and telling the truth, He’s talking about how important it is for us to know, discover and be told the truth.  I’ve met and worked with countless individuals who have accepted something as truth and based their lives or careers on that fact, only to find out that it’s not the truth.  This can be a big blow to many people, and can destroy relationships when the truth is finally revealed.

You may have seen commercials for an insurance agency I believe with a man and woman talking and the woman says something like “I read it on the internet so it must be true…”  While there are many truths and lies on the internet, there are also many of both in real life.  Kids grow up believing certain things based on what they see at home with their families.  These beliefs can forever impact their future, and can harm or help what they choose to do with their lives.

This month as we discuss the simpler things of life, I encourage you to not only be careful about the assumptions and judgments you make, but also about what you tell others.  We all make mistakes, and while some of us don’t know that we’re telling a lie, others do.  Do your best to tell and discover the truth; it will make you feel good and be a testament to others too.