Reality Reflections: Appreciating Responsibilities

This month we’ve talked some about the topic of responsibilities, and this past week I found myself in an ironic situation when I wished that I didn’t have the responsibility of doing the dishes when everyone else was watching TV or sleeping.  I don’t mind doing dishes, I even find it a bit soothing, but sometimes we can find ourselves wanting a break from even the responsibilities we’ve chosen as adults.  But knowing how little my partner enjoys doing them, it was either me or no one.

Of course it got me thinking about responsibilities, both those that are handed to us as well as those we choose, and about some of our other needs and desires like love, support and freedom.  It’s not always easy to be the adult, some days you want days off for headaches and illness or just to get a break from life.  Sometimes you can take those days, but other times you’ve got to step it up and push through because you’ve got responsibilities to yourself and others.  It’s not easy to choose to push through after a full day of pushing through.

The other ironic thing is that after I got over my annoyance and did the dishes I actually felt better because the kitchen was neater and who doesn’t like clean dishes, right?!  Sometimes I think we get caught in the responsibility aspect and forget why we do it or the benefits of doing it.  Yes, some responsibilities are a burden, but very few come without rewards.  It’s something that I’m going to work on remembering this week, and adjusting my attitude when necessary towards my responsibilities.

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Prayer for Students

This month we’ve been talking a bit about the topic of responsibility, one of those responsibilities is to the younger generations, both on a spiritual level as well as a whole-life level. We have to give them the tools that we’ve got as well as do our best to prepare them for what is yet to come that we don’t know about yet; challenges and opportunities that have never been seen before.

This week on Wednesday students around the US will be gathering around the flagpoles at their schools to pray for each other as well as our nation. It’s a moment where they step up and take responsibility for themselves and their school mates, the future leaders of the world. This week the rest of the US has the opportunity to pray for students and the people they will become as well, and for those who teach them and guide them.

Each year the organization behind See You At The Pole selects a passage to focus that year’s prayers on, this year it’s Ephesians 3:14: “I fall on my knees before the Father.” I encourage you to check out what they’ve shared about the thought behind their choice of passage on their website. What stood out to me was that the verse really is a reminder to pray, to seriously dedicate yourself and time to praying for what’s going on in your life and the world around you and taking the time to develop a relationship with God. We don’t always dedicate the time and effort to prayer that we should, and this verse is a reminder to do exactly that.

I encourage you to devote some of your prayer time this week for students, both those who will pray around the pole on Wednesday and those who will not, that this year will be a positive one and full of opportunities that will help shape students into the men and women that they will become.

Hope In Responsibility

It’s hard to believe that we’ve only got 4 months left in 2018. It seems like just yesterday we were cleaning up the Christmas decorations from 2017, working our way through snowstorms and planning Easter celebrations. But the reality is that many months have passed. I think one of the greatest challenges we face is the amount of time some things take to accomplish or get done, the amount of hours in a day and the amount of things we want or need to get done. I have a feeling that some day people will look back at us and wonder if we were all crazy for trying to do all that we do.

With today having been Labor Day here in the US, it seems like talking about this month’s topic is even more fitting: responsibility. I know, it’s a tough topic to talk about often because we feel we have so many responsibilities and so many people that we’re responsible to and for. And I’ll be honest, often the case is that it doesn’t all get done. And it would be good for us to all take a step back and lighten our loads and burdens a bit.

But in thinking about the topic for this month and Labor Day this weekend I’m reminded that sometimes responsibilities aren’t a burden in the sense of creating a weight that we have to carry along. Sometimes it’s a relief to have a responsibility, or to know what’s required of us. Having a job, having a family relying on us, and being called to bring God’s message of peace and joy to the world can bring us a sense of hope and peace because we know that we’re not alone in the world, that we’re able to provide for ourselves and others, and that we’re here for a reason and our life isn’t meaningless. It becomes a burden when we’re overwhelmed with quantity, can’t figure out how to fit it all in, aren’t able to find an answer or feel like we’re all alone trying to navigate everything.

If your responsibilities are feeling like a burden to you, it’s a sign that you need an attitude change, need to reevaluate what you want to be responsible for in life, and/or need more support.  If that’s how you’re feeling I encourage you to take a step back this week and do some reevaluating as we shift into September and soon autumn. Make sure that you’re holding up your end of the deal and that you’re on the path that God has for you.

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Reality Reflection: Independence

This week coming up in the US we’ve got Independence Day. As I was reflecting on the history of the day and the topics of freedom and celebration that surround it, I circled back around to the official name of the day: independence. Just about every kid you ever meet will use the phrase “no I can do it” even if they’re really not quite capable yet, because they want to do it themselves and be on their own so badly (or be big enough like their older siblings). It’s an important stage of growth, learning to do things on your own, but as we’ve gotten older I think some of us have lost that independent spirit, or at least the important aspects of it.

Independence goes hand in hand with responsibility. Whether that means wiping up the water you spilled after trying to fill your cup as a kid, or paying bills on time and having money left over in your account for emergencies and special occasions as an adult, if you really want to stand on your own, to have more victories in your life, you have to start taking responsibility. Take responsibility for your dreams, desires and actions (or lack thereof), and start doing something different if you don’t like the direction things have been going in.

Independence is something to celebrate. There’s something incredibly satisfying about saying that you did something all by yourself, even as an adult.  So take time this coming week to celebrate the ways you’re standing on your own, and make a commitment to be responsible and own the independence that you’ve been staring at, perhaps for years.

Reality Reflection: Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze?

Recently I was talking with a friend about the successes his son has had at swimming. From previous conversations I know that he is paying a decent amount for his son to swim with the team each year. As any responsible parent would, every year he considers if the cost of having his son swim is really worth it, or if the finances would be better spent on other activities, not to mention all the time devoted to practices and meets. Hearing all the successes his son has had this year we both agreed that it’s been a good investment for his son. His son hasn’t won any money or college scholarships (he’s not at that level yet), but the records he’s broken and medals he’s won show constant improvement and better-than-average success.

This conversation got me thinking about the rest of our lives and the investments we’re making.  The investment and the value are things that we should be considering in the decisions that we make. They should help guide our decisions and remind us to spend more resources on the things and people that give a good return. If some of us put even a tiny bit more thought to the investment we’re making and the value we’re getting out of a decision, I think things would look very different in the news right now.

You can’t avoid hearing about all the women coming forward and sharing about unwanted attention, about the lies that people tell to others, or about the questionable decisions that are made in various business industries by leaders and employees alike. I know that it can be seductive to go the easy route or cut corners, but time and again it’s been proven that making the decisions that benefit the fewest number of people are a bad idea!

I’m not saying that we can’t have any fun or do mostly pointless activities like watching TV or going out with friends, just that we need to be more aware of the decisions we’re making and making sure that we’re OK with how the investment of resources will turn out.

As we enter this last month of the year how have your investments this year worked out? Have you made good investments, or do you have some work to do before the year is out?

Healing and Assumptions

The past few weeks we’ve been hearing about many tragedies around the world, something that isn’t really new, but seems to have taken on another level of activity again recently. As humans we struggle to understand how people can be that violent and inconsiderate of human life. As spiritual people we struggle to understand how anyone could kill another person, or could live with the hate that’s being slung around at people regardless of whether they deserve it or not.

I know that until Jesus comes back we will continue to have wars and violence, that’s part of the sin experience. But I believe we can do a lot more to heal our country and world, and it starts with having faith that the people we share this planet with are worth working towards a better future for and are just as human as you or I.

It starts with not believing we’re just defined by our race, religion beliefs, political opinions or social status. Yes, those things do define us, but they should not be our bottom line. Using a very publicized example that means that just because you’re black not everyone is out to get you. You have to take the first step to see yourself as something other than what someone could define you as.

Why? Because many people are capable of treating each other as average/ordinary human beings without a specific label, but some people escalate and force them to profile them that way. For example if a police officer pulls you over and you get all angry and curse at them saying that they pulled you over because you’re black, when the reality is the police officer may have had no idea what race you were, but pulled you over because you had a taillight out or were on your cell phone or you were speeding. If you pull the stereotype card that’s how others will often treat you.

However, we’ve got a choice to begin our lives, our days, and our attitudes in a different way.  We can choose to make fewer assumptions, choose healing and love rather than hate and judgement, and choose to listen and learn before reacting. Unfortunately there will always be people who stereotype others and treat them based on some factor like race or religion that really may have very little to do with who that person is.  But for the many people who don’t see you and me specifically or only as our race or religion, working on treating them better and making fewer assumptions could really go a long way to healing many of the issues in our world.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave for the next generation? One of perpetuated hate or one of healing, growth and opportunities?

Reality Reflection: Everything to Everyone

I’m a fan of saying no to people, you know why? Because you don’t have to be everything to everyone. Not only is is about being honest to who you are and not putting yourself in positions that you’re completely unqualified for or incapable of doing, but because every time you take on something that you’re only slightly capable of (or not at all), you take away an opportunity from someone else who is qualified. If we really want this world to be all it can be, I think we have to be willing to share a little of the control with others, have to be willing to let them do their thing, and not get in the way when they take charge.

Yes, there are time when you’ll go a little outside your preferred box to help a friend or to try something new, and that’s a good thing. We should be trying new things to keep our minds engaged and learning. But we have our safe zones for a reason. The good news is that my safe zone isn’t the same zone as yours. You’ve got talents I don’t have and don’t have any inclination for developing. I believe there are plenty of opportunities for us within the things that interest and drive us that we should never have to take work, resources or life away from someone else.

But that does mean that we all have to step up in that which we are gifted in, and a whole lot less slacking, hiding or letting someone else’s sub-par job suffice. You need to take responsibility for what you can do in this world with your unique talents. Be proud of who you are and what you can do. That doesn’t mean you have to start a business or blog, it may just mean finding a company to work with and bring your unique talents to (one that fits better than your current one), or donating your time on weekends or vacations.

This week I encourage you to give others the chance to do what they do best, and choose to do what you do best. Who knows, you may not cure cancer today, but you certainly may bring a smile to someone’s face or relief to their life in some other way.