By Lance Mayes
This sign is at Leah’s elementary school. They a Leader in Me Lighthouse school (www.theleaderinme.org) based on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
What would happen if we lived this: as we greet people we honor the greatness in them? What if we told our children they are destined for greatness? What if we really believed this about everyone? That everyone was destined for greatness? What difference would it make?
I’m not talking about everyone gets a trophy. I’m talking about helping people figure out how they’ve been created in the image of God. It was “very good” (Genesis 1:26-31). What skills, talents, gifts, strengths, and passions do they have inside of them?
Barnabas is a great example for us. He stood by Saul (Paul) and told the apostles of his conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:26-28). Barnabas stood by John Mark and parted ways with Paul even though John Mark abandoned Paul and Barnabas on a previous missional endeavor (Acts 15:36-41). Both Paul and John Mark served people then and continue to serve people today through their books and letters in the New Testament.
Sometimes we are are more like Paul and we find it difficult to see even a hint of greatness in others. We need to always be like Barnabas. Barnabas looked for and found the greatness in Paul and John Mark.
Look deep inside of people. Believe they are destined for greatness. Tell them they are destined for greatness. Help them find the greatness inside of them and help them share it with the world.
Every time you greet someone with “hello” or “howdy”, remember in your mind to honor the greatness in them.
Take a look at this inspiring video for an example of tashi deley.. What a difference we can make in the lives of others!
By Nikki Finkelstein-Blair
I’m afraid it’s true, I am one of Those People.
But, let me be clear: I do not advocate for the celebration of Christmas to begin in mid-October. The Christmas season begins the way God intended, when Santa Claus floats down Fifth Avenue at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Until then, we won’t listen to Bing Crosby croon “White Christmas,” or watch young Natalie Wood try to summon up belief on 34th Street, and we won’t haul out any holly or deck any halls. (I will admit, however, that I have caved in when my 5-year-old has requested “Bob, The Tiny Reindeer” for his bedtime reading for this past week.)
Something I’ve learned, though, is that when the season finally arrives, I need to be able to hit the ground running. For the past six Christmases I have participated in a daily art journaling project beginning December 1; to keep up with it and complete it successfully, I have to assemble and organize my supplies well in advance. Before we can merrily decorate our house, we need to tidy, sort, and purge the debris of daily life that seems to accumulate around us like snowdrifts. For most of our 17 Christmases of marriage, Scott and I have lived far away from family, so our gifts must be bought, wrapped, and ready in plenty of time to ship across the country (or the world). This year for the first time I am knitting many of the gifts we will send, and every handcrafter knows you can’t wait until Christmastime to start your stitching, painting, building, creating.
So yes, even though it doesn’t look anything like Christmas around here right now (well, apart from “Bob”), I am beginning to undertake the necessary preparations. And even some pre-preparations. I do it not for the sake of busy-ness or control-freakishness, and certainly not because I want to bypass the days between now and then. I do it because I know that it will help me when I most need it—when the days of Advent begin in ernest, and when I need all the calm I can unwrap amidst the mandatory fun of the season. I don’t start preparing because I’m trying to make Christmas stretch into October; I start because I know that my being ready will allow those short, full, flying December days to stretch, to lengthen, to open up and make the space I need to be in them as they come.
In life, it’s not always possible to be prepared that way. Most of the events that fill our days with flurry, anxiety, and to-doing are unexpected, and catch us unawares. Ready-or-not! Quick change! Reroute! How I wish there were a countdown calendar we could follow for those surprising seasons, reminding us to pace out our preparations and construct our scaffolds of readiness in plenty of time for that unknown Big Day. Still, although we might not get advance warning, we can know for sure that those Big Days will come, days when the life we anticipated and eagerly planned for takes a sharp and unanticipated turn. There will be days when we feel listless or lost or left behind, days when there is no spare moment for stillness, days when the clock and calendar race ahead of us and we wonder whether (or how) we lived through them at all.
Is it possible to be prepared for days like that? Perhaps, in the same way that we can prepare for the season of Christmas … knowing full well that whatever we do in advance, the days of December (and of life) will still be bustling and brief. We can gather up the resources we need—trusted friends, Words of Life, moments of worship. We can make our lists — remembering the gifts we have been given, the ways we too can serve. We can clear out the clutter — letting go and making space. We can put our hands to work, and in that work turn our hearts to God.
And just maybe, because we’ve done all that, we’ll be able to look around us when our unplanned life happens (as it always, always does) and find that while it might not look quite like Christmas, it is beginning to look more and more like home.
I was summoned. In church life you’re called, but to civic duty you‘re summoned. Jury duty. I had never been ‘summoned’ before. But, I was ready to represent myself as a responsible citizen, ready to participate in the justice system by casting a vote on a jury. Okay, so my expectations may have been heightened by John Grisham novels, but I was excited to participate in the grand saga of the justice system.
Arriving at the Bexar County Courthouse at 8 A.M., I turned the corner to walk into the central jury room and was confronted with a large mass of humanity. Probably more people than were at the last San Antonio Talons game (if you don’t know who the Talons are that only proves my point). There must have been 500 people crammed in awaiting their day’s destiny.
You could see people rehearsing their excuses. Why they are not fit or able to serve as a juror. Why the world is unable to continue on with them caught here in judicial purgatory.
It’s more about the wait than anything else. Time seems to stand still as if the clock somehow blurred into eternity. Frederick Buechner wrote, “If you spin a pinwheel fast enough, then all its colors blend into a single color–white–which is the essence of all the colors of the spectrum combined. If you spin time fast enough, then time-past, time-present, and time-to-come all blend into a single timelessness or eternity, which is the essence of all times combined.”
There are moments in life where we stand outside of time and see the world through God’s eternal eyes. These tend to be the big moments in our lives- the birth of a child, the death of someone close to us, marriage, graduation, baptism.
Jury Duty is not one of these times. It’s more like being crushed by that pinwheel of time. Yet, under the boot of that eternity there are things to see and learn. After all, that’s where many of us live our lives- in a liminal space awaiting an outcome. It’s the place from which the prophets of the Old Testament call to us. Prophets like Habakkuk, Isaiah, and Amos were waiting on a word from the Lord. They were waiting for God to act.
How much of our lives are spent waiting on God? 2 of the 5 major liturgical season focus on waiting and preparation (Advent and Lent). Waiting is a spiritual discipline. We wish it weren’t. But, it is. You might even say it’s a posture of prayer. ‘I waited patiently for the LORD, he inclined and heard my cry’ says Psalm 40.
This doesn’t mean waiting isn’t active. Sure, wait patiently. But, wait with expectations. Nudge God through prayer. Nudge yourself to step up to hope. Nudge God again and, like the pushy woman at the juror room window asking for a lunch break. Like the prophets of old. Nudge God and you may begin to feel the divine nudge assuring you your hopes are not unfounded. There is an end in sight because the judge has called you by name. Thanks for your service. Your going home.