Lesson From a Party With Friends

Do this before it's too late

This past weekend Kathy and I were able to get away and spend some time with friends; old friends we don’t see nearly enough anymore.

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The occasion was a surprise birthday party for our friend Mack. About 40 of us gathered at his favorite restaurant to celebrate him.

During the night a number of people stepped up to the microphone to share some thoughts about our friend. It was suppose to be a “Roast”, but as many acknowledged, it was hard to roast a guy who simply means so much to us. There were so many wonderful things to say about our friend, that roasting just had to take a back seat.

It was such a great time, reconnecting with people who we have been blessed to know for many years now. The night was a celebration of friendship and I loved that we were able to to give attention to a friend who has meant so much to so many. I was thrilled just to be a part of it.

As I sat and listened to one after another recount the numerous ways in which Mack has blessed them, a strange thought came over me; here it is; “I’m glad we’re doing this now and not at his funeral.”

I told you it was a strange thought, but let me explain.

I’ve been involved in a quite a few funerals over the years. Funerals in my personal life and as a pastor. In fact, the circle of friends that we were hanging out with on Saturday night has experienced more than our share of deaths over the past few years.

So this night was different. We weren’t gathering to memorialize a life that had ended far too early, but celebrating a friend who was still going strong…and it was awesome.

I wonder if we could be doing more of that? I need to do more of that.

Don’t wait until someone is gone to tell them what they mean to you.

Perhaps, a take away from the weekend is that we shouldn’t wait until someone has died to talk about how much they meant to us.

Instead, why don’t we take the time to tell them now, while they are still with us?

I’m not suggesting we don’t already do that, but this weekend reminded me that maybe I need to be more intentional about letting the people that mean the most to me, know that they do…and why.

  • Maybe we don’t express our love and appreciation for those closest to us because we simply aren’t intentional about doing so. Life is busy and it can just get in the way sometimes.
  • Or maybe we assume they know how we feel and we don’t need to repeat it.
  • Or maybe, it’s too awkward to share our feelings with a friend or family member.

Whatever the reason, maybe we can gain a valuable lesson from the birthday party I attended on Saturday. Here are some of my takeaways…

Be intentional: actually take the time to express our feelings to those who mean the most to us. Maybe it’s a phone call or a handwritten card (remember those?) or a few words of appreciation over a coffee. You don’t have to wait for a milestone birthday to do it.  A simple “Thank you” for something they have done or said etc could mean so much.

Push past the awkwardness: it isn’t easy to express feelings for most of us; maybe guys even more. So what. That isn’t an excuse for not doing it, in fact, it’s actually more reason to do it. If it’s awkward and unnatural to tell someone what you appreciate about them or how much you love them, maybe that suggests how meaningful a simple exchange could be…for you and them.

Don’t wait until it’s too late: if attending a lot of funerals does anything, it reminds us that our days are numbered and we don’t know how long we have with those around us. So why not take every opportunity to let them know how we feel about them.

Practice makes it better and easier: If you typically keep things to yourself, sure it may be uncomfortable at first to share your feelings with someone else…start small and get better at it.

Look for opportunities to encourage someone: We can encourage people all around us whether they are close friends & family or not…

  • A simple compliment on how someone looks, or their strength at work….while you’re at it, tell their boss as well.
  • When you introduce them to someone, share something special about them.
  • Tell someone how they have encouraged you or inspired you.

Q. As you read this, who comes to mind? How have they impacted your life and how can you express your gratitude? 

Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today…” Hebrews 3:13

What’s stopping you?

 

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Your life not where you want it to be? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange a free 30-minute discovery call. Lets talk.

 

 

Our Hope Is Not in Presidents & Prime Ministers

If you’re like me, you’re probably grateful that the US presidential election is history. For Americans and even Canadians this seems to have been a more hotly debated process than any other that I can remember.

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It seems that through media, social and television, the election has been front and center for years not just months leading up to the events of last Tuesday.

I don’t typically spend a lot of time focused on politics but even I stayed up past 2am to watch the election unfold. I wasn’t rooting for either candidate but I was intrigued by the process itself.

I understand that many people are actively involved in politics and have very strong ideas and opinions. People from both sides of the aisle have been very vocal about “their” candidate and about their opponent. This election seemed to focus more on character than policies and from an outsider looking in, it appeared that neither party candidate was ideal. I do wonder what it means when only half of registered voters actually voted.

But what really stood out to me has been seeing how disagreement lead to hatred. The disdain that people expressed toward the other side was severe. And I just have to wonder, to what end.

From my vantage point the election process looked more like a civil war than a political process. And the result will be a lot of pain and carnage. The level of name calling, labelling groups of people, divisive positions, fear mongering and outright hate was unprecedented, at least in my life time.

Now we are hearing things like, “It’s time to unite and come together as a nation.” But how realistic is that given the level of the divisive, hatred expressed…not just toward the candidates but toward anyone who followed the candidate. It seems that the social, racial, economic and political lines have become walls.

It’s hard to go out for a coffee and have a civil conversation with someone you just punched in the face.

My fear is that the harmful effects of the election process will only serve to entrench political positions and make bridging social, economic, racial and political differences virtually impossible.

But what has concerned me even more than how the opposing sides have engaged in this election, is seeing how Christians have jumped on board.

You may not be a Christian…but for those of us who are, I think we have been called to be different. Or as Darren Hardy says,

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Jesus’ own disciples were hoping he would introduce a new political system; one where the Jewish nation would thrive and not be under Roman rule. Instead, Jesus introduced a new movement; one that was open to anyone who wanted to be a part of it. One that was rooted in love; love for God and love one another.

In fact, the first-century Church was under the rule of Nero, a brutal dictator. But nowhere in scripture are we encouraged to level such a political system; instead we are commanded to share the good news, that Jesus loves them…everyone.

How can Christians hate anyone? I don’t know…but much of what I read and heard over the past months has been troubling. We are called to be different…to be the exception.

This past Sunday at my church, we were reminded of the story of Jesus calling Matthew to “follow him”; Matthew a tax collector and one who would have been despised by society was being invited into a relationship with the son of God.

What did Jesus do? He went to Matthew’s home for dinner. Imagine that. While the religious leaders looked down their noses and slammed Jesus for eating with “sinners and the scum of society” he got closer to them.

Of course Jesus routinely “broke the cultural rules of the day” by breaking down the barriers that prevented people from seeing the love and life that God was offering.

Isn’t that what we are called to do to as well?

I appreciate that people have passionate political positions but it has been disheartening to see Christians embrace the hurtful, harmful and hateful rhetoric of this election. We had an opportunity and still do, to stand and offer an alternative.

Whether you’re a republican or democrat, conservative, or liberal…maybe we can be defined by something even more profound, more powerful. 

We’re called to love our neighbors, not hate them. Even the ones we don’t agree with.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen…Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:29,31-32

We’re called to honour authority

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. Romans 13:1-2

We don’t need to fear authority
For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. Romans 13:3
Respect for authority is in our best interest
Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Romans 13:5,7
 Jesus didn’t usher in a political kingdom, even though that is what people wanted. He ushered in a new way to live. A life rooted in a relationship with God through Jesus and one that we are to invite others into.

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24

After all, our hope will never be found in a president or prime minister.

Why You Should Avoid This Word

How many times a day do you use the word “SHOULD” in reference to yourself or other people? I don’t know about you, but I used to use it a lot. But now I try to avoid it.

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The word has become a common one, a fixture even, used with regularity by almost everyone. It seems to be such an innocent word though, so what’s the big deal.

“I should practice more.”

“I should take some time off.”

“I should exercise in the morning”

“I should lose some weight.”

“I should eat more fresh veggies.”

“I should eat less red meat.”

“We should get together for a coffee.”

Sound familiar?

Why do we do it? 

To get someone off our back? “Yes, you’re right, I really should spend more time with my kids.” Maybe “SHOULD” is a way to move on quickly from the conversation.

To give ourselves an out? “I really should, but I just don’t have time right now.” Maybe “SHOULD” simply becomes an excuse for not doing something.

To avoid someone? “Yes, we should get together sometime.” Admit it. Sometime that is code words for “I don’t want to…”

Just the other day I bumped into a friend and we began to talk. It wasn’t long before one of us said, “We should get together.” We both agreed so we pulled out our calendars and booked it. I see him in 2 days.

Never let “SHOULD” keep you from what you want to do. 

Most of us have used “SHOULD” for one reason or another but there is an inherent problem with it resorting to should; primarily that it doesn’t accomplish anything, other than reinforce the things we aren’t doing.

A couple of weeks ago, I encouraged us not to avoid the word FAILURE. You can read more about that here.

But “SHOULD” is a word best left out of our vocabulary.

Here’s the problem…

When we should or should not do something, we aren’t actually choosing anything. Nothing changes. We’re simply making an observation.

If we say to ourselves “I should really eat more vegetables,” the unspoken follow-up to that sentence is “… but I don’t. Or, if we say, “I should really be exercising this morning,” the unspoken ending to that sentence is “… but I’m not.”

When we tell ourselves or other people that we should or they should be doing something (as well-meaning as we might be), we’re reinforcing the negative, and the fact that we or they are not doing it.

This doesn’t lead us to do these things, it simply makes us feel bad that we’re not. And those negative feelings can actually keep us from making any changes at all.

SHOULD can actually overwhelm us and create a burden that keeps us stuck.

What would happen if we eliminated should from our vocabulary? Think about it: every time should comes to mind, think about what you really want and replace the statement.

If you still wish to exercise, eat more fruit, or meet someone for a coffee, by all means do it.  If you don’t, then make a decision not to do it. The more shoulds you have in your life the more unsettled, frustrated and anxious you will be.

Think about what it would mean to use the word want instead of should. Would you be more likely to accomplish what you set out to do?

Try it for a day or a week.  There is power in the language we use. Even if all you do is replace should with want whenever should threatens to appear, you will feel more empowered, be able to achieve more and feel less stressed.

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange a free 30-minute discovery call. Lets talk.