#044: Five Requirements to Finish the Race Well!

So the year is coming to a close, and as we are wont to do we consider the events of the year and judge it: do we want more of the same, or do we make resolutions for changes we intend to make in the year to come?

Finish Line

There is a Chinese proverb that roughly translates “you have to look back to see where you are going.” This makes sense to me because when I was little I used to borrow a neighbor’s rowboat and row around the small lake where we had a cabin. You direct a rowboat by looking back at where you’ve been while pointing the boat where you want to go.  Life is a lot like that. To know where we are going we look back at where we have been while pointing ourselves at where we want to go.

The difficulty for me is that when I am done I just want to move on. I have my new objectives established, my course is plotted, and I am on my way. I don’t really want to spend time looking back, and often I move forward with where I want to go, not necessarily taking God’s direction into account.  This is not a formula for “finishing the race well.”

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#043: The Downside of Happiness and
the Upside of Joy

In many ways, the winter months ought to be some of our happiest. After all, we have three major holidays one after another: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.

Joy, Happiness

Yet the data says depression spikes during these months. More crime, more divorces, and more suicides all during our winter months. What’s going on? Why is our happiness index so low during what should be the happiest times of the year?

Dictionary.com defines happiness as “good fortune; pleasure; contentment.” From the very definition, we can see why there is a downside to happiness! It is all experiential—it is based on how we feel depending on the circumstances of our life. When life takes a bad turn, our happiness index plummets lower than a thermometer in Nome, Alaska in January! The downside of happiness is that it is based on man’s view of the world and our place in it.

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#042: Five Elements of Powerful Encouragement

No individual performs at their peak over the long haul without encouragement. More than salary and great benefits, the sense of value that comes from encouragement builds self-esteem and loyalty.

Encouragement Blackboard

A recent Gallup poll found that only 13% of workers worldwide are engaged at work. And if that weren’t bad enough a full 24% are actively disengaged. Imagine the productivity gains that might result if employees were fully engaged at work!

A survey by Jobstreet.com reported the top five reasons employees leave their jobs included lack of recognition. Further, they found that while many employees will leave for more money, they will stay if they love what they are doing!

Encouragement is one of the best tools employers have for providing recognition that builds employee self-esteem and ultimately loyalty to the employer. And the best part is encouragement is free! It just takes some thoughtfulness and a few minutes of your time.

Barnabas, whose name means “Son of Encouragement,” is perhaps the best Biblical example of an encourager. His ability to encourage others had a major impact on several men and their ministries. Let look at one specific example to see what we can learn from Barnabas.

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#041: Change Your Inputs to Change Your Outputs

Has something ever proceeded out of your mouth that as soon as it emerged you wished you could take it back? Have you ever done anything that as soon as you did it, you wished you hadn’t?

Inputs, Outputs

Yeah, me too, and more often than I care to admit! Usually such utterances and actions come when I am tired, angry, frustrated, or sad. They DO NOT come when I am rested, happy, triumphant, or joyful.

Jesus, teaching the disciples said,

“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” Matthew 15:18-19 (ESV)

Hmmm. What comes out of the mouth is a reflection of what is in my heart? Evil thoughts and actions start in the heart? If I am going to change what comes out of my mouth and the way I act I need to change my heart. I need to change my inputs in order to change my outputs!

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#040: What Did You Say? I Wasn’t Listening!

The conversation in the meeting was proceeding nicely when someone jumped in with a comment regarding the topic we finished discussing.

Not Listening Meeting

Someone else felt compelled to contribute by restating what had just been said by someone else. Suddenly, right in the middle of one person’s comment, someone else who can’t seem to control themselves interrupts with their idea. Quietly, across the room, with a voice just above a loud whisper, two people are discussing another idea with each other. Yet another individual was asked a question and responded, “What Did You Say? I Wasn’t Listening!”

When I attend meetings like this I have this strange desire to just get up, and bang my head against the wall, and scream “listen people, listen!” This has happened so often over my career I think I have Repetitive Head Injury Syndrome. I’ve noted five of the most common types of non-listeners:

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