At the beginning of this year I made the decision to be disciplined when it comes to the important areas of my life. I made the decision to be disciplined when it comes to my health, my life with Jesus, my wife, my leadership and my writing. (at least this writing) I had come to the realization that over the last couple of years that I had allowed stress, laziness, and other people’s priorities to take over how I was living life. It is amazing how easy this can happen, especially when you have not decided to be disciplined with your life.
So when it comes to my wife I have set the goal to make sure that we go on at least 3 dates a month. I have also placed on my phone an app that I think that many people would find useful. (tell you soon) When it comes to going on dates with my wife I want to do things that are going to fulfill her love language and make her feel that I have planned something special just for her. Now if you don’t know your spouses love language then you need to either get the book, “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and read it or you can listen to it on audiobook. Once you know the love language of your spouse you need to then download to your phone The Five Love Languages App. Why would you do that if you have the book? Because it has a challenge and it has ideas of how to date your mate. That’s right they give you ideas for dates and ways to talk with your spouse in their love language. I don’t know about you but to me that is a WIN!
So I have decided to make my wife and her love language a priority I have decided to be disciplined about speaking and living in her love language. Do you know your spouses love language? Have you read the book? What can you do to speak in your spouses love language?
One of the ways that I think that we can start by changing the attitudes of the people around us is putting them first. Which means that we have to not think about ourselves as much. That is just a mini quote of C.S. Lewis:
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
So I want to be able to challenge each of us to start thinking of ourselves less when it comes to walking through life. I recently was at the gym working out and while I was stretching out I was able to people watch and I was amazed at the interaction that I saw play out before me. There was woman that was working out on a mat in the area in front of me. She was to my approximation in her late 60’s early 70’s and obviously was struggling with something physically. But she was doing her best to get done what she was working at to get better. Then as I watched a younger much healthier woman walked into the same area grabbed the battle ropes, stretched them out over the elderly woman’s mat and got ready to work out. She didn’t even bat an eye when it came to the other woman working out in that area. I just sat back and I watched as the younger woman began to work out over the other woman’s mat while the other woman stood there waiting to get her mat. The younger woman looked up at the older woman shook her head in annoyance and then kicked the older woman’s mat to her like she had always been there before the older woman.
That is where I had enough! I stood up walked over the to the older woman and asked her if she needed to continue to do her work out. She looked like she was tearing up and so I invited her to come over to where I was stretching out to finish up. The younger woman then decided to address me, not a smart idea. I won’t tell you what she said to me in front of the other woman but let’s say it embarrassed the other woman. To which I responded, “Well at least this lady was willing to wait for you to get done with what you were doing before you were so rude in kicking over her mat. I am so glad that this lady is here because she is working on be a better person not a bitter person.” Ok not one of my best moments but I hurt for the older woman at that moment. Needless to say the younger woman quickly got out of the area and the older woman looked at me and said, “Thank you for helping me. It just seems like no one looks out for anyone else but themselves.”
So that has been bouncing around in my head for the last couple of days. Here is what I hope that this can challenge each of us to do, THINK OF YOURSELF LESS. In the next couple of days, open the door for someone else, let’s someone in on the highway, share the area that you are working out in, shovel your neighbors sidewalk, let someone go ahead of you at the grocery store. Maybe even take the time to talk with your kids or the kids around you so that they understand what Common Courtesy is and why it is important if we are going to lead the next generation to be better then us.
What are three things that you can do this week for someone else? What are three things that you can do with your kid for someone else? Make sure that you are doing it without planning to get a thank you, why you might ask? Because common courtesy should be done without the hope of anyone noticing.
I was not ready to be a father. (Not like anyone really is. . .) So when we had a daughter then a son and another daughter I knew that I was in the deep end of the pool. So I started doing all that I could to learn about what it meant to be the best father that I possibly could be. I read books, I watched videos, I talked with other fathers with grown children and usually I would ask, “Do you have any children that are in prison?” If they answered no then I would spend time asking them questions about how and what they did as a father. Ultimately it lead me to the parenting statement that my wife and I would use as our goal for our kids, “We wanted them to leave well.” That would mean that when we were going to make decisions about different areas of life. We would ask ourselves, “Is this going to prepare them to leave well?” Now I know some of you might be thinking that this sounds like a horrible statement. Where is the love in this statement? Where is the faith in this statement? Where is . . . you name it! For us we felt like that there was nothing more faithful or loving then to prepare our children to leave the safety of the home well. We made tough decisions that we hoped and prayed that would prepare them. We challenged them in areas that we hoped and prayed would prepare them. We disciplined them in ways that we hoped and prayed that would prepare them. But most of all we loved and cared for them enough to prepare them to leave well. So what are you doing as a father or as a parent that is preparing your children to leave well?
And just so that you know that I am not talking out of turn. I am proud to say that our oldest is graduating from college this May with a degree in elementary education and seeking to attend possibly for her masters, our son is playing college football where he walked on and earned a scholarship and is pursuing a degree in exercise science, and our youngest plans to run cross country and track at the same college as her older sister and brother where she plans to get a degree in exercise science with an emphasis in physical therapy. (There were bumps along the way, but we are seeing them leave well.)
This year part of my hope as a leader is to help the other leaders around me develop as well. So one of the things that we have done as a team is to make sure that we are developing ourselves. We have taken the challenge to read 15 books in the next year. (I am a book-aholic) These are books that we want to help us make an impact in how we lead now. They are also books that we want to help us continue to grow spiritually healthy. The other part of our challenge is to view or listen to 52 videos or podcasts in the year. Each one of us made a list of some books to read and shared it with each other. We also then created a list that where we are going to keep track of the videos and podcasts that we are using. We don’t want to ask people to go where we are not willing to go ourselves. We want to make sure that we are becoming the best leaders that we possibly can be for the people that we are leading.
What are some ways that you are challenging yourself to grow in this year?
One of the things that I have realized over the last couple of months is that our prayer life is a great place to view our spiritual maturity. How we spend our time praying allows us to see where we are in our relationship with Jesus. I have noticed that when it comes to our prayer life for most followers of Jesus prayer is something that we do by reaction. When really it should be something that we do proactively. Instead of waiting for life to change our prayer life why not have our prayer life change our life. I love the Aramaic word for prayer it is slotha it means to set a trap. When a hunter sets a trap it is in the expectancy that something is going to get caught in the trap. When you spend time in prayer, do you expect your prayers to make a difference? Do you expect God to do something with them? This week I challenge you to pray proactively and to pray with the expectancy that God will work with in your prayer life.