Mar 31, 2019

Little Life, Big Life

I have a small life which I thoroughly enjoy.  It involves buying groceries with my wife.  And, that usually involves going by our favorite donut shop to grab an apple fritter and sit and talk.  And, that stop typically involves looking at the latest new born pics of the couple who owns the shop.

I love to putter in my yard.  I enjoy building small kayak type boats.  And, I like taking my wife for dinner, after work - and breakfast on off days.  And, I love a thousand other things which don’t really amount to a hill of beans in the larger scheme of things.  But, all in all, it is a pleasant little life. 

However, I learned long ago that there has to be more than just my small, everyday little life, because “little” tends to become empty if it’s not connected to “big.”  And, I actually found the door to “big” some years back, too.  It is a vital, daily relationship with the living Jesus.  Since then, He has constantly challenged me to embrace the bigger life, a life that involves something larger than the present moment, my small surroundings, my health issues, and my little hobbies and happy times.

Rather, His guidance, and sometimes insistence, connects me to the larger life issues of character growth, and principled living, and the values and truth of my Creator, and the needs of my neighbors, and my society, and even my world.   So, I still enjoy and find meaning in my little life.  But, praise God, my little life has not made of me a little person, because He has connected me to the “big stuff” too. 

And, I’m convinced that God is big enough to provide this same blessing for a needy America which has now become so widely self-absorbed in the infinitely small issues of materialism and technology.  Those little things only truly contribute when there is a larger context of bigger issues, those involving character transformation and truly principled living.  And fortunately, there is a wonderful “app” for that.  It is called penitence and humility before God (faith). 

Mar 15, 2019

Haughty Naivety

When I was learning to fly, I can remember how complex and sophisticated that little 2 place Cessna 150 trainer seemed as I sat looking at all of the instruments, gauges, and switches.  But, later, as I graduated to the cavernous, 4 place Cessna 172, I was then embarrassed at how I had struggled with the child’s play of that first little plane.  Surely, this 172 was the be-all, end-all of the general aviation world.

And, indeed, that was true.  Well – it was true until I went to check out in a Piper 235 with retractable landing gear, a constant speed prop, an autopilot, and a GPS navigation system.  And then, I knew for sure that I had finally arrived at the ultimate aviation experience.  It could not possibly get any bigger or more sophisticated than this.  And, that was, indeed, true – until…

Since those early aviation object lessons, I have discovered that it is actually typical of human beings to experience life, itself, in the same way as I did those airplanes – and for precisely the same reason – our naivety.  In other words, wherever we are and whatever we’re doing today is as big and important as it gets.  Well – until tomorrow, when yesterday is again dwarfed by today’s new level of bigness and sophistication. 

So, in our brave new world, we have watched digital swallow analog.  We have seen computers morph into multiple forms and become progressively faster, more sophisticated, and bigger – even as they slide into ever smaller cases and drag us in after them.  And now, we stand in the very foyer of an AI World.  And, again we think, “Surely, this is it, life’s final form of “Big and Sophisticated.”  But, as always, it is not.

In fact, in the space of one very consequential moment and one note from the divine trumpet announcing the return of Jesus Christ to this world, our present “techno-craze” will be instantly exposed for the child’s play that it is.  Then – all naivety past – mankind will be confronted by what truly is enduring “Bigness and Sophistication” – ready or not.

Feb 13, 2019

Small Devils In Oversized Chairs

Some years ago, through my roles as a parent, a pastor, and occasionally, as a work place boss, I discovered that there are two ways to move people. You can oppress them; or, you can inspire them. 

Eventually, I began to notice the distinct differences between these two methods. I began to see that when I chose the former method, there were no lasting results and morale was always in the basement. 

Granted, oppression (or authoritarianism) is typically the shortest path to a given behavioral end. But it is also the most antagonistic, and thus, the most resented method. 

So, as soon as the autocratic “hammer” is subtracted from the picture, people simply revert to what they wanted to do or be in the first place. Thus, the use of oppression comes to this: “No present hammer, no present result.”

On the other hand, if you choose Inspiration to move people, though it usually is a longer and more draining way, this method of motivation actually changes the level of peoples aspirations. Thus, inspiration produces enduring motivation, even when the authority figure is subtracted from the picture. So, inspiration eventually comes to this: “No present hammer, no real problem.”

My deep regret is that I did not understand these differences and embrace the Inspirational Method of motivating people much earlier in my life. Had I done so, I could have been a much better parent and made the childhood of my older children a happier existence. 

And, I am convinced that I would have alienated fewer people (and truly changed more) in the churches that I pastored. And, I would have been a much more effective boss at work. But sadly, I was just too slow on the uptake.

So, I simply offer this to spare others the same mistake. Laugh! Laugh! Laugh! as often as you possible can with the people who look to you for direction. Real and worthy authority is never endangered by seasonal humor. It is only enhanced by it. 

Don’t take yourself and the minor issues so completely seriously. In spite of what you may think, you are not really that critical to the process. Life went successfully on, long before you directed it. And, it will take little note that you are missing when that day comes. So, get over yourself. 

And remember, the minor issues are just that. They are not the major issues, so quit turning them into such. Excuse everything you possibly can. The little stuff is just the day dust which gives everybody a mostly harmless way to remember the human frailty, learn from it, and grow beyond its present limitations. 

If perfection is your rigid demand, you better go ahead and drag out a tall stack of cryin’ towels – 'cause perfection ain’t happnin,’ Honey. Reasonable consistency is about the best you can hope for - and even that, only at the end of a long line of, “Oops.” 

So, you have a choice mom or dad, pastor, or Mr. VP, etc. You can choose to puff up, and rant and rave, and belittle and berate the people around you. Or, you can choose to inspire them by wielding your authority with laughter, and forgiveness, and wisdom, and the shared life tricks that you, yourself, have previously learned. 

Your choice. But, know this: the traffic on the shorter path never really varies. The "bosses" who travel that oppressive pathway, always just come off as really small devils in oversized chairs.