Let others do your bragging for you. If you are worth bragging about, others will brag about you. Never brag about yourself, your achievements, or your accolades and accomplishments. Doing so only reveals and illuminates your own insecurities about yourself.
Be humble. Let humility be what marks your life and character. It will often be tempting to tell others of what you have done, or something significant that you have achieved, or some program for which you've been selected out of a larger pool, but resist that temptation. Anybody can brag about their own accomplishments. But, it takes a strong, secure, unique person to let others do your bragging for you. If your accomplishment is actually noteworthy and worth talking about and celebrating, others will do that and you will not have to. Don't pursue heights and objectives for the purpose of being celebrated for achieving them. Pursue them for what you learn in the process. The journey itself is far more beneficial and rewarding than the achievement, for the achievement would be meaningless without the journey to get there. You enjoy the journey and gleam as much wisdom as you can, and let others do the celebrating on your behalf.
In everything you do, have integrity. This is perhaps the most important thing in life. It is essential not only for your personal reputation, but for the family whose name you bear and, most importantly, for the witness of Jesus Christ. So much is at stake and so much depends on living a life of integrity.
This morning, I had to fire someone because of a gross lack of integrity in their life that was spilling over into the workplace. I got to explain to the students at school that, while it was not the easiest or most convenient thing to do, it was the right thing to do. The integrity of our school, our church, ourselves, and the Lord Jesus Christ were all at stake in how we chose to handle the situation.
Situations will arise, and likely often, where you will have the opportunity to compromise your integrity. Don't do it. Never do it. Once you lose your integrity, everything else is lost. People cannot trust you and they will have no faith in you, and they will be justified in both.
Do the right thing. Even when it is uncomfortable, and even when it is much more difficult than doing the wrong thing. Always, always, always do the right thing. Live a life of integrity and be a person of integrity.
You've heard the saying, "be careful what you wish for", but perhaps a better phrasing of that thought would be that you should think long, hard, and carefully before you wish at all.
In just a few months, we'll be having our fifth child. Our lives are so incredibly busy during this season that it is hard for me not to look forward to a calmer season of life. I am pastoring a church, overseeing a Christian school, studying in a doctoral program, progressing in my Army Reserve career, managing two houses, and trying to be an excellent husband and father. On top of that, Alanna is finishing up her BSN degree, volunteering at the local pregnancy center, being a pastor's wife, being a full-time mother, and just recently handed the baton off after spending two years as a volunteer getting a preschool off the ground.
However, this afternoon, Alanna and all the kids were in Myrtle Beach to meet with Stephanie. I was alone in my office working on both school and church work. I was thinking how nice the sound of silence was, and how enjoyable it was to be able to get work done without the constant threat of interruption. However, at one point, I stood up and turned around to look out the window. I looked to my right at my desk and books, and then to my left at various awards and metals that I had earned in the Army. Suddenly, I was acutely aware of the fact that I was completely alone. This strange sensation of utter loneliness momentarily overwhelmed me to the point where it almost made my heart hurt. I was instantly very grateful for my wife and kids.
Please remember this in those times when you're wishing the present away and hoping for the future. While it's always good to be goal oriented, and to be presently pressing on toward future goals, don't neglect the gifts of the present. One day, you may well be surrounded by your own accolades and the sound of silence and have no one to enjoy them with, and the present you once wished away will be the past that you long for.
Be unassuming when you meet people. It is always a good practice to say little about yourself when you first meet someone, and assume little about them as well.
People are remarkably complex. Therefore, let them peel back the layers of their personhood one by one, and at a pace which they are comfortable with.
Approach everyone with humility, and respect to humanity that you shared. Everyone is equally created in God's image, and Christ calls us to be a humble and unassuming people. In doing this, you are putting everyone on the same playing field, which is right. Heed the words of Philippians 2, which tell you to consider others better than yourself. This is not only the character of Christ, and not only commanded by scripture, but it is the best advice I have ever heard in dealing with human relationships as well.
Human relationships are dynamic. They change and evolve and often get strained for one reason or another. Make it a habit and practice to be direct. It may be more uncomfortable initially, but it is the best way to address the source of the tension. Passivity and indirect conversation only add more layers of awkwardness to the relationship. Be direct; figure out where you stand so that the relationship is as clear as possible to everyone involved. This will not relieve the discomfort of the "unknown", but it will also allow for either a quicker restoration of the relationship or a quicker severing of the relationship. In either case, you have saved yourself wasted energy and spared unnecessary headache.
Never forget or underestimate the value of persistence. The world may mock, and people most certainly will doubt, but be persistent in pursuing those things that you believe in. Results may not be immediate – and, most likely, they won't be - but continue to press on and press forward toward your goal.
We had a new student orientation at CCA this evening. Every year, I have had to introduce a new principal. To some, this would be considered an embarrassment. However, each principal has been progressively better than the one before them. Progress is being made, and every year that progress is more and more evident. Persistence in pursuing what you want will eventually show returns if you stay the course.
Make sure the path you are following is right and true, and then go after it with everything you've got. Don't be swayed; don't be discouraged; be persistent and relentless.
There seems to be an interesting correlation between how formal a conversation is and how impactful it is. Sometimes, formalities are necessary. But, most of the time, something that comes "straight from the heart" communicates in ways beyond the scope of even the most well-chosen words.
I preached a sermon this morning that, as far as planning goes, was the one which I have spent the least amount of time preparing for, simply because I did not have enough time this week. And yet, after service this morning, I got far more immediate feedback than with any other sermon I have preached. This correlation between formality and effectiveness seems to hold true not only in public speaking, but in every day conversation.
When you're talking to someone, speaking from the heart will almost always mean more than well rehearsed words. Be genuine. Be transparent. Be vulnerable. It will mean more to people and stick with them so much longer.
Remember that everything is a blessing. The world owes you nothing and you are entitled to nothing by virtue of your existence. Take every single thing in life, without exception, as a gift and a blessing from God.
Not only will you be so much happier and more content in life, but it will highlight the truth of Scripture when it says that every good and perfect gift comes from God. That is not to say everything that I recognize as a gift, but rather, everything is a gift from God.
This morning the hotel we stayed at ran out of milk during breakfast. There were people whose entire day was ruined because of milk! Rather than being overjoyed at the fact that they had waffles, French toast, hash browns, bagels, coffee, and the list goes on, they complained because they felt they were owed milk. How tragic that a new day - which is itself a tremendous gift and blessing from our Father – was ruined because of a sense of entitlement over something as silly as milk.
Everything is a blessing. Be thankful.
I want my mind to be absolutely exhausted and expended at the end of each day. I'm trying to make it a daily habit and goal to think; to think hard, to think deeply, to think exhaustively.
I seem to be day by day growing more keenly aware of my own mortality. I could easily die in a car accident this afternoon, this week, or before the end of the month. It seems such a waste to go a day without exhausting the recesses of your mind.
While physical exertion is wholly good and beneficial to the person, an exertion of the mind on a daily basis is developing, for me, as a more important daily goal than caring for my physical body. Of course, the two are very closely intertwined, but with limited time and energy I would rather exert my mind than my biceps.
The news lately has been absolutely dreadful to follow, especially if you watch it on television. Take the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia as a perfect example: everyone is going crazy and blaming everyone else for the chaos in the world.
The words of Christ always ring true in every circumstance, but in some they are so applicable! Remove the log out of your eye, Justin, before you examine the speck in someone else's.
Personal spiritual examination is often painful, but it is necessary and often yields the sweetest fruit. The Lord directed me today, in this thought, to Psalm 51. The personal pronouns of King David are central to his self-examination and repentance.
"Create in ME a clean heart…renew a right spirit within ME…cast ME not away from your presence…do not take your Holy Spirit from ME…restore to ME the joy of your salvation…and sustain ME with a willing spirit."
May it be true in my life that I am a man who does not shy away from hard self-examination and personal repentance.