Everyone has a story and every story is worth listening to. Listen to life stories and become a part of peoples story by listening to them.
You can learn something from everyone you meet. Some lessons are positive and some are negative; you learn what to do from some and what not to do from others. But, these lessons can only be learned from listening to others. And, by listening you deepen relationships with people, which is how God designed us and calls us to live. I listened and shared for three hours tonight with a Major whom I really didn't know well prior to tonight. But, now I have a new appreciation for him and he will remember that I care enough to listen, which will only lead to more and greater opportunity to walk with him in the future.
Take the time to listen to peoples stories. It is meaningful to them and will prove meaningful to you.
Always work on being a good listener. Many times, people will need a certain healing that will come only in the form of a listening ear and a caring presence.
Just this week, for example, after a full day of work I stood with a man for more than three hours and just listened to him as he talked about the woes of his marriage. We stood together on a concrete floor until past 11 o'clock at night simply because he needed a listening ear and a caring presence.
It is rare indeed to find someone who not only listens, but listens well. Listen closely, carefully, and intently when others are talking to you. It will not only endear you to them, but also add to your reputation and character as a close and trusted friend and confidant.
Learn to "nest" your present actions within the scope of your future goals.
In other words, look at what you're doing now not primarily in terms of present benefits, but in terms of how they will help fulfill your future goals. The day in and day out routine and monotony of life can drag you down and suck the life out of you if you're not careful. This can lead you to for sake what are you doing because you don't feel like it's benefiting you were helping you at all. However, if you line up what are you doing in terms of how you plan to benefit from it in the future, it will provide extra motivation to finish.
For example, education can grind you down between the reading, writing, lectures, class work, and everything else. If you are not careful, you can "take your eyes off the prize" and give up too quickly. instead, enjoy the present and learn what you can from it, but constantly put in front of yourself what this education will allow you to do in the future. Keep your goals as a carrot dangling in front of your face so that, even if your legs get tired, you keep pushing and moving forward to get the carrot. This will keep you pressing on toward the future and constantly improving yourself, and also provide motivation for the present, which can feel like a grind many times.
Don't trust people too quickly, and don't expect others to trust you quickly, either. Trust is developed over a long period of time, and must be earned through the proving of your character in a variety of situations with someone.
It can be frustrating when you feel like you've done more than enough to earn someone's trust and yet they don't trust you as much as you think they should. Just be patient. Just give it time. Both your true character and their true character will gradually emerge as you continue to develop your relationship together.
Let your character speak for itself and you won't have to convince them that you're trustworthy.
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.