Weekly Thought – July 9, 2019
Fred and Mary Alice Smith welcomed their son and namesake on July 2nd in an unrevealed year. One of the elder Fred’s life changes was having to add the Sr. to his name because the younger Fred Smith’s reputation was so wide spread. Happy Birthday!
Fred always spoke of his work as “bread on the water.” He thoroughly enjoyed seeing the impact as it flowed back. This year BWFLI has experienced a great bounty of returning bread. The contact with students, faculty, and administration continues to reflect the value of investing into the lives of the next generation. We are grateful to speak life to those who continue to grow in Christ and leadership.
Stress for Singles
The pressures of time, peers, and money impact all of us, but particularly singles. The question always arises: How can I live on the fast track, but not the frantic track?
Mary Alice and I haven’t been single in a long time, since anniversary 66 is coming up. But I get frequent requests to speak to singles groups. When we talk about relationship we usually think of people, but a broader perspective enables us to consider some common pressures. In my time with singles here are three I have observed. The relationship to:
1) Time: Many singles I know fear exclusion. They accept invitations often just to “stay in the loop.” The avoidance of aloneness pushes them to a life filled with activity, but not necessarily productivity. As a young man I made a decision to identify my gifts and focus my time on those elements. If people tried to draw me away from them as primary with their own agendas, I said no. (Of course, as an introvert, I required a great deal of reflection, so staying busy had little appeal.) When I get to know someone I like to tell me how they spent the last week. When I get a sense of their rhythm, time choices, and activities I know much about their priorities. Being single seems to exaggerate the need to master time management. Knowing how best to invest time, not just spend it is a critical skill to develop.
2) Peers: When our firstborn granddaughter was 18 Mary Alice and I took her on a trip. She packed and packed. Before I snapped into executive mode and criticized her I remembered what Jay Kesler (then President of Youth for Christ and then Taylor University) told me. “Fred, you have got to know teenage girls have a great desire to fit in. They are never quite sure what the rest of the group is wearing, so they change over and over.” When I thought about this I realized she was actually being very strategic: she was bringing everything she owned just to give herself options. I see adult peer pressure in the singles I know, as well. They give others the power to set their direction, their goals, and definition of accomplishment. They may have outgrown over packing, but they still feel the conflict of looking to others to judge how they are doing. They let others set the standards and write the scripts.
3) Money: When I speak at singles weekend retreats I have a great deal of time to talk one on one. Repeatedly I hear their stories of financial insecurity and particularly those of failed debt management. Madison Avenue purposefully and powerfully targets this demographic. They invest big numbers to attract, persuade, and sell singles from 25-45. The importance of “looking the part” drives them to specific exercise, workout, leisure activity, date, and work clothing. The pressure to “fake it ‘til you make it” puts tremendous stress on budgets. It is hard to have a real plan for finances when impulse and the expectations of others drive the outflow. The book of Proverbs reminds us that being in debt puts the person in bondage to the creditor. I hear the rattle of chains way too often.
Money should be a tool, and not an idol. It should be a way to provide options, but it is also a stewardship.
This week think about: 1) How effective is my use of time? 2) Who influences my sense of achievement? 3) When am I tempted to make impulsive expenditures?
Words of Wisdom: “It is important to find a way to run on the fast track while avoiding the frantic track.”
Wisdom from the Words: “So we must not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9 NET Bible)