Weekly Thought – January 2, 2018
Fred spent every January 1st in the office (between football games and Mary Alice’s black-eyed peas and cornbread) reviewing the prior year. In addition, he made plans for the new year. He refused to make resolutions because he considered them mere restatements of what he failed to do the year before (for example, lose weight, exercise more, etc.) He set quantitative and qualitative goals. He outlined financial mileposts and relational events.
May 2018 be a year of spiritual growth, along with all other life areas. May Fred’s thoughts strengthen you. And may you join with us as we go deeper with our friends in Christian higher education to stretch and bless them.
We will continue with the mentoring questions for a while in 2018. The questions are Fred’s and the answers are his “top of mind” responses to being asked them without any preparation… wisdom on the fly!
1) How do I handle confrontation: comfortably or not until pressure builds? I think I have a responsibility to face confrontation when it is worthwhile and needed rather than waiting until I am pressured into it. Normally, waiting is a desire to avoid rather than to accomplish. I think there are several essentials in confrontation. First, it should be in the area of my expertise. It should be given only as much at the time as the person can do something with the confrontation. I have a rule – if you want to confront, DON’T. If you have a responsibility to confront, then DO. Love, of course, is the environment for confrontation.
2) What makes me feel secure? I have found a strange thing about my security. When I feel small and humble then I feel secure. When I feel big and arrogant, then I feel insecure. It reminds me to come down to the place where I am supposed to be.
3) When do I feel like I have it all together? It is very rare for me to feel that I have all the pieces where they belong. I like Harvard professor Eric Ericson’s statement about old age. He says you have a set of core values. As you age deterioration occurs, but you keep moving it to the periphery. For example, physical abilities change, but that shouldn’t affect the value system. Building your life on elements that decline is unwise. It is important to determine the key values and establish a solid core. Integrity, life-long learner, healthy relationships, faith in God – these are examples of my core. When I cannot travel I will put that to the side and focus on the strengths that remain. I will not define myself by what I cannot do. I will take my gifts and use them in whatever the “new normal” is.
4) Can I receive and give love easily? I think the definition of love is very important and it varies with different personalities. The Greeks used four words for love while the English-speakers regularly use only one. I wish I could have the spontaneous expression some of my friends have, but I have a more platonic personality. My favorite definition of love comes from C.S. Lewis: “Love is willing the ultimate good for the other person.” Love is not just an emotion it is an act of the will. Knowing I am loved by God is foundational to the ability to give to or receive from others.
This week think about: 1) How are Fred’s mentoring questions helping me think about my values? 2) Who am I mentoring? 3) What should I be strengthening in my character?
Words of Wisdom: “I will not define myself by what I cannot do. I will take my gifts and use them in whatever the ‘new normal’ is.”
Wisdom from the Word: “The Lord is my source of security. I have determined to follow your instructions.” (Psalms 119:57 NET Bible)