By Jennifer Davis Rash
My young friend Bree posted an Eleanor Roosevelt quote on her Facebook page in mid-June. I liked it and planned to use it myself sometime. After all, Bree is one amazing high school freshman and will definitely take on the world one day. Why wouldn’t I want to repost something Bree had posted?
But then I couldn’t stop thinking about it:
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
I don’t know about you, but Roosevelt’s words punched me in the gut. I do love to discuss ideas and definitely land in the discussing events category a good bit of time, but sadly I also step over into the small minds category as well. More than I would like to admit.
What is it that tempts us to talk about others, judge them, spend our precious time and energy venting about them? Why don’t we stay focused on doing our best with what we have and where we are, working to make our environment and those around us better rather than letting the actions (or inactions) of others capture our attention? And why can’t we address issues that concern us with the people directly instead of talking about the person and the issue to others?
A wise mentor of mine encourages me to avoid letting others’ actions frustrate and/or offend me and always reminds me “to offend is to control.”
I also think of the apostle Paul’s teachings in Ephesians 4 (see excerpt under Rashional Extras). Does this mean we avoid conflict, smile and act like everything’s OK when it’s not?
I don’t think so. Ephesians 4 also commands us to “speak the truth in love” and to “put off falsehoods” — basically be truthful and real with each other but do it with kindness and sincerity.
What if we all let the Word of God guide our hearts solely and completely every day? What if we gave the benefit of the doubt to each person who frustrates or offends us? But we don’t stop there, we also talk to the person to find out the reason behind what happened and attempt to understand.
What if we allow others to speak truthfully to us and avoid getting offended so they are comfortable sharing with us? What if we evaluate what they say objectively, consider if their information is accurate and could be implemented, then provide any additional information needed for the other person to better understand the situation him- or herself?
What if we carefully distinguish opinion and what might be read into what isn’t said with confirmed fact?
What if we had the courage to approach our family, friends and coworkers with the truth “in love” and followed the biblical teaching of “iron sharpening iron” in Proverbs 27:17?
What if we could release others to truly be the person God has called him or her to be and let go of our need to control others around us?
What if we could sincerely and thoroughly trust each other? Would Ephesians 4 come alive for us then?
You are likely snickering at my idealism about now, and probably rightly so. I do like to dream of the “what ifs” sometimes. I certainly don’t know how to rid people (myself included) of the baggage they bring with them nor do I know how to untrain the masses that have been taught “leadership” skills focused on avoiding being transparent and truthful.
But I do know God’s Word provides clear direction on this topic. The hardest part for me is the uncomfortableness that comes with these conversations and the fear and resistance felt by all parties involved.
Stop trying to balance your life
By Paul Angone
Balancing Act — that’s exactly what trying to balance the un-balanceable is — an act. You’re putting on a show and when the reviews of your performance start coming in they are going to be more rotten than rousing. Because when we take on too much, everything suffers. Even the things we used to do with ease and enjoyment are pulled down by the dead weight of overcommitments.
So instead of life balance, we need to work on something else — life prioritization. What’s the difference between life balance and life prioritization, you ask?
Balance: Carrying too much on each arm then trying your best to walk across a tightrope without the net.
Prioritization: Strategic, specific and planned — only carrying what is necessary so that the chances of falling are greatly reduced. And the chances of reaching the end successfully — greatly increased.
Life prioritization is focusing, honing and becoming very specific in what we will say yes and no to.
Prioritization makes finding balance extremely simple because instead of juggling 15 balls, you’re holding tightly to a few.
Prioritization is simply simplifying — it is saying yes only to tasks that align with your values, strengths, long-term plans and passions.
How do we become intentional with life prioritization? Maybe before committing to anything new, ask yourself one question: Does this fit with my long-term vision of who I am and where I am going?
Of course, this means you have to actually have a vision. Preferably written down and thought out. Where do you want to be in 20 years? Are the commitments in your life pushing you toward that vision or pulling you away? How do you commit or possibly even begin un-committing to things that are not aligned with where you want to go? Instead of trying to balance dead weight, maybe it’s time to just cut it loose.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Paul Angone is creator of All Groan Up web community. This excerpt is from an article he wrote for “Life After College: Wake up. Live Big! Love the journey.” (www.lifeaftercollege.org)
In reference to your June 6 Rashional Thoughts on hospital visitation, I would also suggest ministers call before visiting a patient in the hospital. Many times it is more stressful and awkward for the patient to have guests, especially a minister, when the visits are unannounced. I realize most ministers schedule a certain time to do hospital visitations, but a phone call would allow the patient or patient’s family to help determine the time of the visit. The call also might be the perfect “visit” and demonstration of care in itself, which would give the minister more time for other ministry needs.
“Pay attention now” was a phrase one of my favorite high school teachers used. She’d add, “This may be on the test.”
Focusing on a person or task indicates it’s worth something.
Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). I believe this means that I’m always attentive to God’s desire and His purpose. I see every person and every task in the light of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Director of missions
Autauga Baptist Association
“Leadership cannot come without first giving to others what you hope others give to you.”
on one of the life lessons he learned from his father
“Any effort to correct a behavior is doomed from the outset if it doesn’t spring from a renewed heart. How’s your heart?”
Excerpts from Ephesians 4:
“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. …
“From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. …
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. …
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Word of Thanks
Dear Sloan family,
Thank you for the opportunity to lead a session and represent The Alabama Baptist at the Southern Christian Writers Conference in early June. Great job as always!
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