Are you going in a million directions every day, or are you laser-focused? It’s most likely the former, because unless you have deliberately gone through a process of focusing your life, our default mode is disorganized.
However, there there is a step-by-step process for transforming your life from the image on the left to the image on the right. In Essentialism by Greg McKeown, he takes you through the following steps and covers much more:
1. How to choose the things that are most important in your life
2. How to say “No” to the things that are not the best use of your time
3. How to decide where you can have the greatest impact
4. How to execute in that area
Don’t let other people make decisions for you. Take the time to choose what is most important in your life and start moving in that direction!
If you saw him performing with his lifelong friend Lenny Kravitz, you would assume he was just like any other world class rock star….and boy would you be wrong!
Zoro the Drummer is an anomaly, an outlier, an exception. You get the point. And his story is nothing short of phenomenal! Growing up in abject poverty to a single Christian mother, he discovered his passion for drumming at the age of 6. He then spent his life pursuing his passion relentlessly, while never leaving his Christian roots behind.
“Your days are limited, but your good deeds are not,” Zoro said in an interview with Ken Coleman, the host of the Entreleadership podcast. He not only knows that truth, but he lives it everywhere he goes. Zoro orders inspirational books by the thousands and gives them away, along with extra autographed drumsticks he keeps on hand, to fans everywhere he goes. He is also an author, (his most recent book Soar: 9 Proven Keys for Unlocking Your Limitless Potential will soon be in my library) speaker, fearless evangelist and has his own ministry (http://www.zoroministries.org/).
“What is your point?!” you ask.
It is simply this (and I think Zoro would agree). Whatever gifts or talents you possess were not given to you for your enjoyment. They were given to you to provide a platform unique only to you, so that you can use them to bless and encourage others.
For years, I have been an entrepreneur, starting many different kinds of businesses. But
making money never has been enough for me. It is only in the last few years that I have pinpointed my sweet spot, that place where I love what I am doing and have the greatest impact. I use the business gifts God has given me and I have worked to develop to help non-profits and ministries to develop entrepreneurial ventures to fund themselves and provide jobs, especially for the homeless. I also love teaching what I learn to others, which is why I started writing consistently.
Where you are and what you can do are not incidental. They are both a part of God’s plan for your life, and as soon as you recognize that and start looking for opportunities to bless others, your work and your life will take on a new level of meaning and fulfillment!
I like to be organized….very organized, in fact. I also like to help others do the same. I have undertaken multi-month long organizational projects for clients that would make most people’s head explode. From storage areas in massive mansions to piles and piles of architectural prints at a lavish estate, to me it is actually fun.
This desire to be organized has led me to the study of the best minds in personal productivity and goal setting. From the classic Brian Tracy, to the amazing book “Getting Things Done” by David Allen and the person who received the award as “The Most Organized Man in America”, Dr. Alex Lackey. In fact, it was a line by Dr. Lackey saying that you need “one list, one planner, one place” that led me to search for the perfect planner.
I researched, read reviews, read comparisons, and finally…oh yes finally…I found it. And it has changed my life. I would not be writing this if I hadn’t purchased it, literally. It’s called “The Simple Elephant” and it contains everything I was wanting in a planner, and yet it is still “simple”. It doesn’t take me much time to examine and set goals, plan and prioritize my day, be encouraged by my progress, and pray for my “business challenger’s” own goals. (Charles, our phone meetings are golden!)
Since that little blue book is now such a beloved part of my daily routine, I want it to stay
in pristine condition, so I wanted a slip case. I went to their website, but didn’t see one. So I decided to contact the company. If I wanted one, surely I am not alone.
I sent a message through their website (https://papercode.me/) describing how their product has helped me tremendously, how much I enjoy it, and asking if they offered a slipcase for The Simple Elephant planner.
This is the part of my story that brings me to the first point in how to blow your customer’s minds and turn them into raving fans. It is this:
1. Do Something Completely Unexpected
Frankly what I expected was to be mildly disappointed. But the response I received blew my mind! Allow me to share an excerpt:
…the slip case is such a great suggestion. I’ll definitely keep it in mind for future developments.
Since I absolutely ADORE my customers, especially the ones who reach out to me – I would like to purchase you a slip case. Any slip case you can find that works for you, just send me the link and consider it my gift to you.
Hope to hear back from you!
At your service,
I honestly couldn’t believe it! I was the first person up in the house and couldn’t wait for Nicole to get out of bed so I could tell her about it. It had such an impact on me that I am spending some of my very precious R&R time on a Sunday afternoon writing about it, when I could be outside riding horses, swimming, or continuing work on the kids’ “tree mansion” as Nicole calls it.
When you do business, take some time to think about something your client would never see coming that would bless his or her socks off!
2. Turn a Negative into a Positive
Nobody likes getting a bill in the mail….right?! Wrong. Most people don’t, granted. But when you do business with Nicole and me, you might just change your tune. My wife possesses a certain skill set that allows her to turn an annoying bill into a jaw-dropping work of art.
Your script may look like you wrote it with your toes, as mine does. But you can still do something unique, using your imagination.
One of Nicole’s Tootlepip aprons got shipped to China, when it was supposed to go to Canada. Oops! We didn’t give it a second thought. We shipped another one immediately. Weeks later, we got the original back, and the customer was so thrilled with our handling of the situation that he purchased more aprons! (See how this works!)
3. Transform the Mundane into Magnificent
Typically when a package arrives, it has a packing slip. If the company is more thoughtful, you might get a note thanking you for your purchase. But in the Phillips companies, we LOVE people and therefore LOVE and greatly appreciate our customers. But more importantly, we want them to FEEL loved and appreciated.
I will let a recent customer tell you about it.
“Nicole, I received the pen and I couldn’t not write you to say this, that the card you sent me is so beautiful and well made, it is the nicest card I have ever received in the whole of my life.”
She even took multiple pictures of it and included them with the message. I can guarantee you she has shown others that card. And you know what? She can’t do that without telling others about our business. Pretty sweet, huh. It’s also a lot of fun!
Apply this principle in your own way and in your own industry and see what it does to your business. Send out birthday cards to your customers, or a gift card to her favorite restaurant. How about a book? I love sending people books! Your customers will turn into a new team of marketers on your behalf.
Making money is definitely an essential part of business, but I believe that business can and should be so much more. It is about one human being serving another human being well and improving their lives. Applying these principles will not only blow your customers’ minds, but it will also fill you with joy and energy, allowing you to do business far more passionately. And passion, my friends, is very contagious!
(Have you ever blown your customers’ minds? If so, how?! We’d love to hear it!)
Last Monday I would have chain-smoked all day long…if I were a smoker. It was so intense and I was so distracted that I kept doing stupid stuff, like walking out of my gym (which requires a key card to get in) without my keys. I had to bang on the door until someone heard it and let me back in. My wife, Nicole, had a very similar day. Hers probably got downright dangerous, because being an artist, she’s typically pretty scatterbrained. (Don’t you dare tell her I said that!)
All we could do is think and pray for my family in Houston, as hour by hour, the water
crept closer to their house. That morning we had offered to rush down with the truck and our largest enclosed trailer, but within a couple of hours they were completely inaccessible and we would have probably ended up being one more stranded vehicle on a flooded highway. So, from 9 and a half hours away, we waited, worried and prayed.
As I was leaving the house that evening for Cub Scouts with our son, Thatcher, Nicole showed me a picture taken from my parent’s front porch of a rescue boat driving down their street to take a pregnant lady to safety. Looking down at the ground, I could clearly see the water line. It was six feet from their front door. And the rain just kept falling.
I can’t remember a day when I prayed that much, but I’m pretty ashamed of myself. Why? Because I allowed my prayers to be limited by what I thought was possible. “Lord, please keep the water out of their house and keep them safe.”
“Oh, ye of little faith.” Yep, that was me.
The next morning, as soon as I woke up I texted my mom.
“Mom, what is the water level?!” My heart was racing as I waited for her response, fearing the worst.
“All of the water is gone!” she said.
“All of the water is gone!” I hollered upstairs to Nicole and the kids as my eyes teared up. She sent me a picture, and the same street that had a boat in it last night did not even have a puddle.
“Thank you so much, Lord.” I thought to myself repeatedly. I sure wish I had prayed for all of the water to miraculously disappear. But I just didn’t think it was possible. In retrospect, this reminded me of a powerful principle I live by….typically. Here it is:
In any given situation or pursuit, first decide what is ideal with a deliberate disregard for what is or is not possible. Once you decide what that is, go for it! If you are doggedly persistent, you will watch as paths form around obstacles that before seemed completely insurmountable.
The first meeting I had when pursuing the idea of a recycling facility for Watered Gardens Gospel Rescue Mission (which would provide work for the homeless and funding for the ministry) was with a lady who had worked for the government in the recycling industry for almost 20 years. She has been an invaluable resource along the way. My initial objective was to focus on electronics recycling, but as she listed government regulation after government regulation related to that industry, my heart fell. It would cost a fortune and take ages!
I left the meeting despondent, but as in similar circumstances with other businesses I have started, I don’t give up. I simply re-route. In my mind, I have a set of shelves (I literally see them when I do this) and I took electronics recycling in my hand as if it was an object, and set it on the shelf. If something gets put on the shelf, it means that it is a good idea, but the timing is not right.
We did get the recycling facility going via a far less complicated and expensive
road. I then decided to take electronics recycling off the shelf and see if its time had come.
I made a call to my local recycling expert to find the most reputable electronics recycling company in our region.
“That would be ESCO,” Mary Anne said. “They are based out of Rogers, Arkansas. The owner is really nice and honest and I bet they would be willing to answer your questions.”
The day after I talked to the receptionist at ESCO, a great guy named Adam gave me a call. I told him what we were doing and said I was wanting to learn more about the world of electronics recycling.
He volunteered to come to Joplin and while here, gave us some basic instructions, then extended an invitation for my good friend Gregg (who runs the Worth Shop where this takes place, and my fellow co-conspirator throughout this process) and me to tour their facility.
I was pretty excited about the tour, but more excited about the possibilities. When I was alone, I would think and allow my mind to dwell on the ideal. I didn’t waste a thought on what was likely, what obstacles there were, or what was possible. To put it another way, I allowed myself to DREAM.
When we arrived at their facility, it was enormous! We had to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) to tour their 275,000 square foot facility. I’d love to tell you all about it, but, well…the NDA had me give them a picture of Nicole, so I’m pretty sure she would go missing if I did. 😉
At the end of the tour, he took us into the conference room and the three of us sat down. It was obvious he had something on his mind.
“We do not deal with individuals,” Adam said. “When we receive and send shipments, it is by the semi-load. Our biggest client is WalMart, and we do not have time for small accounts.”
I was not sure where he was going with this, but it wasn’t looking good.
“But I have been talking with the owner, and we LOVE what you guys are doing at Watered Gardens! What can we do to help you succeed?”
This is exactly the possibility I had considered. No, this was the exact possibility that I had allowed myself to dream. And I knew EXACTLY what to ask for.
“If there is any way that we can be legally placed under your umbrella of legitimacy, along with all of your certifications, accreditation, etc., that would be ideal. That would allow us to confidently approach businesses and the community, so they will know that their computers and electronics will be properly handled,” I explained.
“We will draw up the legal paperwork and send it to you,” Adam responded, as if it wasn’t a big deal at all. But to us, it was HUGE!
Two weeks later, the paperwork arrived, and with the time it took to write one’s name, every single obstacle that made opening a legitimate electronics recycling facility impossible was decimated.
Since then, we have picked up computers from a Fortune 500 company, small businesses, and even, get this…government agencies.
Don’t waste your time, my friend, worrying about what is possible. Let your mind go to that place where your heart comes alive; where there is no limit to what you can accomplish. Let yourself DREAM! And then pursue that dream with everything you have.
The phone was ringing, and my heart was pounding! I was about to ask Dr. Sherrod permission to propose to his daughter. I was pretty sure he liked me, but how much?! Well,..I was about to find out.
If you know me at all, you know how it went. We have now been married ten years and have two beautiful kids. And instead of a card, I wanted to officially tell the story of our engagement. I knew I was only going to do this once, so I wanted to do it right. I wanted her to have a story to remember for the rest of her life, and hopefully I succeeded. I’ll let you be the judge.
I told her what to pack for a weekend trip, but other than that, she had no clue what we were doing or where we were going. We got in the car and I handed her a manila envelope. She opened it, and on page one, there were directions. Where to? It didn’t say.
We started heading north, and after about 30 minutes, Nicole was pretty confident that we were heading to the Kansas City area. She was correct (as she often still is) and a couple of hours later, we pulled up at the Kansas City Zoo. Nicole LOVES animals, as evidenced by all of them on our property, and has always loved going to the zoo. So for the next few hours on that beautiful fall day, we enjoyed practically having the zoo to ourselves. It felt like I had reserved it just for us, because there was nobody there, and we had a blast!
After walking several miles and enjoying some quality time with a kangaroo, a herd of sheep and an orangutan, we were ready to head out. We got in the car, Nicole pulled out the manila envelope, and turned to page two, and thirty minutes later we pulled up at The Intercontinental Hotel in The Plaza, our favorite outdoor shopping area in Kansas City.
After a few pictures, we got checked in and went up to our room, where we each had our own bed. You might call me old-fashioned, but I only plan on doing the marriage thing once, so I aimed to do it right the first time. It took me thirty two years to find this amazing woman, and I was willing to do anything, or not do anything, to make sure our marriage would last.
A little context here: I had been planning this for at least a month. From the selection of the hotel, restaurant, activities, to talking with the managers of each location to properly orchestrate everything. Timing was critical! If anything was out of place, it would blow the whole surprise. That’s why I was SO glad that I answered our door when someone came a’knockin’.
I saw who it was and immediately pushed them back, stepped outside and shut the door! It was the concierge with a silver platter full of decorative chocolate covered strawberries…that was supposed to arrive after we had left for dinner! I quickly made that clear and stepped back in. “It was the wrong number…room number,” I said, and probably sighed a little too loud.
We had time for a nap, then started getting ready for dinner. I had advised her to dress nicely, and she did! She was stunning! And I was starting to get nervous. I tried not to seem too preoccupied as I continued to work on the most important speech of my life.
Before we walked out of our room, I made sure that I had the ring safely tucked into my inside jacket pocket. I just hoped she didn’t notice the bulge!
They brought us the car, we got in, and Nicole pulled out the manila envelope yet again. She turned to page three, and we drove for about 25 minutes and pulled up at what is now called Rosso, Hotel Sorella Country Club Plaza’s restaurant. It’s one of them fancy restaurants what’s on top of a sky scraper and spins around real slow so you can look around.
I can still vividly remember that ride in the elevator. I was painfully aware of the ring case in my jacket, and just knew she had noticed it. And if she had noticed it, but not said anything, that’s because she knew what I was going to do in an hour and didn’t want to spoil it. And if she didn’t want to spoil it, then that meant she was going to say yes! Or maybe she wouldn’t!! I didn’t know, and I was going crazy!
Dinner was kind of a blur. I can’t remember anything I ate at all. I was looking for the manager, with whom I had spoken many times on the phone, but had no idea what he looked like. “I have to use the restroom,” I said about 30 minutes in. I got up, made sure Nicole wasn’t watching, and started looking for him. When I found him, we went back over the plan, and somewhat reluctantly, I handed him the box with the engagement ring.
I went back to our table, sat down, and tried to act normal for the next 45 minutes. She never said, “Brian, you sure do look like you’re going to throw up,” or anything like that, so I must have succeeded.
Then it was time to order dessert. I selected one, and she another. Then I waited. My heart was pounding, and I knew that what happened next would have an enormous impact on the rest of my life. Then I saw him.
Our waiter approached and time slowed. He walked up with a silver covered platter and I made my move. I got out of my chair, got down on one knee, and the waiter lifted the cover off of the tray. I grabbed the box, looked Nicole in the eyes, and began the speech I had rehearsed countless times in my mind.
“Nicole Chandler Phillips, the last year has been the best year of my life…..and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Nicole, will you marry me?”
Her hands were over her mouth in surprise and she teared up. She said “Yes!” and the entire restaurant burst into applause! I put the ring on her finger, stood up, maybe teared up a little myself, and kissed her.
The manager then took us to a private seating area, and provided special desserts on the house. It gave us time to talk about what had just taken place, and enjoy each other’s company. I then learned happily that she had no idea that I was going to propose, but sure was glad that I did.
We arrived back at our hotel room, and this time the concierge had gotten it right. Actually, he exceeded my expectations, most likely because of his earlier visit. There were not just beautiful chocolate covered strawberries, there was champagne, and it looked like a dozen rose bushes had exploded. There were rose petals everywhere!
We talked for quite a while and drank some champagne. Then we went to bed and I slept in the clouds.
And after being married ten years, I have never looked back.
When you aim for the moon, you intend to make it; because you’re not likely to get a second chance.
Neil Armstrong knew he was risking his life on the Apollo 11, but he was willing to take that risk. America had set its goal, the entire world was watching, and there was no turning back.
With so much new technology traveling at speeds up to 24,200 miles per hour, they were anticipating some challenges. But NASA wanted to be as prepared as humanly possible when those issues arose.
Discussing his historical flight to the moon, Neil Armstrong explained that NASA had assembled on site or waiting by the phone the individuals who had designed and built every single significant part of the Apollo 11. That way if something went wrong, they could get answers immediately.
NASA understood a powerful principle: if you want to know how to fix something when it breaks, you talk to the person who designed it in the first place.
This doesn’t just apply to machines and electronics, however. It also applies to you and me; and we’re all just a little bit broken.
“God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself,” C. S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity.
Have you ever heard someone say, “To heck with my car maintenance manual! I bet they’re just trying to keep me from driving really fast! Oil is expensive, and I don’t have any; but I have plenty of maple syrup. The two look almost the same, and besides, what do they know?!”
When it comes to the basics in life, our common sense typically prevails and we consult the manual when something goes wrong with one of our machines. So why don’t we consult the manual written by our Designer when we want to know how to live our lives to the fullest, fix a relationship, or put things back together after everything has fallen apart?
It’s never too late to change that, though. The Manual is sitting right there on your bookshelf, night stand or end table. It might be a bit dusty, but never mind that. Pick it up, blow off the dust, and marvel at how your Designer knows exactly how to deal with what’s broken in your life.
It is my theory that a man’s grumpiness is largely related to how much he dreads his job.
I have tested this theory on many people. When I find out someone has recently landed a job they love, I make a point to ask his or her spouse if they are less grumpy in the evenings. Every single time, the answer has been, “You know…he is!”
Unfortunately, I did not learn about this from a lecture, or read a Malcolm Gladwell book that referenced a study called “Nocturnal Grumpiness and its Direct or Inverse Causal Relationship to Occupational Contentedness”. No…I learned about it by trying to understand why I, a person who has lived most of my life extremely happy, was becoming a “grumpy not-even-old-yet man”.
As adults in the workplace, most of our time is spent, well…in the workplace. If we look forward to it, then the evenings can often be enjoyed. But if we dread it, it will gradually take a toll on us. In the back of our minds will linger the thought of the unpleasant day that is dawning with the sun. If the dread of work is new, it is pretty easy to spot. But if we have lived with it for a long time, the actual source of our psychological discomfort becomes vague and is replaced with a general grumpiness.
There is a reason the Nazis would have people in the concentration camps spend all day digging a trench, and spend the next day filling it back in; then start the next day doing the same exact thing. It was completely purposeless, and it aided in psychologically destroying those performing the work.
The reason is simple: we were all specifically designed to fulfill a purpose. And not just that, we were designed to fulfill a purpose that is truly significant, and unique to who we, as individuals, are.
I could quote books, articles, the Scriptures, etc., to back up the findings of my very un-scientific research. But we all intuitively know this to be true. Look back over the past few years and think of times when something you did brought you a sense of fulfillment, or even joy. If you examine those times more closely, I would wager that you will discover some underlying purpose to that work that really meant something to you.
Identify that purpose and you will get a glimpse into your unique makeup; and with that, the start of your criteria when looking for your new occupation.
Life can be very rich, but all of that richness can be taken from us when we spend much of our time grumpy. And even though you probably can’t step into a purposeful and fulfilling job tomorrow, you can start the journey today.
I love a good road trip! Load up the family, fill the SUV with a bunch of stuff you don’t
need, plus some clothes, and head off on an adventure. The only drawback is that sometimes you get hungry when you’re in the middle of nowhere. That’s when you get desperate. And when you get desperate, you eat McDonald’s. And when I eat McDonald’s, I typically regret it.
On a recent road trip down to visit my parents in Houston, we were in a small town in Oklahoma and we got desperate. “When are they going to start putting a Chick Fil-A in small towns?!” I asked with frustration as we pulled into a McDonald’s. I walked in with Thatcher to get a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, fries and an ice cold Sprite. I have eaten the exact same thing there for over twenty years.
I looked up at the menu and started ordering.
“I’ll take a 99 cent fries, a medium Sprite, and a FIFTEEN DOLLAR DOUBLE QUARTER POUNDER WITH CHEESE?!!!”
Panic set in as my eyes quickly scan the menu. Big Mac – $15! Quarter Pounder with Cheese- $15! Bacon Clubhouse Burger -$15! McDouble – $15!
“What the he…!” I stop just in time and look down at my 6 year-old son, Thatcher. He senses my panic, so now he’s panicked, even though he has no idea why.
“What’s wrong, Daddy?!”
“Every hamburger is fifteen stinkin’ dollars!” I reply, eyes still wide, staring at the menu. My mind starts racing back to old Twilight Zone episodes. “This is what it feels like,” I think to myself.
“So. You have more than $15, Daddy.” he says with a little levity coming back into his eyes.
“Yeah, but….it’s a McDonald’s hamburger!”
[Let’s pause here and provide some commentary.]
Completely unbeknownst to me, last week Congress passed the controversial “Burger Flipper Bonus Bill” to help provide a “living wage” for those working in the fast food industry. Its contents were uncommonly brief. “All burgers at fast food restaurants must cost a minimum of $15.00.”
[Resume “The Tale of the $15 Big Mac”]
“Can I just get a regular burger, Daddy?” Thatcher asks, still trying to wrap his mind around the situation.
“No you can’t.”
“Because it costs $15!”
My confusion quickly turns to frustration, and quicker still to resolve.
“Do you know what we can get for $15?!”
“We can get a heck of a lot more than a greasy McDonald’s hamburger for $15. The
government can change the cost of whatever they want, but what they can’t do is change its value. If I’m going to spend that much money, I demand far more than a low quality burger. And fortunately for us, we have a car and the freedom to choose, and we will choose something that is worth what we are going to pay.”
“It’s just as crazy as the government making companies pay a person with no experience
the same as they currently pay a manager. Since businesses have the freedom to choose what they spend their money on, they will choose a manager who is worth their $15 just like we will choose something that is actually worth our $15. Come on, Tiger. We’re going somewhere else.”
I grab his hand and we walk towards the door.
Thatcher and I walk out of McDonald’s determined never to darken their door again. A block down the road we find a Mexican restaurant and I get some delicious chicken fajitas for $8.99 and Thatcher gets a chicken quesadilla for $6.99. Within a month, there were a lot of McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger Kings with “For Sale” signs on them…and a lot of burger flippers without a job.
As parents, we have the great and grave responsibility to speak to the very
core of our children’s being and tell them what they are worth. Whether we speak truthfully or falsely, they will most likely take that belief about themselves to the grave.
Also as parents (especially the father, but not strictly so) we become the model of what our children will initially believe God is like; and only naturally from there, are a big catalyst in the equation of whether our children ever acknowledge a belief in God or not. Who wants to believe in a God who is unreliable, untrustworthy, inconsistent, angry, unloving or a jerk? Not me, thanks.
But on the flip side, when you have a mother and a father who have always made you feel loved, even when you screwed up and were in a lot of trouble, and you read that “God is your heavenly Father”, you think “Wow! He must be an all right guy! Hard to believe He can live up to what I got here, but I’ll at least give Him a chance.”
I have two parents who meet the above description, but in honor of Mother’s Day, I will focus on my mom, Louise B. Phillips.
“Unconditional love” is an amazingly powerful force, and if you are the fortunate recipient of it, it is almost certainly demonstrated by either your parents or God. In it are peace, security, strength and confidence and I do not know of anyone who has manifested it more powerfully that my mom.
Such love is literally divine, having its source in the One who unconditionally loves us. It practically radiates off of her. It covers my brother Allen and me, but from there extends far beyond most people’s “conditional like” if I may coin a phrase. As Christians we are to love the unlovable, which is really hard. She does that. And everyone she knows would attest to it.
In high school, I observed an interesting phenomenon. On occasion, a very average looking guy would have a stunning girlfriend. I eventually made sense of it and realized that it happens on one of two occasions: either the guy has a lot of money, or he has a very healthy self-esteem. The love of our parents is the single greatest source of our self-esteem. It does not come from being told that we are good at something even when we are not. It comes from being loved when we (who know just how flawed we are) do not think we are worthy of that love.
I am and always have been the recipient of such love from my mom and it has affected everything in my life. I definitely married up (way up, you might say), have had a sense of security that has allowed me to take great risks in my faith, business and relationships, and hopefully have been able to show others a fraction of that same love I have always witnessed first-hand. Most of all, I hope that our two kids, Thatcher and Chandler, grow up with that same sense of always being loved and thereby feeling lovable.
In this life when people want to truly honor someone else, just about the most significant manifestation of that desire is to name a child after that person. If you saved someone’s life, you may have received that rare honor. I’m still working on it myself. My mom has three beautiful young girls named after her. That’s right…three. So not only will her love that she has always shown Allen and me be passed down, but also her name and her wonderful life story along with it.
To a Mom who blesses absolutely everyone she encounters; to a Mom who gives the unlovable a divine sense of worth; to a Mom who has always loved the dickens out of me; and to a Mom who deserves more than I could ever give…
My wife Nicole is ridiculously talented artistically. And whereas most artists’ talents are
restricted to one or two mediums, Nicole’s abilities know no bounds. In fact, she loves finding something that is completely new to her and figuring out how to do it.
We all possess something that no one else does. It is a big part of what makes us unique. Whatever that gift is, whether it is a physical possession, a talent that is exceptional, or a personality characteristic that makes us stand out, we basically have two options of what we can do with it.
The first option is that we can use that gift to set us apart from others as someone to be admired or envied. When we do this, odds are, we will have a few people who we call “friends”. They will tend to be others with some exceptional gift (perhaps similar to ours, but not necessarily so) and our common bond will be our exceptionalism.
This approach isolates and creates a context from which the “gifted” look down on the plebeians as people who possess less value. One great risk of taking this route is that the second your “gift” is gone, those you once thought were friends will immediately cast you out among the commoners you looked down upon. That means that at the very moment you need your “friends” the most, they will completely abandon you.
Then there is a second option. Rather than using that with which you were blessed to bolster your personal image, you instead use it primarily as a means of blessing others. One is not likely to reach this conclusion from outside of a Judaeo Christian worldview which teaches that “Every good and perfect gift comes from above….” (James 1:17) From that perspective, we have been entrusted with our gifts and since the ultimate source is God, we have no right to feel arrogant about it.
This approach, you will quickly find, produces some amazing results.
People who live like this are magnetic. They
bring people together and something more akin to community takes place, rather than the isolation created by Option A. Secondly, and perhaps even more amazing than the first, you will discover that you actually get more enjoyment out of your gift when you allow others to enjoy it with you. There is a reason we try so hard to teach our children to share when they are young, and that is because it is genuinely Good.When you do Good things with your gifts, is it any surprise that Good things happen?
Nicole could very easily use her gifts to look down on others as less talented than she is, because quite frankly almost everyone is less artistically talented than she is. But the thing is, she doesn’t. Instead of viewing life through the prism of her gifts, she views her gifts through the prism of her Christian life. As a result, her gifts give her an amazing opportunity to bless others in her own unique way.
And bless she does!
How can you use your unique gifts to be a blessing to others?
*This is merely one application of this verse, and I first thought of the principle then the verse, rather than reaching the principle from the verse via exegesis.