Some Lessons for Life…

ponderWhile continuing to prepare for our next ministry adventure to West Africa I have been pondering some lessons we must all remember in life. Hope these are as pertinent to you as they are to me.

1.  Always return the grocery cart. While it is easy to just push the cart up on the grass next to your parking place or, worse yet, leave it in the vacant parking place next to your car, that is never the right thing to do. More and more I am coming to understand that how you function with a grocery care is really a measure of your character and integrity. If you will be so unthoughtful in this very small thing, how unthoughtful will you be with the other “unnoticed” things in life. Your refusal to return the grocery cart is a barometer of your gratitude. Did you have to hunt for a cart when you arrived at the store or did you simply get one from the front door when you walked in? You were grateful that the cart was there. Remember, when we are really grateful we will be gracious in return and allow others to experience the same opportunity for gratefulness. The only reason you refuse to return the cart is that you have too high a view of yourself and too low a view of others. Elevate your view of others … be gracious … always return the grocery cart!

2.  Saying it louder doesn’t make them understand! I spend a good amount of time in other cultures and countries. It never ceases to amaze me that when we speak to someone in our language we automatically assume that everyone understands what we are saying. They do not, but to our credit we attempt to get them to understand us by raising our voices a few levels and speak slowly and distinctively. It never helps! They don’t understand my language. I have found it most helpful to find someone nearby who does speak my language and ask for their assistance. I have never been unable to find someone who would help me. The same in true in life. Being louder and louder does not make them understand you. Remember, sometimes you need to find someone who does understand you to help you in getting the message out. You will be surprised how effective sharing the responsibility really is. Remember … that can hear you, they just don’t understand you!

3.  Don’t just keep swinging! Practice doesn’t make perfect but perfect requires practice. Regardless of the sport or activity repetition does not make you better, it just makes you repetitive. Someone can go to the driving range at a golf course and pound 1000 balls a day, but if he doesn’t look for instruction he will continue to ingrain a bad swing into his memory. The single greatest advice to everyone is to get yourself a coach, a mentor, and helper who will teach you what you are doing wrong — give you advice and instruction — then go out and work on the techniques and approaches you have learned. The key in life is to perfect the practice by following the leadership of those who have invested in you, but never just keep swinging away!

4.  Don’t drink the water. As I have served in various places around the globe this is one constant to keep in mind. I have heard all the “safety tips” about filtered water in hotels … ice cubes with holes in the middle, and all the rest, but I have learned that the only way to be always certainly sure that the water is okay is to only drink bottled water that I break the seal on, or to boil all other water before I drink it. It’s just not worth the risk to do otherwise. I have seen fellow laborers endure the trials and trails of bad water and I say again; “it’s not worth the risk.”  The same thing is true with what you put into your heart and life. The only way to be sure that you are safe from disaster is for your heart to be constantly sealed and filled by the Holy Spirit through your daily fellowship with Christ. As sure as the fire boils the water to make it pure, the fire of God’s word keeps me safer and more secure in my daily walk with Christ. Keep your heart full! As certainly as you need air to breathe, water to drink, and food to eat, you must always keep your heart full. The world and all that is in it tries to pollute your life. Our enemy tells us that just one sip of the world’s water can’t hurt us, but I tell you again … don’t drink the water … it’s not worth the risk.

5.  THINK to check the filters. One of the most neglected tasks in our life is the regular remembrance to change the filters. Air filters in our homes, and cars, can easily be overlooked if we are not careful. The failure to change these functional pieces of equipment will prove to be disastrous because of the damage to and decline in the efficiency of the equipment. I remember being in a hotel in west Africa once that had touted to us that every room was air conditioned. We were all very excited about the luxury, but upon arrival, realized that although the units were in the walls, there was no conditioning being done to the air! Upon an inspection we found that the unit was failing to work because of the completely blocked filter. After some time spent in washing and rewashing the filter, the unit worked wonderfully. The filter was the entire problem. You know, our words need filtering too. We need to THINK before we speak. The acrostic T. H. I. N. K. is a great rule of thumb to us. T(true) H(helpful) I(important) N(necessary) K(kind) will nearly always make you more efficient and productive in your communication.