Posts Tagged focus

People of Principle

Do you ever feel like not going to work?

Do you generally go anyway?

The answer to both of these is yes, but the second question begs another.

Why?  We may respond that people are counting on us and we don’t want to disappoint.  We may consider that we, for the most part, enjoy our work greater than our initial morning lethargy.  We may go to work because we like or need the money.  However you may answer this question isn’t as important to the reality that it represents.

What We Choose

These three questions reveal that we chose to be people of principle.  There is some principle or ideal that we are committed to living that shapes who we are and what we do, over and above how we feel.

In our modern world we struggle with what to do with our feelings.  Yesterday I talk with a man who talked about doing things far our side of his desired character justifying it all with “But you know how angry I can get.”

The Rightful Place of Feelings

Our feelings are real. Our feelings are strong.  An initial flash of anger comes on strong, but what we do with it is vitally important.  We have the choice to feed our anger and ensure that it remains inflamed or we can remember the principles by which we live.  Some count to ten. Others seek to apply Ephesians 5:26 dealing with the anger so that it doesn’t persist.  Although our feelings are real and powerful they are not the most important or operative reality.

If they were, our world would look completely different.   Imagine what it would look like to act on every feeling.  In a moment of insecurity we may write off good friends having misinterpreted a laugh.  In a flash of fear we can unreasonable restrain ourselves from reasonable risk and the blessings of an opportunity.  Recently the folks at Sprite encouraged us to “Obey your thirst.”  While our thirst is important, we process our thirst through a principled and relational reality to act on it appropriately.

There is a constant temptation to get swept away with our emotions.  We see so many others do this that it helps to be reminded that we choose to be people of principle.  On June 2, 2010 Armando Galarraga, a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, was throwing a perfect game.

No No Hitter

In the 9th inning a ball was hit, fielded by the first baseman and flipped to Galarraga covering first clearly getting the out.  The umpire inexplicably called the runner safe.  Fans booed, other players argued, but Galarraga show a flash of surprised, then smiles and walked to the mound to complete a one hitter.  A once in a lifetime opportunity for a perfect game derailed by a bad call wasn’t enough to derail this man of character.

May we be intentional about the principles by which we live, have a health approach to our feelings, be prepared for those moments when emotions swell and be found to be people of character.

What do you think?

Thanks for reading.



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Lessons from the Dead

Over the years as a pastor, hospital chaplain and hospice chaplain, I’ve had the privilege of sitting at many deathbeds listening to, and praying with, the dying. It’s the great moment of transition, the final days, hours, minutes, seconds of our life in the “here and now.”

A Single Theme

And what happens? For those who are able to engage, who don’t die suddenly, but who have the time to focus on what matters to them the most, a single theme emerges. First, let’s describe what this theme is not.

I’ve never heard anyone say, “Bring me my art collection.” “Show me a photo of my former corner office.” “Let’s talk about my BMW M5.” You get the idea. I’ve never heard anyone talk about stuff.

What Remains

Instead, if the person who is dying can speak or communicate, they want one thing: God and people. Relationships. They want to be with the ones they love. They want to hold hands, look into loving eyes, share words both tender and ordinary. Many want to mend fences that seemed irreparable before. They want love.

This is the time when all the inconsequential stuff of life, the temporary and soon forgotten, is pushed to the side, and only the vital and exceedingly important remains. That’s what people overwhelmingly gravitate to in the dying process. And, exceedingly important can be a quiet moment of silence, with a gentle touch, a loving presence. A quiet word, “I love you.” “Remember when we laughed so hard . . . ” kind of stories. You know, the really valuable things of life.


And then I wonder, why do I let things I won’t care about soon enough (sooner than I think, no doubt) give me so much grief? Why am I as easily distracted as a kitten who darts after every moving object?

I find that I want to focus more on what matters most. If it’s what the dying are talking about, then maybe that’s where the majority of my attention should be now. Why wait? Why let the jibber-jabber of life get more attention that it deserves?

I’m trying to learn the lessons the dying are inadvertently teaching.

What are your thoughts?

Thanks for reading.


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