Knowing You

How well do we know ourselves? I have had the opportunity, as I am sure you have, to take assessments, to help me better understand who I am. I have taken the Temperament Assessment, identified by Melancholic, Phlegmatic, Choleric and Sanguine. This assessment helps one to understand whether they are an introvert or extrovert, watcher or doer, optimist or pessimist, the thinker or the talker, along with other findings.  Another assessment is the SCOPE Personality Scales, which helps one to understand how they relate in areas of social situations, how they deal with change, how organized and persistent a person is in daily life, their interactions with other people and their tendency to deal with stress and its outcome. I have also taken other assessments that made me aware of other areas of my life.

Each time I took an assessment, for the most part, I was not surprised. When I read the results, I could see myself in the answers. However, in some areas, I was a bit surprised. I would ask myself, “Is that really me?” The assessments made me stop and re-consider certain traits, temperaments, attitudes and features of my life.

Maybe you have never taken such an assessment. Maybe you have. I recently ran across a list of “dogs” and their characteristics in a social setting. Just for the fun of it, let’s look at a few different types of dogs, and try to pick out our behavior in a social setting. Let me add, this is not a scientific assessment.

-The Show Dog- very visible, looks good, even too cute to sweat. The show dog desires to be admired, to be #1 in every situation, but rarely does anything to help others. When too many show dogs gather in one gathering, neglect often sits in.

-The Lap Dog- requires lots of time and attention and needs lots of petting and pampering. I guess you could call this dog the “squeaky wheel”.

-The Fyce Dog—used in hunting. Baits and enrages the prey by biting and nipping at the heels; the bite and bark are dangerous. This dog is guilty of character assassination and causes lots of conflict with others.

-The Guard Dog—watchful, but sometimes mean. As a rule, he is strong and useful. He is willing to man his post, always present, and for the most part faithful. In a fight, he is difficult to beat, very protective of his, and always operates in the best interest of those he is protecting.

The Seeing-Eye Dog—cousin to the guard dog. Specializes in protection of individuals. He notices danger in advance and even nudges others to protect them, to keep them safe.

-The Hunting Dog—well trained and skillful. He always knows what his goal is, what he is looking for, eager to get into the woods and does so without being made to go. He lets nothing stand in his way, and always gives more than he takes.

-The Pure Bred Dog—highly specialized, aware of specific tasks and responsibilities, understands who he is and what he must do. He is willing to do his part and share with others.

-Heinz 57 Dog—nothing special, usually has a big heart, willing to do anything, willing to be placed in any position without any special recognition.

Did you see yourself? Regardless of the outcome, let us be willing to look at ourselves, test ourselves, so that we can know who we really are. The ultimate goal is to make sure that we reflect Jesus Christ. “Pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts” (2 Timothy 2:22)

Woody

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Giving Thanks

As I think about Thanksgiving, I have many fond memories. Memories of spending time with family, playing football, playing with the children, sitting around a campfire smelling the aroma of dinner being prepared and enjoying the wonderful dishes of turkey dressing, sweet potato casserole, fried turkey, lemon icebox pie, coconut pie, and the list goes on. Thanksgiving is a time for each of us to reflect on how blessed we are and to offer thanks to our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe Staff, offers a good reflection on the power of giving thanks. Something to reflect on as you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinner:
If you had been a Pilgrim, would you have given thanks?

Consider what they had been through, the men and women who broke bread together on that first Thanksgiving in 1621.
They had uprooted themselves and sailed for America, an endeavor so hazardous that published guides advised travelers to the New World, “First, make thy will.” The crossing was very rough and the Mayflower was blown off course. Instead of reaching Virginia, where Englishmen had settled 13 years earlier, the Pilgrims ended up in the wilds of Massachusetts. By the time they found a place to make their new home – Plymouth, they called it – winter had set in.

The storms were frightful. Shelter was rudimentary. There was little food. Within weeks, nearly all the settlers were sick.

“That which was most sad and lamentable,” Governor William Bradford later recalled, “was that in two or three months’ time, half of their company died, especially in January and February, being the depth of winter, and wanting houses and other comforts; being infected with the scurvy and other diseases….some days two or three would die.”

When spring came, Indians showed them how to plant corn, but their first crops were dismal. Supplies ran out, but their sponsors in London refused to send more. The first time the Pilgrims sent a shipment of goods to England, it was stolen by pirates.

If you had been there in 1621 – if you had seen half your friends die, if you had suffered through famine, malnutrition, and sickness, if you had endured a year of heartbreak and tragedy – would you have felt grateful?

As you celebrate Thanksgiving, I encourage you to actually give thanks to God for His blessings. Throughout scripture we read the words “give thanks”. “Give thanks” unto the Lord…“for He is good”, “for He is holy”, “it is a good thing to give thanks”, “His mercy endures forever”, “His love endures forever”, “give thanks without ceasing”, and “in everything give thanks”.

Let us give THANKS!

Woody

Are You Listening?

A man tells of two horses that are in a field just up the road from where he lives. From a distance, each looks like every other horse. But if you stop your car, or are walking by, you will notice something quite amazing.

Looking into the eyes of one horse will disclose that he is blind. His owner has chosen not to have him put down, but has made a good home for him.This alone is amazing. If nearby and listening, you will hear the sound of a bell. Looking around for the source of the sound, you will see that it comes from the smaller horse in the field.

Attached to her halter is a small bell. It lets her blind friend know
where she is, so he can follow her. As you stand and watch these two friends, you’ll see how she is always checking on him, and that he will listen for her bell and then slowly walk to where she is, trusting that she will not lead him astray. When she returns to the shelter of the barn each evening, she stops occasionally and looks back, making sure her friend isn’t too far behind to hear the bell.

Listening for the bell was very important for the well-being of the blind horse. Just like the blind horse, we must listen to God for our well-being. John 8:47 tells us that, “He that is of God hears Gods words”. This tells us that God does speak. As Christians, we have faith in God, but we don’t know every circumstance and every situation that lies before us. God has a plan and purpose for our lives, but we need to be listening to Him so that we make the right decisions.

Do you struggle listening to God? Why do you think it is such a struggle? I think for most of us, it is the normal routine of life, which includes making a living, parenting, school, hobbies, schedules, and the list goes on. We get so busy with life that our ability to “listen” to God takes second place. Or, it could be because we think we have it all together and really don’t need any help.

Today, God is speaking. What will it take for God to get your attention? We know that He spoke to Paul on the Damascus road, to Josiah through reading Scripture, to thousands as Peter preached at Pentecost, to Balaam through a donkey, to Jacob in a dream, to Mary through an Angel and to Timothy through a godly mother and grandmother.

Do you think God has a word for you today? I want to encourage you to listen for God’s “bell”. Position yourself to listen with wonder, reverence and with your undivided attention. Like the horse, your way through life and to your shelter will depend on your “listening” to His voice and obeying what He says.

Woody

Expectations

A father and son were driving along and the father was coming down pretty hard on the teenager for not measuring up to the father’s expectations. After a few choice words the father said, “Frankly, I’m just ashamed of you. You still don’t have a job. When George Washington was your age he was working hard as a surveyor in the wilderness.”
This young man, who obviously had no self-esteem issues, quickly fired right back. “Well, put in those terms, Dad, I’m ashamed of you, too. When Washington was your age he was President of the United States.”

Have we allowed our expectations of others to become a negative driving force in our lives? Think about the expectations that we often place on others—we expect our spouses to always be loving, caring and nurturing; we expect our children to make the best grades, play the sport to their fullest; we expect the mail carrier to always deliver our mail at the same time every day without ever making a mistake; we expect the cashier to always be kind, smiling and quick; we expect others to always be on the top of their game; we expect life to always bring the perfect results for our life regardless of what is happening with others.

When others fail to meet our expectations, how do we respond? We often respond with harsh words of criticism, negative attitudes and can even escalate to the point of broken relationships. Is it fair for us to hold others to such a high standard? Are we willing to be held to the standard that we are holding others?

Rather than using our expectations of others for a tool to see them fall, let us start considering others as humans just like us. When others don’t meet your expectations, try coming along beside them and walk where they are walking. They probably didn’t fail you on purpose. Most likely their goal for the day was not to upset your life. Can you imagine, circumstances in their life may have been out of their control—(that’s a thought)?

Before we allow unmet expectations of others to cause us to turn on them, we might want to ask ourselves if we have met all of the expectations Jesus has for us today. By the way, how do you expect Jesus to deal with unmet expectations in your life today?

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24)

Woody