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Early Rising

Woke up at 3:30AM today. Sometimes I can’t figure myself out. Today was one of the first days this week I could have justifiably slept in until 5AM at least. But nope…eyes wide open at 3:30. Oh well. Just gives me a bit of a jump start on my Bible reading and will probably allow me plenty of time to read most, if not all, of my daily devotionals I have piled up next to my recliner. I did. What a blessing to start the morning with the Lord, and then to “chat” with so many of His friends like George Whitefield (daily readings), Matthew Henry (daily readings), Voices from the Past (puritans), CH Spurgeon, JC Ryle, John Calvin and Alistair Begg. Now that’s a balanced breakfast!

Something Begg said in his devotional really resonated with me. He was talking about Christian growth. And he asked the simple question “Do you seek intentionally to learn from those who are further on in their walk the you?” That really struck me as wise, and easily overlooked. All around us are people at various stages in their spiritual walk. And let’s be honest. Some are a bit further down the road than you and me. Maybe that’s an uncomfortable thought. Maybe you don’t look at others that way. It’s possible that you view yourself as the most spiritually mature person in your circle of influence. But you’re probably wrong. Simply put their are Christians nearby who are more mature than you or I. We should learn from them. Intentionally. Like…hang out with them if you can! At least talk to them or correspond with them. I need to do more of this myself.

I was thinking about that today when I saw a leader at work do something impressive, and I thought to myself, “He’s further along than I am as a leader, that was brilliant!” What did he do? Well, I won’t bore you with all the details, but we were in a large meeting discussing a significant operational improvement that was recently implemented. This physician asked one of his staff what she thought about how it was going. She hemmed. She hawed. It was clear she wasn’t comfortable giving the new initiative very much credit. Life, from her vantage point, was still hard (though the improvement from the new workflow was evident to all). That’s when the physician interjected and said, “Yes, but Mary [not her real name], things ARE better…right?” She paused and stalled and was starting to wallow a bit again. He said again, “But Mary, it IS better, right?” Mary finally had to concede things were better.

My suspicion is that the Doctor knew “Mary” quite well. She likely has a propensity for seeing the thorns in every rose, and wouldn’t want to give anyone the impression that work got easier for her…as that might reduce her leverage to complain, moan, and wallow in self-pity. He didn’t let her get away with it. In a kind, gentle, but persistent way he opened her eyes to admit that things were, in fact, better than they were before. That was leadership. I would have missed that opportunity. He didn’t.

Work involved several meetings, including another one-on-one with a direct report. I love those meetings. I like to listen to the things they are working on, the excitement when things are finally going well for them, and even to talk through some of the challenges they are facing as managers. People-management is, in my opinion, one of the hardest jobs in the world. It seems that most are doing it poorly these days. And all of us can get better at it. People are tough. And we live in a day when our workplaces have many “adults” who have really never grown up. I’m thankful that isn’t the case with my team.

Heard something very thought-provoking on the way home on a podcast. The speaker was talking about how easy it is to get caught up in the negative and depressing news of the day. We easily become addicted to complaining about the economy or the leadership. But what struck me was the realization that we complain about things we can’t control…to avoid dealing with the things in our own lives that need fixing (which we CAN control). That makes sense to me. It’s much easier to moan about global warming or Supreme Court decisions than to face up to the fact that I haven’t done a single generous thing for my spouse, my neighbor or my parent in ages. It’s easier to focus on the wastefulness of politicians than my own paltry efforts at saving for retirement. Watching the news, and getting worked up, is just an easy way to avoid dealing with the serious problems in my own heart and life.

Bonn was out stamping tonight. I was supposed to get together with a friend, but he didn’t feel well. So instead I came home, ate, and wrote this blog.

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

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