Source: It can be too late!
Can a flower ever be lonely?
Regrets can weigh heavy on the heart that forgot to say, “I love you.” However, true inspiration comes from knowing that “I love you”, is not only said, but felt.
Two people from very different worlds have tried to communicate the feeling.
How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1806 – 1861
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Garth Brooks “If Tomorrow Never Comes”
Now it is your turn. Don’t wait until it is too late; that time will come, perhaps when you least expect it.
Many there are who would be successful, if success just did not require that they become productive. Interestingly, for most, success is only partly attributable to what they do. Much of their success comes from what they get other people to do.
People become confused when they try to juxtapose “Success” with “Equality”. Pedagogues, philosophers, and hucksters fill the public discourse with multimedia information about #success, #personalgrowth, #happiness, #wealth.
One source of confusion comes from defining #success as “having more. . .” or “doing more. . .” Unfortunately, in this mode, people focus on what they do not have and they become envious of what others have. Actually this becomes a source of “generational conflict”. Many elderly people have been heard to say something like, “The problem with the current generation is that these kids want to start (economically) at the point where we worked for decades to be.” The “kids” look at people who have been married for decades, and think that what their parent or grandparent have, is what they should have as they start their adult life. In today’s world, any demographic or ethnic group can be divided into the “have’s” and “have not’s”, thanks to the massive impact of technology in public discourse.
Such divisions can be used to promote a “victim mentality”. This victim mentality, perhaps, should be credited with the creation of “community organizers” and the rash of “causes” which become a source of #money. Participation in such causes is increased by the “lottery mentality” that has been widely promoted by the government. The idea is that someone can get much more without making any greater contribution. What people fail to realize is that “government” has only the money which it takes from some other group. The “National Debt” to cover over-spending is, in fact, money taken from the next generations. About the lottery, the government – in collusion with the media—makes a big deal about “lottery winners”. It would present a very different picture to show how much money actually goes into the “government coffers”.
No person can add one minute to their day, but there is the magic of “OP”. For example, when people without money want wealth, they create a strategy to use “OPM” – that is, OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY. However, if the money is “borrowed”, it must be paid back. Until it is paid back, the debtor is a slave to the person or institution which made the loan. The alternatives are to convince other people to donate, invest, or buy. Thus some politicians, preachers, and door-to-door salesmen have found a way to acquire wealth. At this point, it would be cynical to not introduce the concept of “ethical success” #ethicalsuccess”. The wrong-headed pursuit of #success and the proliferation of the #victimmentality, have left far too many people with a jaundiced view of humanity.
Since humans are a gregarious species, the potential for an individual to leverage other people’s money (OPM), other people’s time (OPT),and other people’s strength (OPS) into a greater productivity. In this case, #success becomes something far more than material possessions; success becomes the fulfillment of “belonging” – a basic human need in Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. As such, success at the level builds a foundation from which a person can move to higher needs – ultimately self-actualization. The magic of one’s success, therefore, comes from what they get Other People to do.
Looking back, I suppose my “teacher burn-out” in my educational career began with the fad of Minimum Competency Standards. Although I was not able to speak eloquently of my distrust of the concept at the time, in retrospect I can now understand that seed of displeasure which lurked within me.
True learning does not come from achieving minimum standards; true learning is measured by that which is beyond the minimum. After all, what credit should be given to that person who only does what everybody else does? What person is recognized as a scholar, who knows only what everybody else knows? Heroes are those who go beyond the minimums; heroes are those who do those things which most other people will not do. Scholars are those who already know what others have not yet learned.
It is not enough for a student to gain learning by study. True learning comes from action which produces results. Sometimes this can be called experience. Not all action produces positive results, but even learning which comes from negative consequences can be a positive outcome.
In today’s culture, far too many people have accepted “Minimum Standards” as their personal goals. The very idea that a “Minimum Wage” should be a “Living Wage” is an idea that comes from a “Socialistic Perspective”. It is a leveling of humanity in which everybody shares the same level of misery. In recent years, the Chinese government has expressed a concern about the “lack of creativity and invention” by its younger population. Perhaps it sounds too simple to attribute such a lack of creativity and invention to a lack of a need to do better than the minimum, or to contribute more than the minimum. The mantra of Communist/Socialist: “From each according to his ability; to each according to his needs.”
Perhaps, the level of invention, or lack thereof, may be attributed to a felt need to stand out. When first stated, the concern that all people have a right to have their “needs” met by society sounds like an irrefutable statement of compassion. However, the human condition allows people to become comfortable at their “minimum level”. At the level of the cave dweller it becomes: “If I am warm, I can sleep; I don’t need to gather more wood for my fire.” Problems arise when the cave dweller awakes to find his fire is low and a storm is raging outside the cave. The cave dweller sees that the easiest source of more wood to be the supply that his neighbor brought in before the storm. The petty crime of stealing a twig becomes a war to decide who gets the woodpile.
And so it is in America today. America has groups of people who demand an increase in the minimum wage without considering any increase in the “value of the labor”. This is the miracle of “Capitalism”. “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a pathway to your door.” For proof, look at the chemical company which realized the limitations of mousetraps and then created “mouse poison.” That company, incidentally, is now selling that patented chemical to the medical community as a “blood thinner”.
Something to consider. America has a population that is more concerned about being entertained than it is about being inspired.
The great heresy of the church today is that we think we’re in the entertainment business. A.W. Tozer believed this to be true back in the 1950s and 60s. Church members “want to be entertained while they are edified.” He said that in 1962. Tozer grieved, even then, that it was “scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction was God.”*
More recently, David Platt has asked: “What if we take away the cool music and the cushioned chairs? What if the screens are gone and the stage is no longer decorated? What if the air conditioning is off and the comforts are removed? Would His Word still be enough for his people to come together?” (Radical)
Would it be enough?
Tozer got it right: “Heresy of method may be as deadly as heresy of message.”
HALLOWEDNESS, NOT SHALLOWNESS
Like Tozer, we…
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I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
**The speaker describes a meeting with someone who has traveled to a place where ancient civilizations once existed. We know from the title that he’s talking about Egypt. The traveler told the speaker a story about an old, fragmented statue in the middle of the desert. The statue is broken apart, but you can still make out the face of a person. The face looks stern and powerful, like a ruler. The sculptor did a good job at expressing the ruler’s personality. The ruler was a wicked guy, but he took care of his people.
On the pedestal near the face, the traveler reads an inscription in which the ruler Ozymandias tells anyone who might happen to pass by, basically, “Look around and see how awesome I am!” But there is no other evidence of his awesomeness in the vicinity of his giant, broken statue. There is just a lot of sand, as far as the eye can see. The traveler ends his story.
In A Nutshell
Late in 1817 Percy Shelley and his friend Horace Smith decided to have a sonnet competition – that’s right folks: a sonnet competition! For the subject of their sonnets, Shelley and Smith chose a partially-destroyed statue of Ramses II (“Ozymandias”) that was making its way to London from Egypt, finally arriving there sometime early in the year 1818. In the 1790’s Napoleon Bonaparte had tried to get his hands on the statue, but was unable to remove it from Egypt. That’s partly because it weighs almost 7.5 tons. Shelley, like Napoleon, was fascinated by this giant statue.
This morning some private messages inspired me to share some memories of my favorite mother-in-law.
After living alone for some time as a widow, Bertha came to live with our family. What a blessing that was. The first time she attended church with us, I introduced her as my favorite mother-in-law. Well, after church, not knowing what else to say, several widows started their conversation with, “We didn’t know Ken had been married before.”
To each, Bertha replied, “Ken wasn’t married before; maybe that’s why I’m still his favorite mother-in-law.” So every conversation started with a smile.
In one of our conversations about how she handled her grief, she shared one of her many valuable “life lessons.” She shared, “Al was a wonderful husband. I will always miss him and my heart will always hurt. But that’s on the inside. The first time I went to church alone, I didn’t know where to sit. I did notice that a group of widows seemed to be sitting together, laughing and talking. I also noticed some widows who sat alone. They seemed sad; they didn’t really talk to anyone and they weren’t smiling.
“I made the decision that I would be part of the group that was laughing and smiling, enjoying being together. I knew that to be part of that group, I had to also be smiling and talking. So on the outside, people see me smiling and they think that I am happy and they want to be around me. Oh, yes, I still hurt on the inside, but if that is what I show to others, they won’t want to be around me.”
Bertha started “quilting clubs” and sent quilts all over the world. She had friends wherever she went. At church socials, Bertha would be seen talking to the people that no one else wanted to talk with.
Bertha was the first of her siblings to be born in the State of Oklahoma. Her older siblings had been born in the Oklahoma Territory. In 1933, she married a Kansas wheat farmer –in the middle of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl! I am so thankful that I was given time with my favorite mother-in-law to see what was in her heart through troubled times and good. I hope that everyone who reads this can find a relationship of unconditional love like that which existed between me and my favorite mother-in-law.
One More Thing
From my days as a new insurance agent, I recall a chat with one of the “top producers”. My question, “Looking back to your first 3 or 4 months in the business, what did you do differently from those who started at the same time but are no longer in the business?”
His answer, “At the end of the day, I would do ONE MORE THING.”
My response, “Huh”
The clarification, “Do you know how at the end of the day, everybody knows that it’s the end of the day? Maybe it’s when the bell sounds or the whistle blows. Maybe it’s when the clock reaches a certain time or the sun goes down. Maybe it’s when the last dishes are washed. But at some point, people mentally shut down intending to do NOT ONE MORE THING. That’s when I would force myself to do ONE MORE THING. I would make one more phone call, write one more letter, complete some form on my desk, read something technical, file the accumulation of stuff on my desktop. When others quit, I did one more thing and that has become a habit.”
So last night I tried it. As I was making my list for today, instead of writing something on my list, I wrote three checks and a letter — two items that never even got to my list of tasks. This morning, when I walked into my office, I thought, “Gee, if, for the last month, I had been doing what I did last night, there would be 30 things that I should do that don’t need to be done today.”
For those that don’t get it yet: Perhaps making long lists is really a waste of time, perhaps it is really your way to get out of doing something. When you are making those comprehensive lists of things that need to be done, you are actually avoiding doing something. Would it be better to (1) identify only three things that could be done, (2) identify which of the three is most important for you to do right now–but according to your long term goals, (3) do it, (4) repeat number 1? Then at the end of the day, when your mind is packed and ready to go on vacation, promise your mind the vacation if it will just stick around to do ONE MORE THING.
“You can’t leave the table until your plate is clean.”
Have you ever heard something like that at the family table? Have you used that line with your children? Funny how that line creeps into our daily life. You ask somebody for some of their time and they respond, “I already have too much on my plate.” In other words, “I’m too busy.”
Do you ever wonder what they really mean by that statement? What do you mean when you say that or think that, “I’m too busy?” Sometimes a person might simply mean: “I don’t want to listen to what you have to tell me.” Or they could be saying that they don’t have time to do what you want them to do. What might be intended is “You have not given me a reason why I should share my time with you on this matter.” Sometimes the personal perception is “I already have too much on my plate.”
So how can people “clean their plates?” I remember the family dinner table from my childhood. Dishes would be passed and I would take what I thought I wanted from each dish. Several times, at the end of the meal, I just couldn’t take those last bites; there was too much on my plate. Dad or Mom would say, “Your eyes were bigger than your tummy.” So the lesson I learned was that it was better to go back for seconds, than to take too much, the first time dishes were passed.
And so it has been with life, many times I have said, “Yes,” to doing something, only to find that it was more than I could handle. Then I had to face the embarrassment of admitting that I would not be able to complete the job, or I would have to turn it over to someone else to carry the burden that I had created. In either case, it would leave me with a sense that I had failed.
Sadly, I have found that many people have created the feeling that they are too busy by their own doing, or should I say, not doing. If that is your feeling, let’s start here: do not allow other people to control your schedule. This starts with, “No!” If you really have a scheduling conflict, make a decision – never created a conflict that requires you to be doing two things at the same time. My father would say, “Anything worth doing is worth doing right.” If you can’t do something “right”, do not accept the commitment to do it.
Two rules to achieving a persona of success:
-Do everything you say that you will do.
-Never say you will do something that you do not intend to do.