Archives for the month of: August, 2012

So, just how well do you communicate?
Perhaps you’ve had the old adage, “talk is cheap” thrown your way when someone is more interested in what you will do than what you have to say. For example, I recently read a quote by H. Ross Perot that said, “Talk is cheap. Words are plentiful. Deeds are precious.” This seems to me to be a bit more elegant way of saying, “actions speak louder than words.” But then I recently saw this contrarian quote on the subject, “Anybody who thinks talk is cheap should get some legal advice,” an obvious bit of humor on the cost of seeking legal counsel. So, which is it? Is talk really cheap or is it truly that we just suffer from “a failure to communicate.” Maybe therein lies the key that unlocks the doorway to transforming “cheap talk” into something invaluable. Think about it, if words are so “plentiful,” which indeed they are, why aren’t we more forthcoming with our communication, in particular with those closest to us? Could it really just be a matter of becoming a better communicator?

Thinking on this has led me to a possible discovery in the pursuit of becoming a better communicator. Interestingly this “aha” came from the recesses of introspection in the form of this question. “Am I one who seeks to simply “tickle the ear” of another or do I desire to “get to the heart” [my own and others] with my communication?” In searching within for an honest answer to this question I uncovered this reality about myself. When I just present the transparent facts of my life I’m really just a good presenter. But when I offer up the vulnerabilities of my heart, then I become a good communicator. Wow, no wonder I can be so prone to having “a failure to communicate.” How is it with you? Have you just been honing your presentation skills from behind the veil of “just the facts” or are you seeking to become a communicator extraordinaire from out in front of the curtain of vulnerability? No doubt this is hard and frankly doesn’t come naturally. In the end, however, it certainly seems to be a new way of speaking worth pursuing. And maybe, just maybe, as we get better with communicating in this way our words will speak just as loud as our actions because they too will be spoken as the outward expressions of an inward reality…the reality of our heart. So, talk may be cheap but it seems communication is priceless. Peace.

So, don’t you just hate it when the sand sticks to your skin?  Last post we began to look at some “nuggets of perspective” that we could glean from observing a few of the events being held at the London Olympic Games.  And we began with the sport of Gymnastics.  Today, I thought we’d take a look to see if there are any “sticky” life takeaways from the “sands of London” or better said, the sport of Beach Volleyball.  Before we do that however it seems appropriate to consider just for a minute the abject craziness of what it must have been like to be a spectator at this event.  Consider this. Turn your head one way and you think you’re at the beach watching one of the newest sports to reach the global stage.  Turn your head the other and you’re staring the architectural beauty of Westminster Abbey with all of its rich history square in the face.  I wonder what the men buried in the Poet’s Corner of the Abbey would have to say about it all, especially the prolific Charles Dickens.  Talk about a time warp!

So, back to the beach volleyball… The first and most prevalent thought that comes to mind as I consider this sport it that at the end of the day, it is a partnership of two people.  Now, most in the work-a-day world would suggest the best partner to have is to not have one at all.  Stories abound where one partnership after the other have failed the test of time.  Even the most-valued partnerships of all, the partnerships of marriage have not been immune to such failures.  So, what do we see from this particular sport that might point us to the integral components for successful partnerships.  Well, simply put, it all begins with “the serve.”  So, how’s your serve or better said, “How well do you serve your partner?”  (Yikes, that one hit close to home.)  Or how well do you celebrate each other’s success and support each other’s failures?  Come on, I’m sure you noticed it.  Even when a point was scored for the opposing team the two players who lost the point would high five each other as if they had won the point.  This seems to speak volumes to the integral need for mutual encouragement in any partnership, win or lose?  Or how about the critical element of “setting” the ball?  Here we see a vivid illustration of how each member of the partnership has to “set” each other up to win but also give each other the freedom to fail.  In the end isn’t it less about winning each point and more about winning the game.  No doubt our days are chocked full of wins and losses but when the game as we know it, this side of Heaven, is over isn’t the question, “Have we set each other up to win at life?”  Well, I’m sure there are many other nuggets to be gleaned but let’s consider one more.  This one we’ll take from the words of Charles Dickens himself.  “Love is in all things a wonderful teacher.”  In the end, it seems I have a lot to learn.  How is it with you? Is any of this sticking to you too?  Peace.

So, have you mined any “gold” recently?  Just curious, does this question take you back to the days of that annual summer vacation pilgrimage to the mountains? You know, the days when you might have found yourself engaging in some “mineral mining” in a touristy corner of rural America? Or perhaps you were thinking of the question in terms of the more sophisticated and contemporary aspect of mining profits from gold investing. Well, I’m thinking of another type of gold mining; the mining of the gold “nuggets of perspective” that might come from a simple observation of the London Olympic Games.  So, I thought it might be fun over the next several posts to see what life perspective we might “mine” from a few of the events.

So, let’s start with Gymnastics where many of the individual events paint a somewhat vivid, parallel illustration of the way life comes at us. To name just a few; the uneven bars, the vault, etc. Or how about this one? The pommel horse which might be more appropriately named in this case, the pummel horse. Whether it is on the physical, the emotional or even the mental front life so often simply feels like one long, dizzying gymnastics event. But is there anything we can glean about life from these events. Well, in each case we have to face the fact that on any given day we will be better at handling the “degrees of difficulty” life sends our way than others. We have to realize that it’s not so much how we begin life but rather it’s more about how we “stick the landing” as we seek to finish well. No doubt we have to have a measure of consistent, intentional discipline in our lives to remain strong in the face of what life brings our way. And though much of our effort seems to suggest it is up to us to “perform” within our own strength we have to realize that our strength alone won’t enable us to win at life. We need a team around us to encourage us when we stumble, to remind us of our infinite worth when we too feel judged, to hold us accountable to a higher standard and to celebrate our victories with us. All of this has me wondering too if there’s not a lesson to be found here from that other gymnastic event…the “balance beam.” Peace.

So, have you ever secretly wished you were a good storyteller?  Though you might be one of those rare breeds you’ve more likely found yourself wishing you could, even if for just a moment, simply “tell a good story.”  Seemingly, “storytelling” has become more and more a lost art reserved for a select few!  A good story engages the senses and leaves you wanting more.  Last time we considered the whole arena of stewardship, in particular the fourth leg of the stewardship stool, the element of influence.   We noted that the common view of stewardship includes time, talent and treasure but that is where it traditionally has stopped.  Today, I’d like for us to consider what I believe is the fifth leg, our story.  In fact, I believe this is the “anchor leg” of stewardship.

Each of us has a story that is unfolding each and every day.  And each of our stories is part of a larger story being told.  It is, in fact part of the greatest love story ever told.  It is, a story for the ages.  As stewards of our story we are called to invite others in such that they begin to see their own story as part of this larger love story.  Here again we find one of our deepest longings…the longing to be invited in.  Invited in to share the story of our lives such that we can know the freedom of being known, fully known.  Can you imagine a better way to become “good storytellers”?  The power in the story is in the invitation. The invitation in is the gateway to engage the hearts (and stories) of others so that we can know their struggles, celebrate their triumphs and affirm their worth.

Another vital part of stewarding our story well is protecting the integrity of our testimony.  This account, the account of our testimony, is one place where we need to be intentional about making deposits and see to it that very few things force us to withdraw from it.  Stewards protect things, stewards care for things…stewards know the value of their most prized possessions.  So, how is it with you?  Do you long to become a storyteller?  Do you long to be invited in to the stories of others?  Do you long to be a part of the larger love story?  If you do, consider your call to steward your story well.  You see being a part of this great love story is more than the “anchor leg.”  It is the anchor of one’s soul.  Peace.

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