Five Qualities of People You Can Trust

trust puzzleSeveral years ago, Charlotte and I were at dinner with several friends.  I realized at the end of our evening together that I had felt very relaxed throughout this dinner.  We talked, laughed, and told stories.  There was a certain ease about the evening.  It dawned on me later how special the evening really was.  I realized that I had been with people who I trusted.

I value friendships where deep trust exists.  This kind of trust does not typically happen overnight.  It can take months and even years to develop.  When deep trust exists in friendships, it is very special.

Of course, I want to be in the presence of people who are trustworthy.  The place to begin, however, is by making sure that I am a trustworthy person myself.

So what are some qualities of people you can trust?

1.  A trustworthy person is genuine.  When you get to know this person, you realize they have no hidden agenda.  This person is not trying to use you or manipulate you.  Rather, this person has a certain authenticity about her.

When You are Afraid

fear4“Were you afraid?” she asked.  Of course I was.  We were moving across the country after living in Waco for twenty years.  We were leaving the known and entering the unknown.  Yes, I know fear. Typically I become afraid of what could happen.  After all, “What if?”

Meanwhile, early this morning I sat at a table in Starbucks.  I was near the door.  My cup of coffee was to my right.  My computer was open.  I was working on a document for a lunch meeting that I would have in a few hours.  The morning was calm. People were coming and going, each leaving with a cup of coffee.  I anticipated a full day with several meetings scheduled and some other work that I needed to take care of.  The sun was shining and all was well.  Fear was nowhere to be found.

However, there are times when I have awakened in the middle of the night only to be faced with my fears.

1.  What if the situation I am working through goes bad?  What will I do or say?

2.  What about my children?  What about their future?  Will they be all right?

3.  What if I die suddenly?  What will Charlotte do?  Will she be all right?

4.  What about my work and ministry?  What if I’m not as competent as I should be?

5.   What about my health?  What if I am suddenly stricken by disease?

Five Characteristics of a Quality Man

man_question_markHave you wondered if there are any quality, young, godly men left?  After all, it seems that the news is constantly reporting the horrible behavior of some man in the world. Then of course, you can talk to almost anyone and they can tell you a story about some man’s sorry behavior at work, his abuse of his own children, or his betrayal of a friend.

Let me assure you, I know some very fine young men.  Almost every day, I have the fortune to have a conversation in person, by phone, or text with a young man in Memphis or in another city in this country. Again and again I am impressed.  As I think about these guys (some of them have been in my mentoring groups and others I know as friends) here is what I see.

1.  They take Jesus seriously.  They aren’t simply trying to create an image of one who loves the Lord.  It is so obvious that they are serious about their own obedient relationship to Jesus as Lord.  Those who know them best describe them as the real deal.

2.  They invest in others for the sake of the Lord.  Yes, they value their friendships but it is much more than this.  They influence their friends for good.  Their friends often say, “I am a better man and closer to the Lord because of my friendship with him.”

Beware of the Self-Proclaimed Expert

ExpertYou probably know a person like this.  He is a self-proclaimed expert on most any subject.

  • You mention a car that you are thinking about buying.  The self-proclaimed expert will tell you all about it.
  • You talk about wanting to vacation on the Gulf Coast.  The self-proclaimed expert will tell you where you must go.
  • You speak of a problem in your work.  The self-proclaimed expert knows what you must do.
  • You speak of difficulty in your marriage or with your children.  The self-proclaimed expert can tell you exactly what you must do.

Such “experts” can be amusing or even irritating depending on the situation.

How Can I Exceed Your Expectations?

exceed-expectations-510I’m not sure where I ever heard this question. However, I like it. I like it a lot!

How can I exceed your expectations?

I grew up in Southeast Dallas in the old Pleasant Grove area. This was middle-class America. A lot of good people lived in that community. They worked hard and drove home to a white farm house or a small brick home. My mother shopped each Thursday afternoon at the Safeway on Buckner Blvd. On Sundays, most people who I knew went to church and then rooted for the Cowboys. Life seemed fairly simple.

I went to work early. I had a paper route with the Dallas Morning News for a number of years. Then I worked at a fast food restaurant. Most of my friends had jobs like that. We worked. We played sports. We rooted for our team.

The expectations that I had as a kid were not particularly high. I don’t know that I gave much thought about preparing for the future. In many respects, we were just getting by.

Years later, I live in Memphis, Tennessee. I am a husband, father, and grandfather to two wonderful little boys. I work with a seminary as well as preach and teach. I think more about expectations than I did at one time. Yet, I am not focused on the expectations I have of others or life in general. Rather, I think about the expectations others might have of me and how I would like to exceed some of those expectations.

My Secrets May Hurt More People Than Me

SecretThe person with secrets often feels like she has gotten away with something.  That person may know that she has given in to a temptation and now remains undetected. When no one seems to know, you are basically carrying a secret.

“As long as no one knows, no one gets hurt.”  At least this is thinking of some people.  They get involved in a particular behavior they know is wrong but they believe they will remain undetected.

  • This may be the person who has a separate bank account from his spouse.  He uses it to buy what he wants to buy with their money and yet remain unaccountable.
  • This may be the person who lies on his tax return but is convinced his misdeed will never be detected.
  • This may be the person who has her eye on a co-worker and really believes that any illicit behavior will never be discovered.

What You May as Well Forget

deleteHe snarled and complained about his job.  A friend of his, who worked for another company, had recently received a promotion.  “Some people get all the breaks!” He went on to talk about his friend who didn’t have to work near as hard as he did.  There was no sense of joy for his friend.  Nor did this man seem to take responsibility for anything related to his own career. Rather, he complained about how everyone else seems to get all the breaks.

I have learned there are some things in life that are best forgotten.  Now I haven’t always practiced this.  I can think of years in which I was stuck in unproductive thinking.  I allowed too much futile thinking to take up space and time.  Yet, how I think and what I focus on really do impact my life.

I want to suggest that some things need to be forgotten.

Forget what might have been.

Some people spend much of their energy focused on what might have been.  For them, life would have been great “if only.”  They are stuck in the past.

“If only my wife (or husband) was different.”

“If only I had taken a different job.”

“If only I had been treated fairly in my career.”

“If only I had gotten the breaks my brother-in-law received.”

Forget the entitlement.

Some people go through life believing they are entitled to a certain life.  This may be the young couple who believe they are entitled to a certain lifestyle (that may have taken their parents 35 years to afford.)  Others believe they are entitled to happiness and seem willing to break whatever commitments they’ve already made in order to experience this.  Years ago, a woman used this very expression in a conversation with me.  “I’m entitled to be happy” she said.  Two weeks later she left her husband and children.  People who are focused on their own sense of entitlement will break commitments and abandon relationships if they seem to stand in the way.

Forget the focus on someday.  

Some people are preoccupied with “someday.”  They speak as if life begins in the future.  Someday they plan to save money, get their finances in order, and live within their means.  Many people speak of changing their lives someday and quitting bad habits someday.  Yet life is experienced today not someday.

Each one of these approaches to life is a dead end street.  No progress is made when I am focused on any of these.  Life is happening today, not yesterday or someday.  I am entitled to nothing. Whatever good thing I experience in this life is a gift of God to be received with gratitude.

Question

What else needs to be forgotten?

 

 

Just Close Your Eyes and Hope it Will Be All Right

closed-eyesSome of us seem to live by the adage, “If I don’t talk about it, it is not real.” Or put another way, “If I don’t talk about it then maybe it will go away.”

Consequently we close our eyes and hope it will go away.

Have you known anyone like this?

1. The doctor gives a stern warning to a 40-year-old man, “You have cancer. This has to be addressed immediately.” The man later tells friends, “I won’t be going back to the doctor anymore. I’m not about to undergo those treatments.” Just close your eyes and hope it will be all right.

2. The woman says nothing to her husband who exhibits all kinds of suspicious behavior. In front of their friends, they talk about their fantastic marriage. Meanwhile, at home they sit in silence, rarely speaking to one another. Just close your eyes and hope it will be all right.

5 Ways to Mess Up Your Kids

MessMost parents I know love their children and want to do a good job with them.  Many of these people will do most anything to give their children a head start in life.  Some will go to extraordinary lengths to give their children an advantage.

Yet, it is possible to parent in such a way as to make it difficult for them to grow up, mature, and live as Christ-followers.

The following are some ways to mess up your kids:

1.  Model before them a self-centered life.  Focus on yourself, your pleasures, your desires, and your preferences.  Teach them by way of your example that life is all about “me.”

I was in a conversation with a woman who was abandoning her husband and children in order live her own life.  She wanted to believe that her leaving would have no long term impact on her children.

The reality is that our self-centered behaviors really do impact others.  They certainly impact our children.

Are You Comfortable With This Person?

Pretense

When someone refers to another as “unpretentious” it is often quite a compliment. Such a statement is not typically made with cool detachment but with great pleasure. After all, unpretentious people are not only people we like but are often people who cause us to feel good when we are with them.

Meanwhile, we may know also know some people who we might describe as “pretentious.” These people perceive themselves to be important and have a way of being with others that may cause them to feel critiqued and evaluated.

I recall a conversation with a woman who had walked into a social setting where she was to meet a new friend. She sensed the eyes of others staring at her. She felt as if others were thinking, “Who is she and who invited her here?”

Meanwhile, her new friend came into the room and warmly greeted her guest. In spite of the rather cool beginning, she actually enjoyed the evening. The nice evening was attributed to her friend whom she describes as being completely unpretentious.

Have you been in situations like this where you were put at ease by another’s lack of self-importance?