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?

3 Ways We Lose When We Don’t Connect with Others

disconnectionThe other day I was on the telephone with one of my daughters.  We talked for a few minutes when suddenly she said, “Well Dad, I guess I had better go.”

I responded by saying, “Already?  What is your hurry?”

She then said, “Dad-I can tell you are distracted.”

Uh-oh.

I could not argue.  I was distracted.  Charlotte and I had just arrived home after a trip to Arkansas.  I was distracted the moment we walked into the house.  I apologized and said that I would love to talk with her.  She said, “Let’s talk some other time.”

I suspect many of us have experienced such conversations.  However, sometimes the failure to be fully present with others is more than a momentary occurrence.  Some people are just not emotionally present regardless of the circumstances.  This is just the way they function.  In other words, they live each day not really present in the moment they have right now.

What do we lose when we are not fully present?

When You Fail to Show Respect

respect-dotRespect.

I suppose it may not a word that immediately gets your attention.  Perhaps it doesn’t have much buzz or flair.

Yet the importance of showing another respect is huge.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.

  • A young husband is condescending to his wife, making her feel as if she is less intelligent than he is.
  • A teenager has a confrontation with his dad.  He tells his dad to “shut up” and walks away.  Thirty minutes earlier the boy was in a Wednesday evening Bible class.
  • A young woman is disrespectful to her mother-in-law, speaking to her in way that is demeaning and hurtful.
  • A man disrespects his wife, flirting with women at the office.  One woman at the office remarks, “You mean he’s married?”
  • A minister degrades the elders to others in the congregation and then kisses up to them in an elders meeting.  Disrespect.
  • An older man in the church abruptly approaches a young minister and says something insulting and crude in front of a visitor.

I am not suggesting that people needed to be “nicer.”

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

StartIn your backpack

Pete Scazzero writes thoughtful posts regarding the interior life.  See his post “Removing the Clutter.”  Scazzero asks this important question, “What are you carrying in your “leadership backpack” that needs to be removed so you can listen for God in your interior world?”

Self-differentiation

Also, don’t miss this post by Scazzero  “Am I Becoming a More Mature, Differentiated Leader?”  This is such an important concept for any leader to grasp.  I am thankful for Ed Friedman whose books, papers, and speaking introduced me to this concept many years ago.

Creativity

See Ann Voskamp’s post “Why Your Soul Needs You to Make Time to be Creative: 7 Keys to Being More Creative.”  This is a good post!  Like so many of Ann’s posts, it has numerous pictures and a fresh way of expressing the ordinary.  Be sure to finish the post since the seven keys are actually listed at the end.

Time

Lifehacker recently had a post entitled “The Best Time of Day to Do Anything.”  Agree or disagree, these posts typically make me think.  For example, skim through this post “The Best Sounds for Getting Work Done.”

Sex

See Thom Rainer’s post “Sex, Millennials, and the Church: Five Implications.”  I appreciate Rainer’s tone as well as his research.