A few weeks ago, I was walking by a mirror one day and saw a brown spot on the tip of my nose. I wiped it with a wet paper towel and it came off immediately. I didn’t know what it was. I assumed that I had touched something, perhaps a piece of chocolate, and somehow smeared it. Then yesterday, I walked by the mirror and saw that it was there again. It dawned on me what it was. I had been drinking coffee from a travel cup that morning, and I remembered feeling the top of the cup as it touched my nose.
It makes me just a little nervous to think that I had been walking around that morning (in and out of a few stores) and everyone had seen the brown spot. Meanwhile, I didn’t have a clue.
Likewise, it would make me nervous if I were growing stale, it was obvious to everyone, and yet I didn’t know it.
What happens when a person becomes stale?
- That person may not know it even though that is a reality of his life.
- That person may know it and just not care.
- Through laziness, indifference or arrogance, he may choose to coast.
What does a stale person look like?
- A stale person might be in a rut.
- A stale person might sing one verse repeatedly and practice singing one note for years. Perhaps you’ve known people like this. At one point in their lives they grew and learned and became passionate about their knowledge. It was like they discovered gold and so they sat down in a mental/spiritual recliner for the rest of their lives.
- A stale person might be stuck in his/her reaction to some troubling event in their lives. They never quite learned to move on. Rather, they continue to react. I remember a former minister who one time told me that he wanted to stamp out legalism in his new church. The only problem with this is that his new church had long moved past the kinds of issues about which he was talking. Yet, he was still reacting to his first frustrating ministry with a local church.
- A stale person might get stuck in her earlier years (as she remembers them). She feels as if she has already experienced the best years of her life. When she sees her daughters, she only talks about their high school years, their dates, etc.
What can a person do?
1. Seek out people who seem fully alive and have something to offer. PAY ATTENTION to these people. What are they doing that is so different from those people who are in ruts and have basically shut down?
2. Learn something new today. Read a book of the Bible you are unfamiliar with. Take a new route to work. Order something different at the restaurant. Watch a program on television that will teach you something.
3. Ask questions. A new friend of mine traveled throughout the state interviewing various men and women. He asked them questions about life, marriage, family, and ministry. I am impressed! You don’t have to travel across the state to do this. Select a few people in your community and meet them for coffee/lunch. Take notes.
4. Deliberately, intentionally do good for someone today.
What has helped you stay fresh over the long haul?