For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
How often do you meet with others for the purpose of making a positive deposit in their lives? I believe it was in an interview with Success magazine that Pastor and Author John Maxwell made the comment that he now enters every gathering he is at with the idea that his purpose is to give something of value to the other person. It could be words of encouragement. In Maxwell’s case, maybe it’s one of his books. In any case, how often do we engage in conversation with others with this as our goal?
I’m bi-vocational in my ministry and do not take a regular salary from my church. It keeps me quite busy to say the least. What tempers me is my daily interaction with God. Every time I meet with Him in prayer and reading the Bible, He makes a deposit in my life with something I’ve read or an epiphany that comes in prayer. I keep a journal handy to write these things down to remind myself that I am called to do the same with others. I meet regularly with other pastors in my area and a few have become very close friends. At times I share burdens that I’m going through but more often these days I seek wisdom and mutual empowerment. If, like the Apostle Paul writes, we can be mutually encouraged by our meeting then I feel as though my time and more importantly, the other person’s time, is of great profit. When I go to work, I have to be careful not be caught up in gossip or to create it myself. I try to speak some type of victory into each person I work with. I find something positive every day to build up and in turn, NOT tear down.
The result of this simple mindset is my relationships are better. I’m not perfect by no means but I feel strengthened by mutual building up. I feel accomplished if I’ve given someone a word to validate their efforts. I can be challenged and stretched to grow farther by another peer than I can by trying to do it alone. But it has to start with the first effort. Are you willing to invest in another’s life? Can you do it today? Then tomorrow, invest in another until it becomes a habit. This takes time but like all good things, the effort is worth it. In a few months, you’ll have the momentum you need and the blessings you give others will bless in ways you never could imagine.
Start today. You can do it. NOW…
The great philosopher Socrates was alleged to have said: “The unexamined life is not worth living” or something very close to it. Whether he truly said this or not, the quote is one that is valuable to digest. How many of us take the time to review the past experiences of our or others’ lives and integrate those learning times into our future? Very few of us I suppose.
In my quest to continue to grow and live a meaningful life, I’ve once again begun the habit of keeping a journal with me to capture thoughts, write out problems, share solutions (or failures) and learn from them. So many times an idea or thought comes to mind and I try to find a place and time to remember these bits of information and capture them but in the long run, many go forgotten. It’s simply too hard to remember it all. At other times, I struggle with feelings and emotions which can consume me. I’ve learned in the past year since my weight loss experience (written about on this blog) that I will never see myself as truly being thin. I will always have a mental picture of me as being fat and that image is one that can unknowingly lead me to neglect other areas of my growth. I took some time away from the blog in 2012 to focus on some big life changes that came my way after the weight loss. One of the discoveries I made was that in making major changes in my life, especially after entering my 40’s, I had failed to capture the source of much of the negative energy that was hindering me in areas known only to myself.
As I began planning my goals for 2013 I began looking into ways to better review and grow from these feelings and thoughts. Journaling is a good way to do this. By keeping a journal close at hand, you can capture thoughts on paper in the moment. By reviewing them, you can see trends in your thinking that can limit and sometimes block your learning. It’s also good to review the ideas, quotes, and other gems you capture along the way and integrate those into your thinking as you review your entries and plot a new trajectory for your life. I know some who read these words will say “That’s too much work!” and you’re right to a degree. It is work. Too much? I don’t think so. Not when I can see the potential for growth by building a new habit. The work in writing is one thing. The additional work in reviewing what you write, crafting solutions, and sharing those follow up thoughts is even more work but it can be so very rewarding if you give it time. Face it, in five years you can be in the same rut you’re in now or you can plot a new course for growth and living a full life and make changes as you spot habits and trends in your journals and be more fulfilled down the road. Which do you choose?
I purchased some audio programs to listen to as I work out that helped with me ideas for journaling and working on my thoughts. My daily time in God’s Word helps in this endeavor with the wisdom of the ages to address all of what I write about. It’s a win-win situation for the person committed to personal growth. As I march toward my 50th birthday (in a few years) I’m already in the full throws of mid-life. I’ve begun thinking about where I’ll be in other ten years when 60 lies over the horizon should God allow me to live that long. I want to look back with no regrets. I want to grow more now than I did in my 20’s when I thought I had an eternity to live. I want to leave my family with a legacy of living.
The unexamined life IS not worth living. Taking the time to grow and improve shouldn’t fade as you get older but rather, it should be a refining time for you to take your rich life experiences, share them, and grow from them. Start today!