Top 10 Things I’ve Learned Lately

Top 10 Things I’ve Learned Lately:

(10) It really is okay to be different. People are different from each other. Churches are different from each other. Preachers are different from each other. Since God made us so unique, it would be irresponsible for us to try to be like someone else. There are many big name church leaders out there who insist that their way of doing church is the only right way, but I can’t find their method given such exclusive status in Scripture.

(9) Procrastination makes life exponentially more stressful. If procrastination is something you struggle with, it’s extremely hard to move beyond it. Even if you want to stop procrastinating and make a concrete resolution, you decide to start tomorrow. But few things stress me out as much as approaching a deadline and not being prepared. It makes it difficult to enjoy down time when I have uncompleted tasks hanging over me. On the flip side, when I’ve finished the most important things early in the day or the week, the rest of the day or week is much more relaxed, enjoyable, and stressless.

(8) People are one of life’s biggest problems, but also one of life’s biggest pleasures. It’s hard dealing with people. I can say that because I’m one of them. People can interrupt plans, create obstacles, draw time and attention away from projects, and hurt you. But people can also cheer you up, help you achieve goals, provide an outlet for expressing devotion to God, offer support during times of discouragement, and give you the rich rewards of relationship that cannot be found anywhere else.

(7) Coffee is better black. I’ve been drinking it this way for several years, but recently I’ve come to appreciate the subtle differences between varieties. (I hope I’m not becoming a coffee snob!) This same principle can be applied to lots of things. When we experience things as they are without trying to change them with lots of cream and sugar, we discover that they have their own distinctive qualities to be enjoyed. (Of course, if you like cream and sugar in your coffee, that’s fine–I would never discriminate against someone on the basis of how they prefer their coffee.)

(6) Down time is a necessity, not an indulgence. Life is stressful. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed to the point of panic. I don’t know if this ever gets easier or goes away. But something that helps enormously is to carve out regular down time and guard it ferociously. When I sit at home on a Friday afternoon, turn off the phone, grab some nachos, and sit down in front of a ballgame or a good book, I’m not being lazy or selfish or neglectful. I’m doing something that’s necessary for my health, balance–even my sanity. I’m also being obedient to God, who knew from the beginning that we would have workaholic tendencies and so commanded a day of rest.

(5) Prayer really does make a difference. Being consistent with daily prayer time has always been a struggle for me. I’ve had my prayer life ups and downs, but consistency has been extremely difficult to maintain. During the lows, I don’t handle life well. I have a stinky attitude, I’m not productive, I’m short-tempered, I have a bleak outlook, and God seems distant. But during the highs, God’s presence is closely and personally felt, I’m more patient, and I’m much better able to handle the difficulties that come my way. Currently I’m in a period that’s not really a high, but it’s consistent, and I’ve found that consistency produces the same effects as the up times.

(4) We all need grace–and lots of it. It’s so irritating when someone bills you the wrong amount, or sits through a green light, or doesn’t return your phone call, or doesn’t follow through with a promise, or forgets to leave the onions off the quesadilla you ordered. These things are easy to notice. What’s not so easy to notice are the times that I don’t call people back, or forget to do something I said I’d do, or fail to yield the right of way, or make a cutting remark, or miss a deadline. None of us will ever measure up to standards or expectations of perfection. We all need to give each other a ton of grace.

(3) Little kids understand more about life than adults do. This runs counter to conventional wisdom and even common sense. Grownups have more experience and knowledge. They understand how things work. But kids have more wonder. They are still fascinated by the little things in the great big world around them. They have a lot more questions than answers, and so they have a deeper understanding and appreciation of God’s creation.

(2) It’s better to be disarming than to be armed. There are plenty of hostile, antagonistic people out there who make everything a battle. When someone deals with me that way, the natural reaction is to respond the same way. But I’ve found that a supernatural reaction is better. With God’s help, I’ve discovered that a smile and a friendly tone catches people off guard and can soften their determination to wage war.

(1) I stink; God rocks. Even when I make the same mistakes over and over, God is faithful. He hangs in there even when I’ve let go. When I’m faithless, He’s faithful. When I start thinking that it’s up to me and then despair because I drop the ball, He reminds me that it’s not up to me, and He scoops up the ball and scores.

Published in: on September 21, 2007 at 9:55 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Nathan, that was by far my favorite of your posts. Very thought-provoking and definitely some good things for me to reflect on (and learn from). By the way, I like to junk my coffee up with cream (or milk) and splenda. Have patience with me. Remember, I’m a work in progress. 🙂

  2. Hahaha… I also used to “junk my coffee up” (nice term!). So don’t worry, there’s hope for all of us! By the way, I should have clarified that I was not talking about things like white mocha lattes. Those things make a great dessert!

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