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What Has God Been Doing?

We all have “pet peeves,” “hot buttons,” and “areas of intense focus” that capture our attention to the point we think everyone should share our level of interest in the topic. Today’s topic is one of those for me and I would like to get your feedback. The “hot button” for me is a conviction that the question, “What has God been doing in my life?” is one of life’s great privileges. Ephesians 2:10 states, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Philippians 2:13 echoes this same thought, “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

It seems inescapable to me then that God has been working in each of our lives from 10 Best Decisions a Leader Can Makethe beginning to lead us in the pursuit of His will. Even before we knew He was at work, He was busy shaping, molding and redeeming situations to develop passion in our hearts for something I believe there are a number of ways you can look back on your life to discover what God has been about. You can look at your strongest memories, your life altering decisions, the consistent interests of your heart, your choice of friends, etc. One of the ways is also to look at the leaders you have been inclined to follow. In The 10 Best Decisions a Leader Can Make, I share the short list of those leaders in my life as a way of discovering your place in the plan. I have included a short excerpt to illustrate:

“We can all describe the journey of our lives by the leaders who have impacted us.
In third grade, Mrs. Svoboda taught me that math could be fun. She was energetic about math concepts and instituted a number of competitive games to help those of us with natural aptitude excel in our development. It was the first time in my life that learning captured the same sense of adventure as athletic competition . . .

In fifth grade, I was assigned to Mr. Foladare’s class. His body was mildly deformed from a childhood malady, but it never stopped him from doing what was on his heart. He taught with focus and enthusiasm that made me want to learn . . . Even though he was only five foot six, he coached an elite club basketball team that consistently played in tournament championships. He was tough-minded, energetic, and determined that obstacles would not hold him back . . .

Coach Pitts started [freshman] basketball practice that year with the statement, “You are going to be the toughest, hardest working team in our league. You may end up liking me or hating me by the end of the season, but you will be the most determined basketball players around.” I wasn’t even sure at the time why it got my attention. I do know, however, that my time with Coach Pitts better prepared me for the realities of life . . .

Coach Howell was a high-school football coach in the mold of Paul “Bear” Bryant. He wasn’t the most personable man I have ever met, but he knew how to win. He taught me that success is not just about talent. It’s about maintaining discipline in the midst of adversity. It’s about adjusting to challenges with a clear view of your goal and cultivating a mindset of believing you will succeed despite the forces trying to keep you from it . . .

Pastor Jack Peacock taught me the power of building authentic networks. He had an uncanny ability to connect with rugged men . . .

Bob Bell was a corporate leader I watched from a distance. He was extremely busy with his career and family so he didn’t have much time to give, but the way he handled his life and business was attractive to me. An associate of his told me one day, “Bob was in charge of investigating safety reports in our company. He was always tough, but he was always fair.”

Jim Conway convinced me that having a full-fledged ministry and raising a healthy family could be done at the same time . . . Despite a difficult childhood, he was positive, energetic, and ambitious.”

From these leaders I discovered that I am drawn to help people with real issues in their lives, environments that are competitive, learning significant information, balancing solid relationships with a standard of truth and overcoming obstacles with tenacity. These have become major themes in my life that drive my decisions and help me sort out my priorities because I am passionate about them.

It seems to me, however, that people in general have a hard time “seeing” what God has been doing. They can report the news of their lives but have trouble identifying the themes that are supposed to capture their hearts and focus their efforts.
This is where I would like your input. As you look back at your life, can you identify the themes, convictions, and interests that God has been trying to weave into your heart? I look forward to your insight – Thanks!

The Calming Power of Service

I have been flying a lot for the past few years so I usually have the option of choosing seats pretty close to the front of the plane. Well, this past weekend we flew to a family camp with our daughter-in-law and two granddaughters. We were pretty sure they were going to be restless so we chose seats in the back of the plane. Pam sat in the same row with them but I had an aisle seat in a different row with two young people who were flying without their parents to visit relatives. They were a brother and sister named DJ and Savannah and they were both pleasant to be around. For most of the flight they were only focused on themselves and were restless. The plane ride lasted 2 hours but they had to go to the bathroom five times. They kicked the seat in front of them six times that I was aware of while they raised and lowered their tray tables every five minutes or so. The lady in the window seat in front of them gave me the evil eye a few times as if to say, “Can’t you control your kids any better than this?” They then felt the need to get up to hand the flight attendant their trash but not before spilling soda on themselves. Because I wasn’t their parent, I found this all very amusing.
Then a transforming event happened. I offered to hold my youngest granddaughter. As soon as I sat down with her, DJ and Savannah’s focus shifted.
“What’s her name?” they asked.
“Callan,” I said.
“How old is she?” they wanted to know, probably because they didn’t know what else to ask.
“She just turned one.”
“Can I hold her,” Savannah asked.
I placed Callan in this 10 year-old’s lap and everything calmed down. She was captivated by everything my granddaughter did. She was responsive to anything my granddaughter needed. She pointed out what she saw outside the window. She talked with Callan curiously waiting for whatever response she might get. DJ also watched with rapt attention to everything Callan did. He talked with her as if she was going to magically start talking back to him instead of pointing and saying, “Uunh, uunh.” For about 30 minutes, there was no kicking of chairs, playing with trays, going to the bathroom or squirming in their seats. Serving another person calmed them down.
It was a powerful lesson for me of the benefits we gain when we choose to focus on others and seek to serve their legitimate needs. A new appreciation rose up inside for two verses that have been important in my journey. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4) “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” (Mark 10:43)
I like it when things are calm. I just never put it together that I could create calmness in me by serving others.