Monday, March 30, 2009

Assume Good Intent

Last week I spent Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in a three-day "launch" for a seven-month project that I have been selected to participate in at work. Those three days were spent learning about personality types, communication styles and skills, team-building and project managment skills in preparation for this upcoming project.

While we received tons of information during those three days, I was particularly struck by one phrase. We were discussing how each of us communicates in different ways. Yet it is so important to really try to hear what others are saying and not shut down or become defensive when someone communicates in a way that is different from our own style.

So here is the phrase that I have been pondering for the past few days: Assume good intent. In other words, keep an open mind. Believe that the other person really does have good intentions in saying the things that they are saying. Even if I totally disagree with them or think that what they are saying makes no sense at all, most people are not trying to sabotage or offend anyone. So if I listen to them from a place of assuming that they mean well, I am more likely to really hear them.

Assume good intent. It's not really all that deep. But imagine how your morning might change if when you hear your husband asking, "Are all of the bagels gone?" instead of assuming that he is criticizing you for eating the last bagel, he's merely trying to figure out if he needs to eat something else for breakfast.

Assume good intent. It's what I hope people will do when they listen to me. I don't try to offend or hurt them. So if I inadvertently do, I hope they will assume that it was an accident and that they will extend grace to me.

You know the old saying, "You know what happens when you assume..." Well, I think we can change that saying by focusing on the "good intent." At least, I'm going to give it a try.

Friday, March 20, 2009

What Was That Again?

As you might be able to tell from the date of my last blog, I haven't been too inspired lately - that and I just haven't spent too much time on the computer for a change. But this morning during my devotions, I had a thought that I knew I wanted to explore and to share. So, I happily went off to work, intending to sit down for a while tonight and write up my inspiration.

Well, I'm here, but the thought isn't! I can't for the life of me remember what was so inspiring this morning. I've looked back over the things I was reading in my devotions hoping to jog a memory. No luck. It's gone. I hate to admit it, but Post-It Notes have become my indispensible friends. I know I should have jotted down my thoughts on one of them. But I didn't.

It's a bit sad, really, considering that my moments of great inspiration are apparently not only few and far between but also fleeting. Oh well, I'll just enjoy the knowledge that for a moment this morning, I was very inspiring!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Doing Something Big

I have a very vivid, very clear memory of me as a child looking out of my basement bedroom window and having an overwhelming feeling that God had created me to do something big. I had no clue what that meant, but I knew that whatever it was, it would be special...something that only I could do.

The years passed and my life unfolded in a pretty unspectacular way. I went to school, graduated from college, got a job and eventually got married. Then one day fairly early on in our marriage, my husband and I were talking and he told me that growing up, he had felt that God had something big for him to do in his life. Hmm...sounded kind of familiar.

But as the years have passed, neither one of us has found a cure for cancer, written a best-selling book or made a name for ourselves in any field whatsoever. At times, our life has seemed more like a matter of simply surviving; tough financial times, raising kids, job changes, caring for aging parents. The list goes on, but there is certainly nothing that stands out as "something big."

Last night I was reading my son, David's, blog. A recent posting was entitled "I've Been Doing Big Things." And right there in the third paragraph I found this. "For the longest time I have felt like God has called me to “do something big.” I’ve never known exactly what that meant, but deep down inside was the feeling that God created me to do something significant." Wow! It was as if I was a child, looking out of my bedroom window and I was hearing God's voice once again. But this time, I have a better understanding of what that "something"means.

I believe that God taps each one of us on the shoulder and in some way whispers (or shouts), "Hey, I have something very, very special for YOU to do. I need YOU because YOU'RE the ONLY person who can do this. Are you with me?"

I can say this because scripture tells us that God made each one of us special and unique. Psalm 139:13-14 says "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." After all, He made us in His very image. And He also has a plan and a purpose for each and everyone of us. The often quoted passage in Jeremiah 29 tells us that God says, "For I know the plans I have for you..."

Now here's the real revelation. Perhaps we need to step back and look at our definition of "big," "special," or "significant." I venture to say that as children, our thoughts of what those terms mean are still untainted by what this world tells us they mean. As we grow older, we start associating such things as power, wealth and recognition as the yard stick by which we measure our successes or failures, even, I dare to say, in our walk with the Lord. How many people have "we" led to the Lord? Are we recognized as a leader in our church? How many mission trips have we been on?

Recently in my devotions I read a passage from the book by Charles Swindoll entitled "Great Days with the Great Lives." Swindoll tells the story of the early life of Moses. Briefly put, Moses was ready to step up and do some major stuff in the deliverance of his Hebrew brothers. However, a couple of them quickly put him in his place which sent him skid -daddling out into the middle of the Midian desert. Here he comes across seven sisters who are being harassed by some shepherds as they try to water their flocks. Moses steps in and saves the day! Not exactly the act of deliverance he had envisioned for himself. But Swindoll sums it up this way, "If you can't do the good you would, do the good you can."

I love this! Because as more of my life ends up behind me, I realize it's not turning out exactly as I had planned. My "something special" has not looked like I thought it would. At times I've wonder if I've missed the boat and completely let God down. But more and more, I'm realizing the importance of simply doing the things that I "can" and trusting God to turn them into "big" things for Him.

In my son's posting, he went on to explain his recent revelation about doing "something big" like this: "I always wanted that to be something in the spotlight, something that involved power and influence, maybe even a decent salary, if I’m completely honest with myself. To me that would be “big.”
Over the last 4 1/2 years, I have been in ministry and while I have seen the significance of it and while I have loved helping people dive into deep passionate relationships with Christ, I never viewed it as that “big thing.” I’ve always been waiting for something more. Something “bigger.”
Yet the other day I had the realization that there is nothing bigger than helping people come to personal, intimate, authentic relationships with Christ."

Wow, I think he's got it! And that's something big!