Categories
Christian Living Motivation

True Motivation

Whenever I meet someone who excels in their work, and also seems to enjoy it, I ask what motivates them.

Case and point: I have the most amazing dental hygienist! She is efficient and professional, but also caring and conscientious. So at my last appointment I asked her, “What drives you to such excellence in your work?”

I expected her to say something like she aspired to be at the top of her field, live up to her highest potential, etc. But that’s not what she said.

Instead, she told me how her own mother had lost all her teeth at a young age, and that this had negatively affected her self esteem. What drives my dental hygienist to excellence is her desire to help others protect their oral health–to avoid what her mother experienced.

Frankly, I was floored by such selfless dedication. My mind was tuned to an egotistical bandwidth, a self-centered preoccupation with gratifying my own desire to be the best. On the other hand, she was on an altruistic bandwidth, an unselfish devotion and concern for the welfare of others was her highest aim.

On my drive home, the self-sacrificial advice of Paul to the Philippians came to mind.

Do nothing out of self ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look out not only to your own personal interests, but also to the interests of others.

Philippians 2:3-4

Paul then holds up the attitude of Christ as an example; He was fully God, yet chose to become human and humbled Himself in obedience to God’s redemptive plan.

Christ literally loved us to the death!

I’m not trying to sound sacreligious, but imagine what it would have been like had Jesus been an egomaniac. This is what Satan wanted (Luke 4:1-13). It was also the desire of many of Jesus’ followers. John 6:15 says He withdrew to a mountain by Himself when he realized the people intended to make him king by force.

Maintaining a Christ-like attitude concerning the self can be a slippery slope.

As Christians we cringe when we hear the words self-centered, self-indulgent and self-serving, but what about self-sufficiency, self-confidence and self-discovery?

ALL of these involve a preoccupation with SELF.

I don’t know if my dental hygienist is a Christian, but God used her to remind me how a true believer in Jesus Christ should think.

He must become greater; I must become less.

John 3:30
My son, Clark, gave me this Jesus action figure for Christmas years ago. It’s the best present I’ve ever received.

Categories
Christian Blog Self Care

Into the Deep

The prayer room at my seminary dorm was small: just two comfy chairs and a little table framed by a window. A wooden box with a hinged lid sat on the table—a place for people to leave prayer requests on the cards provided. Each card had space at the bottom where you could tell the person you prayed for them.

I sat down in one of the chairs, opened the box and began to pray for each request. The first two were like many I’d seen before. “Please pray for my dad. He has open heart surgery next week.” “My cousin isn’t a Christian. Pray that she will accept Jesus as her Savior.”

I reached into the box for another request and fished out a piece of paper that was folded several times. “This is odd,” I thought, as I flattened out the creases.

What I read sent a shiver up my spine: “My name is Daryl and I want to kill myself.” I impulsively scribbled a message back, “Please don’t. I’m here if you want to talk” I added my first name and room number, refolded the paper and put it back in the box.

Later that evening someone came to my door. I opened up to find a rather disheveled man: about my age, with major bed-head hair, tired eyes and mismatched clothing. He looked like a workaholic telecommuter straight from central casting.

“My name is Daryl,” he said. “I’m the one who wrote the note.”

Cue second shiver up my spine. Since I wasn’t sure when my roommate would return, I suggested we talk out in the foyer. I sat near the end of a long couch, while he stood uneasily across from me, repeating (over and again) his intention to end his life. He also mentioned that he had the means to do so–in his car, which was parked right outside.

This was way more than I’d bargained for, but there was literally no one else around. So I began to talk. I shared scripture verses, stories of survival and positive thoughts, but Daryl was undeterred.

NOTHING helped.

I asked him to wait while I went to get someone, but he refused. He said he would leave if I did. By this time he was clearly agitated: pacing back and forth throwing glances at the front door.

Exasperated and out of options, I got on my knees beside the couch and began to pray out loud. For 15 minutes…30 minutes…45 minutes, I cried out to God: “Heavenly Father, please help Daryl want to live!”

Sometime after the 45 minute mark I felt him sit down on the couch beside me. I looked up. Daryl began to quietly sob. He told me he wouldn’t go through it. Reaching into the pocket of his tattered brown blazer, he pressed something into my hand that brought the third shiver of the day: a single 12 gauge shotgun shell.

At 1 a.m. we parted ways. It turned out he was my next door neighbor who’d just returned to seminary in the past twenty-four hours!

At 8 a.m. that same morning I waited outside the student counselor’s office. Let’s just say I was his most interesting walk-in that day! I told him the whole story. He said he was familiar with Daryl and knew he had just returned to campus. Someone close to him had committed suicide and he was in danger of doing so himself. The counselor had been trying to contact him.

I head back to the dorm, and sure enough, there’s a thick thumb-tacked stack of notes on the message board for Daryl. The next day there’s a message for me. It’s from the counselor. Daryl had been to see him and was returning home. I am to keep the entire matter in confidence.

The only evidence that remained of what happened was my vivid memory and a 12 gauge magnum shotgun shell.

Then Samuel took a stone and placed it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, “So far the Lord has helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:12

I soon realized that the shotgun shell represented MY Ebenezer from God–a reminder of His help in my inadequacy. I walked “into the deep” to rescue a man who’d lost his way, but was unable to lead him out.

God intervened and saved us both.

Almost 30 years later, I still have that shotgun shell. It sits in the back of a drawer and I take it out from time to time. Holding it in my hand, I recognize a certain overconfident young man (me) who overestimated his abilities, and then I thank the God who stepped in.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I hope you’re still out there, Daryl— happily alive and middle-aged like me.

Categories
Perseverance Perspective

Sparkle!

“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!” Dr. Seuss

One of my colleagues has this sign hanging just outside her classroom door:

Frankly, every time I walk past and read it I have conflicting thoughts. Thought #1: “Right on!” Thought #2: “That’s easier said than done.”

If you’re like me, your sparkle has been dulled before. And needless to say, it’s a “Once bitten, twice shy” experience. In fact “sparkle snuffers” seem to have an unfair advantage in this fallen world. The lopsided power of negativity, as seen on social media, is a prime example.

Question: how do you do that—not let anyone dull your sparkle?

That’s right, I’m asking you, because I’m not sure I know. I do have a pretty good idea, though, so please read on.

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

Everything that glitters may not be gold, but REAL sparkle only comes from God. And whatever God gives you, can’t NOBODY take away!

That’s my idea: ✨God-Sparkle ✨. It doesn’t come from the world, so the world can’t dull it—at least not for long.

But the first order of the day is to make sure our glitter (yours and mine) comes from God.

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

This is one of my favorite scriptures in the whole Bible. God has an AGENDA for each of His children, AND it’s a GOOD one! All we have to do is make sure we’re holding the right bottle of glitter.

We are His workmanship, so keep sprinkling your God-Sparkle (good works)!

If you need a pick-me-up from a Christian blogger who has sparkle to spare, please check out Caralyn at Beauty Beyond Bones. She’s an eating disorder survivor who’s as effervescent as a glass of Alka-Seltzer!

Again, how do YOU not let anyone dull YOUR sparkle?