"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
January 20, 2010
I recently read a quote, that was advice a mother gave to her daughter. It said, "Learn all that you can so that no one looks down on you; then learn even more so that you don't look down on anyone."
As I was contemplating that thought, I realized that many people have the first part down, but don't always follow through to the second part; which is truly the most important aspect of learning.
I daresay that the majority of us want to learn enough so that we are able to fit into society and be respected by others. No one enjoys being looked down upon or made fun of. No one likes being criticized or having fingers pointed at them. So through education, careers, activities we become involved in, friendships and business connections, material possessions that we accumulate throughout our lives, etc.; most of us are able to live a life where we're not ridiculed or looked down upon. We have accumulated enough knowledge where we are accepted without scorn or ridicule.
But how many of us have moved beyond our own personal learning, to learn even more, so that we don't judge or look down upon others?
None of us like being criticized or judged. We don't enjoy being talked about by others. And too many of us wear a chip on our shoulder that shows up every time we think someone disagrees with us or finds fault with one of decisions. It's easy to say that we don't have a chip on our shoulder, but our attitudes and actions speak to the contrary when we're crossed. We become defensive and begin trying to figure out what other people are thinking about us. More times than not, they're probably not thinking about us at all. And if they are, it's probably not to the extremes to which our minds have conjured up. But we overreact by rushing to others and trying to justify our decisions or actions. We want to gather as many people as we can to take our side of things, and many times tell them, "So and so said....." or "They 'think' this about us....." But we're calm and don't have a chip on our shoulder!! Hmm......
There are times when we need to stick to the decisions that we make. But there are also times when it's wise to listen to other people and get another opinion. And I know that it's especially hard on both accounts when it comes to family. It's hard to go ahead and do what we feel is wise, even though they disagree with you. And it's also hard to stop and listen to advice when we have our minds made up about something.
When I was single, I lived alone for almost 20 years. I worked, paid my all my own expenses, made my own decisions; and was very independent. There were times when I asked for Daddy's advice, and usually he wouldn't give it; especially when it came to spending money. He told me once that I knew what I made and what I could afford, so it was up to me and not him. He wasn't being mean or hateful. I really think he didn't want me getting upset with him if he advised me to do something and it was a mistake. But he taught me to be strong and rely on my own instincts and to rely on God. Generally, he kept his opinions to himself. Anytime I traded cars, he'd ask questions such as the year, model, how many miles it had on it, etc. And he'd tell me it was a good looking car!
On the other hand, June would ask more personal questions and give her opinion; whether I wanted it or not! It used to really aggravate me because every time I traded cars, one of the first questions she'd ask was how much I paid for it. If she dropped it at that, I wouldn't have minded. But she always thought I gave too much for it and that I could have found something cheaper; and she'd tell me that. You have to understand that she and my dad bought older vehicles that only cost a few hundred dollars. They didn't go too far from home, and if they broke down, then Daddy would either fix it or have someone he knew to take a look at it. Being single, I was on the roads a lot going back and forth to work and driving to visit my sisters. I wanted a car that was dependable, so bought newer models with fewer miles on them. I tried to explain that reasoning to her, and I think she finally understood; at least a little. After the first couple of times, I realized that if I didn't want her to know how much I paid for something, then I didn't have to tell her. So after that if she asked, then I'd say something along the lines, "Oh, I'm sure I paid more than you would have!" We'd laugh and that was the end of it.
Sometimes we choose whether or not we allow someone or something to offend us or hurt our feelings. At first, I would get my feelings hurt at what I perceived as June's criticism of the car I'd bought. I was proud of my "new" car and wanted to show it off; only to have her burst my bubble of happiness. I eventually chose to laugh it off and find a reply that satisfied us both and kept me from getting aggravated. I couldn't stop her from asking personal questions, but I could choose my response and my attitude. I could have gotten angry and said, "Whenever you decide to help pay my bills and support me, then you can start helping me make financial decision!"
Most negative responses come from us feeling like we're being criticized. We like knowing that we have the approval of others. It's easy to say that we don't care what other people think about us, but the truth is, we really do care. We want to be liked and respected.
So why, when we feel this way about ourselves and don't enjoying feeling that others are somehow looking down upon us or criticizing us, do we so easily point our fingers and look down on others?
I'm sure that most of us would like to stop right here and think to ourselves, "I never do that!" Never? Really?
It's not always an attitude where we think we're better than someone else. At times it can be an attitude of thinking we "know" more than them. And guess what? Sometimes we may be more knowledgeable in areas where others are not. But when we use that knowledge to belittle or humiliate others, then we are acting as unlearned individuals. No one likes to be made to feel stupid. And sometimes it may not be what we say, but how we say it.
I worked in banking for many years, and spent several of those years as both the bookkeeping and teller supervisor. People get defensive when it comes to their money. A lot of times when they come into the bookkeeping department (do banks even have bookkeeping departments anymore??), they are already upset because they have received an overdraft/insufficient fund notice. Many times they're embarrassed, so come across as being defensive. And there are those individuals that no matter what you do, you can't make them happy.
But one thing I tried to remind myself and my employees was that these people didn't work in a bank. They didn't truly understand the whole process of how things worked. We had knowledge that they didn't have because we worked with it every day. And there were some people who had never been taught the fundamentals of keeping a checkbook. There were occasions when it was easy to think, "How could this person be so stupid?!" But did this mean that I was better than the person who made the mistake or who tried to beat the system? No! I'm sure many of them had knowledge in areas that I knew nothing about.
It's hard for adults to admit that they don't know something and ask for help. Just think how hard it is for men to stop and ask for directions when they're lost! They'd rather drive around an extra 30 minutes than admit that they need help. And heaven help the wife that tries to navigate, and she makes a mistake!
Jon and I were recently going to someone's house. He had never been there before and I had only been there once. His iPhone has a GPS navigational system on it. He programmed in the directions, then handed it to me so I could tell him when to turn. In my defense, I had never used his iPhone navigational GPS; plus it was dark outside. When we got into the neighborhood, I mistakenly told him to turn right instead of left. We both realized the mistake as soon as he turned and all he had to do was turn around and go back the other way. But his comment was, "I should have known better than to have you do the navigation!" He was joking and I knew he was joking; although I did comment that he would probably find an occasion in which to remind me of it later.
There is a Christian comedian named Aaron Wilburn. One of his stories is how the saying, "Bless your heart," can have so many different meanings, in the South where he grew up. It's the same words, but it depends on the context in which it's said, that determines its meaning. For instance, someone can say, "That was a fine sermon our pastor preached today; bless his heart." So it can be used as a compliment. But they can also say, "That young preacher sure tried hard this morning, didn't he; bless his heart." In that context it's used more as pity. Those words, "Bless your heart" can be used in many different contexts. "That poor lady couldn't boil water if her life depended on it; bless her heart." Or "This is some of the finest apple pie I've ever eaten; bless your heart." Same three words, with completely different meanings.
People can say the right words, but depending on the context in which their used can change their whole meaning. And facial expressions can inflect a whole different meaning from what's being said.
Do our actions, attitudes and words show that we look down upon others; or do they show love and tolerance for others? If someone disagrees with our opinion or decision are we okay with that, or do we get offended? Do we consider ourselves as being better than others?
Galatians 6:3 says, "For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself."
We all have areas where we excel. We all have various interest and hobbies. There may be things that you are good at doing, and things that others are much better at than you. As I wrote last week; life is not a competition. It's not who's better or what, or who has the better or worst life, or who is more talented in different areas, or who made the wisest decision, or who owns the best house or car, etc.
Life is about each of us doing the very best we can with what God has given us. But it's also about us encouraging and helping others. It's us encouraging them when we see them excel and succeed; not getting jealous. Encouraging them to get up and try again when they make mistakes and fail. Encouraging them to keep trying and not give up, when they are doing something new. Helping them in areas where we may excel and they don't. Accepting the help of others in areas where they excel and we do not.
No matter our age, may we all remember to learn and continue learning so that others don't look down upon us. But may we also truly grasp the meaning of what it truly means to then learn even more, so that we never look down upon others.
The Bible is full of verses that honor wisdom. It's hard to read more than a few verses in Proverbs or chapters in Psalms without finding one.
But that's not the same as intelligence. It isn't something that can be learned from a book or from studying. There are several scriptures that honor studying and knowing The Word. But there isn't a single verse that says it's good to know how to set the time on your VCR.
Intelligence is being able to answer a question. Wisdom is keeping quiet so someone else can try to answer.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Buy a pineapple cake mix and mix according to directions on back of box (a yellow cake will work too).
Melt 1/2 cup of butter in a cast iron skillet.
Sprinkle 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar in the skillet over the butter.
Arrange one 20 oz. can of pineapple slices (drain the juice) on top of the brown sugar.
Place a maraschino cheery in the center of each pineapple slice.
Pour cake batter over fruit in skillet.
Bake for 45 minutes on 350. Cool for 5 minutes then invert onto a cake plate.
A few days ago I attended the memorial service of a dear lady, Martha. Her son shared some stories of memories he had of his mom. His parents loved to go out and eat, and ate almost every meal out at various restaurants. Therefore, they knew everyone at all the local eating establishments. When he was visiting and would go with them, of course, his mom would always want to introduce him. This son is a pastor, and one particular time had brought a minister friend to Tulsa with him. I think perhaps they had been, or were going to, some type of conference. As usual, his parents took them out to eat; and as usual, his mom introduced him to the workers in the restaurant. Only when she went to introduce his friend, she said, "And this is my son's partner...." The son was quick to tell her that in this day and age, you DON'T introduce two men as being "partners", without giving the wrong impression of them! I can just hear her laugh, as she tried to back-track and explain that was not what she meant!!
We shouldn't change our behavior to earn or keep God's love.
We should change our behavior because His love has changed us.
Big difference!! - (Jason Barr)
Thank you so much for reading our weekly newsletter. We pray that you will be encouraged and blessed.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon