Posted tagged ‘negative people’

The People Who Push You On or Pull You Down

December 9, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                   December 9, 2017

                         

We have a tendency to not think about it because they breeze by us like a spring gust, but most of us…if we stop to think about it long enough…have numerous people in our lives who have pushed us to keep going, and others who have grabbed us by the arm and pulled us down.

That thought occurred to me recently as I was meeting with two people who have helped me in the editing of the book I had been writing. As we sat and talked they made several helpful suggestions on plot ideas, flow, character development, and other things. I left our conversation with new excitement about the project that caused me to hibernate in my favorite writing spot later on that day.

That’s what “pushers” do! They create an excitement within you to keep on going, to motivate you to move, to create, to take a risk.

Ed and Diana Stucky have been that to me for a good fifteen years. I remember when I doubted my worth as a pastor and a person and they got behind me and pushed me up. Roger Mollenkamp, Steve Wamberg, Thelma Dalrymple, Janet Smith, Chuck Landon, James Voss, Harold Anderson, Rich Blanchette, Mike Oldham, Ben Dickerson, Don Fackler, Dave Volitis, Ron McKinney…my fingers keep pecking out names like there’s no tomorrow. Each name that flows to the page is a quick reminder of how I’ve been blessed, influenced, and shaped.

When I was back in Ohio visiting my dad back in August one of his good friends, Bill Ball, passed away. Bill was ninety-something, an optimist and encourager. I remember when I was in high school and preparing for my senior season of track that he took me aside after church one Sunday and told me he thought I could lower my time in the mile considerably if I did a cope of things with my running form, how I used my arms and the pace of my race. He infused confidence into me and I broke the school record that had stood for almost twenty years. They were just simple words backed by affirmation and belief, and they worked.

For sixteen years I officiated high school basketball. I remember Andy Brooks, my mentor, encouraging me as he imparted wisdom to me. Ray Lutz, an official and mentor of officials for fifty years, recently passed away. At his memorial service in another couple of weeks there will be numerous men and women wearing black and white striped shirts that he pushed to keep on going.

Pushers keep us moving towards our potential.

But there are others who pull us down, also. Pullers are those folks who hold us back, torment us with their words, minimize us with their disdain and attitudes. Pullers are people who would keep reminding Jesus that he was only the son of a carpenter. They are the people who would keep whispering to Michael Jordan that he hadn’t made his freshmen basketball team. They are the present-day scribes and Pharisees that seem to enjoy making other people’s lives miserable.

If someone has more pullers than pushers in her life she will be the Cinderella that never made it to the ball, the fourth grader who will never learn to read because to many people had already convinced him he never could.

I’m fortunate! I’ve had many more pushers than pullers in my life. And for that I say “Thank you, Lord!”

Thankless Living

November 23, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             November 23, 2017

                                            

I was talking to a friend of mine recently and an acquaintance of both of us came up as a subject. My facial expression must have given me away because he asked me what the problem was? I had to explain.

The person he was referring to always seemed to come at life in a negative, pessimistic way, and I explained to my friend that I tried to minimize my contact with this other person. I feel a bit guilty about that, but it’s the reality of the situation.

Everyone of us probably knows someone, or a few someones, who fall in this category: people who lead thankless lives that see nothing positive happening. They would complain if Jesus turned water into white wine instead of red. They are the type of persons who Chick-Fil-A would never hire simply because of how people perceive them.

Thankless living people find it close to impossible to give thanks to the Lord, because they believe they have nothing to be thankful for. Thanksgiving Day is torture for them. Three football games become an escape from all the thankful people around them. They count down the hours until Black Friday where they will complain about the lines and the lack of good deals as they trudge from store to store with downcast faces.

Some thankless people have gradually taken on the cloak of despair as a result of the lives they’ve had to lead. They’ve been on the receiving end of verbal abuse for years, and now they can’t see any light. Some have been disappointed too many times and now see disappointment as the norm.

I wonder if that was a factor with the ten lepers that Jesus healed in Luke 17. Only one of the ten ever bothered to say thank you. The other nine who had stood by the side of the road and shouted to Jesus to have pity on them were healed, and now headed to the priests to show them that they were now clean. It would have been too much of a transition to go immediately from thankless lives to thankful living…at least for 90%!

Today I’ll look for the many reasons to be thankful, to give praise for the blessings of God, for his lovingkindness and mercy. Hopefully you’ll do the same!

Where Do Children See Hope?

July 17, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           July 17, 2017

                             

      One eight year old boy sees it at school!

The shoes that he wore to school each day were so worn out that they were held together by duct tape that was wrapped around them. His mom didn’t seem to be that concerned about it. The school social worker called me and told me about the situation, told me his shoe size, and I went to a shoe store and bought him a new pair of shoes. He didn’t know that the shoes had been purchased by our congregation…and that was okay! To this day he believes that the shoes came from the school…and that gave him hope! He saw that his school hoped for his best!

My six year old granddaughter sees hope in her mom!

Each night her mom kneels beside her bed and prays with her. Her mom reads her stories and tells her stories. Her mom tells her that she is very talented and very intelligent and whatever she does when she grows up she knows that she will do it well. Hope echoes from her mom’s words and actions. When our granddaughter hits a wall of uncertainness and apprehension her mom helps her climb over it and step up to a new level of accomplishment that hope has been a foundation for.

Where do our children see hope? Seeing is a bit different than finding. Seeing hope is the introduction for believing hope. They say that seeing is believing, but what are our children seeing?

One friend of mine made the point that our kids see or don’t see hope in us…the grown-up generations. They watch our reactions, they monitor our language, they investigate our consistency. How does my life convey hope to them?

Let’s be honest, our news stories and our Facebook posts quite often communicate cynicism, sarcasm, and negativity. When I watch the national news on TV in the early evening I usually am blasted with 27 minutes of what’s bad in the world, followed by a 3 minute feel good story. I’m thankful for the 3 minutes, but I wish that there were a few more stories of hope that inform my spirit.

How do children see hope in churches? Jesus gets talked about as being the hope of the world, but how do kids see that in the flesh and in action? Last Sunday at the small town small church I speak at most weeks a married couple gave five dollar bills to each of the four kids who were leaving for church camp that afternoon. The kids were told to use it however they wanted, and for whatever they wanted at camp. It was a gesture of their generosity that hoped for a great week for each of the campers. Their church is becoming a place of hope and blessing for them, not a place that mandates and controls.

I have to ask myself that question also: how do children see hope in me? Does my life paint a pitiful picture of what it means to be a follower of Jesus? Have the brush strokes of my days left a canvas of grace, peace, and hope or a rough portrait of bitterness, hatred, and spite?