Beth Armstrong

Christian wife, mom, & author. Doing life with my eyes fixed on Jesus. I walk, I stumble, I fall. But God is big. And this is what I write about… Thanks for stopping by!

Archive for the tag “character”

WHY JESUS DIDN’T HALF-ASS

“A job isn’t worth doing unless it’s done right the first time.” It was something like this that my grandmother embedded into us when we spent the summers with her. We “earned our keep,” so to speak. We had a list of chores to do each day. We memorized Bible verses at meal times, we were expected to treat each other with kindness and respect, and she set the bar high. We had to make our beds each morning…perfectly. We had to do the dishes…completely and thoroughly. We had to clean out the toy closets and ball closets…spotlessly. We had to sweep the garage…immaculately. She wasn’t being mean, or harsh, or a taskmaster. She just expected us to pitch in. She wanted us to learn the value of hard work. She wanted us to learn to do a job right…the first time. It’s a waste of time to do a job half-assed, then do it repeatedly until it’s done right, done well, and with care and excellence.

This is what my grandmother taught me. I didn’t care much for those lessons at the time. Matter of fact, I kinda thought it was a crock. Since when do kids go to their grandmother’s house to work? It’s supposed to be all about fun. And, truthfully, we had a lot of fun with her…after the work was done. She loved to play games…after the chores were complete. Part of her mission, I think, was to teach us grandkids to do a job right the first time around. And it makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

I ran across a passage this week that made me think of this very thing. Some people brought a man to Jesus who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to heal him. Jesus took him aside, put His fingers in the man’s ears, and some of His spit on the man’s tongue. (Yes, this sounds disgusting!) Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Be opened!” In an instant, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue loosened, and he began to speak clearly. It was gross, crazy, strange, and miraculous all at the same time.

The people who witnessed this were absolutely blown away. And do you know what their response was? Here’s what they said about Jesus… “He has done everything well…” What they were indicating about Jesus was, “He does everything beautifully, commendably, and with excellence. Jesus does admirable things that are honorable, surpassing good and noble.”

He didn’t just do some things well. He did all things well. He didn’t choose to half-ass a few things now and then. He chose to do the job right (and with excellence) the first time. The Message Translation of Mark 7:37 records it this way, “He’s done it all and done it well.”

I wonder if Jesus grew up with a grandmother like mine?

Or maybe He just knew that it made perfect sense to do everything well. That doing things half-assed is a waste of time. Maybe He sensed that excellence and honor was the way God intended it to be. Maybe He figured out that if you’re gonna do a job, do it right the first time. Because in the end, this is the way, the effort, the attitude, and the character that pleases God…and my grandmother.

 

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OVERCOMING OUR UNSUPPORTED PERSONALITY

Recently at work, I went to print a word document from my computer. When the paper came out of the printer, all it had on it in the upper left-hand corner in small print was this, “Unsupported Personality:  PCL.”

I thought to myself, “Wait…what?” So I tried to print again. Same thing happened. That obviously was not the document I was trying to print. The printer was working fine prior to this. So I turned off the printer, let it take a break, rebooted my computer and tried again. Guess what? Same message, “Unsupported Personality:  PCL.”

Now, I’m not very techie at all. I have absolutely no idea what that error message means. So, after being quite frustrated, I quit trying to print, stacked my three unwanted documents on my desk and went about my business.

Every time I passed by my desk I saw the words on the documents, “Unsupported Personality.” Three pages with the same words on it. Again, I’m not very techie, but somehow in the communication from my computer to my printer, something went awry. The printer didn’t like the communication it received from my computer. Or perhaps my printer just couldn’t handle it. So it spit out an error message, “Unsupported Personality.”

I moved past frustrated and became intrigued. You know, there have been several times in my life when I didn’t appreciate the communication I was receiving from someone. There are times when I just can’t handle it. There are times when people say hurtful things, treat me poorly, tear me down, ridicule me, fail to respect me, etc. Ugly, but true.

So maybe I’ll keep those documents with the words “Unsupported Personality.” I’ll have them readily available for the next time someone is unkind or disrespectful or rude to me. And I’ll grab one and give it to them. For me, the message simply states that I won’t support that personality trait that they’re sending me.

What do you think? Is that acceptable?

Unsupported PersonalityBut here’s the thing…they could keep those documents with the words “Unsupported Personality” and freely give them back to me when I treated them with the same disrespect or rudeness, when I said unkind or hurtful things to them. Ouch!

Truth is we all have certain parts of our nature, our personality, our character that are less-than-desirable. We all get grouchy, short with others, say unkind things, etc. Ugly, but true.

I don’t want anyone to hand me a document that says, “Unsupported Personality.” I don’t like the realization that I’ve treated someone else poorly, that I’ve torn them down rather than built them up, that I’ve been rude or callous unfriendly. I don’t like it, but it’s true of me.

Okay, so maybe I won’t keep those documents and hand them out to people who tick me off. Here’s what I’ll try to do instead:

“Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.

Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good, Here’s what you do: Say nothing evil or hurtful; Snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you’re worth. God looks on all this with approval, listening and responding well to what He’s asked…”  (1 Peter 3:8-12a, MSG).

 

WHAT’S YOUR ONE SENTENCE BIO?

Her one sentence bio in the Bible is this: “But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt” (Genesis 19:26). This is all we know about her. There are no other instances of Lot’s wife mentioned in the Bible. All she got was one line.

One sentence. One brief moment to fly or to fail. One shot to be a hero or be a zero in the eyes of countless millions of people who would later read God’s Word.

If we look at the story in context, God was about to destroy the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot’s family was told, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain!…” (Genesis 19:17). The direction was clear not to look back, but Lot’s wife didn’t heed the warning. She looked back. What we are given is her one sentence bio.

Based on her one sentence bio, we promptly draw our own conclusions about her, don’t we? We might conclude she was a rebel and she got what she deserved. Perhaps we feel sorry for her and think she was treated unfairly. Either way, we form an opinion of her based on the one thing we heard about her.

When we go out for coffee with friends, when we gather in small social groups, when we congregate in the break room at the office, the conversation often times centers around other people. The one (or two) sentence bios about others are constantly leaked out like a drippy faucet. Sometimes it’s about people we know well. Sometimes it’s about people we are only mere acquaintances with. Quickly, however, the lines are drawn. You form an opinion. Based on the one sentence bio you hear about another person, you either like him or you don’t. You either approve of her, or disapprove. You either leave thinking positively or negatively about those other people.

It goes something like this (and I know you can relate):

  • “Jennifer is probably the nicest person I know.”
  • “Rick is extremely negative and critical. I don’t think he has one positive bone in his body.”
  • “Ginger is a great starter, but she always leaves things undone.”
  • “Juan is a walking comic strip. He totally cracks me up.”

Whether we like it or not, people talk. And they sum us up in a reflective nutshell. What they observe about us is what they share. They draw conclusions based on what they know about or experience with us. Their analysis of us might be spot on. Then again, it might be way off. Either way, you get summed up in a short, one sentence bio.

So, what are people saying about you? Based on your character, your beliefs, your actions, your reactions, your words, your deeds, your attitudes, your morals, your integrity, your lifestyle, and/or your treatment of others, what’s your one sentence bio? If all you get is one line in the office break room, what conclusion will people draw about you?

If you sense the message you are sending to others is less than positive—if you know your one sentence bio is tainted with some ugly, “salty” truth—then it’s not too late to make some changes. We only get one shot at this thing called life. We only get one opportunity make an impact on those we come in contact with.

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13, NLT).

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