Archive for June, 2010

Tangles Which Our Fingers Cannot Unravel

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

“Show me the way I should walk, for I have come to you in prayer. Psalm 143:8

We cannot know the way ourselves. The path across one little day seems very short, but none of us can find it ourselves. Each day is a hidden world to our eyes, as we enter it in the morning. We cannot see one step before us, as we go forth. An impenetrable veil covers the brightest day, as with night’s black robes. It may have joys and prosperities for us–or it may bring to us sorrows and adversities. Our path may lead us into a garden–or the garden may be a Gethsemane. We have our plans as we go out in the morning–but we are not sure that they will be realized. The day will bring duties, responsibilities, temptations, perils, tangles which our fingers cannot unravel, intricate or obscure paths in which we cannot find the way.

What could be more fitting in the morning than the prayer, “Show me the way I should walk!” God knows all that is in the day for us. His eye sees to its close–and He can be our guide.

There is no promise given more repeatedly in the Bible, than that of divine guidance. We have it in the shepherd psalm, “He leads me in the paths of righteousness.” Paths of righteousness are right paths. All God’s paths are clean and holy. They are the ways of His commandments.

But there is another sense in which they are right paths. They are the right ways–the best ways for us. Ofttimes they are not the ways which we would have chosen. They do not seem to be good ways. But nevertheless they are right–and lead to blessing and honor. We are always safe, therefore, in praying this prayer on the morning of any day, “Show me the way I should walk!”

(J. R. Miller, “For a Busy Day” 1895)

“Everything’s just so hard!”

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. [Isaiah 43:19]

“Everything’s just so hard!”

My friend was sharing about a million things that seemed to be going wrong all at once. A couple of big issues and a bunch of smaller ones piled on her shoulders until she felt buried. She knew intellectually that it would eventually pass, that things weren’t as awful as they seemed, but knowing couldn’t halt the emotional, gut-churning fear and resentment.

Ever been there? (Yes, I see all those nodding heads.)

I wanted to say the right words, offer some small bit of comfort or assurance. Nothing came, so I did the wisest thing I could think of—I just shut up and listened. Amazing how often saying nothing is exactly the right thing to say.

My friend reminded me of this flower. In her world, the soil was depleted and packed down until nothing could possibly grow. A thick layer of toxic pavement blotted out the sun and created a hostile, lifeless environment that obscured any hint of beauty, possibility, and opportunity. But, in this place where life seems impossible, a beautiful flower flourishes.

Like the flower, my friend can’t see the miracle she represents. She perceives a wasteland of struggle and fear and uncertainty, an avalanche of circumstances determined to divert her attention from God’s promise of new life. And yet, despite every attempt to obliterate hope, she grows and blooms in the midst of bleakness.

I think the world does its best to obscure beauty and create the illusion of hopelessness. Disappointment haunts every path at some point. Grief and fear wait patiently for a moment of weakness. A broken creation offers ample reason to despair and lose sight of dreams.

Maybe it’s our own mistakes or unfortunate choices. Perhaps it’s another’s intentional evil action. Or it might be an accident, the intended consequence of some seemingly innocent event. Doesn’t really matter—there’s no shortage of reasons to wonder if there’s really any point or purpose, if it’s all just idle futility. That’s the message of doubt our enemy desperately wishes to plant.

But God has a different story. Where we see desolation and impossibility, He offers the reality of hope. Where we see a barren desert, He makes “streams in the wasteland.” [Isaiah 43:19] Where we see a broken world, He sends His Son with a promise of new life.

I’ve been to that place called “hopeless” where a new beginning seemed impossible. I’ve felt so lost that I believed not even God could find me. I’ve wandered in complete darkness, convinced that no light could ever penetrate and help me find my way.

My world was a toxic dump, paved, barren, and hopeless. But God simply wouldn’t give up on me. Where nothing should have lived, He provided the miracle of a fresh start.

That’s always been His plan—for my friend, for me, and for you.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” [Matthew 19:26]

Are you feeling like you’ve in a hopeless wasteland? Look around—where’s the flower that represents God’s promise of a new beginning?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2010 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

What Do You Read?

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. [Philippians 4:8]

What do you read?

We can’t be better than the ideas with which we surround ourselves.

Immerse yourself in the Bible and you’ll get closer to God. Listen to people who ponder issues of spirit, faith, character, courage, and integrity, and you’ll have a chance to raise the bar in your own life.

Or … a steady diet consisting solely of reality TV and celebrity gossip will turn your brain to a mush of inane, irrelevant trivia.

Spend hour after hour listening to partisan political bickering in which talking heads hash and re-hash the same tired rhetoric, often while yelling and interrupting, and you can actually begin to believe that twisted truth, personal attacks, and rude behavior are acceptable forms of discourse.

Some claim that reading is dead, strangled by computers and the Internet. I see it differently—I see much more information than ever before, in different forums and formats for sure, but I think many folks are reading more than ever.

I don’t read as many books as I should, but I do read a lot every day. In addition to news sites, I follow a number of online sites and blogs that relate to my new endeavors as writer and speaker.

A number of people have asked over the past few weeks about how to get started with writing and/or speaking or where I get my inspiration and information. So I thought I’d share my daily reading list, for what it’s worth. I use Google Reader to aggregate my favorites in one place—if you’re not familiar with this tool (just Google it), it’s a simple, convenient way to keep up with a number of sites.

Heck, you could even add Bouncing Back to your list (that’s a hint).

I’ve tried to categorize and prioritize. I almost never miss the top sites—I read and study them carefully. Further down the list I’ll skim or even skip depending on workload and time constraints.

People who challenge my thinking about Jesus

These are on my personal “must read” list. No matter what else is happening, I try to spend some time with these every morning. I highly recommend them.

300 words a day (Jon Swanson) Jon writes about faith in simple, non-religious language that brings Jesus’ message into the reality of daily life. He’s so generous that he’s even let me guest-blog a couple of times.

Donald Miller Don is an incredible writer, a man of great faith who’s not afraid to share his own doubts and failures. He’s the best-selling author of Blue Like Jazz and A Million Miles In A Thousand Years.

Publishing and business

These three guys get it—they understand that business is about people and relationships. I learn a lot every day from their thoughts.

Seth Godin Seth has a way of looking past the surface junk and seeing what matters. He’s a master of identifying the big, unifying ideas that make organizations tick.

Chris Brogan Chris is a social media guru. We don’t always agree, but he understands the human side of business and communicates his sometimes radical ideas in a way that makes you think he’s sitting across the table.

Michael Hyatt Michael is CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing. I especially learn from his thoughts on Christian leadership.

Alternative lifestyle and business

These folks are looking at combining work and life in unusual ways. Since that’s sort of what I’m doing, their experiences help me a lot. They’re also good writers who aren’t afraid to poke at sacred cows a little.

The Art Of Noncomformity (Chris Guillebeau)

Escape From Cubicle Nation (Pamela Slim)

Tim Ferris

The Happiness Project (Gretchen Rubin)

Presentation and design

Presentation Zen (Garr Reynolds) I’ve learned a ton of good stuff about presentations from Garr.

Writing and blogging

Cec Murphy’s Writer Cec is an amazing Christian writer who’s published or co-authored a number of best-sellers, most notably 90 Minutes In Heaven. He teaches me a lot about the craft of writing.

Daily Blog Tips There are many blogs about blogging—this one offers a lot of useful and practical ideas.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2010 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

Don’t Stop Praying or Believing

Friday, June 11th, 2010

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host
praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!” (Luke 2:13-14)

Have you ever noticed that the Bible is a book of “suddenlies”? In Luke 2 we find a band of obscure shepherds, watching their flock during the night and not expecting anything miraculous or even unusual to happen. And then—suddenly—a heavenly host of angels appears to them and announces the birth of their long-awaited Messiah. Not only that, but they are told how to find Him. What a privilege!

Though this appearance of angels was completely unexpected by the shepherds, the coming of the Messiah was not. All faithful Jews had long awaited the fulfillment of God’s promise of the coming of the Anointed One. No doubt there were times throughout the rocky history of the Jewish nation that people did battle with doubts; some even succumbed to them and stopped believing. How tragic! For some, that point of disconnect with God’s promise may have come on the very eve of His appearing.

Not much has changed, has it? The Messiah came 2,000 years ago, and He promised to return. And so we wait, as both worldwide and personal dangers and difficulties threaten to overwhelm us and diffuse our faith. Can you relate?

  • Are you or someone you love battling a seemingly hopeless disease?
  • Has a relationship self-destructed, bringing unbearable pain?
  • Have financial plans fallen apart, leaving you on the verge of homelessness?
  • Have long-held dreams evaporated in the smoke of a harsh reality?

Nearly every one of us can relate somewhere on that list, can’t we? And yet…there is a “suddenly” on our horizon. It may not be the one we’re expecting, but if it’s from God, it’s even better! No doubt those shepherds were in need of some personal “suddenlies” in their own lives, but never did they dream of a suddenly so amazing or glorious as the appearing of angels and the announcement of the birth of the Messiah! When that suddenly-of-all-suddenlies became a reality, all other hoped-for “suddenlies” faded into obscurity. The shepherds had been blessed with the greatest suddenly of all time!

And yet that stunning suddenly will be equaled by another when our Savior returns at last. Will we still be here to greet Him? I don’t know, though I do know that whether He comes for us corporately or individually, it will be the most joyous time imaginable. And at that point, all else will be washed away in never-ending rejoicing and celebration.

If you are in need of a suddenly in your life, don’t stop praying or believing for God to bring it to pass…but remember how trivial it will seem in light of the suddenly of His return. Keep looking up, dear ones, for our redemption draws near!

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored 26 books. Her newest books are:
“Beyond Me. Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World”


and


“Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today”

Her new novels:
No Greater Love
More than Conquerors
The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

Emptiness

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Have you done emptiness? I have.

For thirty years I scrambled after FULL. The world offers all sorts of ways to pretend-fill your soul, and I tried most of them. Things probably appeared pretty good from the outside, but it was all smoke and mirrors. I knew the lie, ran faster toward the illusion, and found even more fluff that occupied space but filled nothing.

Finally when I couldn’t fool myself any longer, when the hole in my heart drained meaning faster than I could cram in the space-filling junk, I cried out to no one in particular: I GOT NOTHING!

Emptiness.

Jesus spoke into my heart, but I didn’t really get it. Instead of meeting Him, I got religion and discovered a new way to fake-fill the void.

I learned about the bible, about God. I learned all sorts of stuff about Jesus, filled my head with facts and theology as though a crammed brain could replace a barren heart.

Then—the accident. Broken body, broken spirit, anger, depression—no amount of head knowledge could conceal a shattered soul that longed for something, anything, to plug the gaping cavity.

Desperately tried suicide, but broken hands couldn’t grip the knife. I looked toward this Jesus who promised to be with me and screamed: I GOT NOTHING.

Emptiness.

A whisper so quiet, felt more than heard. Slowly, in the darkness of a hospital room and the clamor of a rehab ward, the quest for FULL faded. I didn’t notice at first, too much anger and bitterness, but slowly, imperceptibly, the life-long wound began to heal

I saw the cross with new clarity, focused on the man who hung there, deserted and alone, for my sake. He screamed in agony, “Why have you forsaken me?”

Emptiness.

The whisper again, a bit clearer this time, inviting me to freedom, showing me that there’s nothing I can do to earn love that’s a gift of grace. I can let go of false and fake and pretend, release my own self-absorbed attempt to be my own savior. No pretense, no religion, no pompous theology can accomplish what’s already been done for me.

I can stop the nonsense, release the fear, understand that there’s nothing I can bring to add or detract from His sacrifice. Finally, I understand: I GOT NOTHING.

Emptiness.

Finally—peace, rest, and emptiness.

Have you experienced the difference between emptiness that’s a void and emptiness that’s completely filled with His love?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2010 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

Sacrifice

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Have you ever pondered the sacrificial love represented in this familiar scripture? I have, and I don’t think I get it.
john 3.16
My small group is doing a study of the different names given to Jesus. This week’s topic was Son of God.

Several folks approached the study from a parent’s perspective and marveled that God was willing to sacrifice His own Son for our salvation. Their meditations reminded me of a quote from Tony Dungy, former NFL coach. Speaking at a Super Bowl breakfast in 2006 just a few weeks after his son James committed suicide, Dungy offered a powerful view into a parent’s love.

[Dungy] said he has received dozens of letters from people who heard him speak at his son’s funeral or at a Colts news conference on the peace and assurance he has in his son’s salvation and eternal destination. Dungy told of two people having received the gift of sight from his son’s donated corneas and of the youth to whom he has talked who are wrestling with similar problems as his son.

“If God had talked to me before James’ death and said his death would have helped all these people, it would have saved them and healed their sins, but I would have to take your son, I would have said no, I can’t do that.

“But God had the same choice 2,000 years ago with His Son, Jesus Christ, and it paved the way for you and me to have eternal life. That’s the benefit I got, that’s the benefit James got and that’s the benefit you can get if you accept Jesus into your heart today as your Savior.”

As imperfect humans, parental love may be as close as we get to complete, unconditional love. Most parents would quickly give their own lives to save their child, but like Dungy they cannot imagine offering their child’s life in place of another. But, as Dungy said, that’s exactly what God did. That was His plan. That’s how much He loves us.

I confess—I really don’t get it. I know the story, I understand the words. I’ve read a variety of theological analyses. I comprehend the process—in my head.

But at the heart level, I don’t understand that degree of agape. I don’t know how a Father could love me so much that He’d send His only Son to die, in spite of my continued personal failure, simply so I could spend eternity in His presence.

I can talk and speak and write about that kind of love, but I don’t really get it.

John 3:16 reminds me to stop making it so complicated. God loves me so completely that He allowed His Son to suffer a gruesome death in my place. As a result, I get to be reconciled to Him and live forever in love.

If you’ve messed up, you can claim a new beginning. If you’re lost in darkness, you can step out into light. Whatever mistakes you’ve made, whatever tragedy you’ve encountered—God wiped it all clean at the awesome price of His own precious Son.

I don’t have to understand it. I only have to accept it.

What are your thoughts as you allow the reality of John 3:16 to really sink in to your soul?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. [John 3:16]

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2010 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

Where Are You Going?

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Where are you going?

I once knew a guy who went on a road trip with the express purpose of traveling rather than arriving. He was determined not to be driven by a destination, so whenever there was a choice of which way to go he turned left. I suspect it was a politically motivated scheme, but he had a pretty interesting trip anyway. He probably missed some interesting sights, but he also saw some things he might have otherwise passed up.

This week our pastor (Jeff Lucas) talked about “the God of the journey.” He observed that God is always about moving, going somewhere, and that He doesn’t just sit back and point like a celestial traffic cop. In Jesus He actually journeys with us.
fork
Following Jesus is about a journey.

Mostly I think we’re just traveling, making the best possible choices at each turn, and trusting that somehow the whole thing will make some sense when we look back.

But we’re all on some sort of journey.

Jeff read the story from Exodus 3 in which Moses noticed a bush in the desert, burning for no apparent reason. He observed that the fire didn’t consume the branches, which is odd enough, but then he approached and the plant spoke—well, God spoke from the flames.

After a preamble in which God introduced Himself and explained His plan, He gave Moses a simple, three-word command. In verse 10 He said, “So now, go.”

I don’t think those words were intended solely for one desert nomad.

Moses didn’t want to go. He protested and listed reasons why he was the wrong man for this job. He was certain that God could find a more suitable leader. And God continued to say, “So now, go.”

We’re a lot like that. I imagine myself in a perpetual state of, “Who, me?” Surely He can’t mean that I’m supposed to go.

I suspect I’m not the only person who’s certain that God has much more capable, qualified candidates. We’re all pretty good at listing the reasons why we’re not the right person for the job.

Many readers of this blog face significant physical challenges. Walking is difficult or impossible. Barriers and obstacles abound, and there’s no shortage of reasons not to go.

I think He’s saying the same thing to each of us—regardless of circumstances. Perhaps, like me, “going” mostly means sending electrons out into cyberspace and trusting that they’ll reach the right audience. Perhaps it’s a mission trip. But maybe it’s just touching the people in your workplace, or spending time with your family, or reaching out to a neighbor.

I don’t know where He calls you to go—heck, I don’t even know where He calls ME to go. But He gave each of us unique gifts, talents, and passions. I don’t believe that’s an accident.

Unfortunately, God rarely addresses us from burning shrubbery. We have to listen carefully, seek the Spirit’s gentle guidance, and determine our best sense of where we’re called to go.

But none of that matters if we respond with, “Who, me?”

“So now, go.”

Where are you going?”

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2010 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

Begin With Why

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Have you ever looked back and wondered, “Why in the world did I do THAT?”

sign

Sometimes that’s my whole life. I’ve wondered at times about getting the question tattooed on my forehead.

Last time we looked at the deadly self-infection of Results Syndrome. When I’m motivated by immediate results, I often find myself wondering (too late) why I did something so dumb.

Since one of my big personal goals is a more intentional life, I need to get better about making choices. I’m thinking that an important element in avoiding Results Syndrome is beginning with WHY.

whatSimon Sinek examines this seemingly basic notion in his book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. He offers a nice visual to reinforce the idea.

Too often, we make choices like this. We decide what to do based on pressure, fear, desire, or some other immediate stimulus. Then we work toward the center and—after the fact—ask why. In this model we end up either questioning our personal sanity or creating elaborate justifications for a decision that makes little sense.

Simon suggests that we make better choices when we begin with why.

whyWhy cuts deep. In a culture that skips along the surface of life, why points me to my core values. Why centers my thinking more on eternal principles and less on temporary cultural or personal whims.

Why guides me toward “what’s right” and away from “what works.” Why prompts consideration of “what’s best” rather than “what’s possible” or “what’s easiest.”

A young person who stops to ask why might be better equipped to face pressure to compromise on issues of drugs, alcohol, or sexuality. A parent might be more apt to listen openly and lead rather than herd.

A politician who seriously asked why might be less inclined to avoid difficult issues based solely on a desire to be re-elected. A voter might look past appearance and ideological rhetoric.

A church that asks why might look less like an exclusive club catering to a better class of sinner. A follower of Jesus might be more forgiving and accepting, less inclined to judge and condemn.

I spend a lot of time and energy wondering what to do and how to do it. A lot of my prayers are about seeking guidance about what God wants me to do or how to follow Jesus in a particular situation. Perhaps I’m not aiming at the center of the target.

Maybe why is the center, the place to begin. When “what to do” and “how to do it” flow from “why am I doing it” I might spend less time looking back and wondering why I made such an obviously harmful choice.

I think God cares more about my character and my heart than my achievements. I suspect that if I act from the right why, if my heart’s centered on His purpose instead of mine, He’ll use even my imperfect efforts to accomplish great things.

Can you see any places where “beginning with why” might be helpful?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2010 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

Social Justice and the Believer

Friday, June 4th, 2010

My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the nations” (Isaiah 42:1, NASB).

I hear a lot of talk these days about “social justice” and whether or not the Church should be involved in it. The answer, of course, is yes and no, and Isaiah 42 is the key to understanding the balance.

When Jesus came the first time He was here to “[reconcile] the world to Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19, NKJ). When He fulfilled that purpose by dying on the Cross for our sins and rising from the dead, He returned to the Father, bequeathing to us, His followers, “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18, NKJ). Verse 20 explains that we are “ambassadors for Christ” who implore others on Christ’s behalf to “be reconciled to God.” In other words, while Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, awaiting the command to return for His people and to “bring forth justice to the nations,” we are His representatives here on earth.

Without question, that means we are to be about the “Father’s business” (see Luke 2:49, NKJ) as Jesus was when He was here, reconciling the world to Himself. That includes correctly teaching and explaining the Scriptures as Jesus did, and “imploring” people to repent of going their own way and to return to God by way of the sacrifice of the Cross. That, without question, is our first responsibility as Christians. But does that primary responsibility preclude secondary activities?

I believe that as those who represent Christ, our responsibilities extend to exhibiting social justice as well—so long as we do so in a way that recognizes that such justice can only flow out of relationship with Him. First and foremost, people must be reconciled to God; from reconciled hearts will flow a desire for true social justice. And though that justice won’t be fully revealed or implemented until Jesus returns, we can certainly model it in our daily lives and actions.

How can hearts that have been forgiven and changed by receiving Jesus do anything else? How can we as Christ’s ambassadors desire anything but justice for others? How can we be moved with anything but compassion? Once we have given our hearts to Christ, we no longer have any claim to our own lives. We live for Him—and for those He loves. Since John 3:16 clearly tells us that He loved the entire world so much that He gave His very life to offer them the opportunity to be reconciled to God, then we clearly are called to do the same—for everyone. Our lives should reflect the unconditional love that hung on a Cross—and that will one day return to establish true justice.

And so the answer to the question of the Church being involved in social justice is yes and no. Only Christ can establish such justice, but those of us who follow in His footsteps must do so in a way that exhibits it. That can only be accomplished as we depend on Him and allow His love to flow through us to others. May we walk in that unconditional love and justice today, dear friends!

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored 26 books. Her newest books are:
“Beyond Me. Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World”


and


“Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today”

Her new novels:
No Greater Love
More than Conquerors
The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

Results Syndrome

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Have you ever done the right thing and gotten the wrong result?

Have you ever done the wrong thing and gotten the right result?

If so, you might be a candidate to develop Results Syndrome.

I hope you’ll forgive me for using a sports metaphor. They’re cheap and far too common, but I like this one because it contains a surprising paradox.

Yesterday I heard a professional coach claim that a player was too focused on results.

Huh?

If there’s any venue in which results matter, it’s professional sports. Winning is the ONLY measure of success. Get on base, score the goal, hit the shot and, above all else, win the game. How can you be “too focused on results” when results are the only measure of success?

But he’s exactly right.

In sports—and in life—focusing on results is a great way to ensure a bad result.

Every athlete knows there’s a correct way to perform a particular skill, but doing it correctly doesn’t guarantee 100% success. Sometimes you do everything right but the opponent makes a great play or you get a bad bounce or the wind blows the wrong way. In sports and in life, doing it right doesn’t always generate the desired result.

So you yield to the temptation to cut a corner. You drop your hands or mess up your footwork, because you have to try something. And even when you do it wrong, sometimes it works. You get a lucky bounce or the opponent trips, and you succeed.

And since it worked, you repeat the process, and perhaps you get a second lucky break. And suddenly you’ve developed a bad habit that, over time, will inevitably lead to failure. You’ve developed RS—Results Syndrome.

Think this is only about sports?

A young lady doesn’t get noticed by the popular guys. One night at a party she relaxes her morals a bit, and suddenly she’s the center of interest. She likes the results (attention), so she repeats the behavior. She’s contracted RS.

A salesperson always treats customers respectfully but hasn’t met the quarterly sales goal. So he sends a million spam emails with some honest-but-tricky fine print and a few elderly folks fall for his scam. The boss rewards his “success” with a hefty bonus. Guess what happens next quarter? RS strikes again.

I’ve prayed for the right opportunity that’ll make book sales take off, generate speaking opportunities, and allow me to share my message—because that’s really the goal, not the books or the attention. At least that’s what I tell myself. And nothing’s happening.

So I “fudge” my resume, just a little, to make my experience seem a bit more “inspiring.” And someone invites me to a big event and promotes my false claims. Everyone likes the presentation. I sell a bunch of books.

No harm, no foul, right? More people hear God’s message of grace and hope, so I’m sure He’s pleased with the results. And all I’m spreading is the epidemic of RS.

See how it works?

Okay, the last one hasn’t happened—yet—but it’s a real temptation. Wouldn’t such a good result justify a really small wrong? Of course it wouldn’t, but the infection of Results Syndrome grows from that question.

So am I claiming that results shouldn’t matter? No. We all want to succeed and achieve, to be effective, to accomplish good, productive outcomes. But Results Syndrome warns us of an important paradox.

When we focus primarily on results, especially immediate results, we decrease our chances of achieving sustainable, repeatable long-term results of which we can be proud.

Immediate results always point us toward simplistic, quick-fix approaches to complex issues. They trap us on a never-ending treadmill, fighting one urgent fire after another, running ever faster to solve problems created by previous shortcuts. And all of this chasing and running doesn’t ever identify or solve the real problem.

So what’s the solution?

  • Understand that outcomes, especially short-term outcomes, often depend on factors beyond our control.
  • Control what you CAN control—your attitude, your effort, what you do, and how you do it.
  • Do the right thing.
  • Do it the right way.

I think that’s the vaccine that prevents the horrible, life-destroying infection of Results Syndrome.

What’s one area in which RESULTS SYNDROME has infected you?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2010 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com