On April 26, 2003, Aron Ralston was trapped between a rock and a hard place. Hiking and rock climbing alone in Eastern Utah, his right hand was crushed between a shifting boulder and the rock wall. Over a period of five days he made various attempts to free himself. Nothing worked. When he ran out of his water supply, he was certain of death.
So, last Thursday night, our exchange daughter, Viktoria, came out of the bathroom. “Edwin, you need to see this!” The shower stall was filled with water backed up from a clogged drain, the sink was filling up as well, and the toilet was leaking water from underneath the base. Oh, great! Yep, you guessed it. Blocked up septic system. The septic guy came out Friday morning, cleaned it out, and said we should think about using different toilet paper. I got to thinking about how this mirrors a lot of troubled relationships.
***WARNING: This is the third of three posts on this topic and I will repeat my warning. This post will be specific, factual, and even explicit. However, I will try not to be gratuitous or graphic. But if you normally let your kids read these posts, you may want to read it first. If you’re good with that, then click the “Continue Reading” link below.
***WARNING: This is the second in a series of three posts on this topic. And I repeat yesterday’s warning. This post will be specific, factual, and even explicit. However, I will try not to be gratuitous or graphic. But if you normally let your kids read these posts, you may want to read it first. If you’re good with that, click the “Continue Reading” link below.
We’ve all blown it sometime. We’ve sinned, often grievously. Our sins have wreaked havoc in our own lives and the lives of others. We have hurt people tremendously. As David said in Psalm 51:3, “My sin is ever before me.” However, unlike David, sometimes we can’t seem to move on. Those past sins keep us held back. We cannot enjoy God’s blessings or move on with a better life. How do we overcome that? Forgiveness. Not simply receiving God’s forgiveness or the forgiveness of others. I’m talking about forgiving ourselves. In the past, we’ve looked at what forgiving ourselves means, now we need to ask how we can practically and actually accomplish it. Here are 11 practical steps to take in order to forgive yourself.
I received a heart-rending letter this week from a brother who is suffering the earthly consequences of his heinous sins. He had heard a sermon I preached entitled “We are Allowed to Love Ourselves.” You may remember the series on this very topic that I wrote on this blog. The brother wanted to know how he could ever forgive himself. Having committed some heinous sins myself, I want to know the same thing. What does it mean to forgive ourselves? Should we forgive ourselves? How can we?
I’m going to take a quick break today from our series on the Jerusalem church. I am presently reading Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life* by Susan Forward. A paragraph really jumped out at me yesterday. I’d like to share the paragraph with you.
The single most dramatic difference between healthy and toxic family systems is the amount of freedom that exists for family members to express themselves as individuals. Healthy families encourage individuality, personal responsibility, and independence. they encourage the development of their children’s sense of adequacy and self-respect.
Unhealthy families discourage individual expression. Everyone must conform to the thoughts and actions of the toxic parents. They promote fusion, a blurring of personal boundaries, a welding together of family members to know where one ends and another begins. In their efforts to be close, they often suffocate one another’s individuality.
–Read on my Kindle, Location 2644-2653.
As I was reading, the thought came to me about congregations. Doesn’t this apply to congregations to? Consider the following adaptation.
The single most dramatic difference between healthy and toxic congregational systems is the amount of freedom that exists for the congregation’s members to express themselves as individuals. Healthy churches encourage individuality, personal responsibility, and independence. they encourage the development of their members’ sense of adequacy and self-respect.
Unhealthy churches discourage individual expression. Everyone must conform to the thoughts and actions of the elders/preacher/brotherhood concensus/watchdogs. They promote fusion, a blurring of personal boundaries, a welding together of church members to know where one ends and another begins. In their efforts to be close, they often suffocate one another’s individuality.
That just really hit me and I thought I’d share. What do you think about it?
By the way, there are definitely associate links in this post. Help a guy with two housepayments out and click on one of them to buy some stuff.
*While I highly recommend Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life to learn about damaging parenting, how to avoid it and overcoming the results of it if you grew up with it, I warn you that some of the content is disturbing as it describes the extremes of toxic parenting. Further, the author did not edit the language of the clients she used as illustrations. Therefore, there is a great deal of what many of us would call foul language.
(If you have stumbled across this post, you have found me blogging my upcoming book “Getting to Did: How To Lose Your Big But and Live a Life Without Regret.” In the last installment, the TRAINER taught Sam about the valuable point of investing TIME. If you need to catch up on the whole book, you can start with “Sam’s Crumbling World” and follow the successive links.)
My apologies for those who came to the site last Thursday and didn’t find the latest post of “Getting to Did.” To make up for missing that one, I’ll give two sections in today’s post. Enjoy. Get to Did. Live without regret.
“HONESTY means looking at all of the things we have already discussed truthfully. Did you ever see Napolean Dynamite?”
Sam rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I saw it. My kids love it. I don’t get it.”
“Yeah, well,” the TRAINER chuckled, “you either love it or hate it. Anyway, you remember Uncle Rico, who spent the whole movie fantasizing about going back to his high school football championship. He was certain if his coach had put him in as quarterback, they would have won and he would have gone pro and live in a big house with his soul mate.”
“That was the one funny part of the movie to me,” Sam replied joining in with his own laughter.
The TRAINER replied, “Sadly, that was so funny because it describes reality for too many people. A lot of people get to our age, Sam, and think about what they COULDA done back when they graduated high school and college BUT something got in the way. Usually, they overestimate their youthful abilities. You would be amazed at the number of guys in my gym who know for certain they COULDA played pro football if only this or that. One or two of them might be telling the truth. For them, it is sad they didn’t go from COULDA to CAN back then and follow their dreams. Too often they let someone else’s expectations or plans for them take over their lives. Now they live with regret. For the rest, what is really sad is they’re still living in some fantasy world.
“You have to be HONEST about your ATTITUDE and learn to tell when it is holding you back. You have to be HONEST about your NEXT STEP THINKING. That is, you need to be HONEST about what obstacles will be in your way and plan for them. You have to be HONEST about YOUR STRENGTHS. Let’s face it Sam, even if you could have gone pro back in the day, you’re not going to be doing that now. You need to be HONEST about TIME. That is why so many people procrastinate. They don’t feel like doing anything right now, therefore they put things off. The problem is they’re not HONEST with themselves about what they really CAN do tomorrow. Be HONEST with yourself and with everyone else about all of these things. Otherwise you’ll waste your time chasing pipe dreams and ten years from now you’ll still be talking about all the things you COULDA done today BUT…”
The TRAINER paused for effect and allowed this last statement to sink in and then said, “One of the best ways to be HONEST is to ask others. This is tough because they may not want to be HONEST with us and we may not want to listen HONESTLY. After all, the truth hurts sometimes. If you had a job, I would tell you to talk to your boss or co-workers. You’re married with children, therefore a good place to start is with your wife and kids. You will be amazed how much INSIGHT they have into where you are with all of the issues we have discussed.”
“INSIGHT means relying on what you know. A lot of people think INSIGHT is a rare gift. That’s not true. INSIGHT is simply relying on what a person has learned through a long period of observation, study and experience. They have worked at something for a long time; it only appears to come naturally to everyone else. Let’s go back to what you said about people getting promoted into your sales department. How long did it take you to know if they were going to do well there?”
Sam paused for a moment because he did not want to seem haughty, and then replied, “For most of them, I could tell within the first week. I mean, I’ve been in sales for more than 20 years. I oughta know.”
“Exactly,” the TRAINER replied. “Here’s the key you have to understand. A lot of the time, the things you think you can’t do are simply things you don’t have INSIGHT about. You haven’t observed them, studied them or experienced them. If there is something you want to do, you have to study what it takes to do it, observe those who are doing it and then jump in and experience it. Of course, that means you’re going to make mistakes. But as you learn from those mistakes, you gain INSIGHT that gets you to CAN.”
“I’ve got INSIGHT in sales and that’s about it. What happens if I can’t get another job in sales?”
“You might get another job in sales. But then again you might have to change fields if you get another job. One of the best steps you CAN take is to start studying the field, get to know people who are in the field and observe them. Then, when you applied for the job you would have INSIGHT to offer. Whatever choices you make you have to devote the TIME to study, observe and experience the work you want to do, gaining INSIGHT. Some have suggested if you spent one hour a day, at least five days a week, studying and observing the field or work in which you are interested, you will become an expert in six months to a year. Are you willing to invest that TIME? Check out this card.”
Now Available for Kindle!
This post does contain affiliate links.
Let’s play a word association game. I’ll list some words and you tell me what comes to mind that they all have in common. Enron. Worldcom. Martha Stewart. And, if you follow my friend Bill Seaver’s podcast, Belkin. When you heard these names together, did you think of deceit, fraud, misappropriation of funds, lying, stealing, cheating?
Ethics is a major issue these days. I love the title of John Maxwell’s book and his reason for giving it this title–There’s No Such Thing As Business Ethics. He titled it that to point out there is just ethics. Ethics is ethics whether we are at work, home, church or play. I’d like to share the six rules I strive to follow to make sure my actions are ethical across the board.
Rule #1: The Golden Rule
Do to others what you would have others do to you. We’ve all heard it. I know folks have tried to improve upon it by making up The Platinum Rule. However, that merely demonstrated they did not fully understand the Golden Rule. Obviously, I want others to consider what I want. I should do the same for them. But instead of being distracted by competing rules, let’s just get back to what we’ve always known this meant.
If roles were reversed, would you want the person you are dealing with to do what you are about to do? How do you want people to treat you? With honesty, integrity, kindness, and respect? How are you treating them? Do you want folks to be sincere with you? Do you want others to give you the benefit of the doubt? Do you want others to give their best for you? Are you doing that for them?
Maybe you can’t find an actual bylaw that says what you are about to do is wrong. Maybe the law would never be able to punish you for what you are about to do. However, if you’re treating someone the way you’d hate to be treated, then you’re not being ethical.
Rule #2: The Honesty Rule
Is what you are doing, saying, or representing completely, totally, rigorously honest? I know I’ve been tempted on this before. I want to sell my car but the air conditioner is messed up. It has a short somewhere. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. My temptation when someone drives it and the air works is to just let it go. I can always fake it later. “Well you got to drive it, did it work then?” But that is just not honest. There is no way around it. I’m tacitly lying when I do that. Why do you think real estate agents make sellers write up a full disclosure and sign it? Because they don’t want to be involved in some unethical dealing.
Too many people try to come up with loopholes. Like children, they seem to think they can cross their fingers and let a little fib slip. If you want to be ethical, you have to tell the truth. Be rigorously honest, even if it gets you in trouble. Trust me, in time, people will learn to appreciate your honesty.
Rule #3: The Extra-Mile Rule
If I’m just trying to get by with the least possible amount of effort I can give, I’m not being ethical. My boss has hired me to do the best possible job I can give him. He hasn’t hired me so I can do just enough to get by. I need to go the extra mile. I need to give that extra effort. I need to do my best and then some. I need to give a little more, go a little farther, push a little harder.
The fact is, I’m stealing from my bosses when I’m only giving them half the effort they are paying for. Instead, I should be giving to them by giving them more effort than they are paying for. Of course, there will often be a payoff for me in this. When I’m giving more effort, they’ll often see it and start paying for it.
Rule #4: The Time Management Rule
Here’s the heart of it. If my boss is paying me for 40 hours work, but I only gave him 30 hours work stretched into 40, I’m not being ethical. I need to make the most of my time. I need to act like time is money and invest it wisely. If I’m wasting my time in the company, I’m wasting my boss’s/client’s money.
Each moment past is gone forever. I can never relive the minutes I’ve let slip by. I can never give those minutes back to my bosses or clients. Then when I take money for those wasted minutes, I’m practically stealing from them.
Rule #5: The Consistency Rule
Sadly, many folks rank ethics on a sliding scale. It is as if they are being asked the question: “On a scale of 1 to 5, how ethical are you? 5 means completely ethical. 4 somewhat ethical. 3 averagely ethical. 2 hardly ethical. 1 never ethical.” It just doesn’t work that way. We’re either ethical or we’re not.
I’m not saying any of us are perfect. I’m not saying we never make mistakes. I’m not saying we never fail to meet our grand intentions. However, if I’m constantly lying to my employees, I don’t get to declare I’m ethical just because I’ve never lied to my customers. However, I’ll point out if you really think both of those statements are true, you’re probably lying to yourself. Just because you tell the truth the 95% of the time it won’t affect you adversely, you’re not mostly ethical. If you lie when backed into a corner, you’re not ethical.
Remember that this checklist is my checklist for determining if I’m ethical. I have no doubt everyone, no matter their view of spirituality, agrees with the rules I’ve listed so far. Some may not agree with this final rule because it will appear too Christian or Bible based. Sometimes we seem to have the idea that the Bible is for church not our professional lives. I can’t take the Bible out of any of my life. I will point out that if you have agreed with the above 5 rules, you have agreed with very Bible based rules. I have to share my sixth rule because these are my rules for determining if I’m being ethical. You may not want to follow this last one, but I assure you, it will make you ethical if you do.
Rule #6: The Bottom Line Rule
Most often, we associate the bottom line with money because that’s where the phrase originated. However, it has come to mean what is most important. If someone says, “The bottom line is…” we expect them to tell us the most important part of whatever they are sharing. For most folks, the bottom line does have to do with money. For some it has to do with fame. For others with influence and popularity. For some, the bottom line is receiving the credit or passing the blame.
For me, the bottom line comes directly from Matthew 6:33. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” I have to ask with every decision is this the next right thing? Is this what God would want me to do? That’s my bottom line. It doesn’t matter how much money it will make me or how famous it will make me. If I can’t be convinced God wants me to do it, then, for me, it just isn’t ethical.
Of course, to truly follow this rule, I have to go back to my honesty rule. It’s amazing the number of ways I can declare God wants me to do something and in the end I realize it was just me wanting to do it. But that is for another post–probably a Monday post.
There you have it. My six rules for determining if I’m acting ethically. I hope it helps you. I hope we can each make an individual difference in our work place, shining the light of ethical living for all to see and leading our business world away from the sad state of ethicless actions by placing doing good things above doing profitable things. In the end, I think we’ll find doing good is actually more profitable anyway.