Way More Fun

It’s football season. At our house, that means NFL. I’m not interested in the politics… I just watch it to relax and have fun. Now, the boys like watching with me, but they are not quite as captivated by all the finer points of the game. They do, however, love to play.

So, we have created a little ritual of our own. At commercial breaks, or halftime, or when a game is over, we play our own scaled-back games of football. We play inside because it’s air conditioned, and because we have a pretty decent size living room. One of the boys plays offense, the other defense. I am all-time quarterback… and referee. It’s that last part that creates the issues.

Basically, it doesn’t matter what call I make on any play… one of the boys usually gets frustrated with it. We often have to replay the down because I couldn’t see a play well-enough to call it accurately. The replay is mostly because I don’t want an argument from either one of them.

We’ve been working on having a better attitude. In most cases, that means not getting mad at the referee or at the opponent for making a great play. I’ve been challenging them to work on being good sports. Truth is, they both have some pretty decent skills. But I know that attitude trumps skills in life… even in football. A player can cost their team the game by losing their cool.

So, I was pleasantly surprised yesterday afternoon when Alex announced to me that they had decided to play with great attitudes and do their very best not to get upset during the game. I wondered how it would play out, but sure enough, they were young men of their word. They played the whole game with terrific attitudes, acknowledging calmly they wish a call would have gone another way, but moving on to the next play… or even congratulating the other player on a great play against them.

At one point well into the game, Alex said, “You know, Daddy, it’s way more fun playing football with a good attitude.” Austin agreed, and I beamed with pride at the lesson they had learned.

You know, life is way more fun when we have the right attitude… when we treat people the way we want to be treated… when give others the benefit of the doubt, knowing that no one is perfect except God… when we are big enough accept outcomes, even though they didn’t go our way. The Apostle Paul wrote that we should make it our goal to have the same attitude as Christ Jesus. That’s a tall order, but God wouldn’t have said to do it if He wasn’t going to help us be successful at doing it.

This week, let’s determine right from the start to have a great attitude… at home, at work, at school, in the store, wherever we are. Let’s choose to have the same attitude as Christ Jesus. My prognostication is that we won’t even get to the end of the week before we declare like Alex that life is, “way more fun!”

Why? Just Why?

Last week, PR31 finally convinced me that we could do something I’d been putting off for four and one half years. For some bizarre reason, the people we bought our home from had put up a basketball goal in the back yard… in the grass… the yard even slopes there… like it does on almost the entire four acres. Yet there stood that eyesore.

The entire time we’ve lived here, I’ve mowed around. The past couple of years, it has stood watch over our garden. And every time I saw it, it was almost as if it taunted me. I would open the blinds to look out over the beautiful back third of our property to see all green… and the eyesore.

I didn’t think we could move it. I thought it would take maneuvering a truck around there, tying a chain to the thing and trying to uproot its cement base from the ground.

But it had rained quite a bit, and PR31 assured me that she and the boys would help me dig all around the cement, and that, if we all worked together really hard, we could probably get it out. The goal being that we would moved it around front to the flat, wide open square portion of our blacktopped driveway which would be perfect for a basketball court for the boys to use.

True to her word, she inspired the boys with her delusions of grandeur, and we all headed out to dig. But before we could discover how wide the cement went out, she decided to push on the pole. And it gave. I said, “Let me give it a try.” And with all my manly might, I pushed… and it gave some more. I realized the pole was so old that it was breaking loose where it met the cement. Could it really be this easy?

We pushed together and the pole gently broke at its base. We caught it, lowered it to the ground, twisted, and voila. A little hammering on the barely remaining edge of pole hitting up from cement, and everything was flat. We scooped dirt back over it, and it was as if it had never been there.

Team A grabbed that basketball goal, hauled it around front, bleached it, scrubbed it, repainted it, dug a hole, and the next day set the goal in place with its new cement surround. Twenty-four hours later, our boys were having a blast with their new goal… which cost us less than $20 including, paint, a new net, cement & a basketball.

There have been a couple of great 2-on-2 games and we’ve taught the boys to play horse. They’re having so much fun with it. I can’t believe I wasted four and a half years of staring at something ugly when I could do something about it and enjoy the results so much!

So, why? Why did I wait four years to do this? I’ll tell you why… I thought it would be too difficult, maybe outside what I could accomplish. But before you mock me too much for my lack of self-confidence regarding this super-simple task, let me ask you… what is it in your life that you have left undone because it just seemed too difficult?

We all have stuff like that, you know. And sometimes it’s more serious than a basketball goal… like forgiving someone who did us wrong… or pursuing that degree… or chasing that dream… or starting your own business.

Here’s the thing… it’s almost never as difficult in real life as it seems in our mind. And our procrastination only makes it seem even more challenging when, if we would just go ahead and do it, we’d find that is was easier than we imagined. Plus, there is great joy on the other side that totally makes tackling this tough thing worth more than we invest in it.

Don’t put off till tomorrow… or four and a half years from now… what you can do today. Just go after it! Do it today. You will find it’s not as hard as you thought, and you will be so glad you did it. Take it from a guy who now loves to look at out the back window at a beautiful yard, and out the front window at two boys hooping it up.

Don’t Forfeit

As we were working on a project this week, I came across some hymns in an old hymnbook I have.  Man, I had forgotten how much those songs shaped my early life and theology.  As I read the titles, the tunes would instantly come back to mind, and I would begin to sing them as if I had never forgotten them.  I can neither confirm nor deny if tears flowed at some point… though, if you read the blog regularly, you already know the truth.

PR31 and I were talking about the line in the song, What A Friend We Have In Jesus, that says…

“Oh, what peace we often forfeit…”

Hold that thought…

As a little league baseball team, we were not very good.  In fact, it was usually a surprise if we won.  So, we were particularly glad when another team didn’t show, or couldn’t field enough players to compete, and had to forfeit the game.  That is, they gave up on the possibility of winning without even trying.

Forfeiting doesn’t amount to much when it comes to little league, but it matters plenty in real life.  And too often, we forfeit.  We give up without a fight.  We forfeit winning marriages… or winning at our dreams… or winning at school… or winning in our health.

Sadly, we often forfeit our peace.  We all face challenging circumstances in life, and Jesus said that, not only would He stay with us, but as the Prince of Peace, He would give us peace.  Yet, when the doctor gives us a timeline… or the boss gives us a pink slip… or our critics give us a hard time… or a spouse gives us divorce papers… we forget that we have also been given God’s peace to help us navigate those challenges.  We forfeit our peace.  It’s ours because He gave it to us, but we give up the fight without taking one swing.

“Oh, what peace we often forfeit… Oh, what needless pain we bear… all because we do not carry… everything to God in prayer.”

Don’t give up without trying!  Get in the game.  Keep the peace you’ve been given, and believe you will win despite the odds.  The doctors don’t get to stamp your expiration date on you.  The boss doesn’t determine your value.  No one can take your peace.  The only way to lose it is to forfeit it.

The challenge is not too great.  The victory is possible.  The celebration will be boisterous.  Just keep your peace!

World Series Life

In light of all the excitement over this year’s Major League Baseball’s World Series, I figured we could all use a great baseball quote to encourage us today.

Cheering & Challenging

I am officially a fan of American Ninja Warrior.  We picked up the season part-way through, but watched the season finale of the finals in Las Vegas aired last night on television.

I can’t seem to help myself.  It’s exhilarating!  It makes my hands sweat just watching.  I mean, I don’t plan to compete myself, but I am mesmerized by the level of competition… how long and hard these people train… the unbelievable feats they make their bodies accomplish.

Then there are their personal back stories.  Some of these people have overcome extreme life situations to compete at this level.  Some are facing tough situations even as they compete.

But what I love most is the way they both challenge and cheer for each other at the same time.  Each athlete goes out there trying to not only do their own personal best, but outdo every other athlete competing.  They are competing to win.  And each one who does better, challenges those coming behind them to press past that mark.

Yet there is no smack-talk between competitors.  It’s often difficult to determine whether they want to win more themselves, or want one of their competitors to win. While waiting to make their attempt at a course, or having made their attempt… successfully or unsuccessfully… they stand on the sidelines cheering on the very competitors trying to beat them.  Most of the competitors have a shirt or symbol that represents them, and it’s a common sight to see the competitors wearing the shirt or symbol of the person making their attempt at the moment. They stand on the sidelines cheering loudly, giving advice, telling them how much time they have left.  When a competitor succeeds, they roar with excitement, jumping up and down, cheering loudly, high-fiving and hugging them.  When a competitor fails, they moan and hug them, speaking words of encouragement about how far they got and how they will succeed the next time.

To quote the old song, “And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”
Why can’t we all live like that?  What’s wrong with pushing each other to excel by our own efforts at excellence… while at the same time cheering on the very people who are competing alongside us?  I’ll tell you what’s wrong with that… NOT A THING!

That’s the way we should live.  Just because some people are self-centered and think life has to be win-lose, doesn’t mean we have to sink to that level.  The Apostle Paul challenged the believers at Thessaloniki to cheer each other on… to encourage each other as they each strove to do the best they could in living lives that honored Christ.

We can do that.  We should do that.

We should each press to do the best we can.  We should try to set the standard higher.  We should work, and train and compete in such a way that we plan to win.  We should show those coming behind us a better way… a simpler way… a clearer way.

And we should also cheer for those competing alongside us.  We should cheer for the person who gets healed, even if we’re not healed yet.  We should cheer for the person who gets an “A” on the test whether we do or not.  We should cheer for the person who creates something awesome… or breaks a record… or achieves their dream… whether we do or not.

To compete against does not have to mean that we cannot also cheer for.  It doesn’t have to be win-lose… It can be win-win!  This is not something restricted to American Ninja Warriors.  It is a culture they have created.  And we can create it where we live… work… serve… shop… IF we want to.

Last thought… you know what else I noticed about these athletes?  Because of this kind of culture they’ve created, there are lots of smiles. And when they fail to complete a course, because there are smiles, and support, and a cheering section, they simply dry themselves off and determine to do better next time.

What a concept!  I plan to live like that!  Will you join me?

Scouting Prospects

Scouts

There are all kinds of people scouting new prospects with great potential in a variety of fields all the time.  There are TV channels focused on food which have contests to find their next star.  There are athletic teams looking for the next breakout player who will garner them victories and bring success to their program.  Bosses are looking for great employees.  People everywhere are searching for potential.  And… people are waiting to be discovered… longing to have someone see the potential in them.

My Personal Prospects

A couple of years ago, in my daily time alone with the Lord, I was talking with The Lord about our two boys and about how I believe in their significant potential. As I  addressed the topic with Him, I sensed the Lord stun me with this challenge to my heart and mind, “Discover your children.

Well, that didn’t make much sense to me initially.  It so took me off-guard that I was lost in the thought for a moment.  Then, it was as if the thought continued and I sensed Him explain… 

Allen, there are people in this world who are searching to discover others. There are scouts looking for the next great sports star. There are talent shows searching for the next great singer. There are companies who specialize in discovering the next standout CEO for major corporations. There are people who are looking for the next great actor… or artist… or author… or chef… or political leader.

The Lord went on to challenge me that morning to be the one to discover our boys… to discover their talents, their skills, their personalities, their aptitudes, their abilities, their strengths. I am to discover them… to call those things out in them… to cultivate those things… to challenge them… to cheer them… to connect them with the right people who can catapult them to their destiny… to give them opportunities to shine.  I’m not suppose to delegate that responsibility to someone else.  And I’m certainly not supposed to allow any random person in this world who is scouting potential to beat me to the punch with my own boys.

This concept works for me.  Maybe it’s because I feel like I have something in my heart that sees potential in people. Sometimes, I look at someone and think, “Man, they seem like they would be really good at…”.  And I like living that way. I like seeing what can be in people and believing the best for them.

The Privilege of Potential

It’s a privilege to get to be in on the spotting of potential in a person.  Sometimes, people don’t even see it in themselves, and you get the joy of being the one to point it out to them.  Other times they sense it, but lack the confidence to pursue it, and you get the joy of pushing them over the edge to go after their dreams.  That’s where the fun comes in… seeing the potential in someone else and then helping them get to the point of fulfilling their destiny.

Proverbs 22:29 asks the question, “Do you see someone skilled in their work?”  It’s not a trick question.  It’s simple and straightforward.  Yet it does beg another question…

Are you looking?

Are you looking for potential in the people in your life?  Are you serving as a scout looking for prospects?  Are you on the hunt for greatness in others?  Are you recognizing their skills, talents, abilities, giftedness, intelligence, and personality type?  Do you taste their cupcakes and say, “You ought to open a bakery!”  Do you listen to them tell stories and say, “You could be a writer!”  Do you see their doodled drawings and say, “You really should consider art school!”

Selfless

Scouts are rarely thought about or talked about.  It’s the superstars they discover which shine brightly for everyone to see.  But those stars would never be seen if someone had not pointed them out.  Scouts don’t need credit.  They don’t look for glory for themselves.  And when they help someone achieve the greatness their potential holds for them, the scout goes searching again to see who else has potential out there.

Want A Job?

Hey, wait a minute… I think I see some potential in you, fine reader of this blog.  Yes, there it is… You have the potential to see potential in others and encourage them to reach for it.

How would you like a job as a scout?  It doesn’t pay any money, but the reward of seeing someone achieve their designed purpose in life with excellence is quite amazing.  You may never get any credit for discovering them, but you won’t care.  It really is quite fun.

So, you interested?  Let’s see what you’ve got.  Start with those closest to you and then begin working your way out to everyone else.

Yep, I see it clearly now… You are going to be one fantastic scout!

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