Tag Archives: teamwork

Is Your Window Broken?

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Ever heard of ‘The Broken Window Theory’? I hadn’t until a few months ago when our deputy chief referred to it during one of our fire department meetings. Although ‘The Broken Window Theory’ is based on the premise that disorder leads to crime, within the framework of the theory is a principle that can be found in the book of Proverbs.

I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man. —Proverbs 24:30-34 KJV

Whether it’s a broken window, things left undone or out of place, or disintegrating relationships, it conveys a sense of complacency and apathy, and can become a new ‘normal’ if left neglected or disregarded. Those directly or indirectly involved are basically saying, “I don’t care enough,” or “It’s not my problem or responsibility,” or “We don’t feel led to get involved”. Neglect leads to disorder, disorder leads to chaos, and chaos leads to tragedy.

We are all a part of something, even if only a part of humanity. We all have a responsibility. If we want peace instead of chaos, happiness instead of sadness, beauty instead of ugliness, success instead of failure, and growth instead of decay, then the little things matter, and it’s up to us to take ownership and fix the broken windows.

 

If you liked this, you might also like… Wisdom Wednesday: Neglect Destroys

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Lift ‘Em Up!

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with special thanks to Chris Ward, Jeremie Dufresne, and my other brothers.

Wanna build a stronger, better team or crew? The subject came up when Bill, one of my firefighter brothers and I were talking about my experiences at a recent structure fire. He is very knowledgeable and has years of experience, but since I am a ‘probie’ with comparatively little knowledge or experience, and being the smallest member of the fire department, in some ways I am the weakest member. I expressed gratitude for the on-scene training I received from both my own department brothers, as well as from other departments who were also on-scene. Although Bill would not agree that I am the weakest member, he stated a key concept in building a stronger crew— lift up and strengthen the weakest member, and the whole team becomes better and stronger.

That reminds me of an illustration I used in a blog post a couple of years ago using a wooden bucket with broken and worn slats. The bucket can hold only as much water as the shortest slat, so if we work to fix and raise it up first, the bucket will hold more water. If we fix and build up a taller slat first, the bucket will still hold only as much water as the shortest one.

If lifting up and strengthening the weakest member makes the whole stronger, then it stands to reason that kicking the weakest member when she’s down would only serve to weaken the whole, right? Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” I am grateful for those who have lifted me up instead of kicking me down when I’ve messed up.

My friend, Scott, says something that is similar to a quote by Nate McConnell:

“The whole is the sum of its parts, so be a good part.”

Let’s show our strength by giving a hand and strengthening those who are weaker.

 

If you liked this, you might also like…

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Resolution Bucket: A New Strategy and Wisdom Wednesday: Teamwork


It’s Not About Religion, But It’s Not Just About a Relationship Either

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You’ve probably heard it.

You’ve probably read it.

I know I’ve said it.

“It’s not about religion. It’s about a relationship.”

Although I said it in It’s Not About Going to Heaven, I also mentioned that Jesus’ dying on the cross was about reconciliation and getting to spend an eternity with God.

But there’s more.

Yesterday at church, our co-pastor, Josh, preached the morning sermon, and I wrote something down because of something he had said. I wish I could remember what he said, but all I wrote was “relationship & fellowship”, and as I pondered the two, although it was not exactly what his sermon was about, I realized that having a relationship with people… or God, does not automatically lead to having fellowship with them.

Fellowship is not about Christian socializing, like church potlucks and picnics, although that is what we generally think of when we use the word fellowship.

Although the term fellowship is used mostly among Christians, it is also used by groups of learned or skilled people in pursuit of mutual knowledge or talent. I know a married couple, who are professional photographers, master photographers, and were the first married couple to become Fellows as well. To become a Fellow within a group of academia is generally a great honor and something that is not bestowed lightly. Within Christianity, the term comes from the Greek koinonia, meaning “communion, joint participation, or partnership”. I have heard our pastor and other preachers define it like this:

“Fellowship is two fellows in a ship, rowing in the same direction.”

In life, there are relationships that occur naturally, like within families. We have a relationship that is created either by birth or marriage, but we don’t necessarily get along, get together or pursue the same goals as a family group. We may have a relationship, but we don’t always have fellowship.

We all have a relationship with God whether we believe in Him or not, because He is our Creator, but we do not all have fellowship with Him. We might have even said “the prayer” and call ourselves Christians and not have fellowship with Him.

But, if we are trying to seek Him, (even if we get distracted), and if we are trying to do what He said, (even if we fail), and if we are trying to discern His will and participate in His purposes and goals, (even if we sometimes think our way is His way), then we have fellowship with Him. He is so patient and gracious, that even when we break fellowship with Him, He still pursues us.

It’s not just about a relationship.

 

If you liked this, you might also like… Wisdom Wednesday: Teamwork


Wisdom Wednesday: Service With a Smile

“The kindness is doubled if what must be given is given willingly.”  —Latin proverb

“The kindness is doubled if what must be given is given willingly.” —Latin proverb

Have you ever asked someone to do something for you only to have that someone respond with a heavy sigh, whining, or complaining? If you’re a parent or a teacher, that’s a pretty silly question, isn’t it? What’s even sillier, although less amusing, is when we adults do it to one another. I know we all have bad days and should try to respond with grace when met with a bad attitude, but isn’t it so much sweeter when someone gives and serves cheerfully? And don’t you feel more loved and respected when someone responds happily to a request?

“Cheerfulness gives sweetness to life.” —Filipino proverb

“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”
—2 Corinthians 9:7

“The kindness is doubled if what must be given is given willingly.” —Latin proverb

“The visible sign of utter love is an undying smile.” —Sri Sri Ravi Skankar

“He gives well and bountifully who accompanies the gift with a pleasing look.” —Latin proverb

“A gift with a kind face is a double grace.” —German proverb

Years ago while dining at a restaurant in Canada, I remember the response given by our waitress when I said, “Thank you.” With a pretty smile and a French accent she replied, “It is my pleasure.” I loved that response, so I adopted it.

“Forget the favors you have given; remember those received.” —Chinese proverb

Sometimes people give or serve in order to receive or to be served. Although we shouldn’t give or serve with selfish motives and a score card, isn’t it funny how people sometimes act as if you owe them for what they have done instead of giving and serving out of love and gratitude for the things you have done for them? Or maybe it’s the other way around.

“Every gift which is given, even though it be small, is in reality great, if it is given with affection.” ―Pindar, Greek poet

“It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding.” —Kahlil Gibran

If you liked this, you might also like:  Wisdom Wednesday: When It’s Never Enough


Wisdom Wednesday: Teamwork

Have you ever been a part of a winning team or even a championship team? Or have you ever been on a losing team or one that constantly struggled to succeed?  What makes the difference?  Sheer talent or great leadership?  My oldest son sent me the link to the video below. Even though its target audience is League of Legends online gamers, it contains some excellent principles, including financial, for any kind of team or family. It reminded me of when Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” (Matthew 12:25)

“TEAM = Together Everyone Achieves More” —Unknown

“Many ants together can carry a beetle.” —Spanish proverb

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” —Aristotle

Teams and families are made up of people with varying talents and strengths. Successful teams recognize and utilize those strengths and talents. Unsuccessful or struggling teams have members with poor attitudes who want to be the center of attention or are looking out for ‘number one’. 1 Corinthians 12 contains the principle of teamwork, using the analogy of our body, and how we all work together with each having a different part. Verse 21 says, “And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.” Even members who seem less significant play an integral role.  Communication, having a plan, and working together as a whole are key to a team’s success.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” —Michael Jordan, pro basketball player

Part of being a member of a team is actually participating and not spending most of the time warming the bench, or pew, or couch. We can either help our team move forward, cause our team to move backward, or remain stagnant by our passivity.

“Wearing the same shirts doesn’t make you a team.” —Buchholz and Roth, guitarists

If a team is to reach its potential, each player must be willing to subordinate his personal goals to the good of the team.” — Bud Wilkinson, football coach

Coaches, bosses, church leaders, and heads of households are just as much a part of the team and generally hold the greater responsibility for its success. Although this post is not about leadership, every group of people when brought together for a common purpose looks to someone to lead, so it’s important to choose a good leader, if possible, who is also willing to subordinate his/her personal goals for the good of the team or family and doesn’t forget that it’s not all about him/her.  It’s about each other, the common goal, and the bigger picture.

“Effective leaders are engaged in the lives of the people they are leading and are constantly seeking to understand how they can create an environment in which people succeed.” –Nathan Mellor, president of Strata Leadership, LLC

“Help others get ahead. You will always stand taller with someone else on your shoulders.” –Bob Moawad

“It is amazing how much you can accomplish when it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.” —Harry S. Truman, 33rd U.S. president

“The whole is the sum of the parts, so be a good part.” –Nate McConnell

If you liked this, you might also like:  I Got Your Back!


A Little Help From My Friends

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My granddaughter was too shy to blow out her candles, so she got a little help from her friends.  We all need friends.  Friends share in our joys and our sorrows.  They lighten our burdens and give us hope for tomorrows.

Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 says, “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor.  For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.  Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?  And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

“I am thankful for the mess to clean after a party because it means I have been surrounded by friends.”  –Nancie J. Carmody, writer


A Family Is Like a Ship

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Years ago I read an article that compared a family to a ship.  Although I don’t agree with everything he teaches, I found the article Jumping Ship (Part 2):  Stagnant and Unpromising  by Michael Pearl very intriguing.  He likens the family to a ship with a captain and a crew.  Each ship may be different, but in order to keep its crew, it needs to have a clear purpose with each member involved in fulfilling its mission and reaching its destination.  And it must provide some source of entertainment along with rewarding labor.  If the crew sees other ships passing by that appear to be going somewhere while they just float along or remain stagnant… or if they notice the crews on other ships having fun while they seem to just work or have nothing to do, the captain risks having them jump overboard to join other ships that actually appear to be enjoyably going somewhere.  I realized this could apply to church families as well.

How’s your crew?  Are they looking to book passage on a different ship, or do they have the confidence to believe their ship is going somewhere and doing something worthwhile?

Love Lifted Me

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In my last blog post Sunrise, Bunnies, and a Jacuzzi, I gave a testimony of God’s ‘romancing’ love.  In this post I’d like to share two experiences that reveal God’s rescuing love as well as His affirming love.

I know many of my posts convey gratitude for God’s love and the various ways He expresses it, but that’s where I’m at in this season of my life, although I hope I never stop telling of His great love.  I have heard people criticize preachers and musicians who focus on a particular topic like God’s love, or His mercy and grace, and while I understand the importance of the need to go deeper, I also understand from experience and observation that the preachers are generally trying to reach people where they’re at, and the musicians are singing lyrics that express their own experiences as they seek to minister to and reach people.

I spent a week away to decompress, seek the Lord, reflect, and rejuvenate.  I am grateful for the opportunity, means, and generosity of others.  Sunday was my last day, and I sought out a church to attend.  The people were so warm and welcoming, and the ministry revealed a heart for God and people.  I was so blessed by their love.  During the week prior to attending the church, the song “How He Loves Us” sung by David Crowder continually played in my mind, and during the service, the worship team led us in singing it.  Apparently, it was the first time they’d sung it, and I half-jokingly told Annie, one of the worship team members who’d chosen the song, that it was for me.  Oh, I know it’s not all about me; I’m sure it spoke to the hearts of others, but I was so blessed by God’s reaffirmation of His love for me, especially after facing a week of intense struggle.

After church and in-between doing laundry and cleaning the place where I was staying, I went outside to enjoy the warmth of the sun and the beauty of the outdoor pool.  The air was a little cool, but the sun was warm, so after becoming a bit heated, I soaked my feet in the frigid water and watched the ripples and reflections.  Then I asked the Lord if there was anything He wanted me to see.  Because summer has not yet arrived, the pool, while maintained, remained unused and had a few small leaves and bits of debris floating on top.  I noticed the shadows cast by them, and one in particular caught my eye.  The shadow was clover-shaped, but nothing on top appeared to match it.  I continued to observe the shadow and noticed a hint of movement.  The only thing I could connect it with was a bee that appeared to have drowned.  But no, it was still hanging on to life.  So I retrieved a small piece of wood and lifted the bee out of the frigid water and onto the warm stone tiles surrounding the pool.  It remained there, warming itself in the sun long enough for me to snap some photos with my phone and even long enough for me to run up to my room, grab my big camera and snap a few photos with it, until the bee finally became reanimated and flew away.

God not only cares about you and me, but He even cares for a little bee.  His love moved me to lift the bee from certain death, and I feel so blessed to have been a part of that rescue.  There is a new Christian song called “Love Lifted Me” sung by Ashmont Hill.  It appears to be based off the old hymn by the same name.  Both tell of God’s great love that lifts us up when nothing else helps, but the hymn expresses so much more in the way of being rescued from certain death.  As a woman, I have a longing to be rescued.  The Lord is my Hero, my Knight in shining armor, and His love lifted and rescued me in so many ways this past week that I am free to sing of His love.


Keeping Your Eye on the Ball

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Do you ever wonder why you seem to keep ‘dropping the ball’?  A couple of nights ago I was playing catch with my little friend, Isabella, who is almost three years old.  She is wonderful at catching, especially for her age, but at one point she kept becoming momentarily distracted by the other children and would drop the ball.  She wanted to continue playing catch, so I finally said, “Isabella, you gotta keep your eye on the ball.”

Her response was so adorably humorous.  She took me literally, and as she tried to focus one eye on the ball, she blinked and winked with the other.  Her focused eye was intensely focused, but when I gently tossed the ball to her, she missed it, picked it up, and put the ball on her eye.  While being humble enough to take my advice and try to apply it, she’d forgotten she already knew how to catch.  I guess I should have simply encouraged her to pay attention instead.

Anyway, it got me thinking how the concept applies to life and how we can sometimes become so focused on one part of the process, one group of people, or one element that we forget about the others which are equally important.  Even though “Keep your eye on the ball” is an oft-used expression when teaching others to catch a ball, hit a baseball, or kick a soccer ball, our mind’s eye still sees our arms, hands, and feet participating in the action as well.  It takes focusing and coordinating all the parts in order to be successful and stop dropping the ball.


Lemonade and Boasting

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Last summer I came across this lemonade stand— an American classic.  Taylor, Zoe, and their sidekick , Zack, were so cute!  I found it heartwarming that they provided free water for dogs, too, as indicated by the cardboard sign attached to the parking meter.  But the thing I found even more uplifting was how they each spoke of the other’s contribution to the venture rather than boasting in themselves.  It reminded me of a Hebrew proverb, “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.”  (Proverbs 27:2 KJV)

Other proverbs and quotes speak of boasting in oneself as unwise, lacking, and insecure:

Tell me what you brag about, and I’ll tell you what you lack.”  — Spanish proverb

“He who is humble is confident and wise.  He who brags is insecure and lacking.”  —Lisa Edmondson

“Boasting begins where wisdom stops.”  —Japanese proverb

People who boast in themselves are like sour lemonade.  Don’t you appreciate and respect people more when they can, not only speak proudly of their achievements, but also boast or give credit to others who helped them?  That reveals true confidence, humility and wisdom.


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