Yesterday, according to Shire Reckoning, was Bilbo Baggins’ birthday. When he turned eleventy-one years old (111 for those of you who prefer regular numerals), he gave a very fine speech just before slipping on the One Ring and disappearing from sight before escaping from the Shire altogether. What a laugh.
Today is my birthday. This is not always a fun day for me, because us brooding types don’t need special reminders that we are getting older and our bodies are dying every day. So what’s on my mind today as I turn 33? I’m glad you asked….I’ve compiled a list of “Axioms and Life Principles” that I keep stored in a Word Document on my computer’s desktop to review from time to time. These are good to look at because the way I feel at any particular moment may need to be tempered with something more permanently enduring and less subject to my whims. Its a way to keep a check on my emotions, which cannot be allowed to rule my mind.
1. Don’t be negative. This is helpful for me to remember because I find myself always running everything over my critical grid and thinking about how to improve everything. This is a blessing and a curse. I need to learn to switch this analytic ability “on” when I need it, then switch it “off” when I just need to enjoy life.
2. The Most Important Things in Life Don’t Have Deadlines. I can’t remember where I heard this but I’d love to cite my source for this gem of wisdom. Hanging on to this truth has helped me to enjoy the first years of my children’s lives without regret. Its not easy managing full-time grad school, campus ministry with Campus Crusade for Christ, countless hours of homework each week, leading worship for my church and running weekly rehearsals in addition to set-up/tear-down on Sunday mornings, and dreaming about planting a church. Well, if I get straight “C’s” in all my classes because I’m wrestling with my kids or reading childrens’ books to them, so be it. I’m committed to being home 4 nights a week. On those nights, everything stops at 4pm and its daddy time till they go to bed. And I don’t regret that a bit.
3. Don’t Take Myself Too Seriously. I’m indebted to Dr. Jonathan Pennington for this one. He said in class one day that we, as ministers in training, are not so important that we have to be at every business meeting and make all the calls and send all the emails. God will build his church. I’m not so important that I have to run everything. Amen. Thanks, JTP!
4. Fatigue Clouds the Mind. This one seems somewhat obvious, but I don’t live like its obvious. I have been greatly helped by this nugget a few times when I feel overwhelmed and thinking that the sky is falling and then realize, “hey, maybe I just need a good night’s rest.” 9 times out of 10, my perspective and attitude is much better in the morning. Sunlight helps too.
5. Process Determines Product. We can’t expect great results without putting into place the necessary elements that are typical of those results. We can’t be lazy and disorganized and expect to achieve what we desire. This is true for ministries or mechanics. Mechanics know that poor work equals poor results which equals no customers which equals no food. But ministries don’t have such standards. I have seen ministries be satisfied with mediocre results and then attributing their poor results to God’s plan. But God’s plan includes human ingenuity oftentimes, and so its important for those of us in ministry to commit ourselves to a biblical process and holding ourselves accountable for the results under our control.
Ok, dear readers (all 5 or 6 of you), please give me this birthday present: what are some life principles that you have learned?