Thursday, May 27, 2010

What is your motivation?

Have you ever been in a hurry to get home and realized that you were on empty and had to stop and get gas? That is what happened tonight. I had just picked up my daughter from practice and we made one quick
stop and I still had to fuel the car. I stopped at one of the local convenient stores and put my debit card into the pump and the message on the screen read "see cashier". That will make your day.

The wind is picking up and the sky seems to be threatening rain and I want to get home. I don't need to see the cashier, I need to get gas. However, to be able to get gas I will have to see the cashier. As I make my way into the store I notice that there are multiple lines in front of the cashiers. So, I decide on the like that looks the shortest and the fastest. I picked the best line. This lady was moving the people through quickly. I get to the number two position and when the person who is in front of me finishes I am thinking "my turn". At that very moment a lady from the other line cuts over in front of me. I am thinking "why did you just do that"? I am sure the look on my face was one of shock and unbelief. I do remember my mouth being open when she turns around and gives me one of those "what are you going to do about it" looks. To make matters worse, when she finishes she backs up two steps and allows a person who was behind her in the other line to get in front of my line. Now I opened my mouth. I asked "excuse me" to which she replied "I have been here longer than you have". My response was: "you were in the 'other' line".

While she is telling me how much time she has been in line the cashier rings up the new person at the front of the line (Why did the cashier do that?). To add icing to the cake, once the new customer finished her transaction, the original line cutter begins a conversation about the weather with the cashier. Give me a break! How many more interruptions can there be? I just want to get some gas and go home.

My question here is "what problems did I actually encounter"?
  • A technology problem.
  • A impatient person.
  • A rude person.
  • A cashier who doesn't care about forcing fairness.
This combination with my impatience could have led to a really bad scene. I kept thinking about the whole scenario throughout the process. This is a picture of western culture today. People are self-centered, rude, have no concern for their neighbor, and unwilling to make a stand for what is right. However, I do believe we need to address the issue when presented but we need to watch how we present our objections in the process. This could have been handled in three different ways:
  1. I could have cleared the twinkies off the shelves while yelling at the top of my lungs what I felt about each individual and their part in the process. (Ask me about my Lowes experience)
  2. I could have done nothing.. (It is called passiveness. Not always the best option)
  3. I could have expressed concern over what had happened in a non-threatening manner to everyone involved. (Is this what you would do?)
There are a few things that come to my mind when I encounter these types of interactions with others. They are:
  1. Man has been created in God's image. (If we hate someone, do we not hate the image of God?)
  2. Ephesians 4:29 says: Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. (Too often when we feel wronged, this is not they way we want to react.)
  3. James 3:13-18 says: Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (Wisdom only comes from the father in heaven. Therefore, our reactions need to be driven by Him as well.)
These notes show an example of motivation. What motivates you to do the things you do? If you are defending your faith - make a stand at whatever cost. If you are defending someone or something for their safety or betterment - make a stand at whatever cost. However, if our motivation is self-centered and self-focused then there is very little we can do to make things better in that situation. It is wise to make your concerns known, but understand that if someone has done something wrong they will usually stop at nothing to save face. That night, to me, wasn't a hill worth dying on.

Check your motivation then count the cost.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Crowd Gathered

Have you ever witnessed a fight? Or, for that matter have you ever been in a fight? I honestly believe that pride and stubbornness are the two contributing factors to getting one's teeth knocked out. Let me explain. When two people have a disagreement on something and refuse to walk away from the issue then it can escalate into something more. The following points seem to be consistent during this escalation time period:

  1. One of the two parties will begin to raise their voice. (This seems to happen especially if one party believes they are at a disadvantage.)
  2. When the volume of the conversation begins to rise people begin to gather. (This is usually a key element to allow pride to force either side NOT to back down. When you are in the middle of an argument and there are a bunch of people standing around, you will do about anything to save face.)
  3. If the disagreement continues into this stage, then one party may become physical by shoving the other.
  4. If no-one steps in, then it is on!
Does this sound familiar? It seems like this is usually the way it goes.

As I am writing this on my phone, something similar just happened. (What timing!) I was watching a basketball game when a player was ejected from the game. Someone on the player's team just challenged the official's supervisor about the actions of the referee. Neither side was giving in and the gentleman who initiated the challenge began to raise his voice. The supervisor, noticing the attention of the crowd, asked the man to move out into the hallway to continue the discussion. He was able to get the guy out of the spotlight and therefore reducing the opportunity for a bad conflict.

I just stopped on a passage in Scripture where one may see a glimpse of the beginning stages of conflict. The passage is found in Mark 9:14 and it says:

And when He came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them. [NKJV]

Imagine the scene in this passage. A father was looking for Jesus to heal his son from demon possession. Not finding Jesus he did find His disciples. He asked them to see if they could heal his son. If you recall the power granted to the disciples in chapter 6 you would remember that they were given power to heal and to cast out demons. However, in this situation they were not able to do so.

The scribes were obviously present when this happened and upon their failure they took the opportunity to challenge the disciple's authority. The Scripture also tells us that there was a crowd with them. It is starting to sound like trouble is on the horizon.

What causes people to welcome conflict? The answer is pride. In the situation with the disciples they began to take their power for granted. They began to rely on themselves rather than God for the miracles which resulted in failure. This failure probably led them to attempt to "save face" in the midst of the dispute. This could be a possible explanation for the gathering of the crowd.

The same thing happens today. When we rely on our own actions and turn our backs on God we set ourselves up for failure. Once in the middle of failure, pride takes over pushing us to save face. The result could make the newspapers.

Don't get me wrong, we must always stand for truth. However, if we are making a stand for God without selfish ambitions then the battle is Gods and not ours. The result is entirely different.

In Christ,