Jane Bryant Quinn is an American journalist who is known as a commenter on personal finance. She once said, “Where you stand should not depend on where you sit.” In other words, one should put all their financial eggs in one basket. I like that but her thought also struck me from the perspective of principled-centered living. When we live by principles – those ideas that have stood the test of time like honor, dignity, loyalty etc. – then we come out ahead regardless of who we work for or what our job is.
What are your core principles and how do they guide you?
Elbert Hubbard once said, “An ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of discretion.”
The idea being that if loyalty is a part of your professional life, discretion naturally follows. Loyalty, one of our Army values, is often challenged but not in the way we usually think. There isn’t usually some creepy dude out there with a Russian accent offering us lunch money for the nations secrets – actually, our loyalty is generally tested by humor. Are we wiling to poke fun at someone just be be liked? Are we willing to throw the boss/plan/mission under the bus in front of others so that they will approve?
Are we willing to be loyal to the absent?
Proverbs puts it this way, “A man of many companions may come to ruins, but there is a friend what sticks closer than a brother.” Find that friend. Find that one that will be loyal.
Dr. Seuss nailed it:
I meant what I said
And I said what I meant –
An elephant’s faithful
One hundred percent!
So, my daughter asked me this morning over breakfast:
“Dad, I’m wondering, if God loves you because of all of the hair on your head, how does that work if you are bald? I have a bald friend, (names him) and how does God love him if he has no hair?”
A fair question except my brain is still recovering from my morning run so I stare at my coffee and she interprets that as needing more information.
“In Awana, it says in the Bible that God loves all of the hair on our heads..”
“Oh right. Well…” I go on to explain the verse and the idea of metaphors. Her response:
Thankfully, my seminary-trained wife came in for the save. When she explained it, Sophie instantly got it. Go figure.
Oh the joys of explaining things to 6 year olds. #thanksawana
In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt invites African American Scientist Booker T. Washington to the White House for a visit. As is often the case whenever a president does something, there was immediate furor over whether or not it was appropriate for the president to do that. As many opined in the papers, a well-known African American scholar, Charles W. Chestnutt, wrote this in an essay entitled “Obliterating the Color Line” in the New York World:
“We sometimes underestimate the influence of little things; there is no more powerful a factor than sentiment in the conduct of human affairs.”
We do not go wrong by listening with empathy and extending understanding to those around us.
I was looking for a good quote about being warm, first one I found, no kidding, was,
“The glow of one warm thought is to me worth more than money.” – Thomas Jefferson
But here’s the thing, if you have money, you can buy a space heater or just about any other way of conducting heat so…. You can have your warm thoughts. I want BTUs!!
Here’s another thought for this morning – on the warmth of friendship.
“Love is not just tolerance. It’s not just distant appreciation. It’s a warm sense of, ‘I am enjoying the fact that you are you.” – N. T. Wright
From Prov. 17:17 – A friend loves at all times, and family is born for adversity.
Bring the warmth of true friendship to someone today. Amen.
My daughter was looking pensively out the window and my wife asked her what she was thinking, “Well,” she said, “sometimes Christmas just doesn’t feel the way I thought it would feel.”
That happens sometimes doesn’t it. Sometimes, good things don’t entirely feel the way we thought it would feel or should feel or could feel. All those “coulds” and “shoulds” tend to just beat us up. Here’s the thing, Christmas is always best experienced in giving to others. The Holiday, at its best, celebrates the giving of the Divine to us humans. Thus, if a person really want to experience Christmas, it needs to get out of indulgence and into serving.
So, this, is Christmas.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Not that there is not a blessing in receiving; it’s that the greater blessing comes through giving.
So there I was, a while ago, playing soccer for some friendly officer pt when I realized that the normal rules of soccer didn’t apply. Grrr. Frustration.
Here’s the thing. Soccer is my sport. I like it. I played it in college. I know the game. In a world of jocks (the Army) it’s the one sport I’m halfway good at. Thus, rules matter to me.
But only in the case of soccer. The rest… not so much.
Totally inconstant. I can own that.
There is a film called “Revolutionary Road” where one of the characters says “No one really forgets the truth, they just get better at lying.”
This quote was highlighted to me on the day I lost my temper at our morning officer PT. There were some perceived injustices happening (again, I re-iterate that it was my perception) and this tapped a part of my personality that I don’t like. I like to think of myself as relaxed, removed, unflappable and easy going. Which is mostly true however what is also true is that I am a type A, driven, intense person who wants to win. I try really hard to keep all that in balance but sometimes it comes out in inappropriate ways and then I experience shame and guilt and embarrassment and all the stuff that goes along with exposing what I want to hide.
In some ways I think most of us have that. There are parts of us that we are not down with. We don’t really like. It triggers some embarrassment in us when it comes out. Authentic living integrates all the parts of who we are into our lives in a healthy way so that we are more holistic, healthy people who, instead of living out of our projected identity (that we have to go to great lengths to protect), live out of our authentic self – what you see and experience is who we are.
Leadership that rises from our core is the best leadership possible. The question to ask yourself today is, “who are you really?”
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s all the excitement, family, food, and joy of Christmas without the presents and all the special services. Yes, when you grow up a pastor’s kid and serve as clergy, all those special Christmas services are exhausting. My “relaxing Christmas holiday” starts about 26 December. This year, as the last couple years, I’ll be on duty so my holidays will start even later.
But not Thanksgiving. This weekend will be filled with all the fun traditions that are a part of the Army and our family.
Prior to 1863, Thanksgiving was a local holiday. It was primarily celebrated in New England. Where it was celebrated elsewhere, when it happened was driven by the States or local counties. Sometimes, it was celebrated as early as July and as late as January. Thanksgiving, as a holiday, was largely unknown in the American South. Sarah Hale, the influential editor of a popular woman’s journal and the one responsible for raising the money to build the Bunker Hill Memorial, had been unsuccessfully campaigning for it to become a national holiday since 1846. Her work came to fruition when Abraham Lincoln, probably looking for something to brighten the country as 1863 was the year of Vicksburg and Gettysburg. A year that thousands upon thousands of Americans died in the Civil War. Lincoln instituted a day of thanksgiving as an effort to unify the country. Prior to thanksgiving, the only other national holidays were Washington’s birthday and Independence Day.
“The year which is drawing to it’s close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies… I do therefore, invite my fellow citizens… to set apart and observe the last Thursday in November as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent father who dwelleth in the heavens.” Abraham Lincoln, 3 October 1863
Whatever your reason for celebrating, may your thanksgiving be filled with joy!
Well, at least according to Calvin Coolidge.
It was 1924. The veterans of WWI had very little to nothing in regards to actual benefits after serving their country on foreign soil. The “World War Adjusted Compensation Act” was brought before Congress.
The act awarded veterans additional pay in various forms, with only limited payments available in the short term. The value of each veteran’s “credit” was based on each recipient’s service in the United States Armed Forces between April 5, 1917 and July 1, 1919, with $1.00 awarded for each day served in the United States and $1.25 for each day served abroad. It set maximum payments at $500 for a veteran who served stateside and $625 for a veteran who served overseas, senior officers and anyone whose service began after November 11, 1918.
It authorized immediate payments to anyone due less than $50. The estate of a deceased veteran could be paid his award immediately if the amount was less than $500. All others were awarded an “adjusted service certificate,” which functioned like an insurance policy. Based on standard actuarial calculations, the value of a veteran’s certificate was set as the value of a 20-year insurance policy equal to 125% of the value of his service credit. Certificates were to be awarded on the veteran’s birthday no earlier than January 1, 1925 and redeemable in full on his birthday in 1945, with payments to his estate if he died before then. Certificate holders were allowed to use them as collateral for loans under certain restrictions.
The part of the Bill that deferred payment over $50 until 1945 was understandably called the “Tombstone Bonus.”
Coolidge vetoed the act saying, “Patriotism which is bought and paid for is not patriotism.”
Thankfully, Congress passed it anyway. Paving the way for future benefits for veterans.
So, thanks 1924 Congress, for recognizing that the laborer is worthy of their hire and the reality that if we, as a country, are going to ask our young to die, we should also bear the burden of their repair.
Yesterday, the American novelist (particularly of the Cold War) Tom Clancy died. Clancy was famous for writing, among other works, Hunt for the Red October and Clear and Present Danger. I remember reading Patriot Games in the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version while going back and forth to the Bill Gothard seminar in Grand Rapids with Dennis Katopol. Clancy was a good antidote to the seminar. I read some great quotes yesterday – the best one being about hard work:
“The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.”
“You learn to write the same way you learn to play golf. You do it, and keep doing it until you get it right. A lot of people think something mystical happens to you, that maybe the muse kisses you on the ear. But writing isn’t divinely inspired—it’s hard work.”
I dare say everything is hard work. True, there are talents that can make it a little easier, but at the end of the day, anything worth doing is going to come out of real, nose to the grindstone, hard work.
Proverbs tells us (14:23) that in all work there is great profit but mere talk tends only to poverty. Here are a couple more classics from the Bible about hard work: Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, Col. 3:23; For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. 2 Thes 3:10-12; Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, Phil 2:14-15; and my personal favorite: And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. 1 Thes 4:11-12.