Who is my Neighbor?

This is a wonderful question to ask and explore as we consider what it means to live our fully dimensional life.

It is great when Jesus answered the question with the story of the Good Samaritan. It is also good when children spent time with the best neighbor they could know: Mister Fred Rogers.

This week’s trio of links reminds us of the enduring wisdom of Fred Rogers who is one of those people that I have always admired and appreciated.

A Caveat: Just because I link to a particular resource does not mean I completely agree with everything the author or the website says and stands for. Some links are meant to invite us to different perspectives on what it means to live.

Act 1

One of the things I appreciate about Fred Rogers is his economy of words. He talks and says only what needs to be said. Then he listens. I think both parts of that represent his giftedness. Here are a collection of quotations from him.

 Mental Floss Blog, 20 Gentle Quotations from Mister Rogers

Act 2

This is a video from 1999, when Fred Rogers was inducted into the TV Hall of Fame. His remarks are gentle yet pointed.

Even though he speaks of those working in the television industry, his thoughts on being servants of the good apply to our communities of faith.

How do we make good attractive? That is an excellent question.

Act 3

I had originally set this aside for a Midweek Music video. But since Mister Rogers is the topic, it fits in this week’s trio of links.

And what will your imagination lead you through today?


Areas of Focus 2013: Open


Left or Right by David Harward

This year, instead of setting myself up for disappointment by making new year’s resolutions, I am identifying areas of focus. Using a set of daily questions, I want to nurture the intentional use of my time and energy that doesn’t set limits on what I will accomplish or get attached to the results.

The tag cloud in the right column shows three sky view areas of life focus: #open, #connected, and #whole. These ideas continue to orient my own life work, my writing, and my ministry. These provide a structure I use for fully dimensional living.

The first major area is that of being open.

I want to remain open to all the possibilities the Creator has in store for me and for our world. To do that, the world has to remain full of possibility and promise. Without that, there is no point in looking up and around.

So where do I see myself closing my life down? Where do I find myself stuck and frustrated? Where do I need to choose God’s openness?

My first area of focus is in maintaining an attitude of Exploration.

I close down when I decide to be content with what I already know, or with what I think I know. This usually happens when I settle for answers. Answers are great until we let them be show stoppers. When we cease exploring because we have the treasure we seek, we become locked in. We trade the freedom of curiosity for the security of the answer. We stop exploring life. Sadly, much of our education emphasizes the accumulation of answers that can be spit out at the proper time. They can be memorized without really understanding or experiencing.

An explorer is never content with an answer. Answers will be found, but as stepping stones for more questions. And freedom is found in seeking the questions.

I want to keep looking for new things every day. I want to learn more about the eternal Essence of the Universe, the fathomless intricacies of the human being, and experience the wonders of creation. I want to keep the questions open.

What new thing can I explore today?

Another open area of focus is Generosity.

It is easy for me to want to hold tight to what I have and so I hold back what I know. After all, this mortal existence is defined by its limitations and scarcities. So I would be completely justified to not share what I have gathered for myself. I deserve that, right?

The problem is that a non-generous life is a closed off life.

What if my ideas and skills were are given to me by the Essence of the Universe as a stewardship to share with others around me. Then in my choosing to hold tightly to “my” stuff I betray that greater purpose: my deeper why for living.

Openness in receiving needs to be balanced by an openness to share. I need to spend my energy finding ways to spread the light. This is done with enthusiasm and generosity because the Source is eternal and extraordinary.

What can I give away today with freedom, gratitude, and compassion?

The third specific focus in the area of openness is partnership.

I confess that I am very comfortable doing stuff on my own. I have this idea that I can be pretty self-sufficient. If I don’t know something, I can either learn how to do it or get by without it. While I enjoy learning to do many things in my life, the idea that I can do everything I need to do alone is wrong.

This is a hard lesson for me, a natural individualist, to learn. I need to practice living, serving, and ministering in partnership with others. I need to join with people who have complimentary gifts and strengths to mine. Together we are able to do more than any of us can do alone.

Who can I partner with today in doing what needs to be done?

Your turn:

Where do you find yourself closing doors and putting up walls? How can you move more openly into God’s freedom, wisdom, and community?

Share in the comments.

My thoughts on areas of focus related to being Connected and Whole are coming next week.


Put the Happy in the New Year

Happiness is infectious.

One of the great gifts of God’s grace is the gift of the New!

In the morning we awake and we have a new day unfolding before us. After 7 days, we can redirect our activities and find a new week to follow and co-create. And on a grander scale we can designate times to reboot our lives.

Season changes, birthdays, anniversaries, and changes in the calendar year give us a great opportunity to choose God’s ever fresh life.

May you enter into this new day and new year with joy.

This video shows the happiness of new opportunities.

Will we try to avoid the joy, or will we let it transform us?

I’m going with transformation.


No More Resolutions


David Harward, “Your New Clock”

A few years ago I heard a great definition of the word “expectation”: preconceived resentment. This is an apt description of what happens when we get emotionally attached to our desires.

It’s New Year’s day. I want to offer my definition of “resolution”: preconceived failure.

“Only 8% of people are always successful in achieving their resolutions. 19% achieve their resolutions every other year. 49% have infrequent success. 24% (one in four people) NEVER succeed and have failed on every resolution every year. That means that 3 out of 4 people almost never succeed. (from Steve Shapiro)

So who is it that thought it was that important to make new year’s resolutions that we know we will break within days if not hours of our decision? And why do we keep repeating the pattern?

But we want our lives to be better! How do we go about doing it?

I have three pieces to the puzzle of a new transforming way of entering the new year.

Peter Bregman wrote an interesting piece for the Harvard Business Review on the failure of goal setting. (Don’t set goals, choose focus)

In the article he cited studies which show that Big Hairy Audacious Goals don’t really work the way they are intended. Not only do they set people and organizations up for failure, but they are also easy to circumvent and cheat.

Instead he counsels us to choose areas of focus for our time and energy:

“A goal defines an outcome you want to achieve; an area of focus establishes activities you want to spend your time doing. A goal is a result; an area of focus is a path. A goal points to a future you intend to reach; an area of focus settles you into the present.

I have struggled with failure and procrastination. I am still learning about the importance of staying present and living my process. This greater process I call God’s fully dimensional life.

Where I am now is not where God wants me to be, yet where I am now is where God loves me fully.

So, goal setting is counter-productive, but being intentional about what we focus our time and energy on is a good direction to head. That is the first piece of my puzzle.

The second piece of the puzzle comes from Leonard Sweet:

One of the traps of goal setting and resolutions for me is that focus on control. Control is an activity of the ego self that constructs a reality that matches its view of what is important. The problem? When we center our lives on self-made constructs we live out of balance. We live limited lives.

A fully dimensional life is founded on the Essence of God’s presence not on anything or anyone else (including our selves).

When we get caught up in power and control we fail because so much of existence is beyond our control. So we set ourselves up for disappointment.

A life that focuses on preparedness and trust is responsive to our present reality and to the living work of the Creator. It is a life that remains open to God’s promise and possibilities.

One last piece to my puzzle. This time from my Uncle Bob Farr.

I said to the man at the gate of the year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread into the unknown.’ He said to me, ‘Put your hand into the hand of God, and that shall be better for you than a light to your way or a map to the path to be taken.’

When we focus on specific goals and resolutions we unwittingly place all the emphasis on what we can do and what is important and significant to us. When we do that we take the guiding wind and waves of the Spirit out of the equation and place ourselves in the role of source and initiator.

However, when we reconnect with the Author of the Universe for the direction of our daily lives we renew our participation in something that is so much greater than we can ever imagine.

Your turn:

On this New Year’s Day I am renewing my focus on

  • Remaining open to God’s possibilities,
  • Reconnecting with living guidance of God’s Spirit, and
  • Centering and focusing my life on the Energy which fills the universe.

Over the next week I will be share more about my focus areas for the new year.

What will you focus on this year?