“Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood.”
This is habit 5 of Stephen Covey’s, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey was a devout Mormon who gave those of us in positions of management and leadership a wonderful tool in that book. Of all the advice I have ever offered to my managers and of all the direction I have ever given, seeking first to understand before seeking to be understood is by far my most effective teaching. In simpler words: Just ask! And if I could pass one thing along to all aside from the good news of Jesus Christ, it would be that.
How many quarrels could have been avoided if one would just ask?
How many misunderstandings could be avoided if one would just ask?
How many feelings would not get hurt is one would just ask?
How much more could we accomplish if we would just ask?
The inherent hurdle with this little golden nugget of wisdom is that it requires our hearts and minds to be focused on
others and not ourselves. If our asking is insincere, I suspect the other individual will sense it and dismiss your question with ease.
Regarding the homeless people I so often encountered, I went to our former senior pastor, and I just asked. He gave me another little golden nugget which gave me great assurance: what I do is between me and God, and what they do with whatever I gift to them is between them and God. He went on to tell me that part of the great tragedy in homelessness is that they feel forgotten or that they do not exist.
Think about it. Do you look into their eyes when you drive by them? Do you wave? He suggested that sometimes just acknowledging them is a gift. I am so glad that I asked!
The very next day I asked, this time of a homeless man. I rolled down my window with a gift in hand but before giving it to him I made it a point to look into his eyes. I smiled and said, “How are you doing today? Are we taking care of you?” Handing him my gift (not knowing the REAL gift was going to be received by the giver) he looked back at me and smiled and said, “I am blessed! Thank you for this… do you like to read the Bible?”
With an ear to ear smile I said, “Yes, all the time!”
Then he asked, “Do you know Hebrews 13:2?”
“Not off the top of my head.”
As traffic began to move he yelled, “Check it out and God bless you!” I could barely wait for the next traffic light! Pulling up the Bible app and navigating to Hebrews 13:2.
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
OMG! Thank You Lord!
You know, Luke records Jesus as telling us to just ask - but for something far greater than anything this world has to offer - and we will not be denied.
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
Written by Harry
I spent New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in a most unorthodox way: smack dab in the middle of a Rocky movie marathon. This wasn’t planned, and there wasn’t one on TV you missed somewhere along the way. No. This happened because my husband (after almost 19 years of marriage) found out I had never seen any of the Rocky movies.
According to him, that was sacrilegious. Un-American. (Can you see the eye-roll here?)
So, I agreed to watch, not having a single idea what to expect. We watched all 6 movies, starting with Rocky and ending with Rocky Balboa. And you know what? I really enjoyed them. The Rocky movies were so much more than movies about boxing. They told stories of family, of competitors turned friends, of love, and of redemption.
Somewhere towards the beginning of Rocky 4, a conversation between Rocky and Apollo Creed resonated deeply with me. After asking his one-time competitor and now friend if he would stand by him, Apollo says:
“Maybe you think you're changing...but you can't change what you really are. Forget all this money and stuff around you. It don't change a thing. You and me don't even have a choice. We're born with a killer instinct you can't turn off and on like a radio.”
In that specific moment, Apollo is talking about their love of the fight, their innate need to be in the ring. But that one line spoke so much deeper to me, because it is the fear that I believe many of us have. We want to change. We know we need to change. But, we fear we can’t.
Health. Relationships. Personal goals. Education. Jobs. The list goes on and on of things we want to change.
This movie marathon reminded me that those things that seem insurmountable to change alone are very much doable with others by our side. Maybe it’s an accountability partner, maybe a spouse, maybe a friend. But even as beneficial as they are, and having someone with you helps tremendously, we are not alone even without them.
The best news of all is that we never have to attempt a change alone; we have the power of God beside us, with us, guiding each and every one of our steps. Hebrews 4:13 tells us, “There is no creature hidden from His sight but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do."
When we admit the things we know we need to change, acknowledge that nothing is hidden from God, and approach Him with honesty, faith, and trust, His grace is given freely.
It is through God’s grace we are redeemed, and through His grace we are changed. Grace transforms us. As 2nd Corinthians reminds us, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come (5:17)."
Let 2016 be a year you are transformed. Change isn’t easy but it happens; little by little, day by day, we make changes in our lives. Even Rocky recognized that by the end of the movie:
“What I'm trying to say is...
Written by Marisa
The 12:12 Project is sponsored by Katy First United Methodist Church.