Monday, June 04, 2012

Kindness Should Be the Christian's MO

My wife and I ate at a place called Jimmy's Pizza in Litchfield, Minnesota the other day. One server was working the dining room, taking incoming phone calls for delivery orders, and checking customers out at the register. The place wasn't packed, but it was a Friday and, judging by the numbers of times new phone calls came in, business was steady.

Our server was amazing, though! She kept up with everything and did so with a smile, an occasional kind comment, and efficiency.

Toward the end of our visit, after we'd told her that we would take our check any time she could get to it, I said to her, "It would be great to bottle up your energy and good attitude and sell them!" She smiled, then moved to clear away the dishes of a party that had just left. With what seemed like a single motion, she put the dishes in one hand, swept the tip from the table, and wiped the table clean.

But then, she whirled around, fixed me with a smile, and said, "Just for the record, that may be the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me!"

It's amazing the impact a simple expression of kindness and appreciation can have on people!

My friend Steve Sjogren likes to riff off an observation once made by Mother Teresa. Steve says, "Small things done with great love will change the world."

The Bible says that it's the kindness of God that leads people to repentance. (Repentance is changing our minds about God, His Son Jesus Christ, our sins and exchanging our selfish views for God's views about what's right and wrong, useful and useless.)

When people repent, they're open to trusting in Christ, the one Who came into the world to bring new, everlasting life to those who dare to trust in Him.

Jesus says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life" (John 3:16). 

God has been incredibly kind to me, granting me forgiveness and new life I don't deserve. He's also commissioned me and every person who believes in Him to help others believe in Him. That's why there may be no more important things for Christians, as ambassadors for Christ, representatives of the One revealed to be God in the flesh, to do than to be kind to others.

UPDATE (6/7/2012): See here.

Overhearing Office Chatter Decreases Productivity

I've never been able to write, read, research, pray, or engage in any concentration-intense activity when a TV is on or when there's loud conversation happening close to me. And precisely because I love music so much, the only kind of music I can have playing around me when I'm working on a sermon, for example, is instrumental stuff, like classical or jazz, that doesn't engage me emotionally or mentally. Were I to play any of my favorite artists' music, all of whom sing, or listen to NPR, while trying to be productive, I could forget about getting anything useful done.

Maybe I'm easily distracted. But today's Harvard Business Review's Daily Stat indicates that at least one form of distraction, one that I would find hard to deal with if I worked in an office with others, can decrease productivity.

JUNE 4, 2012
Coworkers' Conversations Impair Your Performance

Overhearing your office mates' conversations can cause a decline of 5% to 10% in your ability to read, write, and carry out other tasks requiring efficient use of short-term memory, according to a New York Times report of a study by Finland's Institute of Occupational Health. The researchers found that in an office environment, speech is the most disturbing type of sound because it is processed by working memory. Employees perform better when speech is masked by the sound of a babbling brook.

Source: From Cubicles, Cry for Quiet Pierces Office Buzz

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Silence is More Than Golden

"Discretion of speech is better than eloquence with words." Today's post from Our Daily Bread is particularly powerful.

One of the toughest passages of Scripture to live is (at least it is for me): "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:17).

Silence may be more than golden; it may be the very word God wants us to speak.

Father, give the Holy Spirit total access to my mind, body, and tongue, so that everything I do, say, and am glorifies You and expresses my thanks for the gift of new life that comes from Jesus Christ alone. Amen