Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Winning the Battle Starts with Showing Up!

The books of the Bible that deal with rules and bean counting are always hard reads for me, no matter what the translation is that I happen to be using!  It reminds me of history class when you had to keep track of the specific dates for various Civil War battles in order to pass the final exam.  If I could match a specific battle to a specific war I figured I had hit the bonus round!  Asking for the exact date?  That's an entirely different story!  I'm grateful that I absorbed enough information to figure out what happened and when it happened!  That's the same sort of view that I take with certain books of the Bible.  I'm never going to keep the genealogies and census numbers straight but if I can get the general idea then it's all good! 

There are little nugget gems to be found within the various law and number books if you keep reading.  Every once in awhile, something will jump out at me and I'll be like "huh, wonder why I didn't notice that before?"  Today's daily Bible reading had one of those little gem moments.  Take First Chronicles for example!  Chapter 9 discusses the list of exiles who came back to Jerusalem, and of course it names names.  It is a pretty standard list by clan and it involves the Priests, Levites and temple support staff.  But when you get to the Korahite family who were the guards at the temple gates there is this little bit of added information.  The Message paraphrase says this:
"David and Samuel the seer handpicked them for their dependability."
Now if you have any inkling of history, you know that the exile happened well after King David's time.  So the choice of this particular clan to be in charge of temple security happened long before the Babylonian exile and eventual return of the tribe of Israel to Jerusalem.  And the key reason as to why this particular clan was chosen for this specific duty was because they were dependable!  David and Samuel knew they could rely on them to fulfill this duty and that they would actually show up!  Even though a lot of time had passed, this was still true of the clan when they returned from exile.  The job would get done because this family would be there.  They would actually show up!

That is the moral of the story for today.  Part of winning your battles involves being dependable.  It involves not just talking about what you are going to do.  It is about showing up, doing the work and following through.  Want a modern example?  Firefighters have training and they have the equipment but if they don't show up to put out a fire it doesn't do you much good, now does it?  Teachers have training and they create lesson plans but if they don't show up to teach the class all that planning amounts to nothing.  Or, if you would like to jump in to the world of science fiction-a starship has warp drive but until Captain Picard says "engage" it doesn't really help you!  You can have the best plans, you can have the greatest tools but until you actually show up to do the work it amounts to absolutely zero in progress!  There is great value in being dependable!

Dependability is under-rated today.  It's just not a "glamorous" virtue like being utterly brilliant!  Having been an office manager I can tell you that I would take a dependable person over a brilliant person any day!  A dependable person is trainable.  Someone who has brilliant ideas but is not reliable is useless to me in an office setting because they are never around to follow through on their good ideas!  They are flighty.  My preference would be to have someone with both qualities-brilliance and dependability but if I had to make a choice, I would choose the dependable person.  It's not because I oppose new ideas but rather because I need to know that someone is going to be there to actually do the work!

So how does this apply to your life and your faith walk?  Well, let me ask you this.  Are you facing struggles and you have some good ideas on how to deal with them but you just haven't implemented them?  Why?  What is holding you back?  Is it because the task seems too daunting or is it because you believe someone else will take care of the problem?  If you happen to fall in to the second category-believing that someone else should take care of the problem-you may have a problem!  The only person you can change, the only person you have control over is you!  Doing the work, making small changes, that's how big changes occur.  But you have to "show up" to win the battle.  You, my darling friends must do the work.  You have to be dependable and reliable-for you!

The same thing applies not only in your personal life and your work life, but also in the life of a church.  If you want change, then you have to be willing to do the work!  You have to show up.  You have to be the reliable, dependable person!  I have a beautiful voice, I can sing.  But in order to be involved with the Praise Team I had to show up for practice and I had to show up to help lead worship on Sunday morning.  I could have all the good ideas I wanted but if I didn't bother to show up then those ideas would not come to fruition because there would be no one to follow through.  Being part of the team meant working for the best interest of the team.  And a big part of that involved simply showing up!  The team was successful because we knew that we could rely and depend on each other!  Things would get done because there was a reliable core who was willing to do the work!

I remember a conversation I had with a good friend of mine who also happens to be a very successful businessman.  As an office manager I was suddenly having to deal with moving large sums of money around which was something completly new to me and quite frankly, I was rather intimidated by the whole thing.  I mentioned this to my friend.  He also had experienced the same thing at first but he said "I got to the point where it didn't bother me any more.  A thousand dollars, a million dollars, same difference."  The uncomfortable became comfortable because it became normal.  It became normal because he showed up every day and did the same thing over and over again until it became second nature.  It wasn't randomly done, there was a specific plan and procedure to follow.  It worked because my friend was dependable and reliable and he showed up to do the work.  He looked at the problem and created plan A, B and C.  He addressed the issue head on and he did the work to win the "battle".  But his success would never have happened if he didn't bother to show up to "do battle" in the first place.  That's why being dependable is so critical to any success in life.  Change doesn't happen by itself.  Change depends on people willing to work the plan in order to make change happen!

Are you facing big problems?  Do you have some ideas on how to address them?  Do you want to see change?  Create a plan and then start doing the work.  If this is your battle than show up!  Face your challenges head on.  Engage in the action.  Be steady and consistent or in other words be dependable.   Battles are unavoidable but the art of winning the battle is showing up for the battle in the first place!  

As Captain Picard would say...Engage!

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