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Ever hear a kid say “I’m bored”? Or, “Bor-r-r-ring,” in response to just about anything?

Or, “I don’t have anything to do. It’s so boring,” the kid says as he walks past a bookshelf, tosses his laptop on the couch, and stuffs is teenage face with candy.

Kids get bored. Rather, kids think they get bored. It’s part of growing up, but too many kids persist in their boredom right into adulthood. They’re never redirected by an adult so teenage angst turns into adult ennui, and a host of other issues.

There are a lot of people standing around with an attitude of indolent indifference. They don’t care and are lazy about it. Boredom has done its work. There’s no vision, no energy, at least not for personally or socially productive ends. There’s only apathy.

Boredom is dangerous. It deadens the spirit. First it robs your present of its potency. Then it robs your future of its potential.

From time to time when our four children were young one of them said, “I’m bored.”

We’d say, “You are not bored and not allowed to be bored. Go find something to do. Go outside. Better yet, do something for someone else so you quit thinking about yourself.”

Then my wife would weigh-in with her kicker: “Only boring people are bored.”

The message wasn’t: “You’re committing a sin admitting to boredom.” The message was: “You’re committing a sin if you stay bored.”

We wanted our kids to know they are stewards of their time and God said to use it wisely, to redeem it. We wanted them to understand that no one with an active mind and healthy body can possible be or remain bored in the infinitely beautiful world God created.

God didn’t make us to be bored. He made us to be and do to his glory and to the benefit of our family and others.

“Bored Kids” should be an oxymoron, something that makes no sense. Yet we’re allowing an entire generation to come of age whose principal characteristic is boredom.

I don’t blame the kids. I challenge the adults to give the kids something to be un-bored about.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

It’s possible to work too much for the wrong reasons. It’s possible to be motivated by what Bill Hybels labeled “the monster called ‘More.’” Another word for it is greed, a desire to acquire and possess and accumulate far beyond our basic needs.

Greed is not a uniquely American problem, but it’s clearly one of our problems. Greed happens when we go over the top with our work ethic. We work at good projects for a good organization. We take care of our family. We advance in our professions. We’re amazed at all the stuff we’ve acquired. But we still want more.

Greed is not a word you expect to see listed among the top ten rules for good living. You won’t hear a preacher in the midst of wedding vows encourage a couple to pursue greediness. You won’t hear any eulogies listing greediness as one of the deceased's most endearing qualities.

In one of the better-known passages of the Bible, God talks about greed in what’s often called the “Parable of the Rich Fool” (Luke 12:13-21). In this story the rich fool celebrates his riches not with praise to God but with a bold declaration to build even bigger barns for his goods. Then he issues his infamous cry of excess: "Take life easy; eat, drink, and be merry."

But earlier in the story, Jesus offered this divine warning: "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed, a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

Greed displaces the joy of work. Greed is a form of idolatry. Greedy people worship both conspicuous consumption and accumulation of assets more than God himself.

Greedy people do not acquire-to-live; they live-to-acquire. What do they want? More. How much more? Just one more.

Greed equates life with what Jesus called "the abundance of his possessions." Greedy people define themselves based upon how much they have and how much more they can acquire---this could be money, personal property, net worth, corporate kingdoms, real estate, a greater inheritance . . . things. For men, it could even be wives (plural), “trophy wives,” girlfriends, or just conquests. For women, it could be husbands (plural), boyfriends, and more.

Howard Hughes was a brilliant man who wanted and seemingly attained it all. Greed warped his work and legacy. He died a spiritually bereft and psychologically disturbed man, lonely and alone.

For all this, greed isn't about "things" as much as it is about perceived stature or power. We want, not because we want the possession—we want because of what we think the possession can do for us or what the possession makes of us. This can be true whether the greedy person is a pauper or a tycoon. For a greedy person the amount is always relative.

Or, we want because of insecurity . . . in ourselves . . . in our lives . . . in God.

Greed enslaves; it doesn’t liberate. Under the guise of giving us more, greed instead exacts a price. Ironically, what we want to get actually takes from us.

The remedy for greed is to replace this form of idolatry with a right expression of worship. Pursue God, not greed. Pursue work to the glory of God not the accumulation of possessions, power, or position. Pursue God not money-for-money’s-sake. Pursue God and he will bless you according to his sovereign will.

For all greed promises, it only results in emptiness. For all God promises, He fills our cup to overflowing.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

Michelangelo said, “The greatest danger for most of us is not the fact that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” Michelangelo didn’t aim low. His aim reached as high as the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.

Michelangelo was a talented superstar. His genius enabled him to attain heights most of us will never reach. But still, most of us have a lot going for us. Have you ever really met a truly single-talented person? God’s abundant blessing is too limited for that. Most people are either multi-talented or maxi-talented. Most of us possess more talent than we realize—and dare we say, most of us do not use all the talent we’ve been given.

But Michelangelo’s point is not really about talent. He’s suggesting that most of us are too risk-averse, too limited in our vision, too willing to accept a small view of God, too insecure in our sense of what God has given us, or maybe just too lazy to reach high enough to test the talents we’ve been given. If this is true, then most people really don’t attain the level of achievement and fulfillment God intended for them.

God commands that we work for Him, not just for employers or ourselves. He wants our work to be vigorous, reliable, and characterized by excellence. Anything less is dishonorable to the God who made us, the God who "worked" in creating the universe, who called His work "very good."

Excellence is, therefore, not an option, because excellence in what we do is one way we tell the world who God is. Excellence is a singular expression of biblical Christianity. Excellence in our relationships and excellence in our work are spiritual acts of worship before God. Excellence is the Christian way of doing things.

Doing all things excellently is no guarantee that you will achieve greatness in the annals of history. It is a guarantee that you will please God, serve him and others well, and bring blessings upon your life.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

 

Most people, at some point in their lives, fantasize about greatness. Many people take it to the next level and actually aspire to greatness, and a few make genuine attempts to achieve it.

What would it be like to be elected President of the United States? Wouldn’t it be great to gain fame as a social reformer like Rosa Parks, or to be considered the epitome of compassion like the late Mother Teresa? Or maybe you’d like to be the world’s greatest athlete—like Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, or Lance Armstrong—renowned for your competitive prowess and skill in some favorite sport.

Or perhaps in your fantasies greatness is equated with financial success or net worth. So who is greater? Oprah Winfrey or Donald Trump or Bill Gates or Queen Elizabeth?

Dreaming about greatness is pretty common stuff. We’ve all done it. We all do it. From the business executive to the soloist, from the researcher to the kid playing ball in the park, dreaming we’ll be the greatest is as much a part of life as breathing. It comes from something inside us, a desire for more.

Aspiring to greatness can be selfishly driven, as in a Nixon-like quest for power and control. It can be selflessly driven, as in St. Francis of Assisi’s, “Preach the Word at all times; when necessary, use words.” It can be other-centered, as in a mother’s hope for her child.

Our dreams of greatness are rooted in an intrinsic desire for meaning, for significance, for doing something that matters. Our humanity makes us want to be somebody. We want to do something that lasts, something that makes our mortal selves immortal.

In the Bible God tells us the “why” and “for what” of our lives should be about obedience of his moral will, service in his calling, and excellence in our works. In this divine scenario greatness is possible. Greatness is always providential though not always predictable. Greatness is, rightly grounded, a blessing, a gift to be used for good, an outcome more than a goal.

The Bible never identifies greatness as a goal unto itself. Jesus asked his disciples, “Who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves?” (Luke 22:24-27). His answer was “the one who is at the table,” reminding us that God blesses those who love and give.

The word “greatness” is used more than twenty times in the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, all referring to a great trouble, great call, great opportunity, great compassion, great Lord, or great joy, not a great man. Nehemiah did a great work for a great God. The prophet Micah says it this way, “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (6:8).

Greatness is a rare disposition that is always a by-product of obedience, service, and excellence. Obedience determines whether our actions are in accordance with our Creator’s definition of reality. Service determines whether our activities are noble or ignoble. Excellence determines whether our work attains a level worthy of appreciation or admiration.

The New Testament book of Colossians says "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men" (3:23).

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

 

Susan Boyle is the overnight international sensation from “Britain’s Got Talent.” On April 11, 2009, she was greeted by an audience who dismissed her as odd and unworthy from the moment she walked onto the stage. Even judges Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, and Piers Morgan clearly looked upon her with bemusement. Then she sang “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables.

Susan Boyle’s voice was so powerful and poignant, so utterly beautiful, the only thing that rivaled it was her own fairy tale story. Within seconds members of the audience were in tears, judges’ eyes widened and jaws dropped, and in the end she was given a much-deserved standing ovation. The YouTube video of this event, along with a couple of other song videos quickly made available, attracted over 100 million hits within 9 days of her coming-out performance. At age 47, Susan Boyles attracted worldwide attention, affirmation, and adoration.

The embarrassing part of the tale is the arrogance and presumption evidenced by the audience and judges before Susan sang, all based upon her appearance. She clearly did not present herself well. She’d traveled by train for a couple of days, had not changed her dress or fixed her hair, was awkward in her social interaction, is heavy set and otherwise not an especially attractive woman. But still, the audience’s quick put-down attitude is a shame to us all because if we’d been there we’d likely have reacted right alongside them.

Susan Boyle’s story is a long-deferred dream come true. She was born with a slight learning disability, had a father who treated her harshly and didn’t have much use for her, is the youngest of 4 brothers and 6 sisters, was unemployed, and cared for her Mother until 2007 when Mrs. Boyle passed away at age 91. The lyrics of “I Dreamed a Dream” fit her desire to use her extraordinary talent to become a professional singer, something only a local voice teacher and her Mother encouraged.

Susan Boyle isn’t perfect. She’s known to be feisty, has a temper, and can be less than socially adept. But reading her story and hearing her sing can bring tears to anyone’s eyes.

Two kinds of lessons abound, first for us about us:

--Aspire; dream dreams.

--Never give up on your dreams.

--Keep trying no matter what others say.

--Don’t always listen to experts.

--Everyone has talent(s); focus on your best.

Second, lessons for us about others:

--Never judge a book by its cover or a person by appearance.

--Treat people with respect no matter who they are.

--Give people the benefit of the doubt.

--Encourage others in the use of their talent(s).

--Always suppress arrogance.

There are many other lessons and much inspiration in Susan Boyle’s journey. People worldwide respond to her because she’s authentic. There’s no hype, no celebrity narcissism, no spin. So long ignored and so long without opportunity her triumph is a tale that uplifts the human spirit. It encourages us all because it suggests our dreams can also be fulfilled.

What arc Susan Boyle’s life takes hereon no one knows. But she’ll forever be a symbol of strength of spirit and resolve, the moral of her story being every human being is both valuable and significant.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues

and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

We all have them, things we’d like to do but don’t do because, well, we don’t do. Why we don’t do is too often rooted in what I call self-imposed limitations.

Sure, there are things we wish we could do that we can’t do—I’ll never play golf like my firstborn son, let alone Phil Mickelson. I’ll never sing like Josh Groban. I’ll never snowboard like red-haired Olympic Gold Medalist Shaun White. All of these talents are, though developed, God-given. I don’t have the physical athleticism or vocal cords, no matter how much I’d work to develop skill with the physical coordination or “pipes” I have, to play sports or sing at a world-class level. And by the way, I’ll never look like Tom Selleck in his prime.

When I talk about self-imposed limitations I’m not referring to an infinite list of different talents rooted in our DNA. Nor am I referring to legitimate obstacles all of us face from time to time in our lives, e.g. finances, health, work commitments, etc. When I say self-imposed limitations I mean choices we make that keep us from accomplishing things to which we aspire, all the while simply using the talent, time, and mental/physical capacity God gave us.

On a fairly regular basis I hear someone say something like this: “I’d love to go to New York City.” Me, “Why don’t you go?” Them, “Oh, I can’t.” Me, “Why?” Them, “I don’t know; I just can’t.” When I dig deeper I discover they can’t because they won’t meaning there’s nothing really stopping them other than their own ability to turn desire into action.

Sometimes I hear, “I’d really like to travel to the Holy Land.” Me, “Hey, come and go with us.” Them, “Well I’d like to, but you know, I’m not able to go.” Now it’s possible some factor, like those I mentioned earlier, does indeed prevent them from going. But usually this isn’t the case, at least not in the long run in terms of a plan that could be developed for a future trip. Usually the “not able to go” gets back to their sense that somehow this dream is just a dream and they don’t really want to take the steps or make the sacrifices to fulfill it.

Or it could be something as simple as “I don’t like Chinese food.” Me, “OK, have you ever tried it?” Them, “No, maybe once.” Me, “Oh, well then why don’t you try it and see if you can find a dish that you like?” Them, “Not me.” So they never push the envelope of their assumptions, thus never experiencing anything new that might turn out to be at least a one-time-fun if not a lifetime enjoyment.

I’m not being critical of these folks, but I’m chagrined for them. Because I think they’re willingly denying themselves access to the incredible world God gave us. I know it’s a free country, so more power to ‘em. But I still think they’re missing out due to self-imposed limitations. Why?

--Insecurity or low self esteem. --Inability to make a decision. --Risk aversion. --Fear or perhaps anxiety. --Discomfort with change, uncertainty. --Lack of confidence. --Feelings. --Laziness. –Other?

Overcoming self-imposed limitations isn’t impossible. It may be difficult. It may take sacrifice. It may be challenging. But it isn’t impossible.

Overcoming self-imposed limitations is more a matter of transforming attitudes than actions. Change your attitude and the action will follow. How do you change your attitude?

First, I believe there’s nothing within me that’s beyond the reach of the Spirit of God. There’s no attitude I can develop through learned behavior, or even sprung from my own evil nature, that the Spirit cannot enable and empower me to change, or that he can change. Submit your attitudes to the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart (Proverbs 37:4).

Second, I believe “feelings” can get in the way of attitude change. We don’t “feel” like we can do this or that. But feelings, it seems to me, are ways we lie to ourselves, or ways the Father of Lies, Satan, lies to us. One thing I learned years ago from a pastor’s sermon, actually the pastor who conducted Sarah’s and my wedding: “Behavior changes feelings.” In other words, do something about cleaning the garage and you’ll begin to feel better about the garage. This sounds contradictory to the idea that action follows attitude, but I don’t think it is. You have to change your attitude about your feelings, take action, and your feelings change too.

Third, aspire, dream, develop your vision. If you don’t dream dreams you’ll never accomplish anything special. Once you dream, do.

With so much in the world beyond or seemingly beyond our control, it seems a shame we allow things to control us via self-imposed limitations. Here’s to unbridling our freedom.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.