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.
Years ago, when we were 26-yr-old young marrieds, we decided the Lord wanted me to go to graduate school in order to earn a Ph.D. Advanced degrees and possibly working in higher education had been a periodic topic of ours since our dating days, so the decision wasn't new to us. Now, finally, it was time.
I shared our plans with people in our church and the Christian school where we both worked as teachers. We were amazed at the reaction. Rather than something like "Hey, way to go," or "We'll pray for you" (to be fair, we did hear a few like this), several folks responded with minimal enthusiasm at best. When I informed people the only way we could do this financially was for me to lodge in Cincinnati for two semesters while my wife and two children maintained our WV home, many more criticized us, particularly me. I was told that if I did this I would be a bad father and a suspect husband (meanwhile I'm wondering about the traveling businesspeople I knew). I was warned this could undermine our marriage (of course, anything can undermine a marriage if hearts are not right). And the coup de grace, I was told I'd clearly be out of the Lord's will (and I'm wondering how they knew the Lord's will for our lives better than we did).
Yet the Lord blessed us. The two semesters of running back and forth on weekends was time-consuming and expensive, my wife driving a school bus to make ends meet was challenging, and missing the kids and Sarah while I studied during the week wasn't fun. But while we were apart, I became a focused student who accomplished my coursework and more. We were able to do this because we as a husband and wife were in full agreement and because we believed we were doing what the Lord wanted us to do. I still believe this 30 years later.
During grad school at the University of Cincinnati, we experienced something similar when we announced the coming of our third child. At university certainly, and even at church, I made the announcement to at least a dozen people before someone finally congratulated us. Everyone, including believers, made dumb comments about tax deductions, etc. One woman actually asked me, "How will you pay for their education?" I said to her, "You know, the baby isn't even born. His or her higher education is at least 18 years from now. I think maybe the Lord will point the way by then." She wasn't amused. But neither were we. I wonder what those folks would have said had they known the Lord would give us baby #4 about two and one-half years later?
Finally, after six years of teaching and administrative work at our alma mater in OH, we announced that the Lord had given me the opportunity to become an Academic Vice President at a Christian college in NY. Again, some people said "Congrats" and slapped my 34-yr-old back, but many wondered aloud how we could be in the Lord's will leaving a place as wonderful as the Christian college where we'd served the past few years. Interesting. That campus was indeed a wonderful place and we enjoyed every minute we'd lived there, 4 years as students, 6 years as a professor. I literally cut my professional teeth there. But the Lord had more for us.
I don't have a glib answer, even after 25 years, as to why people responded like they did to what for us was wonderful news of the Lord's guidance and blessing in our lives. But I don't think ill of them. Mostly, their motives were good; they were concerned for us. And though I've tried not to do so, somewhere in the journey I've probably come across to others in a similar way.
My best guess is that people make negative comments about another person's sense of God's direction because they superimpose their sense of His direction for their lives onto others. In other words, God isn't calling them to another land so He must not be calling you. God isn't directing them to go to grad school so He must not be directing you. God didn't give them another child, so why in the world would He give one to you?
I may not be right or even perceptive in this assessment. But I think I've seen it play out.
In the end, if you care about the Lord's will, you have to do what we've told our now-young-adult children. "You don't have to do it the way we did it. You don't have to answer to us anymore about what you do. What you need to do is consider the options together, take them to the Lord, and then do what you believe He wishes you to do. Live your life for Him, not others, not even Mom and Dad."
The best critics/friends are those who offer their honest insights and then get in the boat and row with you. Critics/friends who offer critiques and remain on shore aren't ones you need worry about. Ask Job.
Once a writer writes, the next greatest challenge is finding good readers. Not getting published, mind you, that comes later. No, the next challenge is readers.
I realize that not all writers/authors are open to readers (and certainly not editors). I’ve known professors who never published their good material because they just couldn’t bring themselves to submit to editing. I’ve known writers who scream like their hand’s being chopped when someone suggests cutting a paragraph. In other words, the writer’s ego is tied up in his or her work.
The moral of the story is this: Writers/authors who can’t be edited are usually still “starving artists.” Rich and successful authors have long since learned to appreciate readers/editors.
Assuming, though, that writers are open to review and critique, readers (or editors) can make invaluable contributions toward honing the work.
Readers help writers gauge whether writers are accomplishing what they think they’re accomplishing. Some readers help with content ideas, some help with grammar, some help with “general reaction,” some with expertise in the subject matter can help with accuracy or illustrations, and some can help with marketing strategy.
Some readers simply but importantly help by saying, “I read this sentence five times and it still doesn’t make sense to me.” That’s good. If the reader can’t understand the sentence, the public won’t either. And you can fix a sentence’s structure and flow before it’s published.
Why is finding readers such a challenge? The answer is a list:
--People don’t read. Really, this is part of it.
--Those who read may not have the time. Fair enough.
--People commit to reading a column/article/book manuscript but don’t follow through. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve experienced this, and strangely, I rarely hear from my would-be readers. They seemed to have forgotten not only my work and request but also their pledge to assist.
--You can’t find readers with good writing, grammar, or proofing skills.
--You can’t find readers with enough background in the subject matter to make knowledgeable comments.
--Certain readers read eventually, at long last, maybe. In other words, they say they’ll read and respond by a certain deadline but don’t get it done until the cows jump over the moon. Meanwhile, you’ve long since given up or had to move on with the project.
There’s more, but you get the picture. This is why I hold willing, able, and reliable readers in high esteem. It’s also why, when from time to time I am asked to read, I try to respond as my best readers have responded to me.
“Check the facts” is a piece of advice that fits a lot of situations. Early in my teaching career I learned to check the facts when a student, in college as well as in the grades, told me thus or so was happening. Early in my administrative career I learned again: check the facts before making an administrative decision or before going public with information given to me.
“Check the facts” is also good advice for much of the American public who do not read. And it’s a doubly worthy insight for those who merely glance at titles.
I’ve posted many blogs on my website and later to Facebook, and I’ve written a lot of columns and articles, printed and/or posted later for public access. On several occasions I’ve experienced negative response, which is to say criticism, about what people think I said. In other words, they quickly read the title, misinterpreted it or otherwise made assumptions, and then let ‘er rip. But their criticism made it clear they’d never read my actual content. They’d never checked the facts.
“Check the facts” is an especially important M.O. if you think you must critique or correct another person. Even more it’s critical if you intend to impugn their character. Better be careful. Check the facts.
We’re glad for a legal system built upon the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.” We’re even more grateful if we’re the one accused. Why? Because if indeed we are innocent, we most certainly want authorities to take time to check the facts.
Remember ol’ Sgt. Joe Friday (Jack Webb) on the black and white TV program called “Dragnet”? “All we want are the facts, Ma’am.”
Check the facts. You’ll be better off no matter what you do next.
Robert Morgan’s historical narrative of the massive land expansion that became the American West is well written and interesting. Since I like history, especially 17th and 18th Century American history, I thought this book was a winner before I opened the cover.
Morgan tells the story of the exploration, early settlement, and acquisition of the West—in that order by the way: note that acquisition generally came after Americans were already there—through the lives of major figures who played key roles. Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman, James K. Polk, Winfield Scott, Nicholas Trist, Kit Carson and others stand tall (even the relatively short in stature Carson) in this incredible saga of how vast acres, environmental riches, and beauty became the American West.
Manifest Destiny, that ambition that captured the national consciousness in the 19th Century, made its mark. So did a desire for Pacific harbors, river routes to the sea, furs, gold, and other commercial inclinations.
Morgan doesn’t sidestep or gloss over less attractive parts of the story: slavery, Native American displacement and extermination, greed, and self-aggrandizement. All made an impact and all follow us to this day.
The Louisiana Purchase in 1803, British cession of parts of northern North Dakota and Minnesota in 1818, Spanish cession of Florida and parts of Louisiana in 1819, Texas War for Independence in 1836 and annexation in 1845, British cession of Oregon Territory in 1846, Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo ceding millions of acres of territory, including California, ending the Mexican-American War in 1848, Gadsden Purchase in 1853. The fledgling United States acquired every acre from the Mississippi River to the Pacific in 50 years. It’s an astounding record of toughness and tenacity, tragedy, some travesty, and triumph.
I can think of no better wrap than to say this book is “A good read.”
Wannabe Presidents of the United States of America must run a grueling gauntlet of presidential election primaries and debates. Part of the experience is proclaiming, defending, and attempting to minimize damage regarding one's "faith" or religion. Are you Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Mormon? And come on now, are you really?
Voters, or at least the public, want to parse every response. Some of this, I contend, is legitimate: voters are trying to understand the candidate's character, or at least I hope that's the motive. Some of this goes over the top: voters are trying to crucify one candidate on his or her altar in order to advance another favored candidate.
But what should we think about presidential candidates' religion? Here's my take on the subject:
Does any religion guarantee, or preclude, a great presidency?