Tag Archives: gossip

Crazy Maisie


Maisie DeVore had a vision.  She wanted to build a community pool for children to enjoy.  She was worried that there weren’t enough positive and healthy activities for kids in her hometown of Eskridge, Kansas, and she felt that the pool was just the thing they needed.

But she had a problem.  Money.  Maisie decided the best way to earn the money was by collecting aluminum cans and turning them in for recycling.  She began searching for them all around town – in trash cans, behind bushes, along roadsides.  When that didn’t net enough cash, she began collecting scrap metal, then making and raffling quilts, then picking wild berries to sell as homemade jellies.

Her neighbors thought she was crazy.  “Hide the toaster!  Maisie’s looking for scrap metal again.”

Her family thought she was crazy.  Said one, “I never came right out and told her I thought she was nuts, but I said, ‘You know Maisie, are you gonna be okay with this if it doesn’t happen?’”

In truth, no one but Maisie thought she would ever see ground broken on the pool.  But that was all the belief she needed.  She collected cans, scrap metal and berries until she had earned $100,000 ($83,000 from the 90 tons of aluminum cans she found).  When the state of Kansas got wind of what she had done, they kicked in a grant of $73,000 to make up the difference.  It wasn’t long before the pool was going in right across the street from Maisie’s home.

As you may have guessed, Maisie didn’t raise that much money overnight.  It took her 30 years!  During that time, Maisie kept her focus on her ultimate goal.  She withstood the teasing and the gossip and put in the incredibly hard work required to see it through.  Now, her neighbors don’t call her “Crazy Maisie” anymore.  As dozens of kids enjoy playing in “Maisie’s Community Pool” each day, all the neighbors call her “Amazing Maisie!”

(S – “Making a Splash,” CBSNews.com, 7/14/02)

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Filed under Abundance, Attitude, belief, Challenges, commitment, creativity, dedication, delayed gratification, determination, overcoming obstacles, Persistence, Problem Solving, sacrifice, Serving Others, success

Schadenfreude


schadenfreude \SHOD-n-froy-duh\, noun: A malicious satisfaction obtained from the misfortunes of others

Feeling guilty already, aren’t you?  Who doesn’t have moments (hours, days, months…) of schadenfreude when our enemies and competitors get their come-uppins?  They deserved it, right?  What goes around comes around.  It’s even better when we didn’t do anything to cause their misfortune.  There are no fingerprints at the scene, so to speak.

I’m not going to try to tackle the rightness or wrongness of this feeling when it is derived from our enemies and competitors.  Lots of gray area there.  But what particularly interests me is how commonly this feeling is directed at people who are on the same team as us.  They have the same goals and objectives as us, but we want them to stumble.  Why?  The two most common reasons are competition and resentment.

Competition
While competition can be a positive and healthy thing for athletic teams, it’s not so great within the Body of Christ.  We often measure our worth by comparing ourselves with those around us.  This can lead to frustration, despair, envy, covetousness, bitterness and even sabotaging behaviors if we feel like we are on the losing end.  It can lead to pride, complacency and disdain for others if we feel like we are on the winning end.

Resentment
Holding a grudge about a perceived wrong done to us makes it difficult for us to see the “guilty” party succeed.  We want justice.  We want fairness restored.  They slighted us, attacked us, overlooked us, punished us…, and we feel that we are righteously indignant.  Failure, embarrassment or difficult obstacles in their path would make us feel like the scales had been returned to their proper positions.

Hopefully, it’s obvious that this isn’t healthy.  It leads to all types of passive-aggressive and aggressive behaviors, ranging from negative thoughts to gossip to rumors to Tonya Harding-inspired pipes to the knee.  Even at their most “innocuous” levels, these feelings lead us to withhold assistance and advice and prayer that might help the other person.  Schadenfreude is the equivalent of cancer to the Body of Christ.  It will destroy us from the inside out.

As brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to be diligent to spot the signs of schadenfreude when they surface, and we need to deal with them quickly and decisively.  When we see them in ourselves, we should be quick to pray for God to give us the ability to forgive and to have His love for the other person.  When we see them in others, we should lovingly point out the bitter root and help our friends forgive and love.

We’ve got enough enemies and competitors without adding them from inside the Body.  Let’s stop doing the devil’s work for him.

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Filed under Abundance, agape love, blame, Body of Christ, christianity, emotions, forgiveness, Interpersonal, justice, love, Relationships

The Elephant in the Room


elephant-in-room

Ever had the experience of having an “elephant in the room?”  It’s what happens when there is something big and disturbing that we all know about but won’t discuss.  We stress over it; we pretend it’s not there; we go to great lengths to maneuver around it… all because we don’t know how to deal with it.

It’s Christmas, and many families will be gathering together to celebrate the holiday while simultaneously trying to step around the elephants that have accumulated in their relationships. Hoping for peace on earth and goodwill toward each other, they will bite their tongues as they enjoy Christmas dinner.  And doing their best to ensure a silent night, they will stick to only the safest topics for conversation.

Isn’t it exhausting?  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just be honest about the elephants?  And have we ever stopped to think about exactly how much elephant maintenance is costing us? The longer an elephant is allowed to stay, the more trust he eats.  The more trust he eats, the bigger he gets and the harder it is to get rid of him without doing some major damage to the relationships.

What if we sacrificed some of that peace and silence to do some important and needed work on our relationships this Christmas?  What if we prayed for God’s healing before our guests arrived or before we went over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house?  What if we humbled ourselves to be the first one to say, “I’m truly sorry,” to those who feel hurt?  What if we decided to put some forgiveness under the tree?

Maybe we could save our money this year, and purchase a gift that will only cost us our pride and the risk of stepping out of our comfort zone (and maybe a thrown plate or two).  Wouldn’t it be worth it?  Even if it ends in disaster (and I’m aware that it’s a good possibility with some of our families), the attempt would be precious to God, and there is no way to know how He will eventually use your sacrifice.

Blessings to you and yours!

Merry Christmas!

Michael


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Filed under accountability, agape love, Authenticity, Challenges, Christmas, comfort zone, communication, family, Interpersonal, love, overcoming obstacles, Relationships

Clawing Your Way Out


Put a single crab in a bucket, and it’s likely to crawl out. Experienced crab fishermen know that if you put two or more crabs in the bucket, none of them will escape.

Why?  Because whenever one of the crabs tries to escape, the other crabs will instinctively reach up and pull it back down.

People can be a lot like the crabs in the bucket.  When some people see another person trying to make something of themselves, they try to sabotage their efforts. They can’t stand to see someone else get ahead. Another person’s success reminds them of their lack of success, so they reach up and grab a foot.

When you try to improve yourself and climb up out of the bucket you’re in, you’re going to experience opposition…..guaranteed.  Many of those crabs in the bottom of the bucket (your peers, your friends, your family members…) have a vested interest in keeping you there.  If you climb out, they start to get lonely.  Remember, misery loves company.

Worse, your escape is a reminder to them that they actually have some control over their own situation.  Ironically, this is bad news, because they really don’t want to take control.  It’s much easier and much more comfortable to stay in the bottom of the bucket and complain.

From the bottom of the bucket, they can blame all the people and circumstances that are responsible for their unhappy condition.  They can criticize the efforts of the crabs who are trying to climb out of the bucket for thinking that they are better than everyone else.  They can spread gossip and negative seeds about the crabs that believe they can escape.

What a shame!  All this lose-lose behavior is such a waste.  While the crabs in the bottom do their best to hold everyone down they totally miss the fact that they could all get free if they would let the crabs who crawl out reach back and pull them up!

If you’ve made it out already, remember to lend a claw.  If you’re still in the bottom of the bucket, keep your claws to yourself!

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Filed under Change, christianity, Interpersonal, Relationships, Religion, Spirituality

The VIP Line


I got in line at the airport yesterday, resigned to endure the long, shuffling wait. It was an international flight, and there were several hundred people queued up waiting to check in. Most wore their boredom and/or irritation plainly on their faces, but they knew there was nothing they could do. This was how things went when you couldn’t pay premium for business or first class seats.

After some time shuffling along, I remembered my more-than-frequent flier card. It sometimes allows me to bypass the long lines and head straight for the VIP desk. But I hesitated to move for three reasons:

1. I wasn’t sure this card would work with this airline.

2. I was afraid to give up my time-earned place in line just in case I was wrong.

3. I was pretty sure I knew what all the other people would think about me if I went ahead of them by moving to the VIP line. (I’ve had a person yell at me on one occasion, but the passive-aggressive typically just make angry remarks under their breath for my benefit.)

I’m sure you would have made the switch immediately, but I had to weigh and reweigh the factors in the balance. This was a life-changing decision. “Stay – Go…..StayGoStaaayy…GO! Go now! Go! I mentally cattle-prodded my rear end and took a step. After that, the decision was made for me, as the line oozed in to fill the space where my foot had just been. There was no going back; I had forfeited my claim.

I could hear the murmurs and feel the stares as I made my way to the empty VIP line, but I kept my eyes forward and my head held high. When I reached the ticket agent, I apologetically asked, “I can’t come over here if I have one of these, can I?” But to my relief, I was in the right place! Stamp-stamp, bzzzzt-bzzzzt (the universal onomatopoeia for a ticket printer) and I was gone, shaking the cold stares off my shoulder as I headed for the gate. An hour of my life was lost but now was found! Bring the fatted calf!

With all that extra time on my hands, I began to think about how strangely familiar the event had felt. There was a time when I shuffled along in the spiritual economy line when I could have gone right to the VIP desk. It wasn’t that I had earned my VIP status. Jesus (“The” VIP) paid my membership for me. In fact, He paid it for everyone standing in economy, but most of us have learned to be helpless, and we’ve stopped looking for a better way.

We see a few people break away and head toward the VIP desk, but we doubt that it will work for us. Or we have so much invested in our “economy” lives and belief systems that we are too afraid to leave the comfort of the familiar.

What if we step away from the crowd, and we’re wrong? What if what we’ve heard about the VIP line is too good to be true? Won’t we look foolish? Won’t everyone laugh at us or get angry with us for thinking we are better than they are?

Satan knows how easy we are to keep in line. His creates the queue barriers with slender reasons for ropes, because he knows how compliant we are, how willing to follow the crowd. A little fear, a little uncertainty, and we decide “better safe than sorry” and “let’s see what everyone else does.” We take our cue (pun intended) from other people in the economy line as if they were qualified experts; “He looks smart, and he’s not moving” or “She said that she heard the VIP thing was a hoax.”

But as tragic as this deception is, it’s not nearly as bad as the deception Satan works on those who know they are VIPs but continue to walk in economy. I’m not talking about the ones who went back to convince the others to switch; I’m talking about those who are too afraid to trust what The VIP has said to be true.

Jesus has purchased first class tickets for them to lead lives of joy, promise, hope, and incredible, exciting service to Him. But because these riches are spiritual and less obvious than worldly riches, the VIPs in economy march on with the rest, hoping for an upgrade that they can see, touch and spend. They want to believe the promises of Scripture, but they lack the faith to walk in the VIP line.

If more of the VIPs were in the right line, the switch would be much less scary for those still in economy. They want to see that it’s real, that it works, before they step out. But so often they are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with VIPs whose lives are no better than their own. To them, it seems like a membership club with no benefits.

“Red Rover, Red Rover, let the VIPs come over.” Jesus paid a lot to get us our upgrade; Let’s walk in it and enjoy it enough that it looks worth having.

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Filed under Authenticity, Change, christianity, faith, Fear, leadership, overcoming obstacles, Religion, Salvation, Spiritual Growth, spiritual warfare, Spirituality

GIGO


I’ve written before about our ear gates and our eye gates. These are the places where things come into our minds. It’s important that we exercise some control in this area, because what gets in begins to influence how we think and how we act over time.

There’s one more gate that I may not have mentioned; it’s your mouth gate. While the ear and eye gates control what comes into your mind, the mouth gate controls what comes out of it.

You may have heard this expression before. GIGO means “Garbage In – Garbage Out.” It mainly refers to computers (i.e., don’t blame the computer…if you put in bad programming, you’re going to get a bad result.), but it applies to our mental computers, as well. If you stock your brain full of garbage, be certain that it will find it’s way back out – usually through your mouth gate.

Men, if we allow large shipments of sexual images to enter our eye gates, it won’t be long before it affects our thinking. We will start to see women more as objects than as people. When enough shipments come in, some of that thinking will find its way across our lips; I almost guarantee it.

We’ll find ourselves making lewd jokes or engaging in sexual innuendo. We’ll talk about co-workers and neighbors in terms of how they look rather than focusing on their more meaningful qualities. We’ll find it hard to resist the double entendre when we hear someone make a harmless remark.

Women, your temptation comes through both your ear gates and your eye gates. If you listen to frequent gossip and critical assessment of those around you, it will start to color your thinking. Before long, you will find yourself evaluating people in just the same, graceless way. If you watch shows or read magazines about shallow, superficial judgments of others, you will struggle not to descend to the same behaviors in your personal life.

You’ve heard the principle, “what goes up must come down.” How about “what goes in must come out?” The more junk you allow in your ear gates and eye gates, the more likely it is to find it’s way into what you talk about and how you talk about it. Jesus was communicating this principle when he said:

“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’…”
(Matthew 15:18-20)

Be careful what you allow in through your gates. When your heart and mind are full of garbage, you won’t be able to hide it long before the neighbors start noticing what you’re putting on the curb.

* For more articles about spiritual gates, check out these links:

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Filed under Religion, Spiritual Growth

Guard Your Gates!


The book of Nehemiah in the Bible serves as a great metaphor for living the spiritual life. In the book, the Temple represents our heart (where God meets with us); the city of Jerusalem represents our mind; the walls of the city represent our spiritual walls and the health of our relationship with Christ, and the gates of the city represent our eyes, ears and mouth.

Nehemiah built the city walls and installed the gates to protect the city and the temple. Walls keep bad stuff or bad people out. Gates allow good stuff and good people in. But sometimes, the gates allowed bad stuff and bad people in. It’s not what the gates were designed for, but it happened because those in charge of the gates weren’t guarding them like they should.

Apply the metaphor to our spiritual lives. We build our spiritual walls each day as we engage in spiritual disciplines (reading the Bible, praying, obeying God…). We put a lot of work into building those walls, because we want to do our best to follow the Lord. But there’s a problem. Sometimes, we don’t do a very good job of guarding our gates (our eyes and our ears). We allow bad stuff to come into our city (our mind), and give it access to our temple (our heart). All the hard work we put into building our walls is now compromised, because we didn’t guard our gates.

The Enemy will get into our hearts and minds any way he can. If we’ve built strong spiritual walls with no gaps in them, he’s going to attack us at our gates. We need to be as diligent about guarding our gates as we are about wall-building. So, the question is, are we?

I think we underestimate the power of media in our lives. Not just “the media,” though I’m including them. I’m talking about all the types of media that we watch or listen to in a given day or week. Music, television, magazines, newspapers, email, advertisements, gossip… We let that stuff into our brains! Are we being selective enough?

We shouldn’t be naive about this. There is programming going on. When we open our eye-gates and our ear-gates to the media around us, it gets into our brains. If enough gets in, it will make its way to our hearts. That’s okay if we are only opening our gates to God-honoring messages. Program away! It will help us walk straighter. But most of us are not guarding the gates carefully enough, and bit by bit, we are filling our minds with things that don’t honor God.

When I teach kids, I do an illustration of this with a large bowl of water and some food coloring. I tell them that the bowl of water represents their minds as God created them – pure and clean. The food coloring represents some of the bad stuff we can let into our heads – profanity, the Lord’s name used in vain, music with inappropriate themes, movies with inappropriate scenes, jokes with inappropriate punch lines, stories told from inappropriate motives…

Each time I mention a new bad thing that can get into our minds, I have one of the kids drop a little food coloring into the bowl. By the time I’m done, the pure, clean water is dark and murky. It doesn’t take much to spread all throughout the water – just like it doesn’t take much bad stuff in your gates before your thinking starts to change. “It’s not so bad.” “Everyone is doing it.” “You can’t get away from it – you just have to ignore it.” “That’s just the way things are these days.”

Our brains are incredible. They can hold more data than any computer on earth. But the bad news is that they never purge all the bad information and images we put in them. Once it’s in, it’s in for good and forever. Our only hope is that we can dilute it by allowing more good stuff in our gates. That’s hard work, and it takes time.

Nehemiah set up rules for guarding the gates of Jerusalem, and he got rid of all the riff-raff that were hanging right outside the gates. Maybe we should do the same. A few gate-keeping rules might do us some good.

* For more articles about spiritual gates, check out these links:

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Filed under gates, heart, Mind, Spiritual gates, Spiritual Growth