Category Archives: Life Application

Posts related to everyday living as a follower of Christ.

Always On the B-Team

When I was in high school, I played basketball and tennis. I wasn’t particularly good at either sport. There was a time when I was the best basketball player on the team, but during my freshman year I hurt my ankle and was out for a few weeks. After that, I just never seemed to get it back. Most of my friends made varsity our junior year, but I was still on JV. At our school, you were guaranteed to make varsity your senior year, regardless of how good you were. So I did get to play on varsity one year….if you consider sitting on the bench “playing.” I was always a B-team player.

The same was true of tennis. I didn’t even know I liked tennis until I watched my friends play our freshman year. I tried it out, and decided to play starting my sophomore year. I wasn’t great…I was a first time player among a ton of people who had played their whole life. I obviously played B-team. I didn’t even get to play my senior year, because there were already so many good players from younger grades, that I would have done nothing but travel with the team and cheered for them. They would have let me do that, but I decided it wasn’t for me.

When I was in high school, being on the B-team didn’t bother me that much. I figured sports didn’t really matter in the scheme of things. Now that I’m an adult and in the big world of work and adulthood, I’m starting to see that it’s totally possible to be on the B-team even when you’re no longer playing organized sports. I’ve come to realize lately that I’m on the B-team at work.

You see, I work at a software company as a web developer. I’ve been here 7 years, and it’s the only software development job I’ve ever had. I started here as a complete newbie, a total beginner. I had to learn a lot, and the company was gracious to pay me while I did so. I’m grateful for that. But now that I’ve been here for 7 years, I know that I am very valuable to the company…I can do things here that almost no one else knows how to do. It’s just something that happens when you’ve been somewhere this long. And the company knows that my value lies in doing those things. When they decide to start new development on exciting, cutting-edge projects, they don’t ask me to work on them. They give them to the other developers, the ones who were hired with more experience than I had when I started (but not necessarily more experience than I have now). They assign me to doing the rote, everyday, not-as-fun, and definitely not-as-exciting work.

What’s more, I’m starting to notice a pattern. These projects that the newer people are working on are getting wrapped up, and leadership moves the developers on to new projects right away. But what they just worked on ends up having some issues (we call them “bugs), and someone needs to go back and fix them. Since the others are already on new projects, guess who gets assigned to clean up the mess left behind….  Yep, you guessed it.  Me.  It’s happened on 4 projects over the past year.

So, I’ve come to realize lately that I’m still on the B-team. I’m the junior or senior who gets passed over for varsity, and is then told to wash the team uniforms and towels after the game. I won’t lie…it’s hard on my ego!

So what are my options?

Well, I could whine about it. (I do this a lot….)  I could complain about it to leadership, and hope something changes. I could leave and go somewhere where I’m more respected. I’m totally free to do any of these things.

Want to know what I’ve decided to do? I’ve decided to do nothing. I’m going to keep being the B-team player who gets assigned the jobs no one else wants. You know why? Because I believe that God can receive glory in that. If I will continue to do my job to the best of my ability – doing it as unto God (Col. 3:23) – God can use my seeming obscurity for great things…things I may not even realize are happening. That’s my hope.

David was a B-team brother who became a king. Most of the apostles were B-team nobodies that Jesus empowered to change the world. I keep reminding myself of this, and asking Him to use my B-team status for something great.

 

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A New Perspective on Wasting Our Lives

In the opening chapter of John Piper’s book, Don’t Waste Your Life, he talks about his father who was an evangelist. He says that he recalls times traveling with him and hearing him preach, and how his father’s message, in his own words, “struck me as absolutely blood-earnest.” He then goes on to tell of a man who came to Christ at one of these times:

For me as a boy, one of the most gripping illustrations my fiery father used was the story of a man converted in old age. The church had prayed for this man for decades. He was hard and resistant. But this time, for some reason, he showed up when my father was preaching. At the end of the service, during a hymn, to everyone’s amazement he came and took my father’s hand. They sat down together on the front pew of the church as the people were dismissed. God opened his heart to the Gospel of Christ, and he was saved from his sins and given eternal life. But that did not stop him from sobbing and saying, as the tears ran down his wrinkled face — and what an impact it made on me to hear my father say this through his own tears — “I’ve wasted it! I’ve wasted it!”

The remainder of the book talks about the wasted life, what it looks like, and how to avoid it. I haven’t finished it yet (I’m close!), but it’s had a definite impact on me already.

I’ve laid in bed several nights thinking about that man lamenting over the fact that he had wasted his entire life. He had spent all those years living for the glory of himself, which amounted to absolutely nothing. Of all the tragedies that afflict humankind, few are as awful as the thought of your entire life amounting to nothing. This man’s tears were completely understandable, at least to me.

But then, as I was doing my morning Bible study today, I had a revelation that perhaps puts a twist on this whole idea. My study right now is in Galatians, and I’m still working through the first couple of chapters. In Galatians 1, Paul spends a significant amount of time building his own credentials, probably to defend against that which had been said about him by false teachers who were ravaging the Galatian churches. As a part of those credentials, Paul gives his testimony in Galatians 1:13-16:

For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But…God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles… (emphasis added)

My devotional bought up an excellent point that I had never considered. Paul was most likely around when Jesus was active in His ministry. He undoubtedly could have been called as an apostle by Jesus before His crucifixion. So why wasn’t he? Why did God choose to wait to call Paul until later, and until after he had done some of what he considers his worst sins (persecuting the church)?

The answer is that God did it when He “was pleased” to do it. It all falls back to God’s plan and His own timing. My devotional put it this way:

Have you wept over your past and been, in a sense, tormented in your thoughts because you didn’t come to know Jesus earlier? Rest, beloved child of God, for God saved you when it pleased Him. His promise is there to comfort and assure you that the Sovereign God — the God of all flesh — is able to cause all things, even your “before Christ” days, to work together for good. He will use them to make you like Jesus.

So while in that moment when one comes to Christ it is right to express grief over the fact that we were wretched before we did so, as it points to the repentance in our hearts, it is not necessary to continue in that sorrow. As we grow into a fuller understanding of the nature of our God, and how even Paul’s life was foreordained by Him who knows all, past, present, and future, we can take comfort in the knowledge that God was pleased for it to happen just as it did.

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STM – Week of October 25, 2010

This post is actually being written last Tuesday.  Since I almost forgot to post my STM post at all last week, I went all proactive (the adjective, not the acne treatment medication) and decided to write this post a week early and schedule it to post next Monday (today).  Confused yet?  Don’t worry about it…let’s just memorize this week’s Scripture:

9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. — 1 John 1:9

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STM – Week of October 18, 2010

You know what’s worse than being bad at memorizing Scripture?  Being bad at remembering to memorize Scripture…  *Shame*

I totally forgot to add my Scripture To Memorize post yesterday…my bad, my bad…

So, here it is for this week:

4Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. — Psalm 37:4

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STM – Week of October 11, 2010

Wow, what a week!  I have been so busy this past week at work that I have barely had time to do my Bible study, much less blog about it.  And I will confess immediately that I didn’t do a very good job at memorizing last week’s Scripture.  I’m really bad at anything that involves self-discpline.  But, the wonderful thing about the grace of God is that whenever we fail at anything, He is still there with His hands out to help us back up.  So, I’m throwing out a new Scripture this week – hopefully I can actually memorize it this time!  So that I do a little better job, I’m going to use a Scripture that I have attempted to memorize in the past.  And, it reminds me that I can’t do anything without Christ’s help…

5I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. — John 15:5

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STM – Week of October 4, 2010

If you read the previous post already, then you know what this post is all about, and you know what STM stands for. Please proceed.

If not, please read it here first. Then come back and you’ll also be ‘in the know.’ And I’ll stop making fun of you.

STM for the week of October 4, 2010:

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1

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Quit Making Assumptions…

I think I can trace most of the conflicts I’ve had with other people to an assumption made by either that person or myself. I’m actually not very inclined toward getting into arguments with people – I steer clear of conflict when possible (it’s a self-esteem thing, I think). But when I do have a conflict, it’s usually because I thought that the other person thought something bad about me, intended to get under my skin with some action, or put together a plan of attack against me. In actuality, often the other person was just going about his or her daily life, not giving me a single thought. It was my assumption that caused the conflict just as much or more than their thoughts and actions.

On the other side of things, I can trace a lot of the praise I’ve received back to a point where I didn’t make an assumption, but instead went the extra mile to ensure I wasn’t assuming anything about the circumstances involved. Take a situation from my job today…  I received a request from one of the salespeople in our company to look at something and see if we could work with it for a customer. In order to make that decision, I needed to match up what the customer expected with what we could do. Instead of assuming what the customer expected (like I would probably normally do), I decided to ask, and instead of assuming the customer knew what we could do, I explained it to them. This required me to look up the history we’ve had with the customer, and it required that I spend a little time describing our systems. These things took time, and I ended up getting praised for “taking extra effort.” Being kind of a newbie at what I do, I relish every little bit of praise I can get (it helps build confidence!), so I was quick to determine what exactly I did to get the positive attention so that I could possibly do it again and get a little more. I traced it back to my lack of assumptions. Although I’ve done this exact kind of thing for a handful of customers before this, and I could have easily assumed that this new customer wanted the same thing, I didn’t do that and it paid off.

So what kinds of things can we do to become naturally less assumptive? Here’s a list I made up…take it or leave it:

  1. Ask more questions. The only way to know what someone is thinking is to ask – no one is a mind reader. Any decisions you make based on someone else’s thoughts without knowing exactly what those thoughts are is assuming. So we need to ask more questions and better questions in order to get around needing to assume. If you’re like me, you don’t like asking questions – you feel like people will think you’re stupid if you ask a million questions, or you’re afraid you’ll ask a dumb question. But if you think through what you need to know prior to asking questions, your questions will be direct and you get to the issue at hand much quicker. A direct question that is on-topic is never dumb, regardless of what you might think, and you usually don’t have to ask as many questions that way.
  2. Confront your own assumption. The best way to make sure you aren’t making an assumption in a particular area is to just ask the person if your assumption is right. When I think that my wife is upset about something I said, I can go all day worrying about it, and deal with the negative stuff associated with doing that, or I can just confront my assumption and ask her. Yes, if she is mad, I will have to deal with that right away, but if she’s not, I get to relieve a bunch of stress right away.
  3. Realize that the only safe assumption is the assumption that your assumptions are wrong. Whew! Say that 5 times fast! I didn’t make this saying up, but it makes sense if you have the time to decipher exactly what it says. If you always assume that your assumptions are wrong, then you’ll do these other things (specifically, ask more questions) that will keep you out of trouble.
  4. Recognize your own irritation. If you immediately get irritated about something someone says or does, a red flag should go up. You should ask yourself, “am I making an assumption that is contributing to my irritation?” For me, that’s often the case. I’ll make an assumption about something someone does, assuming that they intended for it to irritate me, and I get irritated. Often, they had no idea that it irritated me, and they’re sorry that it did. But I quickly ruin any chance of peacefully working things out by biting their heads off. Then they get defensive, and we go ’round and ’round.

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