The new year often brings out the belief that we ought to make sweeping changes in our lives. Beginning a rigorous exercise regimen, losing a substantial amount of weight, living within our means, and disciplining ourselves to save for the future are common New Years Resolutions. Some of us also serve in professions or capacities that continually pressure us to do the “new,” the “unexpected,” the “unprecedented,” and to be “innovative.” All of these desires and expectations may seem a huge burden to us.
However, the small things, done day by day, have an incremental value that we often overlook. We underestimate the impact of faithful habits, incorporated into our days. Those who have deep influence are faithful in what we would consider the small tasks. For me, one example is circulating among my students and greeting them, talking to them about how their day is going and other small talk, instead of having my head down and ignoring them because I have “significant projects.” Will I have deeper influence in their lives because of how well I prepare my lessons, or how much I connect with my students?
There is some proportionality here as well. We are not to ignore what Jesus called “the weightier matters of the law” and be satisfied that we can check off the details. This is the error of the Pharisees that Jesus condemns in Matthew 23, However, Jesus is not advocating that we neglect the details and concentrate on the big picture only.
Faithful, daily tasks, as small as they may seem at the time, grow into something greater than the tasks themselves. Consistent care of children usually results in more than a checklist completed of child care tasks, but children who are loving, well-behaved, and a pleasure to be around. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember this. But it’s encouraging when we do and are able to carry out this idea in specific ways.
Why blog? This is a question that I’ve been asking myself for the last couple of years. If you follow this blog, you find out that the usual answer is, “there’s no reason to.” And for the past several years, I’ve managed to marshal some reasons not to blog that sound like good arguments.
I don’t have anything to say. In other words, there’s nothing that hasn’t already been said. Now, this form of thinking is one to which I am prone. What I’ve discovered, however, is that there are new ways of saying what has been said, and new audiences who are looking for a fresh take.
I’m not that interesting. Blogging is a good way to become interesting. It’s good to have a driving force that will push me to be more engaging, develop new interests, and to pursue the interests that I have more wholeheartedly.
I’m not a narcissist. While there is more than enough shallow, self-centered banality that sounds narcissistic, it doesn’t follow that anyone who wants to put their thoughts in public is a narcissist. There are writers whom I read who stimulate me, challenge me, and edify me. These are results that don’t come from navel-gazing narcissists.
I don’t write that well. My self-evaluation of my writing has deterred me from sharing most of my writing with anyone. But the opposing point of view says, “how am I going to improve?” The path to improvement is regular writing, revising, and sharing what I write.
I don’t care about being famous. There are bloggers whose readerships is in the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands. Developing an audience and bringing dependable content to that audience sounds like pressure. But building an audience is not easy. It takes effort. At this point, I’m writing as if I have an audience, but I’m far from being famous.
I’d rather teach than write. Fair enough. But won’t writing and editing and revising make me a better teacher?
I’d rather while away the hours in unproductive pursuits. This is the honest truth. But it’s one that I want to change.
What keeps you from blogging? Why do you blog? What motivates you to keep sharing and publishing content? I’d love to hear from you!
2014 Summary: For my wife and I, this was a year of many transitions. My wife’s beloved grandmother, who loved me like one of her own sons, was called home to glory this past summer at 96 years old. Our oldest son got married in the summer, and our youngest son went off to college, leaving us as empty nesters. To “prepare us for this,” our daughter studied abroad in Great Britain. My sister moved in with us as she needed more care later in the summer. I started to transition into a larger pastoral role in our church. Then it became apparent that the “puzzle” of my own desires, God’s call, our family’s interests, our educational nonprofit, and church fit together better with me in a smaller role in the church and a larger role at our nonprofit. In the aftermath of all these things, I experienced a significant episode of depression required medical care and a break from church responsibilities. So, there were a number of goal set for 2014 that were not achieved. A result of this is a re-evaluation of goal-setting and annual planning for 2015.
2014: What went well?
What didn’t go well?
Bottom Line on evaluating 2014: In a year that felt like “failure,” there were an astounding number of successes. It’s important to keep “the big picture” in mind rather than to dwell on the negatives.
What went well with you in the past year? What lessons did you learn? I’d love to hear from you!
It’s Day Nine of My 500 Word challenge by Jeff Goins at goinswriter.com. I have written myself into a self-proccupied, solipcistic, navel-gazing corner. Here are some of the ideas that I’ve come up with to write myself out of it.
1. Humor. My humor tends to work pretty well. But humor is difficult to write unless you and your audience share the same context. On the other hand, I spend the majority of my hours at my day job with high school students. It would be an understatement to say that there is a fair amount of absurdity in the high school world. So there’s certainly some material there.
2. Self-Improvement Kick. Every January, I do some annual planning and set some goals. While I reached about eighty percent of my goals last year, there is a certain folly in posting your own goals for public consumption, unless you are doing it for accountability and to show that any old schmo can make an annual plan, come up with some means to fulfill the plan, and improvise some checks and balances on the way to keep on track.
3. The Folly of the Self-Improvement Kick. This could be fun — and funny!
4. Book reviews. There are innumerable sites that write book reviews. However, none write them for my audience, nor are they a combination of my tastes, interests, and personality.
What about you? How do you write your way out of your own self-preoccupied, solipcistic, navel-gazing corners?
I’m taking permission this year to exercise each day. A couple of years ago, I made the commitment to exercise at least five days per week. However, this is one of the disciplines that seems to erode when “crunch time” comes with work or family. One of the things that I’ve learned over this time is that when I don’t take care of myself, somebody always pays — whether it’s me, my family, colleagues at work, or my students. Rather than put myself in last place here, I’m going to put myself first.