You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Deuteronomy 11:18-19 (NRSV)
I remember as a child going to spend a week with my grandparents in Le Mars. Mom would take me to the Greyhound bus station in Des Moines and put me on a bus, telling me to sit right behind the driver (where he could keep an eye on me, no doubt) and I would make the long bus ride to Sioux City where my grandparents would be waiting to shuttle me back to their house.
Staying with grandpa and grandma in the small town of Le Mars was a treat. I got to walk “uptown” to explore the shops on Central Avenue. I would be grandpa’s guest at Lion’s Club and we would play Canasta for hours on end.
Once a day, after we ate our meal, Grandpa would get out his Bible and a devotional called The Upper Room. He would read the Bible verse for the day and then read the short devotional thought for that day before offering a short prayer. It did not take long, and to this day I can’t recall any of the actual words or thoughts that were shared. Nevertheless, the simple act of doing it made an indelible impression on me.
Today, I’m thinking about God’s command through Moses not only to ingest and embody His words but also to pass them along to your children. I remember Grandpa reading the upper room after lunch. I recall the daily experience of waking for school and descending the stairs to find my father sitting in his chair, Bible open on his lap as he read and prayed. These things weren’t rigid religious disciplines demanded of us like some kind of cruel and inhuman punishments. They were simple habits simply exemplified which made an indelible impression on a child’s impressionable heart.
I pray that I have been faithful in carrying on the example for our children. I hope for the day when our grandchildren come for the week to the small town of Pella to explore the square and to be Grandpa and Grandma’s special guest so that I may continue to make an impression passed through the generations.
All these were descendants of Obed-Edom; they and their sons and their relatives were capable men with the strength to do the work—descendants of Obed-Edom, 62 in all. 1 Chronicles 26:8 (NIV)
“Good help is hard to find,” it is said. Even with todays job market, in which I hear more people complaining “a good job is hard to find,” I can tell you as an employer that a capable employee with strength for the task is a valued find. When I was a kid I was taught that being capable was only what got you a foot in the door with an employer. It was what you did with it that made you indispensable and worthy of promotion or advancement.
10 ways I learned to make a positive impression on my employer:
Arrive a few minutes early. Be on site ready to start when your shift begins.
Don’t watch the clock. Work all the way to the end of your shift, and if you’re in the middle of a task, work a few minutes late until the task is done.
If there’s a lull in the action, find something to do. Keep yourself busy, and don’t wait to be told what to do.
Don’t be difficult. If there’s a dress code, don’t press the issue to see what you can get away with, simply adhere to the policy and don’t make an issue of it.
If in doubt, ask. Better to ask than to do it wrong and create problems and irritations.
Pay attention so you don’t have to ask again. Asking once is a good thing. Asking the same thing multiple times, or asking a million questions about things that should e common sense, is a sign of lack of listening, comprehension, ability, or responsibility.
Don’t consider anything “beneath you.” Don’t balk at the small, difficult, boring, or dirty tasks. Do them willingly and do them well, and you probably won’t have to do them for long.
If you make a mistake, be honest about it and take responsibility for making it right. An employee who covers up, obfuscates, and/or blames others is untrustworthy. An employee who is willing to take responsibility shows rare character.
Be willing to go the extra mile without complaint or demand.
Think like an owner, and if your employer asks you to make a decision then make the decision as if you owned the company and were responsible for its long term success. An employee who can think in those terms is capable of being placed in charge of many things.
If you do these things consistently without reward, recognition, gratitude and/or promotion, or if your employer consistently takes advantage of you, then keep looking for another job. There’s another employer out there waiting to reward someone who is “capable with strength to do the work.”
I went past the field of a sluggard, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man. Proverbs 24:30-34 (NIV)
I’m amazed at how our minds and memories work. If I’m listening to the radio and hear the Hollies‘ Long, Cool Woman in a Black Dress I am suddenly transported to Camp Idlewood, Rainy Lake, Minnesota where my family vacationed the first two weeks of August every year. I’m in Cabin #3 with my sister along with our friends Matt, Piper John, and Mark. The song is playing from an 8-track tape. Mark is being a clown and making everyone laugh as we try to sing the lead singer’s “Whoo!” at the right place in the instrumental bridge. It’s raining outside. I can picture it like it’s happening right now.
You find yourself in a funk and don’t know why. Then you remember something sad and depressing that long ago happened at this same time of the year. Your conscious mind had forgotten but your senses remember.
When I read the verses above I was suddenly talking to my friend Spike. It was the year between my freshman and sophomore year in college. Spike and I hung out a lot that summer, and one day he talked about these verses which he’d recently read. They made an impression on him and he quoted the last part of it from memory. That, in turn, made an impression on me. Thirty years later I read the verses and think of Spike. I think of the example of hard work he’s been to me in his academic pursuits and his successful career as a university professor.
We are making memories for ourselves, but more importantly for others. They can be positive memories or negative ones. The memories we create for others can be either healing or destructive. We choose through our thoughts, words, actions and relationships. How cool to imagine that someone might read a verse from God’s message and have a fond memory of me. Those are the kinds of memorable impressions I want to make for others.
Today, I want to live in such a way that it will be a pleasant memory for myself and others.
Give your love of justice to the king, O God, and righteousness to the king’s son. Psalm 72:1 (NLT)
There are countless lessons to learn from the lyrics of the psalms. There are also lessons hiding in the way the editors, who thousands of years ago put the collection of songs together, compiled them. The past two songs were written by King David in his old age as he reflected back on his life. The first thing to notice about today’s chapter is that it was written by David’s son, Solomon. This song is historically a transitional song. Solomon’s song asks for God’s provision to carry on the legacy of his father.
This past week a friend died suddenly of a brain aneurysm. Her death at the age of 51 threw Wendy and me into a period of sober reflection. Our friend left behind her husband and two college age daughters and it didn’t take much to draw a dotted line to what life would be like should either of us unexpectedly find ourselves at the finish line of this earthly journey.
My own pondering focused our girls, who are still emerging onto their respective paths as they begin life on their own. What would my legacy be in their lives? Would my influence be a positive imprint on their lives? How would I live on in them? I suspect that many people give little thought to the effect they have on their children and their children’s lives until it’s too late.
Solomon’s father wasn’t perfect, but he undoubtedly left an imposing legacy. Sol had big sandals to fill. Today, I’m reminded of my responsibility to love and lead my children well – even in their adult years. I’m not guaranteed tomorrow. I can only know that I have this day – this moment. Despite my failures, my heart’s desire is to leave a godly imprint on our daughters and the following generations.