Posted by: Mark | October 18, 2010

Things I have learned recently

I have been doing a little reflecting lately and trying to take note of a few life lessons I have learned and thought I would put them down here so I don’t loose them. Also as they are helpful to me they hopefully will be helpful to others. These lessons are not ground breaking but I have seen them to be true in my life lately and want to consider them in the future when appropriate. They are in no particular order:

1. There are other ways to do things

As perfect, mature and intelligent as I am, I do not hold the secret to the only way to do things (hopefully the sarcasm comes through here :). There are other, equally, and sometimes more, valid ways to skin a cat than the way I know. Going into a situation with the realization that another person from a different culture, or background or family might want to do something in a different way is a freeing way to live and normally a much more harmonious one.

2. You don’t know what you don’t know

There is no one omniscient other than God. No one has cornered the market in knowledge no matter what their life experience, and especially not me. Knowing this means that I have to always be willing to listen to others, read articles and books, and generally just keep on learning at all times knowing that it will never be done. Knowing this also means that going into any situation I have to realize that I am a learner no matter what my experience.

3. Always personally seek all sides of a problem

There are always two sides to a problem or argument. Normally, but not always, there is wrong on both sides. Therefore, just getting the story from one angle is not enough. Getting the story from as many sides as possible, assuming you are wanting to be productive and have a reason to be involved (and if you are not or don’t just stay out completely), is totally necessary and worth the time. It is amazing how many disagreements and arguments could be avoided if people didn’t live under the curse of babel and the curse of sin, and therefore could communicate their message totally clearly to the other person. We do, however, live under these curses and so we need to seek all sides of an argument if we want to be productive in helping.

4. Deal with facts when making a decision but don’t ignore personalities when implementing it

When we are called upon personally, or in a committee, to make a decision we should in all conscience make the best decision for the situation. This decision should not be swayed because there is a squeaky wheel, a persistent complainer or just a plain annoying person. The decision should be made in the light of all real facts available, for the best benefit of the situation/person/organisation needing the decision with the best of your effort and wisdom. However, when it comes to implementing that decision it is appropriate to consider the personalities that it will affect and implement it accordingly. This does not change what you are implementing but might change how it is implemented. Too many decisions have their what changed because of thorns in the decision process.

5. Don’t judge someone until you try to empathise with his situation

Billy Connelly (a glaswegian comedian) once said:

Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. After that who cares?… He’s a mile away and you’ve got his shoes!

I am not sure that stealing someone’s shoes is a good thing but the idiom on which this is based is a great lesson. Try to understand why that person is being annoying and you might just be a lot more willing to work with him without being nasty or agitated. This does not necessarily mean that he or she will annoy you any less and it might not change the actual working situation at all. However, having a better understanding of their life can make things better for your spirit and give you much more strength to continue with a Godly attitude. Knowing that someone is being mean to you because they feel under undue stress and pressure, are consumed by worry and their wife has left them should mean that you are filled with sorrow for them and not anger towards them.

6. Think slowly when you can

This is not always possible and, it not being always possible, is the reason why we should constantly meditate on the bible, and pray in the Spirit so that we can be steeped in truth and our automatic response can be the best it can be. However, when you do have the chance to take some time and think then take time and think. Don’t rush a decision that doesn’t have to be rushed. This, of course, is not an excuse for procrastination as we need to take the decision we need to take. However, it is a warning against being rash, to which a lot of mistakes can be traced back to.

7. Unless there is a moral failure or biblical imperative implement change slowly

Change is a reality and change is a necessity for organizations to stay fresh and relevant. However, for a new leader, or even a leader who has been in an organization for a while, to implement change quickly, or worse, without warning, is unwise. People do not generally like change and when it is implemented quickly in this manner it normally causes unnecessary pain and problems. It signals that up to this point people have been doing things wrong and pushes an opinion of the superiority of the leader down to those faithful members of the organization. The same ends can be met by taking your time and, in doing this, the membership can be brought along with the leadership, meaning that everyone wins. As an added benefit slow change can allow greater ownership by the membership which can result in greater longevity and success for the the changes.

8. There are absolutes and not everything should change

This is a follow on from point 7. I work in a very changing setting both within my organization and also within the general world of world missions. The worldwide church is also changing at present and a fairly fast rate. However, in these things it seems that some people consider everything is up for change. That is just not true. Biblical doctrine is an absolute and is not up for negotiation. There are new ideas floating around nowadays and they are not right just because they are new. There are new models of church leadership floating around contrary to God’s plan for his bride, and again, they are not right just because they are new. There are new ideas floating around in world missions currently which are not right just because they are new and should be weighed with all wisdom and the whole Bible before accepting them. To accept something as genuine just because a genuine person proposes it as a new idea breaks both the Berean rule and common sense.



  1. Mark, thanks for the good thoughts. I like the grace lessons in all of these things God is teaching you. Thanks for taking the time to share what He’s been saying. Glad for you and your whole family.

  2. I appreciate your thoughts. Much wisdom here.

  3. As a Newbie, I am always searching online for articles that can help me. Thank you Wow! Thank you! I always wanted to write in my site something like that. Can I take part of your post to my blog?

    • Sure, no problem. If it works I would appreciate a link back if you do 🙂

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