Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Beware of Selling and Modeling Cheap Happiness

I was at a festival of sorts the other day, one of those gatherings in another state where people came from all over to hear a lot of bands, eat food, hang out, buy crafts . . . you know what I mean?  There were thousands of people there. And I was one of them.

And it was a fun night in many ways. There's nothing wrong with listening to some music, enjoying some not-so-healthy-food and seeing more than a few really weird people out in public now and then. There can be something uplifting and reenergizing when you go out and have some simple, uncomplicated fun.

But the problem is that for many of those people, at least I would guess, that evening was pretty much what they look forward to over and over. They will attend another gathering - a bar, a patio, a concert, a backyard - where they will do pretty much the same thing - talk about the same old topics, have a few drinks and burgers, sit and listen to the same old music, try to impress somebody with some accomplishment and go home.

That's what I mean by cheap happiness. We settle for the same old thrills that may make us a little happy for a while or perhaps just dull some other pain and we think that's all there is.  Watch college and university students out on the town and you'll see what I mean. And often we lead our spouse or kids into the same lifestyle and never introduce them or ourselves to something more, something better, something richer.

Let me suggest a couple of ideas to help you to get in touch with a few opporutunities that will more likely bring you joy and add something to your life that's actually worth doing over and over.

First, take a deeper dive into something.  If you like music, great, but become a student or expert or follower or healthy fanatic. Perhaps you like to hike, then go climb a big mountain. If you are fascinated with a country, learn the language some and take a trip there.  If you have a skill, talent or resource that could help others then start volunteering, giving and serving and bring your spouse or kids along to participate.

Second, add variety to your fun.  Don't keep doing the same things over and over.  Perhaps do more by going to less. We love to travel but can't afford to be going all the time.  So we plan some bigger trips that we can look forward to but that also add some special locations to our itinerary.  We've gone to Alaska, Switzerland, Austria, France, British Columbia, the Smokie Mountains and the like.  Next month we're off to Yosemite National Park and San Francisco.

We do go a few places on a more regular basis but we can't stand just doing the same thing.

Third, ask God to give you a mission or ministry. I've been to Russian fifteen times and have a heart for the people there that I never dreamed would happen years ago.  Others have local commitments to help feed the hungry, help the homeless, work with special needs kids and the like.  It doesn't matter as long as you become invested in it and use your gifts, talents and resources.  It's this kind of involvement that changes lives, including yours!

So, don't settle at your house for cheap opportunities to feel a little better doing the same things everyone else is doing.  Because if you do you will someday look back and wonder what you did with your time.  But if you try something new, meaningful and unique you will more likely wonder why you didn't start sooner.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

Friday, August 16, 2013

"Gambling" At Home Rarely Works

I was behind a woman in line at a gas station/convenience store in Michigan the other day. And I couldn't help but notice that she spent sixty dollars on lottery tickets. I wondered if she gives up that kind of money every week or if she just felt lucky that day.

Either way, I know that the odds of her winning anything were infinitesimally small and that the significant portion of her money she was committing would likely be wasted.

Interestingly, it seems to me that there are a lot of things that we in our homes gamble on just as foolishly. 

We spend lots of resources - time, money, energy and emotion - hoping to get a  huge payday but unfortunately the odds are small. Let me suggest a few. 

We gamble that our kids will become a famous, successful superstar in something.  We secure the best coaches, send our kids off to other cities and/or follow them around the city or country hoping they will finally hit the big time.  And yes a small fraction make it and we see them on television. But the bigger percentage, like it is in gambling, never pay off. Is the gamble really worth it?

We gamble that as husband and wife we will love being with each other . . . AFTER our kids are grown. While the kids are in the house we might rarely date, work on our relationship or spend meaningful, intimate time together. Everything revolves around the kids. That is also a huge wager that rarely beats the house.

We also gamble that there will be time later to enjoy all the things we sacrificed while our family was growing. But sadly the numbers often work against us. A pastor we knew years ago worked hard and well at ministry and had planned to finally travel with his wife after he retired in his mid-60's. Sadly he died later during the year of his retirement. Gambling with death often won't beat the odds either.

We gamble that our kids will one day mature and be the kids we'd hoped they would be. In the meantime we can look the other way from bad behaviors, disrespectful attitudes and lazy habits. Providing our kids with purposeful lifechanging activities or involvement in a quality church youth program never becomes a priority.  As a result the odds increase that our kids will not grow in the ways we had dreamed they would.

You see the wise spouse and parent will not play the numbers for their future but simply do NOW those things that may not be available later when their bets are less likely to win. They work at as many of the best things they can in the present knowing that they all won't likely be there in the future. They don't let their hopes and dreams be relegated to the future only.

So don't make life at your house a poor bet. You can do better and win so much more by playing your relational chips today and tomorrow. God gave us the wisdom to do that now. Don't let the world's house win. Cash in today.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.