H.E.A.L.T.H. – A simple acronym to slap crappy days in the face. (seriously)

This last weekend I’m preached on the ‘The Great Enemy’ – better known as the satan, the big deceiver, liar extroadinaire. The red tights and pitchfork dude. Ok maybe not that last one. With that in mind, it’s probably best I start out with some truth: I have somewhat of an unhealthy appreciation for acronyms, alliteration, and getting a point across through poetry and humor. It’s just one of the things that makes me, me. So it’s no wonder that I came up with no less than three acronyms to describe how I go about my day, how I hire someone, and how I think of goals.

Don’t worry, you’re only getting one today. The other two bundles of joy will come out at another time. Today is all about – H.E.A.L.T.H., the six things I try to accomplish each day to keep me sharp, on the right track, and (hopefully) humble.

H -hear from God. If you’re like me, God probably doesn’t speak to you in neon signs, epic visions, or a booming voice from above complete with fluttering doves and a glowing light. Most of the time I’m too stubborn or plain dumb to realize what He’s saying, which means I try to spend a lot of time listening, reading scripture, and getting advice from people wiser than I. God uses all of these and more – especially scripture. The Bible is God’s living word. It’s the gift that always gives, convicts, and challenges us. It isn’t a mirror relecting who we are, it’s a looking glass that lets us see who God is and who He’s made us to be. God uses the other two as well. I’m a big believer that praying is more about listening than talking. Although it is a conversation, do we really give God equal time in our prayers? Or do we run on with what we need, what’s going wrong in our lives, and where we’d like to be? Additionally, when we listen, do we hear the sound advice and wisdom from those who have walked with God for far more years than we have? As provebs 16 says “grey hairs are a crown of glory”. They’ve not only done their time, but time has done things to them, specifically their time with God. Listen!

E – experience new things. You’ve probably heard of the saying ’ all leaders are learners’ or ’ all leaders are readers’. Why is that? They don’t just want an edge, they want to learn new things and improve. Often it means stepping out of our comfort zones to do something daunting, dangerous, or daring. It’s these new experiences that help grow and shape us. Most churches talk about ‘next steps’. We do as well at South Mountain (smccutah.org). We’re looking to help people step out a little more each time, to experience something new that they don’t yet know is good for their faith. It’s hard no doubt, but it’s the only way to get closer to God and see what He’s thinking. As it is, I’m writing this from inside a one person tent while I’m camping a little bit off the beaten trail. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but it’s a bit scary too. Once I did it though, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. In fact, I’d like to do it again, and maybe even a bit more dangerous! Every day I try to have this mentality – experience new things, especially the scary things. Then when something surprising comes, I’ll have conditioned myself to engaging in new experiences without fear and paralysis.

A – Ask questions. There are two directions we need to ask questions during the day – towards others and towards ourselves (Note: there is a third, towards God, but we cover that in the “Hear from God” part). With others, we’re attempting to gain their knowledge, their point of view, and hopefully appear humble enough to listen and solve problems together. Questions towards ourselves aim to help us stop and think, and determine the most purposeful course of action. This can be everything from ‘is this the best use of my time and skills?’ to ‘what happens if I say no to this?’. I love what Bill Hybels once said when asked about his favorite question: “What would a great leader do in this situation?” When we don’t ask questions of others, we come off as insensitive, a know-it-all, or as difficult to work with; when we don’t ask questions of ourselves, we miss opportunities to make the greatest impact.

L – Love People. This is the second part of the greatest commandment, so it’s no wonder that this needs to be a part of our day. The interesting part is that most people think that loving people, is being nice to them. This isn’t the case. Sometimes the best thing we can do out of love is withhold help, lovingly give some hard-hitting truth, or simply not say anything and give them a hug. It isn’t about being nice or giving them what they want, it’s about giving them the love they need – especially through scripture, care, and just your presence. It’s amazing how often a soft word, a loving embrace, or some encouraging scripture will help. My favorite way that leads into all those things however, is just to show a genuine interest in their lives. People want to know they matter, and that they’re loved. Don’t just say hi, ask about their family, their interests, and – if it’s appropriate – if you can pray for them in that moment.

T – Take Notes. I have a bad habit of forgetting things. Sometimes it’s just the sheer amount of information I get at one time, but often that’s just an excuse. The reality is, important things are worth writing down whether you can remember them or not. In fact, most researchers say that writing something down gives you a 40% better chance of actually doing that thing. Beyond that, taking notes communicates to someone that you’re listening, you respect their time, and what they are saying.

H – Have Fun. This one can be a bit challening at times. As adults we know that our jobs often aren’t fun. Difficult decision and responsibilities can often weigh us down and turn work into a chore that we dread. What we can do however, is control our attitude. Scripture talks about controlling our anger, that emotions shouldn’t govern us, and that we can and should be content with God’s grace. What this essentially means is, it’s up to us how our days go. We may not be able to choose what comes at us, but we can choose how we respond. And the way I try to respond to my day at some point is to have some fun. Even on the dark days where everything seems to go wrong, having 10 minutes of fun can put it into perspective – ultimately God is in control, and the stuff that is stressing and depressing me will pass. It can be as simple as an awkward but therapeutic dance move, to a lunch where you talk about some funny stories. Go ahead and have some fun.