Thinking Out Loud

March 11, 2016

A Different Response to Envy

Over the years here at Thinking Out Loud, we’ve turned to the Steve Laube Agency for background articles dealing with everything from plagiarism to manipulating the New York Times bestseller list to the restructuring of a large Christian bookstore chain. Steve’s primary work however is dealing with author contracts with major publishers, and if you read the “acknowledgements” section in works by your favorite Christian writers, you’ll see his name connected to some very well known people!

But as we discovered in the article below, sometimes his blog branches out to deal with other aspects of being a professional writer, for example dealing with the success of other professional writers.

You must click the link in the title below to read this even if only to see the very appropriate graphic they included that we didn’t poach (!) and catch some of the comments. But just in case you don’t…

Turn Envy Upside Down

••• by Tamela Hancock Murray

Envy is one of the seven deadly sins and not easy to conquer. Who hasn’t felt jealous over someone else’s success, especially when it doesn’t seem deserved? Seeing an outright enemy succeed is even worse.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Instead, take your feelings of envy and put them to good use. That is, make those feelings work for you so you can succeed.

Here’s how:

  • When someone in your sphere is successful, send unvarnished congratulations. No backhanded compliments or sarcasm permitted.
  • Once you are alone, see how you feel. Do you feel envious? Chances are, you feel you deserve what that person has. Acknowledge those feelings and move to step three.
  • Evaluate the person’s journey. Was the “overnight” success a reality? Or has this person worked for years to have a particular book published, or to be published at all?
  • If so, consider that effort. Resolve to increase your efforts.
  • If not, don’t credit that writer’s success to “luck” because that takes away from such accomplishment. After all, you wouldn’t want your accomplishments credited to luck. Instead, look at what the writer is doing. Why do you think that book speaks to readers? Resolve to make your own work more appealing.
  • Always, always pray for a pure heart. Then take a genuine interest in the writer you envy. Engage her on social media. See what you can learn. If you are already friends with the writer, perhaps she can become a mentor. That is a powerful place to be.
  • Sin takes power away from us. Those who practice love are victorious.

Your turn:

When was the last time you were envious? What did you do?
What other tips can you offer to conquer envy?
Do you have a story about how a successful person inspired you?

click the title above to see the responses

June 2, 2015

One of *Those* Birthdays

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:43 am

So as I’ve already noted, Friday was marked by a robbery which kind of put a giant shadow over Saturday which was my birthday. A few days ago I recalled this quotation but can’t find the source for it:

Whereas once I found myself doing things for the first time
I now find myself doing things for the final time.

Depressing, ain’t it? At any rate, this is the blog post that ran on a similar birthday five years ago.


 

Here’s a simple psychological test you can conduct at your next dinner party. Everyone gets a small piece of paper and is asked to write down the age they would like to be if they could be any age. After they are finished, you ask them to draw a line and under the line write their true age. They fold up the papers and drop them in a hat, and then you open them and read the difference between the first second numbers. (i.e. “three years younger;” “two years older;” “seven years younger;” etc.)

They say the mark of contentment is when the difference is zero, when the person is most happy being the age they actually are. (For added fun, then try to guess who might have said what!)

Some of us are not so content.

Today, I am celebrating (or perhaps lamenting) one of those birthday years that ends in a zero or a five. Something about our decimal system ascribes to those years great additional significance.

I am not going to tell you what it is. While I have nothing but contempt for middle-aged men who park in teen chat rooms pretending to be something they are not; I relate best to that part of the Christian blog culture most populated by twenty-somethings, or worst case, thirty-somethings. With a lack of photographic evidence on this blog to prove anything contrary, I want to keep it that way.

Still, this is a birthday I approach kicking and screaming. I can relate to Logan, in the movie Logan’s Run. (Mention does not imply endorsement.) For those of you don’t know, here’s the 411 from Wikipedia:

Sometime in the 23rd century…the survivors of war, overpopulation and pollution are living in a great domed city, sealed away from the forgotten world outside. Here, in an ecologically balanced world, mankind lives only for pleasure, freed by the servo-mechanisms which provide everything. There’s just one catch: Life must end at thirty unless reborn in the fiery ritual of Carousel.

Within a domed city, Logan 5 watches as an infant’s hand is implanted with a Lifeclock, a crystalline device that changes color as a person ages. As someone approaches his “Last Day,” the Lifeclock blinks red and finally turns black, at which time the person must report to Carousel, where—he or she is told—there is the hope of Renewal, a sort of reincarnation.

Logan is a Sandman, responsible for hunting down and killing Runners, people who refuse to report to Carousel when their Lifeclock expires. Logan is accompanied by his friend, and fellow Sandman, Francis 7

The two watch a Carousel ceremony as the participants assemble in an arena, are lifted up by an invisible force and appear to be struck by electric arcs and vaporized while the cheering audience shouts, “Renew!”. Neither Logan nor Francis have known anyone who succeeded in this, but Francis believes that Sandmen always renew…
continue reading here…

I believe that the Apostle Paul’s statement,

…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. (Phil 4: 11 NIV)

and by inference, injunction — that of being content in whatever place you find yourself — is a valid if not necessary life choice. Given Paul’s history of imprisonment and shipwreck — not the kind of guy you want to take out on your new ski boat — his ability to relax when things are literally sinking reflects the degree of his faith and trust in his Lord and Savior.

But I am approaching this particular birthday kicking and screaming. Wait a minute, did I already use the phrase, “kicking and screaming?” Oh no, that’s one of the symptoms of this age, you start repeating yourself. Not only that, but sometimes, for no apparent reason, you start repeating yourself.

Anyway, I just want to say in conclusion… that I think… perhaps we can all learn… oh no, it’s worse than I thought, I can’t remember what I was writing about…

 

January 28, 2015

Wednesday Link List

Jesus is my Coach

First, we’ll look at what PARSE readers are seeing today, and then we’ll add a few bonus links:

  • Work Out Your Salvation in Fear and Publishing – Philip Yancey sits down with World Magazine: “I tell people I write my books for myself, and that’s true. I grew up in an unhealthy church. I’ve talked about that very openly in my books. It was almost a toxic church. I went through a period of time where I threw out that whole church background because I realized there were some things they had lied to me about… [W]hen I started writing, I realized I had the opportunity to pick up pieces, one-by-one, of things that I had learned in church, and examine them, kind of, dust them off, and see what the truth was. You can almost tell from the titles of my books…what interests me.”
  • Up in the Sky, It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Super Apostles – An excerpt from a new book appears in a review by Tim Challies: “Some readers may suspect that the authors are anti-charismatic. They may expect us to argue that the miraculous gifts described in 1 Corinthians 12—including the gifts of prophesying, healing, and speaking in tongues—are no longer active in the church today. This is not our objective. Many Christians around the world, including charismatics and classic Pentecostals, believe that the miraculous gifts are still active, and we do not dispute their belief. We’ve tried to show that [New Apostolic Reformation] teachings do not represent the views of most charismatics or classic Pentecostals, but are, rather, entirely different.” Read the review of God’s Super Apostles.
  • Three Things Megachurch Leaders Get Right – With 300 members, you may not feel you’re playing in the big leagues, but you can borrow their strategies. “In our experience, it is common for churches to accumulate a variety of ministries over time. Some of them get the attention of senior leadership while others seem to float along under the radar. If you’re looking to lead a church toward a unified vision, build accountability by keeping everything tied to your senior leadership team.”  Which brings us to…
  • A Liberal Gay Jewish Man Walks Into a Baptist Megachurch – After constantly driving by Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa, curiosity gets the better of him: “First, these churches deliver powerful, personal spiritual experiences — which is a primary reason they’re winning over lapsed Catholics and mainline Protestants. The pastors talk directly about their conversion experiences. The service that I went to was a carefully, skillfully choreographed crescendo designed to inspire (and, judging by the enthusiasm of the congregants, successful at doing so). The theology is personal and experiential; you’re meant to talk to God, and hear God talking back…
  • Academic Avenue: The Role of Oral Tradition in the Synoptics – I thought we’d toss in some meat in the middle of the snack food: “But why can all three synoptics sometimes provide different wording regarding either the story or quotation of Jesus, yet some quotations will be exactly the same in all three synoptics? Scholars call these similarities and differences the Synoptic Problem.” Later on, “[E]xperts now tell us that ancient oral tradition was not only formed but performed. That is, early church communities further remembered Jesus by performing plays about these remembered incidents in his life.”
  • The Things Educators Believe Matter – Despite having high academic test score averages, a Christian school in the UK is in danger of losing its certification and having to shut down because inspectors felt the school reflected homophobic attitudes. Parents have rallied to fight the assessment carried out by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, a government agency. A ten year old girl was put on the spot by the question, “What is a lesbian?” and was asked “if she felt trapped in someone else’s body?” Worse, the girl now feels the school’s rating by Ofsted is her fault.
  • Why We Won’t Lose the War – Author Anne Marie Miller doesn’t ignore the statistics, in fact she loves stats. And she knows that many under-35s are leaving the church. “Some leave and go to the church down the road. And then to the other church farther down the road. We commit just long enough to wonder why we haven’t found community only to start all over again.” Yet, despite all this, she remains wholly optimistic; “…quietly hoping, seeking, praying, pleading, trusting and living out the Gospel that the numbers and statistics don’t matter.”
  • Sorry, It’s In Your Contract – I knew a youth pastor once who worked in a megachurch that can only be described as a “sweatshop.” The week after his father died he asked if he could be exempted from having to be part of the platform party — it was the type of church where all the ministers sat on the stage during the whole service — and they refused him. And so he sat there, in full view of everyone, in tears.  I think of him whenever I see this healthy contrast:  The annual list of the Best Christian Workplaces.
  • Short Essay of the Week – A Michigan pastor escapes the frozen north to Cancun only to come face-to-face with with his own susceptibility to consumerism. As a member of the resort staff leads him into temptation: “It’s ironic, but our ‘all inclusive resort’ turned out to have some exclusions after all. Now here’s the thing: I was completely happy with my little corner of paradise until Shakira (yes, that was really her name) told me that there was more, and that – for only $70 more per day – we could have it all.” Did he purchase the upgrade?
  • Why Speak in Tongues When There’s Christianese? – “The Sea of Forgetfulness. Partaking in Christ’s body and blood. Dying to yourself. The mark of the beast. Getting caught up in the air. Out of context, some of the language used regularly in church sounds more like it belongs in some sort of weird horror movie…Some strange church sayings are direct quotes from the Bible, but to someone not familiar with the whole story of the Bible, they’re mind-boggling.” And speaking of our family dialect, the most recent post at The Dictionary of Christianese concerns the word televangelism
  • She’s Back! –  After a long absence, former co-host Sheila Walsh returns to The 700 Club for a 9-minute interview, speaking of her battle with clinical depression.

The family in the UK school story has the same last name but is no relation.

Now on to some bonus links for readers here:

Finally, one of the great products to come out of the Emergent Church movement, Emerjeans:

Emerjeans

 

September 28, 2010

The Tranquility Prayer: Spiritual Wisdom from Planet Trid

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:06 pm

A re-post from September of last year…

It was a dream that I woke from remembering it vividly.

I was living on Planet Trid, very similar to ours in many ways. I was an activist, an angry activist pushing for every type of change, from major social change to why the clothing store never stocked enough of the statistically verifiable most common sizes.

I wrote letters. I left messages. And they even had blogging on Trid, and not to be outdone, I had a dozen of them; venting each day on a variety of topics that were the target of my latest frustration. I would be attacking the government for a flaw in its tax plan on blog one, while on blog two chastising a local restaurant for having seating capacity for 200 but only a dozen parking spaces.

Ranting had become a lifestyle. It was hard to change this pattern because, for one thing, I was always right. Not that everybody else was dead wrong, they just didn’t have my wisdom. How could I see these anomalies, I could I know so many better ways of doing things, and how could I be aware of so much injustice without commenting?

Then some of the Tridians came to me and had the nerve to suggest that it was I who wasn’t getting it.

“Nonsense;” I replied; “Yes, some things are good; but some could be better; others are on the threshold of being great. What’s wrong with a little concrete criticism? What’s wrong with a little objective commentary?”

“We have a something here;” the Tridians informed me; “It’s called The Tranquility Prayer, and it goes like this:

“God give me the peace and tranquility to realize that I can’t reform or renovate everything; the insight into those situations and structures that are actually pliable; and the discernment to know which is which.”

I paused and thought about the wisdom that one sentence contained. You can’t fix everything; certainly not all at once. And where I came from, only one man ever lived about whom it might be said he truly, totally revolutionized the world.

It was time to relax and experience the tranquility about which the Tridians spoke instead of trying to force my suggestions or my agenda on their lifestyle.  Their little one-sentence saying had much wisdom.

“Alright then;” I said; “We need to get that sentence on some plaques, and maybe some posters and bookmarks and greetings cards, and then after that we need to…”


(NIV) Phil 4:11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.


May 30, 2010

Logan’s Run and Contentment

Here’s a simple psychological test you can conduct at your next dinner party.   Everyone gets a small piece of paper and is asked to write down the age they would like to be if they could be any age.   After they are finished, you ask them to draw a line and under the line write their true age.   They fold up the papers and drop them in a hat, and then you open them and read the difference between the first second numbers.  (i.e. “three years younger;” “two years older;” “seven years younger;” etc.)

They say the mark of contentment is when the difference is zero, when the person is most happy being the age they actually are.   (For added fun, then try to guess who might have said what!)

Some of us are not so content.

Today, I am celebrating (or perhaps lamenting) one of those birthday years that ends in a zero or a five.   Something about our decimal system ascribes to those years great additional significance.

I am not going to tell you what it is.   While I have nothing but contempt for middle-aged men who park in teen chat rooms pretending to be something they are not; I relate best to that part of the Christian blog culture most populated by twenty-somethings, or worst case, thirty-somethings.     With a lack of photographic evidence on this blog to prove anything contrary, I want to keep it that way.


Still, this is a birthday I approach kicking and screaming.    I can relate to Logan, in the movie Logan’s Run. (Mention does not imply endorsement.)  For those of you don’t know, here’s the 411 from Wikipedia:

Sometime in the 23rd century…the survivors of war, overpopulation and pollution are living in a great domed city, sealed away from the forgotten world outside. Here, in an ecologically balanced world, mankind lives only for pleasure, freed by the servo-mechanisms which provide everything. There’s just one catch: Life must end at thirty unless reborn in the fiery ritual of Carousel.

Within a domed city, Logan 5 watches as an infant’s hand is implanted with a Lifeclock, a crystalline device that changes color as a person ages. As someone approaches his “Last Day,” the Lifeclock blinks red and finally turns black, at which time the person must report to Carousel, where—he or she is told—there is the hope of Renewal, a sort of reincarnation.

Logan is a Sandman, responsible for hunting down and killing Runners, people who refuse to report to Carousel when their Lifeclock expires. Logan is accompanied by his friend, and fellow Sandman, Francis 7

The two watch a Carousel ceremony as the participants assemble in an arena, are lifted up by an invisible force and appear to be struck by electric arcs and vaporized while the cheering audience shouts, “Renew!”. Neither Logan nor Francis have known anyone who succeeded in this, but Francis believes that Sandmen always renew…
continue reading here…

I believe that the Apostle Paul’s statement,

…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. (Phil 4: 11 NIV)

and by inference, injunction — that of being content in whatever place you find yourself — is a valid if not necessary life choice.    Given Paul’s history of imprisonment and shipwreck — not the kind of guy you want to take out on your new ski boat — his ability to relax when things are literally sinking reflects the degree of his faith and trust in his Lord and Savior.

But I am approaching this particular birthday kicking and screaming.   Wait a minute, did I already use the phrase, “kicking and screaming?”   Oh no, that’s one of the symptoms of this age, you start repeating yourself.    Not only that, but sometimes, for no apparent reason, you start repeating yourself.

Anyway, I just want to say in conclusion… that I think… perhaps we can all learn… oh no, it’s worse than I thought, I can’t remember what I was writing about…

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