Put the Decision Behind You

“Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you.” —John C. Maxwell

How We Make Decisions

Some people hate to make decisions and procrastinate as long as possible. Some people will make a decision but then change their minds again and again.

And some of us just want to get the decision over with as quickly as possible and never look back.

I’m more in the latter category. I don’t like having decisions looming ahead of me. The uncertainty of NOT deciding makes me more anxious than the decision itself.

Choose Life

So when I was deciding what to memorize next, this text in Deuteronomy appealed to me.

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.”
Deuteronomy 30:19

I decided to memorize it along with the other verses in Deuteronomy 30:11-20.

And thankfully, many in our memorizing community at Do Not Depart—Hide His Word—have made the same decision.

For ten weeks beginning September 25, we’re choosing to learn one verse a week (with a week off for Thanksgiving). And with this challenge, Do Not Depart is also offering a short, weekly Bible study to coincide with each verse. The context study worksheet is available now.


Decision Made

Once made, it’s a big decision we won’t have to make again, even though we’ll have smaller decisions to make each week (Will I practice the older verses? Will I study the context? Will I recite it to someone aloud?).

I know we can’t make all our decisions ahead of time. (And sometimes we DO need to change our minds even after a decision is made!)

But if we can make a decision ahead of time, I’m comfortable with that.

I made a decision years ago to choose Jesus. That decision has made a lot of other decisions fall into place. It means that I also choose love. Choose life. Choose grace.

It doesn’t mean it’s easy. Or even necessarily clear. And I still mess up often.

But sometimes getting one big decision behind us helps us make the smaller decisions with more confidence.

* * *

The invitation to memorize this text is open to you, too. There’s no glory in deciding yes; no shame in deciding no. Just an offer. Get more details here if you’re interested.


What’s your decision-making style? What’s a helpful verse you decided to memorize? Please share in the comments.

sharing with JenniferChar,
KellyCarol, Terri, Lori, Barbie

What’s Your Type?

Reading People Book

What’s Your Type?

It’s a big question. It can be answered lots of ways.

So Anne Bogel wrote a book of potential answers, Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything.

“When you learn about your type—the good and the bad—this knowledge can serve as your guardrail. It’s much easier to keep from falling off the edge of the road if your eyes are wide open and the path is lit.

Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, an ESTP or an INFJ, an Enneagram 2 or a 7, this book will teach you about the personality type you are (and potentially about the type you’re attracted to).

But is it actually helpful to know your personality type?

Some people say it puts you in a box you can’t escape. But according to Anne (and I agree with her), instead of boxing you in, knowing more about yourself helps you open the lid so you can step out.

Personality Systems

Reading People is an excellent primer for prying open the lids of many boxes. Anne addresses the most popular personality typing systems, one by one. They include:

  • Introverts/Extroverts
  • Highly Sensitive People
  • Five Love Languages
  • Keirsey’s Temperaments
  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
  • MBTI Cognitive Functions
  • Clifton StrengthsFinder
  • The Enneagram

She points out the strengths and weaknesses of each system, shows where you can find online quizzes for them, and what you can do with the information you discover.

“My personality isn’t a limiting label; instead, understanding my personality has blown my possibilities wide open. Because I understand myself better, I can navigate the world a little better. I’ve learned how to get out of my own way.”

But don’t let the briefness of information on each type fool you. I thought I already knew the basics on most of these systems and wouldn’t learn much. But I was wrong. Even among the types I was most familiar with (Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram), I learned many new things.

In the Details

For example, did you even know HSP was a thing? Here are common triggers that Anne shares about Highly Sensitive People (HSP).

  • Noise
  • Clutter
  • Texture
  • People
  • Consecutive errands
  • Big feelings
  • Information overload
  • Media
  • Decisions

Not all those are triggers for me, but many are, which explains why I’m selective about how much news I watch or which stories I read.

“Many HSPs choose to abstain from news sites (and stay off social media in the wake of big events). They don’t do it because they’re cold and callous; they do it because they can’t carry the pain of the world on their own.”

I also appreciate Anne’s definitions of Judging vs Perceiving in the Myers-Briggs framework. I’ve never felt totally comfortable being a J—Judging, if it implies being judgmental. But Anne explains no; that’s not what it means in this context.

“Judging means this type prefers to have decisions (aka judgments) behind them (settled). They feel more comfortable once the decision, whatever it is, is made. Perceiving means ‘preferring to take in information.’ Perceivers prefer to postpone decisions in order to stay open to new information as long as possible.”

Ahhh. (I had a lot of those moments with this book.) Maybe that’s why, as a J, I don’t like spending an hour deciding where to eat; just make a decision (even if it’s not optimal) and go already.

Do you see yourself or your partner in any of these scenarios?

Thinking types may feel they’re being considerate by getting straight to the point in a conversation, unaware that their feeling friends perceive them as uncomfortably blunt.

Intuitive types may think they’re contributing by sharing their grand plans in a team meeting, unaware that the thought of making so many changes at once completely stresses out their sensing colleagues.

Extroverted types may feel disappointed when their spouses don’t immediately respond with enthusiasm to their ideas, ignorant that they just need time to think the ideas over.”

Erase Some Blind Spots

We all have blind spots in our perceptions of ourselves and our perceptions of others. But erasing some of those spots by recognizing personality styles can prove helpful in our relationships.

“Communication is the main challenge we face when we interact closely with people of different types because each of us interprets, understands, and acts in different ways.”

It’s not always fun learning more about ourselves. Or easy. I say that as a sensitive, introverted, ISFJ-A, Enneagram 5, wing 6 female.

And changing our type is highly unlikely nor recommended. There is no better or worse type. And we’re all a combination of many types anyway.

But understanding ourselves more clearly is always beneficial. It helps us navigate our circumstances more wisely. And with Anne as a guide, understanding ourselves also assures us we’re not alone, nor are we crazy.

“The goal is, as always, to become more ourselves—our true selves—instead of getting tripped up by the stumbling blocks that tend to befall each personality type.

Personal growth takes us out of unhealthy reflexive actions and enables us to be more fully ourselves, more present, more aware, and more intentional.”

* * *

Do you know your type? Please share in the comments.

You may already know Anne Bogel from her blog Modern Mrs. Darcy or her podcast What Should I Read Next. I highly recommend both.

If you order Reading People before September 19 (release date), you’ll also get these freebies:

  • A free download of the audio version of the book
  • Access to Anne’s online “What’s Your Reading Personality?” class

My thanks to Baker Books
for the review copy of this book

sharing with Susan, DebDawn, Debbie,
Carmen, BrendaHolley, Kristin

When God Parts the Waters, Walk Across

Is This Fun?

We don’t always agree on what will be fun.

Jeff and I were planning out our week in Maine for our 25th wedding anniversary last week. We asked friends for suggestions. We googled Top Things to Do in Maine. We even looked at old library books.

We agreed on most things. And when we didn’t agree, we tried to feign excitement for the other’s sake anyway.

Honestly, I wasn’t too excited about the land bridge.

At low tide in Acadia National Park, a natural land bridge appears. A path reveals itself out of the water to let you walk across from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Bar Island, normally only accessible by boat.

Acadia National Park Bar Harbor

from Maine Trail Finder

But you have to catch it at just the right time—no more than a maximum of 1.5 hours before and after low tide. Do it within that three-hour window, or don’t do it at all. If you don’t walk then, you’ll be swimming.

Jeff really wanted to. I made myself agree to.

When Opportunities Come

Opportunities come to us in many ways.

  • Sometimes God whispers in our ear through someone else’s experience.
  • Or he shows us a cool image and we’re curious to see more.
  • Or he just surprises us out of nowhere with an open door.

Or he parts the waters with a land bridge.

Even when we aren’t particularly interested. Or perhaps a little tired. Or maybe even oddly worried.

I looked up the tide schedule for Bar Harbor. Our magic window would be between 2:45pm and 5:45pm.

We got there around 3:00pm. As we walked down to the water, we saw this sign.


And we walked forward.

The water that was between Bar Harbor and Bar Island was parting.

Like Moses, we were able to walk across on dry land.

And it was amazing.

Better than I expected. Cooler than I thought. We stayed for awhile on the little island, then walked back across, with plenty of time before the water closed over the land bridge again, as it does twice a day.


Just Go

God doesn’t always part the waters for us when we’d like. The opportunities we want aren’t always available or visible.

But when he does make a bridge, maybe he wants us to walk across it.

  • To accept the help when it’s offered.
  • To be the friend when we’re asked.
  • To show up for the experience he arranged.

He won’t leave us stranded.

When he says it’s time, let’s go.

* * *

When have you been surprised by an experience? Do you tend to lean in to new things, or do you have to be coaxed like me? Please share in the comments.

sharing with Laura, Dawn, LyliJennifer,
Char, AngelaBarbie, Lori, Terri, Anita

Focus on Good Sense First

Seek wisdom to slow your anger

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”
Proverbs 19:11

Maybe I’ve been going about this backwards. I try to be slow to anger. But perhaps I should focus instead on having good sense.

The order in this verse is “Good sense makes one slow to anger,” not “Those slow-to-anger show good sense” (although that is also true).

Too often I focus on wanting to eliminate the behavior. And become discouraged when I don’t. It’s a rotten piece of my heart that needs excising instead. The piece that doesn’t use good sense.

Good sense (Hebrew: sekel) means intelligence, insight, discretion, prudence, understanding, wisdom.

So seeking wisdom (which, personified, is Jesus himself) is the route to slowing my anger. And the way to become beautifully embellished is to not get hot-headed over every little offense.

Jesus sure didn’t. Even when on trial for his life, his ability to maintain silence and not revert to defending his reputation impressed Pilate (Matthew 27:13-14).

Jesus impresses me, too.

I want to be more like him. That’s good sense.

* * *

revised from the archives


Because He Can Do Anything

But Jesus looked at them and said, With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

(CEV)  Jesus looked straight at them and said, ‘There are some things that people cannot do, but God can do anything.'”
Matthew 19:26 (CEV)

Impossible means not able. Impotent. Without strength.

Possible means able. Capable. Mighty.

I’m in the not able category.
Can it get any clearer?

Definitely able.
More than enough.

Because God can do anything, I don’t have to do everything.

* * *

revised from the archives

Links, Books, and Things I Love – September 2017

Here are favorites from July and what I’m looking forward to in August. We share once a month at Leigh’s.

1 Second Everyday

[If you can’t see the 1 Second Everyday video, click here]

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Around the Web

1. 4 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Colorblind
by Trillia Newbell at The Gospel Coalition
“I’d like to suggest that we actually should strive to not be colorblind. Colorblindness leads us in the wrong direction. Instead, I want to encourage us to be colorsmart. Here are four reasons why.”

2. You Really Need to Stop Putting Smiley Faces in Work Emails
by Julia Zorthian at Time
“Reading a happy face in the text of a work email made people think that the sender was less competent.” I do try to be selective of who I send smiley faces to. 🙂

3. Why Do We Sleep Under Blankets, Even on the Hottest Nights?
by Dan Nosowitz at Atlas Obscura
I’m one of those people who has to have at least a little cover. “There’s great comfort in being covered.”

4. Reclaiming Life at Home: Declaring War on Clutter to Save the American Soul
by Kristin du Mez at Patheos
“A more sobering finding concerns the burden possessions place upon families. In interview after interview, parents speak of clutter-induced stress.”

5. How to Not Spoil ‘Game of Thrones’ (or any other show) – in one easy chart
by AJ Willingham at CNN
I don’t watch Game of Thrones, but I don’t like to have any show or game spoiled by prematurely looking at Twitter or Facebook before I’ve finished watching.


~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Books, Blogs, and Podcasts

1. Podcast…Hidden Brain – Why We’re Bad at Predicting Our Own Happiness
Why are we so bad at predicting how we’ll feel in the future? Interesting interview with author Dan Gilbert (he wrote Stumbling on Happiness, one of my favorite 10 books of 2016; it seems so long ago).

2. Podcast…TED Talks Daily – How Boredom Can Lead to Your Most Brilliant Idea
Let yourself get bored sometimes. There is a connection between spacing out and creativity.

3. Podcast…Freakonomics – Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Money (But Were Afraid to Ask)
“The bad news: roughly 70 percent of Americans are financially illiterate. The good news: all the important stuff can fit on one index card. Here’s how to become your own financial superhero.”

4. Writing…How to be a Prolific Writer: 6 Stubborn Myths Quashed by Facts
“Want to know which productivity myths might be sabotaging you? And how you could become a prolific writer even if you got a ton of other stuff to do?”

5. Reading…4 Books I Recommend
Here are 4 books I enjoyed this month, including Reading People by Anne Bogel and The Happiness Prayer by Evan Moffic.


~ * ~

6. Reading…Books I’m Reading Now

  1. The Almost Sisters
    by Joshilyn Jackson
  2. The Tiger’s Wife
    by Téa Obreht
  3. Organizing Solutions for People with Attention Deficit Disorder
    Tips and Tools to Help You Take Charge of Your Life and Get Organized
    by Susan C. Pinsky
  4. How to Listen So People Will Talk
    Build Stronger Communication and Deeper Connections
    by Becky Harling
  5. Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?
    And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House
    by Alyssa Mastromonaco

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Things I Love

My 3 Girls

Both these pictures make me smile. The first is Morgan and our granddaughter, growing, growing.

The second is a drawing of Jenna by one of her 1st grade students. She has a lot of hair. Lots and lots of hair.


Morgan and baby girl at 18 weeks


Mrs T (Jenna) through the eyes of a 1st grader

~ * ~

First Blooms

Finally. I’ve waited a year and a half for these blooms on my angel trumpet. It was a cutting last year from my mother-in-law, who can grow flowers overnight.


~ * ~

The Right to Vote

Even though a lot is wrong with our country right now, I’m thankful for our right to vote. We’re in the middle of a special senatorial election this fall in Alabama. (And it’s brutal, of course.)


~ * ~

The Money I’ve Saved

I appreciate this bonus info on my library receipt. By checking out these books instead of buying them, I saved $92.93. I wonder how many tens of thousands of dollars I’ve saved through the years, thanks to my local library. {smile}


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On the Blog

* * *

What was one of your highlights from August? What are you looking forward to in September? Please share in the comments.

previous Links and Books

sharing with Lyli, Dawn, Deb, Laura, Susan

What’s Giving You Life? In the Waiting


“What is killing you right now?”

Barbara Brown Taylor says we can usually answer that question easily. We know what makes our life harder.

So instead she asks her friends a different, more thought-provoking question: “What is saving your life now?” 

This week, Linda at LindaStoll.net is also asking the latter question.

Three of her long-time blogging friends, including me, are synchroblogging with her about what saved our lives this summer. (See all the links below.)

Here is my answer. I’d love you to hear your answers in the comments.

What’s bringing me life right now?

My oldest daughter Morgan and Fuller had been talking about babies for awhile.

And now they’re expecting their first child early in 2018.

Which, as I mentioned here, means that Jeff and I are going to have our first grandchild (it’s a girl!).

Which also means this: My life is about to change. At least that’s what you other grandparents tell me.

In the Waiting . . . The Past

I’ve been thinking about it a lot this summer during this waiting time. And praying about it.

Jeff and I have been empty-nesters since 2012 (even Kandie our Golden Retriever left last winter to go live with Jenna and Trey).

We’ve stayed out late eating doughnuts. Or we’ve gone to bed at 8:30pm if we’ve wanted to. We’ve spent time on the road for work, for pleasure.

But now a baby?

We couldn’t be more excited. But I realize it’s a time of transition. From the past, with one type of pleasure, to a future with a different kind of joy. I’ve been looking forward to and waiting for this.

In the Waiting . . The Future

God gives us times of waiting to prepare us for what’s next.

And sometimes he gives us a deadline to push us into action.

The time has come to prepare for the future. Time to clean out Morgan’s old room, to empty her closets, to prepare a fresh space for when they come to visit, no longer just the two of them, but the three of them once the baby is here. I want to make room for our little granddaughter.

So we painted the walls. Rearranged the furniture. Cleaned out from under the bed.

But this space-making for a new person isn’t just physical. We want to make not just space in our house, but space in our schedules.

And most importantly, we want to make space in our hearts.

In the Waiting . . . The Present

Jeff and I will soon visit Maine for our anniversary, a new place we’ve never been. We’ll celebrate 25 years of marriage.

But while we’re there, we also want to honor this moment.

We want to mark the now—this transition point during the waiting. We’re leaving a season of “just us” and embarking on the next season with a 3rd generation in our family.

You should see the spare bedroom now. It has less furniture, but more space. It has less grownup things, but more children’s books and stuffed animals.

You can’t see the spare places in our heart. But they’ve expanded, too. Loving the grandbaby is a now thing, not just a future thing. I’ve seen her twice on ultrasound and will see her again there soon.

Changing Seasons

Whatever season of life you are in now, know you won’t stay there forever. Your season will change, too.

And when it’s possible, God will give you a waiting period. A time to transition.

May we use our waiting periods wisely. In them we can prepare to carry out new responsibilities. And clean out space to receive new blessings.

So what’s been saving my life this summer?

Preparing for the joy of what’s next.

* * *

What has saved your life this summer? Another answer for me: I’ve begun a practice saying out loud, “All done!” at the end of every afternoon so I’ll put down my project-of-the-day. I’d love to hear your answers in the comments.

Read the other three posts from sweet, sweet friends and grace-filled bloggers in Linda’s synchroblog, “What Saved My Life This Summer.”

1. Linda


~ * ~

2. Beth


~ * ~

3. June


~ * ~

sharing with DawnDebbie, Brenda, Crystal

4 Books I Recommend – August 2017


Here are four books I recommend from what I read in August. Once a month we share our current reading lists at Jennifer’s.

Books I Recommend

1. Reading People
How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything
by Anne Bogel


If you wonder about the strengths and weaknesses in the most popular personality typing systems and quizzes (Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, 5 Love Languages, etc.), this book is the perfect primer for you. Blogger, podcaster, and author Anne Bogel (also known as Modern Miss Darcy) presents a great breakdown. I thought I already knew a lot, but I learned so much more in this book.

“Truly knowing yourself is one of the hardest things you can do, but it’s also one of the most valuable. The sooner you begin, the sooner you’ll begin to see the payoff.”

Full book review coming in September.

2. The Happiness Prayer
Ancient Jewish Wisdom for the Best Way to Live Today
by Evan Moffic


Such an inspiring book. Rabbi Evan Moffic shares a 2,000 year old prayer practice in 10 disciplines that can be practiced by anybody, every day. I’ll be re-reading this one and looking for more books by Moffic.

“Our presence can also symbolize God’s presence. . . .
We make God’s invisible presence visible when we are there for one another.”

My review here of The Happiness Prayer

3. The Turquoise Table
Finding Community and Connection in Your Own Front Yard
by Kristen Schell


Yes, it’s another book on hospitality. But this one is very laid-back, and focuses more on relationships than anything else. It might not take a whole book to make the point, but author Kristen Schell does share lots of personal stories of her own and of her friends.

“Hospitality begins in the heart, not the oven.”

My review here of The Turquoise Table

4. Small Victories
Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace
by Anne Lamott


This is classic Anne Lamott. It’s a collection of stories of her life, some that make you laugh, some that make you cry, and all that make you think. She shows us that victories, however small, do come and deserve to be celebrated.

“Nothing can be delicious when you are holding your breath. For something to be delicious, you have to be present to savor it, and presence is in attention and in the flow of breath.”

Reading Now

  • The Light Between Oceans
    by M. L. Stedman
  • The Tiger’s Wife
    by Téa Obreht
  • Organizing Solutions for People with Attention Deficit Disorder
    Tips and Tools to Help You Take Charge of Your Life and Get Organized
    by Susan C. Pinsky
  • The Power of Moments
    Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact
    by Chip and Dan Heath
  • How to Listen So People Will Talk
    Build Stronger Communication and Deeper Connections
    by Becky Harling
  • Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?
    And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House
    by Alyssa Mastromonaco

* * *

What good book have you read lately? Please share in the comments.


My books on Goodreads
Previous reading lists

10 Practices of “The Happiness Prayer”

Happiness is not always pleasure. It is not always ease. It is connection.

There is a special Hebrew prayer that many of us don’t know. It’s called Eilu Devarim (pronounced ay-lu deh-var-eem), which means “These are the words.”

It was written over 2,000 years ago. But it is still perfect for today.

Ten short verses make up the prayer. Evan Moffic, a Jewish rabbi who helps people of all faiths, has rewritten the prayer for modern English readers. He then expands on each verse in his newest book, The Happiness Prayer: Ancient Jewish Wisdom for the Best Way to Live Today.

Here is Rabbi Moffic’s paraphrase of the Happiness Prayer:

How will you find happiness in this world and peace in the world to come? By learning these wisdom practices from your ancestors:

  • Honor those who gave you life
  • Be kind
  • Keep learning
  • Invite others into your life
  • Be there when others need you
  • Celebrate good times
  • Support yourself and others during times of loss
  • Pray with intention
  • Forgive
  • Look inside and commit

But more than reciting and singing this prayer, Rabbi Moffic has also lived this list of truths for years. When done with such intention, such practices sink deeply into your soul. (I’m thinking of focusing on one per month as a spiritual practice in 2018.)

Ultimately, our faith is built on such everyday choices, he says.

“[Happiness] comes, like winning in baseball, from doing certain things faithfully and consistently. These practices sustain us through the inevitable pains and downturns of life.”

Quotes from The Happiness Prayer

Here is a short quote from each of the ten practices in The Happiness Prayer.

  1. Honor those who gave you life

“Honoring the past sometimes lets us move out from under its shadow. We carry less baggage as we walk into the future. . . .

Children who know their parents’ and grandparents’ histories and stories tend to be healthier and happier than those who do not.”

  1. Be kind

“You do not lose kindness when you give it away. You get more.”

  1. Keep learning

“We study ourselves in order to change ourselves. We go outside ourselves in order to empathize with ourselves. And it works.”

  1. Invite others into your life

“Hospitality is not something that happens only at one’s house. It can take place at one’s spiritual home. . . .

Things do not bring happiness. People do. Happiness is more of a who than a what.”

  1. Be there when others need you

“Here’s what I tell myself: presence is what matters most. I once heard it said that 80 percent of life is showing up. When it comes to comforting the sick, it is 99 percent.”

  1. Celebrate good times

“Sharing in another’s celebration takes us deep into community. . . .

A wedding is about more than community. A wedding reminds us of something bigger than ourselves. It reminds us that life is fragile. And we need to embrace every opportunity to celebrate.”

  1. Support yourself and others during times of loss

“Our presence can also symbolize God’s presence. . . .
We make God’s invisible presence visible when we are there for one another.”

  1. Pray with intention

“[Prayer] is a way of opening a door for God. . . .

Prayer brings our attention to what matters most.”

  1. Forgive

“Our pasts, like our futures, are not set in stone. Their meaning changes as we change.”

  1. Look inside and commit

“Happiness actually isn’t a onetime, far-off destination. Happiness is the path, and we find it through the journey.”

The book also includes a “Happiness Quick Start Guide.” It has five questions for each of the ten chapters. You can do them individually or as a group.

Perhaps one or two of the practices resonate more with you now, but others may later. Rabbi Moffic reminds us that doing these spiritual exercises regularly will benefit us in the same ways as physical exercise does: They leave us in excellent shape, and the next time we need to spiritually sprint, we’ll be ready.

* * *

I first heard of The Happiness Prayer on the Typology Podcast with Ian Morgan Cron. Listen to the interview here with Rabbi Moffic.


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Watch Rabbi Moffic talk about The Happiness Prayer here.


~ * ~ * ~

Of the ten practices, which one do you need the most?
Which one is the most difficult?
Please share in the comments.

The Happiness Prayer will be available
for purchase on September 12, 2107.
My thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.

sharing with LyliDawnDebLaura,
SusanDawnCrystalBrenda, Carmen, Debbie

Keep It Secret or Let Your Light Shine?

The biggest challenge after success is shutting up about it.

It was Serve Day. People had gathered at Manna House in their matching t-shirts to go into the community. Some would deliver food; others would paint houses; some would visit the elderly.

We began passing out name tags and markers. Wear the sticker so others can know you by name.

But one gentleman balked. He refused the sticker. He didn’t want to wear his name tag.

At first I thought it was for privacy. Maybe he didn’t want people knowing him by his name.

Then I overheard his wife ask him, “Why aren’t you wearing a name tag?

He quoted, “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”

Oh. I recognized Jesus’s words from the Sermon on the Mount:

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
. . . But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”
Matthew 6:1, 3-4

Would that include not wearing a name tag into the community?

Sometimes it’s hard to know. We don’t want to do acts of service for praise or recognition. We don’t want to expect acknowledgement or a personal thanks.

Yet, on the other hand, Jesus also said,

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16

So which is it?

  • Do we keep our good works secret so no one will know, or
  • Do we let others see them so God can be glorified?

Perhaps the key is our own motive. We ask ourselves why: Am I doing this to make me look good? Or instead am I doing it to make God look good?

If I had to keep my good deed a secret, would I still do it?

Our intentions matter.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
Psalm 139:23-24

We can be a prideful people. Humility doesn’t come naturally. And even though God’s grace covers our cockiness, his power outweighs our pride, he wants us to be humble. Like Jesus was humble.

In The Blessing of Humility, Jerry Bridges points out that,

“Humility is the second-most frequently taught trait in the New Testament, second only to love.”

So was the man with no name tag being humble or just legalistic? Is saying your name being prideful? Or being personable?

That’s between God and him.

But because of the anonymous man, I also now see name tags as an opportunity for a heart check.

Can I take an opportunity to serve without turning it into a show of pride?

For me that day, wearing a name tag was a relationship-builder. It was a sign of friendliness and availability to other people, a way to show God’s love.

But ultimately, if God can’t get good credit, may I remain anonymous, too.

* * *

Do you like to be acknowledged for what you do? Does it matter if someone else notices or not? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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