Saturday, November 30, 2013

My List of Least Favorite People (Warning: This Might Be Offensive)

I must warn you before you read any further: You may find this post offensive.

If you were asked to make a list of 5 or 10 of your least favorite people, would you consider it a challenging task, or would names fly left and right?  Would the names on your list be celebrities, co-workers, relatives, or bosses and politicians?  Do you already have a mental list in a downloadable format...on standby just in case someone asks or mentions a name on your list?

Like everyone else, I have struggled in life with bitterness, a judgmental attitude, and down-right jealousy. In those moments of clarity (few and far-between), I have realized that the people who most annoy me, irritate me, or just rub me the wrong way, are often more like me than I want to admit.  Hardly anyone thinks he or she is perfect, and most of us are quick to admit that we have plenty of shortcomings; however, we seldom identify our flaws.  I want to suggest that when you and I see our flaws in other people, they drive us crazy. We want to stamp out the arrogance in her or fix the clumsiness in him or thump that person for a lack of compassion... We want to pass judgment on the faults in others because those very faults live in us.  Far too often, though, we fail to see them in ourselves.  

So here's the tough part of this post-- go back through your list of least favorite people. Once you discern why each person is on your list, ask the hard question:  Do I struggle with the same issues that landed them on my list? 

If we can work on overcoming the issues we struggle with, we will find other people much more bearable. In the history of mankind, there has only been one perfect life lived.  The owner of that life taught that we should love people-- yes, even the people who remind us of our own flaws.  

Give it a try!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thoughts on Seabiscuit: Leaders Give Second Chances-- sometimes more

Early in the story, we find that the Trainer (Smith) "knew he had found the right jockey" in Red Pollard.  Pollard was not the most congenial or well-mannered guy, but he connected with Seabiscuit, and he loved to win.  In Seabiscuit's first big race, he was positioned to win; however, Pollard made a mistake that lost the race by inches. The media and the fans were all belligerent about Pollard's mistake, but the same wasn't true of the Owner (Howard) and the Trainer (Smith). "He (Pollard) was publicly accused of inexcusable failure in the most important race of his career, but he could not defend himself. Had he let on that he was blind in one eye, his career would have been over... If his blindness was the cause of the loss, his frustration and guilt must have been consuming. Howard accepted Pollard's explanation without criticism. Neither he nor Smith blamed him. Almost everyone else did" (147).

This exhibit of mercy reminded me of a story Dennis Rainey recently shared in one of the devotionals from

"For many years Bob Brenly was the starting catcher for the San Francisco Giants. But because of a last-minute lineup change on this very date in 1986, he was pressed into duty at third base. Everything was going fine ... until the fourth inning.
That's when he committed not one, not two, not three, but a record-tying four errors in the same inning--including two on the same play. In fact, he almost had a fifth error. "I missed a head-high line drive that tipped off the webbing of my glove and went into left field," Brenly said. "If they hadn't called that one a hit, my name would have stood alone in the record books."
The home crowd booed. His coaches and teammates avoided even looking at him. But his manager left him in the game. Good thing.
When Bob came up to bat the following inning, he smashed a solo home run. His next at-bat was a two-run single in the seventh to tie the game. And with his final plate appearance of the day in the ninth inning, he stroked a game-winning homer. His manager later commented, "This man deserves to be the Comeback Player of the Year for this game alone."

Have you ever had someone believe in you, even when no one else did? 

Are you looking for ways to give second chances to people who are on the verge of a breakthrough?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Thoughts on Seabiscuit: The Importance of Team

As I am reading Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand, there are many wonderful nuggets jumping off the pages.  I will do my best to share several of these with you in upcoming posts.  For now, I want to simply state the obvious point that the story makes: there is a strength and richness in a team that far exceeds the talents and gifts of the individual members.

Seabiscuit (the story) is really about four characters-- the owner, the trainer, the jockey and the horse. Hillenbrand does a wonderful work of introducing the audience to each one.  Not surprisingly, we find that each character, certainly with his own gifts and potential, was on a downhill slide-- not a complete failure, but far from where he dreamed he would be.

I love the way Hillenbrand ends chapter 6: "The scattered lives of Red Pollard, Tom Smith, and Charles Howard had come to an intersection. Their crowded hour had begun" (113). We see a wonderful picture of the convergence of gifts, talents, and shared ambition. We see the birth of a team-- the birth of a legend.