- I have compassion when I understand – If someone seems extraordinarily fearful, my gut reaction is to tell them “Be brave, what are the odds of that bad thing happening?” But when I understand the person’s story, when I hear of the events in their life that ‘told them’ the world isn’t a safe place, something changes in me. Compassion rises up . . . compassion I didn’t ask for and didn’t know I had.
- A regret is a missed opportunity – Regret is the elimination of options. Once we’ve lived a season or made a certain decision, we’ve lost the ability to go back and choose another option. We can waste our lives living in regret or we can forgive ourselves and trust that God is still with us, no matter the decision we regret. Use regret as a stimulus to make better decisions by asking, “If I do this (or don’t do it), might I regret it later on?”
- Conflict in marriage comes from not being loved the way we want to be loved – I thought marriages struggled over sex, money or extended family stuff. But these are symptoms, not the disease. Think about it . . . your marriage would be wrinkle-free if your wife loved you exactly as you want to be loved at all times, right?
- The Holy Spirit lives in me – God is not ‘out there’ somewhere, He’s ‘in here’ . . . in my heart. The only way to begin to hear Him more clearly is to obey Him . . . to do what that ‘still small voice’ says without question. His guidance is almost always about matters of the heart.
- A request is a demand when the answer can’t be ‘no’ – This is subtle but strong because unmet demands yield to anger, whether it’s suppressed or expressed. Don’t deceive yourself thinking you’ve made requests when you’ve really made demands. You’ll know which they were by your response when the answer is ‘no.’
- Parents (and mentors) are interpreters – People who are going through something for the first time need an experienced person to interpret what’s happening and why. Left to themselves, children will make up their own explanation of catastrophic events and they’ll usually be wrong . . . like kids blaming themselves for their parents’ divorce. From examined experience, mentors help their mentees interpret their circumstances and make wise choices.
- I am complete in Christ – All my Christian life, I’ve thought of myself as a ‘work in progress.’ But this year, I grasped Colossians 2:10 which says, “and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.” I can’t make myself more complete. I need to relax into His grace and stop striving to be ‘super-Christian.’
- It’s good to take time out from the world but not to the world – My daughter says I’m pretty intense and she’s right. So, deciding to rest and recoup is a good thing? Well, sorta. If the retreat is to television, football games and movies, it’s not refreshing . . . it’s actually exhausting! Taking time out and hitting the woods and the water . . . God’s creation and the things He made . . . that’s where restoration is found.
- Only 100% satisfies – Seeing the total eclipse taught me the value of 100% vs. 99%. It’s irrational that such a small variation could make such a big difference. God taught me that trust is the same way. There’s no such thing as 99% trust. We either trust . . . or we don’t. Years ago, one of my execs explained it this way, “If you’re a king living in a castle surrounded by potential enemies, the worst thing you can have is a part-time sentry guarding the back gate. If you know it’s guarded, you can relax. If you know it’s not, you’re on alert. The worst case is when you’re not sure.”
- Don’t be a ‘jack-of-all-trades,’ be good at one – I learned this quote accurately for the first time. I’d always heard it said, “I’m a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ but master of none” which is an excuse for mediocrity. In Garden City, John Mark Comer sent me on a search for my ‘one thing’ I’m good at so I can focus on it and become better.
- Emotional connection is huge – In my marriage and in my faith-walk, learning to build and protect the emotional connection with my wife and my Lord may turn out to be the most important thing I’ve ever learned! I’m praying that God will show me more about this in 2018 and enable me to share it in a useful way with others.
Prayer: Father, thank you for teaching me that wisdom comes from examined experience. I pray those who read this will look back and remember what you taught them in 2017 so they can make their lives better walking with Jesus. In His beautiful name, Amen.
You can also read the things Regi learned in past years here.