Daily Devotions

A Bad Day Worth Having

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In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress. (Philippians 4:14)

Having a bad day? Don’t get down about it, we all have them now and then. You cannot always control when you are going to get hit with a bad day. What you can control is how you respond. Tim Denning, in his article “It’s What You Do on a ‘Bad Day’ That Matters,” reminds us, “Using your actions to make the day better rather than trying to think your way out of your bad day seems to be a lot easier to implement.” We can try to get through the day by numbing it with alcohol, or trying to ignore it through laziness.

The challenge comes from taking a moment to evaluate the negative that is making your day “bad.” Then, recognizing the need to address the negative, you can take action. Some self-help gurus would have you try to fool yourself into thinking that your bad day is actually good. Some days are truly bad. Rather than playing pretend, we face the bad with positive action.

My brother and his wife lived in Grand Forks, N.D., on the day the Red River overflowed and destroyed the town. They were both stationed at the local Air Force base at the time, and they were making and stacking sandbags in another part of town, as their home was completely submerged in water. The loss and stress of such a horrific situation caused any number of couples to divorce. I was so impressed with their ability to overcome and live beyond the stress of the moment. Knowing they were helping others provided strength, amidst a really “bad day.”

The next time you are facing a really bad day, don’t just live with it, or pretend it isn’t all that bad. Name it, face it, and then do something for others, because, when you make someone else’s day better, yours improves. You cannot control when a flood comes, or when the furnace breaks, but you can make someone else’s day better. In doing so, the bad in your day diminishes. Even on Jesus’ worst bad day on the cross, he was able to transform it by bringing reconciliation to all humanity. As we care for others, even on our bad days, we can find ways of bringing joy that can bring hope, amidst our otherwise bad day. It won’t take the bad away, but it shows that the bad cannot control our attitude, or our ability to bring a little joy to others. When that happens, the bad isn’t quite so bad, and the person you help finds their day isn’t quite so bad either.

Just Showing Up is Transformative

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The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. (1 Samuel 3:8)

I’ve joked any number of times that I’ve created a successful pastoral ministry because I simply show up for work every day. I’ve lived by the mantra, “90% of life is just showing up.” This little mantra may be simplistic, but it is profound. When my own daughter went to college, and dozens of other church youth left for college, I would encourage them by telling them not to worry, “you will do fine, if you show up for each class and do your homework.” I’ve never felt like the smartest person in the classroom, but I’ve tried to be a bulldog in the room. I tried to be there every day, and keep up with my studies.

Reece Robertson, in his article, “The Simple Power of Showing Up,” says, “When you show up and keep putting your work out there, good things start to happen. You make new connections, people reach out to you, opportunities start to present themselves.” Further, Robertson declares, “The world is facing an epidemic right now; that is everyone wants to be successful, yet no one is willing to put in the work to be successful.” Some years ago, I heard about a child who signed up for soccer club. The parents only brought the boy to one or two practices over a three-month period. But when the season came to an end, the parents and child showed up and expected their participation trophy. They were incensed when there wasn’t one for their little guy, even though he never really participated. Sadly, I picture this little boy going to college, skipping the majority of his classes, and feeling genuinely shocked when he flunks out.

Helicopter parents, who do their child’s homework and make sure their child gets every opportunity to appear successful, even when they have failed to succeed, are not doing their child any favors. We do our children and youth a disservice when we fail to instruct them on the reality of accountability. Too many young adults are lost when they leave home, because the rest of the world does not fix every aspect of their lives, the way their mom or dad did.

Today, think about your life story. Consider the ways you became successful. Then, ponder the areas of your life where you didn’t meet your own expectations. Ask yourself, “Where did I not show up, and where did I fail to make the necessary commitment to be successful in a particular area?”

Finally, most of us have people in our lives we can still influence. Children, grandchildren, employees, students, colleagues, etc. Refine your story, and then risk sharing how showing up helped you become successful. Then, find time to tell that story to someone(s) you think would benefit from hearing about the powerful life change that comes from just showing up. The discipline of showing up for weekly worship, allows the Holy Spirit to mold and transform our lives. This understanding can transform our work life, as well as our spiritual life. Share your “showing up” story, and watch the changes take place in those you love.

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