Daily Devotions

Learning From the Amish

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Surely there is no one on earth so righteous as to do good without ever sinning. (Ecclesiastes 7:20)

Most successful people have a little perfectionism within themselves. If you do not strive to do your best, you will always be mediocre. Yet, there is a vast difference between doing your best and being a perfectionist. While we should always strive to do our best, we should never strive for perfection.

I love the Amish tradition of making sure there is an error with every piece of furniture they make. Sometimes it is nearly impossible to find, but it is always in their work. The Amish believe the only one who can create anything perfect is God. All Christians should feel the same way. Perfectionism is a form of idolatry.

Since God is the only perfect entity, continuing to strive for perfection leads to our ruin. Sure, some perfectionists are professionally successful, but the regular despair of failure is what leads to ruin. Striving to be our best selves acknowledges our imperfection, which frees us to be our best selves with ourselves and others. It also gives credit, where credit is due. Any good things we do, comes from the only Perfect One. On our own, we are incapable of doing good.

Today, take a page from the Amish and mark your imperfection. Then, with great pride, give everything your best shot. If you succeed, thank God for the opportunity. If you fall flat on your face, get up, brush yourself off and thank God for a lesson learned. Our failures do not define us, nor do our successes. All is done to give God the glory, not you or me! Pray for God to guide you away from your perfectionist tendencies so you can live a blessed life, where the choice is no longer perfection or failure.

True Riches

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And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15)

I’ve known a number of people through the years with quite a bit of financial wealth. My first church was in a resort community, with wealthy people coming up mainly from Chicago. The community also had a number of cranberry growers. This was when Craisins came on the scene. We were all trying them in cereals before the rest of the country even heard of them. Money was rolling in from Ocean Spray and other corporations. Jill and I went to dinner with friends, and they picked us up in one of their Rolls Royce automobiles (calling it a car would be disrespectful). Sadly, almost none of it trickled down to the church.

What I’ve learned from being a pastor to some wealthy parishioners is that you never have enough. When someone gets something cool, envy turns to desire which turns to need. That need becomes a drug, no less powerful than heroin. This drug – envy – steals happiness. But you don’t have to be rich to be envious. It just makes it easier to keep up.

Envy isn’t the only issue that plagues the wealthy. While wealth makes life less worrisome in certain ways, it doesn’t free us from other difficult realities. Our physical health is one area of life that wealth cannot fix. Sure, the best health care is beneficial, but it cannot solve all problems. Kelly Preston, John Travolta’s wife died, at 58-years-old, of cancer this past month. They had huge wealth, supported, in part, by their participation in the Scientology cult. Money, no matter how much, doesn’t keep us alive forever.

If you are financially wealthy, by American standards, consider yourself fortunate, but not special. You are fortunate to not have to worry about how you are going to pay the rent. But many of the other aspects of life remain a concern. Don’t make becoming rich your priority. Your faith in our Triune God is the blessing that can bring life eternal. You do not need to be rich to have integrity. You do not need to be rich to be trusted. You do not need to be rich to be loving. You do not need to be rich to be faithful to God. This is the way to true – and lasting – wealth.

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