Posted tagged ‘priorities’

“C” Words We Try to Avoid

May 9, 2014

by Steven J. Callis

I attended the memorial service of a lifelong friend last week. What he thought to be severe sinus, then a wisdom tooth problem, then TMJ, turned out to be cancer in the neck and throat. He would have preferred dental surgery over chemo and radiation, for sure. The battle lasted less than a year.

Cancer is a cruel enemy. It likes to be in charge. It demands its own way. It gives no thought to setting its own time schedule and ignoring one’s priorities. It is painful and debilitating. It refuses to succumb even to the pleas of the wealthy and healthy and powerful and beautiful. It cares nothing for age, gender, ethnicity, education, or politics. It is a friend to no one.

Commitment is another “C” word many people like to avoid. It, too, is very demanding. It insists on being number one. It expects to be permanent; to be written in stone. It has no room for slackers and half-hearts. Like cancer, it will not be compromised by age, gender, ethnicity, education, or politics. It will not give in to the rich and powerful. From the least to the greatest of those who choose it, commitment demands absolute loyalty.

My friend is an example of what these words can do to a person. He did not choose cancer, it chose him. In its normal fashion, cancer turned his world upside down and did a number on him physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It is a disease that cannot seem to help itself. Yet, its havoc-wreaking attack did not cause complete devastation. That was its goal, but it failed.

For in the midst of this intense battle, priorities of life were examined and commitments were evaluated. Despite all the bad it caused, the battle led my friend to a place where his faith in Christ and his love for others were solidified. Oh, he had faith, and he had friends and family, but these changes in his life circumstances made his focus more about others and less about self. His Cancer became a Catalyst for Complete Commitment.

We would expect a bleak prognosis such as untreatable cancer to send its victim into a frightening, dangerous, downward spiral of emotions and energy. Not so for my friend and others who become motivated to settle their debates and unanswered questions. His newfound commitments gave him a peace, a positive outlook, and a heart for those around him.

Cancer is not the key to that equation. Commitment is the key. It is a “C” word that will be your friend and take you to the better places of life when you give yourself to it. That is especially true when your highest commitment is to your relationship with Jesus Christ.

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Big Break or Breakthrough

March 25, 2014

by Steven J. Callis

Reality television has certainly changed over the years, especially since its prominence significantly rose in the 1990’s. We’ve gone from Candid Camera, The Dating Game, and This Old House to Wife Swap, Real Housewives, and Pawn Stars. With this explosion of popularity, the meaning of “reality” has become a bit obscure, and often is a misnomer for shows that are classified as such.

Big Break is a reality show that appeals to golfers, and one that does not appear to be scripted or fake. Non-professional golfers compete for cash, prizes, and the opportunity to play in a PGA or LPGA tour event. Rather than competing in traditional golf matches, contestants are placed in various skills situations playing for immunity from elimination. At the end of each episode, one golfer is eliminated and sent home based on their performance that day.

On a recent episode, 18- year old country girl Dallas Odom, the youngest in Big Break history, was eliminated, and her exit interview was somewhat atypical of most who are determined to continue working and practicing and pursuing their dream of becoming a professional golfer. While she enjoys the game and is confident that she can play with the pros, she’s not certain that it is her dream.

She heard the other girls talking about life on the road and being away from home the majority of the year, and Dallas was raised in a close family atmosphere. “I wasn’t raised like that and I just kinda want to be home and have a family…’cuz this really is just to have money and just have an easy way in life. I’ll take some positives away, but I’m not sure this is really what I want.”

The statement that truly showed her maturity declared that pursuing this dream did not make her as happy as it seemed to make other people. Assessing her values and priorities, home and family are more important than fame and fortune. At this point in her life, she is not certain the risk is worth trying to have both.

Reality shows based on competition create high levels of stress that cause contestants to examine their values and ambitions. Experiencing a taste of that life brings them to count the costs of pursuing the dream. In the same way life’s crises press each of us to honest evaluation of what truly matters to us. The things we value determine the priorities we establish.

When we relax, priorities can easily become askew, causing us to make decisions that are not in line with our values. Crises, difficult as they may be, serve to help us realign our lives with the things we deem most important to us. The apostle Paul advised, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Let’s stay focused on our reality with steady reminders of the things that drive us.