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Are You Carrying the Burdens of Others?

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on July 30, 2012
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Are your shoulders broad enough to carry your burdens? There are times when we feel like we can conquer the world, but all of us have times of weakness when we feel like we can’t handle all the pressures and responsibilities of life.

Yesterday, Pastor Tag Kilgore offered an inspiring message on weakness. The third category of weak people he mentioned is those who carry the burdens of others.

But wait, aren’t we supposed to help others? Shouldn’t we lighten the load for someone in need? Why would doing so make us weak? At first I thought, “Tag, you’re way off base.” But the longer he talked, the more I realized the message made sense and actually pertained to me and to many people I know.

I beg forgiveness if I’m misrepresenting Tag’s intent with the following examples. But they say perception is reality, and this is what I gained from the ideas he shared.

Considering my students and all teens, this is how I would describe one example of carrying someone else’s burden. Sally and Joey are dating. Their young love is evident in the joy flowing from in their eyes. Yeah, it’s enough to make me queasy.

Then the inevitable happens: they fight and break up. Sally tells her friend Betty how horribly Joey treated her and that her heart will be bruised forever. How will she ever trust another boy again? Betty doesn’t only sympathize with Sally; she becomes personally involved in the situation. Her anger boils and she plans revenge on Joey.

Surprise! After a day (or an hour) the lovebirds make up, and all is well between Sally and Joey. Unfortunately, Betty hasn’t been part of the make-up process, so her bitterness remains, a burden that weighs her down and affects her life.  She has taken on the burden of others, and now she faces consequences because of it.

Do you think this could only happen to teenagers? Consider your job or your church. Are there a few people who volunteer or are volunteered to do the majority of the work? Church members frequently become overburdened, serving in every capacity they can. Some do so for the right reason, they are being called to fill a particular position, but not everyone.

Here are some reasons people might accept the burdens of others:

  • They feel the job won’t get done well if someone else does it.
  • They want to know everything that is going on.
  • They desire power over others.
  • They hope for a sense of belonging by being involved.
  • They thrive on the praise they receive for their hard work.

These are all rather selfish or egotistical reasons, don’t you think? And I have to admit I’m guilty and so are many other people I know. Unfortunately, we sometimes neglect our own responsibilities – family, work, leisure – to claim burdens that don’t belong to us.

Is it because there’s little acknowledgement of a job well done when we fail to go above and beyond the norm? Rarely do we get praised for going to work, buying groceries, or scrubbing a toilet, so maybe we seek it by taking on too much.

Humans are impatient. We don’t want to wait for God to tell us we were good and faithful servants. We want that praise now, so we seek it from other humans. But false praise it is.

Are you carrying someone else’s burden? Or have you been successful at avoiding that situation?


Are You Focusing on the Rearview Mirror?

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on July 27, 2012
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My stomach clenches and quickly reaches up to strangle my breathing. My eyes shift from the speedometer to the rearview mirror. How fast was I going? Did he clock me? Is he coming? Are those flashing lights I see?

The next few miles pass in slow motion, fear preventing me from going even one m.p.h. over the limit. I focus on what’s behind me, the mistake I made, instead of observing what I’m currently driving through or anticipating what lies ahead.

Have you ever felt this way? Trying to move forward but focusing on what’s behind?

Sometimes I wonder how much life I’ve missed because I’ve been examining the rearview mirror in my mind, obsessing over all that I’ve done wrong. When I do this, I diminish my productivity and squelch my dreams. I listen to that little voice telling me I’ve failed before. How could I possibly succeed in the future?

The devil loves it when I do this because it makes me an ineffective servant in God’s kingdom.

Mistakes are part of experience. Exploring them thoroughly and using what I learn from that exploration to change my behavior is a good thing. But being consumed by them hinders my usefulness and ability to live up to the purpose God gave me.

I have to adjust my view so I look through the windshield to see what opportunities are available. If I don’t, my gifts will be wasted and my life will lack value. When I look in the rearview mirror, my attention should only be on my kids sitting in the backseat, beautiful examples of my present and future blessings.

Do you obsess over mistakes from your past? How have you learned from and let go of those mistakes?

Do You Doubt His Presence?

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on July 24, 2012
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While on vacation a couple weeks ago, rain fell one night followed by an overcast and gloomy day. It was our last day at the lake, so we ignored the lack of sunshine and headed out to the water. It was slightly chilly, not a warm and comforting day in the sunshine.

Life can feel like that sometimes, blanketed in dreariness, cold and unwelcoming. A burdensome drizzle falls, causing me to seek shelter or pull the covers over my head because I fail to see God’s hand at work.

That evening at the lake, Rudolph emerged. The cloudy day hadn’t kept the sun’s rays from reaching me. No, I hadn’t used sunscreen. Even though my skin rarely burns, I usually apply sunscreen to my face, but I failed to because of the weather. I couldn’t feel the heat, so I doubted its presence.

Do you ever have days when you doubt God’s presence? I frequently feel like I face life’s monsters on my own, struggling to accept He’s there. I feel abandoned and alone. Haven’t we all felt that way at some point?

But like the sun’s rays reaching through the clouds, God is always there, touching my life and leaving some sign. It may not be as noticeable as a bright red nose, but His love and influence eventually become apparent in all situations. I simply have to open my heart to see.

When have you doubted His presence? How did He reveal His handiwork to you?

M-Fuge Mission Camp 2012

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on July 21, 2012
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Few experiences stir me as much as being a part of 35 youth and 5 adults who bond through laughter and through tears.

Few experiences encourage me as much as seeing almost 700 people give their time to serve others.

Few experiences inspire me as much as watching a man use his God-given gift to glorify Him.

Few experiences amaze me as much as listening to 35 exhausted youth on a charter bus sing “He Loves Us” during a very long drive home.

Few experiences upset me as much as having a child beg me, a complete stranger, to come back and play with him tomorrow.

Few experiences tickle me as much as the pursuit of bacon.

Few experiences change me as much as M-Fuge. Absolutely unforgettable.

Is Today a Lucky Day?

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on July 13, 2012
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Friday the 13th. Many conversations and comments revolve around luck each time this day and date coincide.

Today, we are driving home from our yearly lake vacation. The week did not go as planned. Many of our traditional activities had to be cancelled because of unforeseen and distressing circumstances.

Some would say luck wasn’t with us. But I’ve been reminded that luck is all about God’s timing.

And His timing is always perfect.

3 Ways Opportunities Are Like Automatic Doors

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on July 10, 2012
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Everyone faces opportunities in life and must make the decision whether or not to accept them. But do you ever think other people get more opportunities than you? They have so many opportunities they can choose which to take advantage of and which to let pass on by. Others get all the breaks while you sit and wait, wondering why you don’t have those same chances.

Opportunities are like automatic doors. There are a few things you must do or else they won’t work. You can’t simply wait for the door to open because it won’t without your involvement.

You have to be moving.
You can’t remain stagnant and expect an opportunity to open up for you. If you aren’t working your way toward the door, it will stay closed. When God said, “be still” he wasn’t referring to his plan for your life. You have to take an active role to find the opportunities waiting for you.

You have to get close.
An automatic door will only open once you get close enough to it to trip the sensor. If you spend your time going willy-nilly from one thing to the next without any focus, you will rarely get close enough for an opportunity to sense your interest. If you don’t set your sights on something and invest your time and effort, why would you be considered?

You may find out it’s not for you.
Have you ever approached an automatic door, but it didn’t open? I have. It was an exit instead of an entrance so it remained closed. Opportunities are like that. If you approach the wrong door, it won’t open for you. That’s when you adjust your focus and move toward the next door to test whether it’s the opportunity for you.

Are there opportunities waiting for you? Which door do you need to approach today?

Why You Can’t Be a Part-Time Role-Model

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on July 5, 2012

Leaders and role-models, whether they have sought out the position or are there by default, can’t choose to be part-time. Although many people lead reluctantly, they still lead. If you are one of these people, you must decide if you will use your position to influence people positively or ignore the responsibility resting on your shoulders.

Followers come from all aspects of life. They can be from your church, family, employees, readers, students, patients, friends, or peer group. And you influence them, all the time, even if you are going through a rough patch in your own life and don’t want to be examined too closely.

I know a teen who is a leader in his class, revered by his peers. Most of the time, he celebrates this role, enjoying the attention while positively influencing others. But when he started going through difficult and confusing circumstances, making the right decision became more of a chore instead of a reflexive response. And his peers noticed.

One day I gently reminded him of the role he played with the others. After some discussion, he hung his head low and almost whispered, “I don’t want to be a role-model anymore.”

Unfortunately, he couldn’t make that choice. Once you have followers, they exist until they decide to follow someone else.

Leadership cannot be a part-time job because:

You are watched all the time.
Have you ever felt as if you would like to live anonymously without influence over any other people? Usually when life is going well and productivity is high, you’re happy for others to imitate you. But when you don’t feel your best, you want to hide and struggle through life’s obstacles. Admitting you aren’t “succeeding” at life is difficult for many people, especially Type A personalities who find themselves in leadership positions so often.

You can offer hope.
Remember, followers need role-models for many reasons. Watching someone navigate through and survive hard times doesn’t just give an example of how to live, it also offers hope that it can be done well. Others who are trying to make it through traumatic situations or trials in their lives will commend you for your determination to persevere and overcome.

Your failure to lead positively will be analyzed more than your success.
There are people who seek out failure in others. It helps them feel better about themselves. If you lead positively for years, you might be recognized and appreciated for your leadership, or you might not. But if you drop out of your leadership role or turn your followers in the wrong direction, you will be definitely be recognized – and discussed openly –  and not in a good way. Obviously this is a self-motivated reason to lead effectively, but why provide others the opportunity to gossip and spread negativity in the world?

Are you a reluctant role-model? Do you sometimes wish it was a part-time job? Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way, so harness your positive attitude no matter what your situation. It isn’t always easy, but Jesus gave us the perfect example of being a full-time leader in dismal circumstances.

Are You a Verb?

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on July 3, 2012
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I’m accepting ROW80, the Round of Words in 80 Days challenge. Even though this is a challenge for writers, it applies to anyone and everyone. I hit on this topic briefly in my post about excuses earlier this week, so it seems fitting that I found this challenge today.

No matter what you call yourself – writer, teacher, administrator, fisherman, doctor, scientist, chef, parent, pastor, or thousands of other titles – all of those words are nouns. They don’t move and breathe. They don’t produce.

A fisherman has to be fishing to be productive. Learning about fishing might improve the production, but it won’t make it happen. A writer must be writing. A chef must be cooking. Make sure your title in life isn’t a stagnant word, one which doesn’t truly describe your life. Live the verb.

So, even though the ROW80 is for writers, it is a challenge everyone can accept. Think about what actions will “bring life to your life” because naming it isn’t enough. You have to live it.

Here are my writing goals for the next 80 days:
Write two blog posts a week
Re-edit two chapters a week
Send out four agent queries
Complete a non-fiction chapter outline
Apply time-management strategies for focus

What are your goals? Share them with the group!

Is it an Excuse to Stall?

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on July 2, 2012
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The internet is a power tool, isn’t it? There are courses to take, eBooks to read, blogs to examine, along with millions of websites overflowing with information.

Recently, I’ve read (among many others):

It’s all beneficial, thought-provoking information. I’ve even copied some of it into files to revisit at a later date. I’m honing my skills, exploring my craft, and preparing myself to be a better writer.

Really? Am I improving or is it avoidance? I think the devil targets my fears, crafty fellow that he is, and uses them and the valuable knowledge to be gained from the web to trick me into stalling.

I feel like someone who loves to cook but sits on the couch watching cooking shows instead of sliding the dish in the oven.

The way to become a better writer is to write. And I do write. A lot. But I’ve come to the point in my writing where I need to put more of my words “out there” for others to see. But rejection can feel like punches bruising my skin, so my finger hesitates over the SEND button.

I’ve always been a life-long learner. And as an educator, it’s hard for me to turn my back on knowledge, but it’s time to untangle myself from this snare of over-learning.

Are you stalling? What do you use as your excuse?

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