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Not the Critic

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Not the Critic

It's not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortoming; who does actually try to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the worst, if he fails, at least

fails while daring greatly.

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who  neither enjoy no suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

Challenge and criticism

Many people end up criticizing when what they intended to do was challenge.  Criticizing is pointing out what is wrong. Challenge is pointing out what is possible. Criticism can be very destructive. It can sap the will. Challenge, on the other hand, is quite possibly the most loving thing you can do for someone. It can focus, energize, motivate and compel. The next time you're tempted to criticize, ask yourself why you have that urge. Is the intention of your criticism to destroy, or to support? If your intention is to destroy, why would you want to do that? You cannot build yourself up by destroying another. If your intention is to support, then

consider changing your criticism to challenge.

Look at these two statements:

"Your presentation is so weak, you'll never get the order."  and  "You can get this order if you'll work to develop a stronger presentation."

Both statements point out the weakness of the sales presentation. Which one do you think will best motivate the salesperson?  There's no need for empty criticism. It does not do anyone any good. Rather than pointing out what is wrong, find a way to point out what is possible.

That's what really counts.

Pain is one of the greatest motivators in the world.  When we are sufficiently pained we are sufficiently motivated.  Dissatisfaction is a one word definition of motivation.  Often those who are most hurt and scarred by life are the ones who are most likely to make a difference.

The willingness to assume personal responsibility is the first step toward making a difference.

No blame games

Position.  Nothing is given you by accident and it has not come without an accompanying responsibility.  People are placed in positions where they can make a difference in order to do so.

Risk is something that awakens life within us.  To back off at that point is to disappoint God and to choose mediocrity forever.

 There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries; and we must take the current when

it serves, or lose our ventures.

n       William Shakespeare


Ever come to a line in the sand?  You know... where you simply must choose: one way or the other?  Such are the crossroads of life.  The question, of course... which way to go?  After all, the consequences of such decisions unfold major chapters of your existence.  Right choices - everything comes together.  Wrong choices - disastrous results.  But how to know?

Such moments are not what you might call, "fun."  In fact, they can be miserable experiences, involving ripping change.  Yet, a choice must be made, lest you go mad from enduring another

instant of things as they are.  As M. Scott Peck put it in The Road Less Traveled and Beyond, "The truth is that our finest moments, more often than not, occur precisely when we are uncomfortable, when we're not feeling happy or fulfilled, when we're struggling and searching."

What to do?

If you are at a crossroads, chances are you're faced with a couple of options.  One is easy.  The other is, well... hard.  One is 'comfortable;' the other is really 'hanging out there.'  One choice is 'safe'; the other loaded with risk.  Which to choose?  Only YOU can decide.  The best insight you can possibly gain comes from inside... from that "still small voice."  All you need do is simply listen... really listen... and then have the guts to decide.  While you're doing so, consider this: Your rewards in life are in direct proportion to your level of risk. 

The world is full of easy choices... and so go the masses... like so many lemmings, rushing one after the other to the edge of the sea.  Onto whatever lies in waiting for the dull, the listless, the complacent...those who have given up or given in.  A rut leading on... beyond their horizons.  It takes guts to leave the pack behind, to climb out and do something different... to do the thing you really want to do... that which you're really meant to do.  But you can.  All you need to do is decide.

In his poem, "The Road Not Taken," Robert Frost blessed us with:

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference."

You know, in the road less traveled... there aren't any ruts.

Choosing your own path?  Well... it takes courage.  It takes resolve.  It invokes tremendous internal accountability.  But the reward, irrespective of whether it shows up in wealth, fame, fortune, or the distinct lack of all of these, will richly bless you with that for which all greatly yearn - peace of mind.  Through such choices and such acts you will be transformed.

Do what you will.  Do what you ought.  Make the tough choice...and stick with it.  Make it because it's the right choice... for you.  You will be met (as Thoreau put it) with a success unexpected in common hours.

Some Christians are so afraid of failure that they become reserved, overly cautious, and uninvolved in life.  They follow a policy of guarded living, holding back time, talents, and treasure from God's service.  Their motto is:  To keep from failing -- don't try!  On the other hand, those who are willing to make mistakes and risk failure are the ones who ultimately achieve great things.  Instead of being filled with fear, they go forward in faith.  Problems are challenges. While they may not all be solved, these courageous people would rather live with that reality than have a clean record of no failures and no accomplishments.  Benjamin Franklin said one time, "The man who does things makes many mistakes, but he never makes the biggest mistake of all -- doing nothing."


To laugh is to risk appearing the fool

To weep is to risk appearing sentimental

To reach out for another is to risk involvement

To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self

To place your ideas, your dreams before the crowd is to risk their loss

To love is to risk not being loved in return

To live is to risk dying

To hope is to risk despair

To try is to risk failure

But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing and is nothing

They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live

Chained by their certitudes, they are a slave, they have forfeited their freedom

Only a person who risks is free.



I said, "God, I hurt."

And God said, I know."

I said, "God, I cry a lot."

And God said, "That is why I gave you tears."

I said, "God, I am so depressed."

And God said, "That is why I gave you Sunshine."

I said, "God, life is so hard."

And God said, "That is why I gave you loved ones."

I said, "God, my loved one died."

And God said, "So did mine."

I said, "God, it is such a loss."

And God said, I saw mine nailed to a cross."

I said, "God, but your loved one lives."

And God said, "So does yours."

I said, "God, where are they now?"

And God said, "Mine is on My right and yours is in the Light."

I said, "God, it hurts."

And God said, I know."

Placed on the fence at the Oklahoma City Bombing Site,

which is now becoming the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

In John 15:2, Jesus reveals two actions of the vinedresser; one, He does something with the branch that isn't bearing any fruit at all; two, He does something with the branch that isn't bearing enough fruit.  In the first case, He "takes away"; in the second, He "prunes."  Vines occasionally yield an unproductive, fruitless branch. When that happens, the gardener immediately goes to work, as Merrill Tenney notes in his commentary.

   Viticulture... consists mainly of pruning.  In pruning a vine, two principles are generally observed: first, all dead wood must be ruthlessly removed; and second, the live wood must be cut back drastically.  Dead wood harbors insects and disease and may cause the vine to rot, to say nothing of being unproductive and unsightly.  Live wood must be trimmed back in order to prevent such heavy growth that the life of the vine goes into the wood rather than into fruit.  The vineyards in the early spring look like a collection of barren, bleeding stumps; but in the fall they are filled with luxuriant purple grapes.  As the farmer wields the pruning knife on his vines, so God cuts dead wood out from among His saints, and often cuts back the living wood so far that His method seems cruel.  Nevertheless, from those who have suffered the most there often comes the greatest fruitfulness.

Merrill C. Tenney, John: The Gospel of Belief (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1948), pp.227-28

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