Always Stop and Remove the Stones

Running by the sea is one of the best things about living on the coast. Every time your out the landscape is completely different. Not only are legs engaged, but mind, emotions and soul are revitalised by the ever changing vista. The downside of all this beauty is all the stones and grit that you can collect in your shoes. Most of the time it is not an issue but occasionally the smallest fragment makes it to a place of irritation.

As I ran yesterday that is exactly what happened. It had been a perfect day, sun bright, but not too hot. Yet with waves crashing on the incoming tide. The sunlight through the breaking waves was magical, as if each one for a moment had been frozen in liquid metal. The glory of the day and the fact that I was running on yesterdays legs meant that I ignored the fragment of gravel that was working its way round to my heal. I must have picked it up on the promenade from the sand thrown up in last weeks storm. Six miles later as I pushed on, trying to keep my pace, I knew I had made a simple error.

Every time I come back from a run, or any activity, I want to know what I could have done differently. While I am no reader, I am an avid learner. The lesson from that day was simple, “always stop and remove the stones”.

The same is true in life. We put up with so many minor irritation’s. Maybe not aware of the damage being caused down the line. We get used to second screens and overtime, minor ailments in our bodies that with a little focus will not need surgery. We put up with unresolved conflicts that with time to listen could be stopped from becoming a marriage break down.  Simply taking time to stop and reflect on the stones of life that have begun to cause us irritation might mean that we choose to remove them.

As in life so in leadership. So often we see the problem clearly. But we are going at such a pace that we don’t want to stop and deal with the issue. Anyway, if we did it might cause someone to get upset, that unwritten rule of pastoral leadership, “no one is allowed to be unhappy”. What is now a minor irritant will in the future be the blister that causes enough pain to stop us in our tracks. I hope I can become more sensitive to the grit when running and attentive to the issues in life and leadership. Note to self: always stop and remove the stone.

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Honoured

The best of relationships can quickly descend in to a mud-slinging match with insults and dishonour flying back and fourth. But for some people it is not that the relationship has taken a turn for the worst it’s that this type of constant dishonouring of one another is normal.

It’s the husband who does not respect or value his wife and putting her down publicly, treating her as a thing rather than a person without even being aware of the destructiveness of what he is doing.

It’s the wife who is embarrassed by her husband, forever apologizing to all they meet for his attitudes and jokes. A constant undermining of who he is and doing so front of others.

A put down, being embarrassed, cutting them short or even just the way you look at your other half; it all shows what is really going on inside. Is there a culture of honour, which leads to love and trust or is there a culture of dishonour which leads to the breakup of even previously good relationships.

So what does it mean to truly honour a husband or wife?

1. Look with love. A gaze across the room says it all, it can be full of dishonour or love and respect. The latter helps the other person feel safe and be the best they can be.

2. Verbally and publicly affirm. Let your words in private and public be ones that build up the other person. If you have not got anything good to say then now is the time to find something good to say while you still have a marriage.

3. Desire the best for your other half. If you desire the best for your other half then this will motivate you to support and encourage them. Perhaps most importantly you will want then to succeed in everything rather than being the person who holds them back.

4. Decide not to be embarrassed, even when they mess up. People mess up all the time, if you die inside on their behalf when it happens how does this help them? We can support in such a way that is honest about failure yet does not do embarrassed on their behalf.

5. Choose to love the person in front of you. Sometimes couples can start to love the dream of the other person. Someone they hope the other would become over time. Ultimately this is destructive and is not love at all. But choosing to love the person in front of you helps them be the best that they can be.

6. Give feedback privately. We know that public discipline with a child is unhelpful. But somehow in a marriage feedback can become public, a quick put down in front of others. There will always be times when we need to give feedback, it is best done one to one, face to face and with much grace.

7. Live the same in private as in public. The danger of all this advice is that a public persona is developed as a couple that shows the world that all is well. But the public life and the private life should have the same qualities. If it begins at home then it will overflow in public.

How would you rather live? Dishonoured and breaking or honoured and loved? You can choose!