There was once a great teacher. He had many followers. Some were more dedicated than others and chose to frequent his classes and public presentations. His message became familiar. Too familiar.
Over time, while the teacher was speaking, those who thought they knew his words all too well disengaged. Not intentionally. They simply occupied themselves with other interests. Specifically, smartphones and tablet devices. It seemed quite productive.
Gatherings of any kind with the teacher enabled his followers to text friends. Make appointments. Catch up on emails. Read up on the latest news. Some of them were even caught laughing out loud at memes. Or their smartphones would ring. Now that was embarrassing.
Occasionally, an announcement was made before the teacher began to speak. It said, “Please. Refrain from distracting technology so that what is being said can be learned and applied.” But many paid no heed.
It was not too long before even the most dedicated followers found the teacher’s messages passé The thrill of social media and being “in the know” captivated them more than the wisdom from the teacher. They became fad followers. And many of them lost common sense.
My fictional story may have a not so obvious point. I have become increasingly troubled by what has become nothing short of rude social behavior. Rude with no words being said.
I’ve been in meetings and gatherings where many in the crowd “tune out” what is being said or done for the pleasure of their technology. It would be one thing if devices were used to take notes or contribute to the purpose of the gathering (e.g. tweeting a highlight at the speaker’s request or with permission.) But this is quite often not the case.
People are just deciding that their private world takes priority over the very reason they are in the group. It’s less noticeable in a larger setting. Yet I’ve sat in small groups with people sharing ideas and personal thoughts and watched other group members disengage and start texting. Really!
I thought about this as it relates to the true Great Teacher, Jesus. His disciples followed Him around every day. And likely got very familiar with the content of His messages. Imagine that group emailing, texting, and laughing over memes with each other while Jesus “droned on” to the masses.
Even more so, imagine the pleas of your heart for yourself, your child, your most precious need … going unnoticed to a God with a gadget. Imagine Jesus constantly checking texts instead of gazing deeply into the eyes of His followers; and listening closely to someone … like you.
For the record, I’m gadget equipped. But when a technology asset becomes a liability, it’s time for a gut check. And if you find yourself addicted to the latest update at the expense of good social behavior, I have a word for you: repent!
That, my friend, is common sense. And a good resolution to start 2014.
That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.
Monday, December 23, 2013
This week is Christmas. Songs of the season will reach their zenith this week. And then, gone for another year. Let me focus on one to suggest how to make it last all of next year.Most, if not all, who read this blog will know the song The Little Drummer Boy. Let’s put aside the “pa-rum-pah-pum-pums” for a moment. The message of the song is about the boy who was told to visit a newborn king, with others, to bring their finest gifts to lay before the King, and thus, to honor him.
Of course, the boy was poor and had no gift to bring that was fit to give the King. But he inquired of Mary if instead he could use his gift of playing the drums to honor this King. Mary nodded, the animals kept time. And the baby smiled. Obviously, a fan of the drums.
I believe that the little drummer dude was given the gift of rhythm. He may have practiced and practiced and nurtured his innate ability. But his talent to play originated with a gift given to him by his Heavenly Father.
And so it is with you and me. God has put His imprint on us a number of ways. Having talent is one of those ways. There are several verses in the Bible that connect us to our gifts. There are the professional gifts as mentioned in Exodus for those who were involved in building the temple. (Exodus 31)
There are the spiritual gifts as mentioned in the New Testament. Most of us take these gifts for granted every day. We fail to appreciate how any ability we have has come to us through God’s goodness. Notwithstanding our efforts to excel, one small brain malfunction could render any of us incapable of producing the music of our work. You have much for which to be thankful!
Now … what you do with those gifts of yours can make a big difference in our world. Play the music only for yourself and others are robbed of its beauty. Played with a heart to please the King and you’ll provide a true blessing to others. Are you able to read between these musical lines?
You may march to the beat of a different drummer. No matter. Every gift given by God yields a return when played with an inspired servant's heart. (Colossians 3:23) This Christmas, why not commit to play your life music for the King during the coming year? It will be a sweet sound to God and a gift He can use to impact the world. Even a little drummer boy can figure this one out.
And the beat … goes on. Pa-rum-pah-pum-pum.
That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.
Monday, December 16, 2013
Imagine for a moment a Kingdom where a mighty and good king reigns. He is truly the kind of king humans dream of having as a ruler. As time passes, people come to take him for granted. In fact, it comes to a time when even his birthday is ignored. His greatness is dimmed as his special day goes unnoticed.
[Don't get ahead of me here. I have a workplace application from this story. One that puts you a step ahead.]
Many years ago, I would make it a point to find a way to determine a business associate's birthday. And before Outlook, I would put these days on a calendar. Then I used a spreadsheet program and sorted these birthdays by date for easy reference.
I did this for many of my radio coworkers over the years as well. It was a kick to announce them on the air. That way, they got LOTS of recognition. In fact, in a smaller community where I worked, people would call in and tell us someone's birthday and we would share the list a few times during the day.
Sales people are often taught to do this kind of remembrance for clients. When it becomes routine, it loses true value. A generic card with no real message is better than nothing, I suppose, but not by much.
I would encourage you today to take better notice of birthdays. Few days are more special to a person than the day they first showed up on this planet. A quick call, note, email, Facebook salute, or text will brighten their day. And be sure to tell this person in a sentence something special.
Two of my grandsons have birthdays in December. (One of them is tomorrow, December 17th!) Kids' birthdays are a big deal. A VERY BIG DEAL! Just ask Chuck E Cheese!
The greatest King to ever live has a birthday we recognize this month. Interestingly, Jesus of Nazareth never asked us to celebrate His birthday. In fact, we don't really know the exact date. We’re almost certain it is NOT December 25th.
That reality caused me to reflect on how odd it is that the actual day passes every year without any fanfare or notice. Imagine that. The One Person who has impacted humanity the most has a birthday in history that actually goes unnoticed!
Is it a big deal in heaven? Or is "every day with Jesus sweeter than the day before"? Don't know. But my life has been forever altered by His arrival. And I think it’s the most important day in history.
Want to let Jesus of Nazareth know His arrival on this earth really is important? Tell Him. Today. Tomorrow. Every day. No need to bring cake.
Want to let your coworkers, friends, and clients know that they are important? Tell them. At LEAST once a year.
If Jesus were physically present on Earth today, he would be around 2,016 years old. And there’s a lesson here, too. Best not to ask a person’s age on their birthday. Unless they’re a kid. Just ask Chuck E Cheese.
And that’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.
Monday, December 9, 2013
Ho Ho Ho! It could be jolly old St. Nick that comes to mind. Or it could be us laughing at some of the legends that are associated with the real St. Nicholas. Indeed, some are far fetched. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/news/2004/nick.html Legends, of course, most often include a body or collection of such stories believed to be historical. Often romanticized.
Before I go to Nicholas, allow me to embellish another legendary figure, Zig Ziglar. I was privileged to be a member of First Baptist Dallas in the 1980s. For two years, I sat along with almost 1000 other folks on Sunday mornings, enjoying the class taught by Zig, the master motivator.
There may never be anyone quite like Zig, who died just over a year ago. His remarkable success as a cookware-salesman-turned-sales-trainer has inspired thousands. His materiel of books and recordings were best sellers. And remain so.
In this season of giving, Zig gave us too many gems to count. One of his best lines was, “You can get everything in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want!” He was zealous in helping people overcome “stinkin’ thinkin’." His wit was matched often with humor, as in "Confidence is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking tartar sauce with you."
(Side note: If somehow you have missed out on the experience of time with Zig Ziglar, you can find his materials at ziglar.com. YouTube has videos clips of his for free viewing as well. Anyone in sales should catch the Ziglar magic. You’ll be better off for it.)
One of the greatest gifts from Zig was the sharing of his faith. Those who were new to his adult class at First Baptist Dallas got an invite to his home. Pretty special. It was there you would hear about his most important relationship: the spiritual one with Jesus. Each person would receive a gift copy of his book, Confessions of a Happy Christian.
Make no mistake about it, Zig had his hard times. A daughter preceded him in death. He took a fall in 2007 that affected his short term memory. Yet he continued his work, often assisted by another family member.
For many of us, Zig was bigger than life. He was, in essence, a legend. But if you knew Zig Ziglar, you would also know his deep and humble perception of the real man he knew best: himself. Like all of us, he was aware of his weaknesses. But he learned to overcome them.
Christmas time brings us annually face to face with another legendary figure: Santa Claus. Better said, St. Nicholas. The web link provided earlier will give you a much deeper perspective on the man held so highly in church history over the centuries. And yet the legend seems to be much bigger than the real man. Still his story inspires us.
The trouble with legends is that they often make more of the story than should be told. Zig truly was a wonderful man. And St. Nicholas as well. But if you are looking for hope, and peace, and truth, both of them would quickly point you past themselves to the Christ figure. They didn’t just know about Him. They KNEW Him.
Jesus made the most amazing and legendary claim that any human could by saying, “I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE." And from what I’ve learned and experienced, Jesus is the only man that actually lives up to the legend. That Christmas story is worth sharing.
Connect with me on Facebook: facebook.com/markjelfstrand.
Monday, December 2, 2013
Today will be a very personal blog. Thousands of people will miss what I am sharing. And it's an important message.
I start this week officially “unemployed." (Sorry, President Obama, you'll have to add me to the list.) Whatever negative baggage comes with that term, that is not me. Even more importantly, my last job was not who I am.
For the past 14 plus years, I have served as executive producer and host of a Chicago based morning radio program. That's right … 3 AM wake ups, many 80-mile-per-day commutes, along with the daily pressures of finding interesting topics and conversation starters. And did I mention being not only awake, but energetic and excited at 5 AM sign on? Every day.
Make no mistake, here. I ENJOYED it! Radio is a wonderful line of work. The connection to people from all walks of life … travel ... the opportunity to be creative and use your gifts … are all such a blessing.
But radio can also be a very transient line of work. Most of us in this business have experienced changes in station ownership, management, and formats at some point. It often required that we move along, and take our talents with us. Thus, I've been blessed with tours in Sacramento, Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Chicago.
The radio management team where I've served in Chicago recently decided to make a change in morning programming. Like most changes, "in with the new and out with the old." Marketing impact is always made with "new and improved." That's usually how I came to get my jobs!
Most of my work life has been as a radio personality. (I dislike the term "deejay" since it implies my role is to "spin records."). Formats I've been involved with have been quite varied. Some involved music. My talk radio work did not. But it was personality radio that kept me employed.
Having said that, radio is not who I am. My identity is not wrapped up in being a radio personality. I've also been a radio sales manager and program director. I've helped launch two nonprofits, headed up operations for a trade show company, and been involved in two business start ups. I've authored two books. NONE of this activity truly defines me.
I share this with you because, in the world of the unemployed, it is very easy to lose sight of your worth. For a season, you're not on the "WANTED” posters ... you become unwanted. And I refuse to go there. Moreover, I want to help others not go there.
But know this: our work should never define us as human beings. God created in each of us something much greater. The Creator of all things has made every human being in His image. He doesn't stamp us with a job title. He gives us His divine imprint. [Pause, please, while I reflect on this amazing truth.]
When we are around the unemployed, we have in our presence people uniquely gifted by God. People of such great value that God sent His only Son to die for them. (John 3:16). That's who I am. And no one can ever take that away from me.
This is not a new revelation to me. I've held onto this truth for years. And perhaps in the days ahead, I will find a way to make this message come alive more powerfully in the workplace.
As we say in the radio business … STAY TUNED!