Category Archives: Humility

On the Verge: Finding Your Tipping Point – Part 3 “Perspective”

Clock magnifying glass Face value. That has to do with perspective. At first glance, all we see is what is visible at the moment, and from that particular point of view. We may assume or make a value judgment from that perspective, concluding that what we just observed tells the whole story—all there is to it. That can be a big mistake. In fact it can be a blind spot to us, because if we took the time to discover a different point of view, it might make all the difference.

I have more than a hundred old clocks, all more than a century old, and of all shapes and sizes. All have mechanical movements of some kind. Some are weight driven, some are spring driven. Some use a pendulum, and some use a balance wheel to maintain momentum. The mechanics are different in each, but the dynamic part is similar – they keep the clockworks moving.

What is the purpose in all this mumbo jumbo about clocks?  Regardless of how they operate, all clocks have the same major purpose:  to tell the accurate time of day. When you look at the face of the clock, you expect to see the correct time. Clocks line the tops of the bookshelves in my office. I seldom keep them all running—they are just for decoration and display. So they all register a different time of day. I often tell people when they look at the clocks and ask which clocksone is telling the correct time, “They are all correct, twice a day!”

To go beyond the face value, you have to take a second glance. Beyond the face, there may reside a complex system of machinery. This is true not only for clocks, but for people, and organizations, and families, and neighbors, and even cultures. To rightly understand anything requires closer examination beyond a casual glance and quick summation.

When a clock stops keeping accurate time, the problem seldom lies within the face. Something deeper is causing the problem, and requires more careful inspection. It may be something as difficult to detect as a speck of dust in the wrong place or as obvious as a broken spring. It may be the result of an overzealous owner drowning the works with a well-intentioned baptism of WD-40 that has gummed up the works. Whatever the cause, the clock is stopped and as Newton reminds us, an object at rest tends to stay at rest. Until some outside force repairs the problem, the clock will not start ticking again on its own.

What is keeping you from getting off the verge and moving ahead? Have you just accepted at face value your own analysis? Self-examination is generally a good thing, as is self-awareness. But self-diagnosis is often a tricky business, and may lead to disastrous conclusions. Some things are better done with assistance to help us see ourselves as others do, and examine our blind spots. While you might attempt to brush your hair without a mirror, shaving without one could result in some nasty nicks on your face. It may be time to get a second opinion, to let someone else take a closer look.

Whether you choose collaboration, consultation, counseling or coaching, soliciting another opinion can help you gain perspective, and get you off the verge. How difficult is it to admit and say, “I am stuck”? What is keeping you from doing so? Whatever it is, your answer to the previous question may be the one thing keeping you from moving forward or the catalyst for your healing.

James instructs us, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16 NLT) If confession of sin is a key to healing, perhaps confession of our other failures or frustrations may do the same by providing a different point of view as we open up and become vulnerable to another person. Their perspective could be just the thing to get you off the verge and start ticking away into your preferred future.

Abraham Lincoln: Humble and Meek

Abraham Lincoln Statue

Abraham Lincoln Statue

Today we celebrate the 206th birthday of my favorite president, Abraham Lincoln. Born in a humble Kentucky log cabin, humility characterized the life of the tall, lanky, awkward-looking man. Yet perhaps meekness, often defined as “strength under control,” is a better word to describe his character. He leveraged his strength as a wrestler and a fighter by channeling those energies into educating himself and becoming a successful attorney. Legal battles turned to political battles and as President he had to battle the personal demons of self-doubt and clouds of depression, while being demonized by a hostile press and political enemies who loathed the backwoods country lawyer.

He led our nation during its greatest crisis to overcome our greatest national shame. Though a fighter, he led in his characteristic humble and meek style, enlisting his political adversaries into a “team of rivals” to win them over and help save the Union. Rather than taking a swing at those who opposed him or his ideas, he resolved to stand firm in his convictions, while listening to and engaging his opponents in dialogue. He once said, “Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” While standing firm, his self-effacing humor and ability to spin a yarn broke down defenses and built bridges.

One of my favorite Lincoln quotes is from the final paragraph of his Second Inaugural Address, delivered a few days before his tragic assassination: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

We can only imagine how much faster the process of healing our nation and reconstruction of The South might have taken place had Lincoln been able to serve out his second term of office. Perhaps we might have been spared some of the long and agonizing delays in the process of racial reconciliation and civil rights that continues in our nation and around the world to this very day.

But one thing is certain. Lincoln left his mark and made a difference in this world that is still recognized and appreciated today. His legacy is felt by all who work toward achieving and cherishing, “a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Echoes of Lincoln’s hundred and fifty year old words are heard whenever a voice is raised to oppose injustice, whenever the chains are released from a soul rescued from human trafficking, whenever the lever is raised on a water pump to improve the health of a community, whenever a door of opportunity opens for a child born in poverty, and wherever freedom reigns so people have the right to lift their voice in praise to their Creator.  Quite an accomplishment for such a meek and humble man!