The third time is just as charming

We need to learn to listen to God in all circumstances

I told this little girl some really important things the first time I held her.

 

“Third time’s a charm!”

You have, more than likely, heard this phrase uttered at some point when two previous attempts at something have fallen short.  I did a little bit of research (5 minutes of Googling) on the origin of the phrase and found out definitively that no one definitively knows where this phrase came from.

You’re welcome.

A few weeks ago, I became Grandpa for the third time.  No longer do I have a favorite granddaughter; I have two favorite granddaughters! My grandson, for the moment, has the distinction of being the favorite grandson.  We’ll see what happens over the next few years.

Mrs. Sweetie and I spent just over a week in the Texas panhandle taking care of big sister while parents and little sister were first in the hospital and then getting settled in at home.

Let me tell you something, my friends. I got a whole new appreciation for grandparents who are primary caregivers. Just a few days wore me out and made me glad that I was much younger when I was doing that full-time!

But I also discovered that holding a new grandbaby for the first time is just as charming no matter how many times it happens.  The first time I held her, I whispered in her ear and told her how much Grandpa loves her and how much Jesus loves her.  Those are the two most important messages any of my grandchildren will ever get from me.

Because both our grownup babies live in the same vicinity, we got to spend time with all our kids and grandkids during our time there.  Talk about charming!

But while my world was wrapped up in babies, people in other places were wrapped up in just trying to survive through hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, and violence. 

Here’s something I don’t know: why things happen the way they do.  Anyone who tries to tell you they have it figured out should be approached with a lot of skepticism.

Here’s something I think is not a good use of our time: trying to figure out why things happen the way they do.  Is there an explanation for everything?  Probably.  Is it easy to discover? Hardly.  Could our time be better spent on other pursuits?  Absolutely!

Here’s something I do know: this is my Father’s world. And while He is ultimately in control, there is a destructive interloper to whom He has temporarily given freedom to wreak havoc in His world. Someday that freedom will end. 

Until then, we can find peace beyond comprehension. Philippians 4:7 – “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

That peace comes from a source beyond this world. John 14:27 – “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

Here’s something I think is a better use of our time: Trying to listen to God for his guidance on how to respond to what happens, and until we get new guidance, doing the things He has already revealed in His word.

Our lives matter to God.  Remembering that is just as charming every time.

Rain, rain go away!

Weather happens. God's people should love and pray for people.

 

“Pray for rain.”  “If you are praying for rain, please stop.”

I’ve seen both of those signs.

Rain may be one of life’s most common and consistent topics of news and conversation. Maybe that’s because it is a safer conversation than politics or religion, though it can become a topic of conversation in both political and religious contexts. 

The topic of rain can even become a political conversation, as people blame politicians for their response (or lack thereof) to weather-related events.

The topic of rain can also become a religious conversation, as people begin to question the purposes (and even the goodness) of God when the weather is not perfect.

Rain is mentioned in the Bible 107 times (in the New International Version), so it is appropriate to talk about God and rain.  That reality doesn’t mean that we will figure it out.

The most common verse about rain that I hear quoted is when Jesus said of God, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45).

Do you understand that verse?  It’s actually not about rain.  Nor is it about whether a person on whom it rains is righteous or unrighteous.  It is about how God’s people should respond to enemies.

Here’s the context: “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” (Matthew 5:44-46)

Jesus is not giving a lesson on why weather happens.  He is reminding us that weather makes no distinctions.  It should never be assumed that God is using weather to reward the righteous and punish the unrighteous.

People all along the coasts of Texas and Florida need to be reminded of that right now.  God is not mad at you.  God is not using weather to single you out for punishment.

No, I don’t know why weather happens.  I just know that it does.

Here’s what I do know: God’s people should love and pray for people.

I’m not going to suggest that weather-related prayers are not appropriate.  I am going to suggest that prayers for and loving action toward people who are affected (regardless of whether we see them as “good” or not) is more important to God than prayers about the weather.  Prayer may sometimes change circumstances, but more often it changes the person who prays.

It is easy to pray for more rain or for rain to stop.  It is not so easy to pray that God will show us how to love those who are at risk of either drowning or drying up.  That prayer calls for action on our part.

And that is the kind of prayer that acknowledges that our lives really matter to God.

Be a GEM to overcome the curse of perfectionism

Perfectionism is often the biggest excuse for procrastination

 

I’ve done several things recently that go against my natural tendencies. On trash day, I rolled two partially filled trash containers up to the street for pick up.  It would have been much more efficient to put all the trash in one container. 

Another evening, I ran a less-than-half-full dishwasher. I could have conserved water by waiting another day or two until I could run a full load.

Another day, I ran a load of laundry that only contained six white t-shirts. I could have waited another week and had a full load.

It seems that I am not making the most of every opportunity.  Full loads are much more efficient uses of time and space.  When I see empty spaces, I wonder what else I could put there.

Did I act too soon?  Could it have been better if I waited longer?  Would I have been better prepared?

As you can see, I’m being ridiculous in my examples.  But, do you ever hesitate to do something because you want it to be perfect? 

I do all the time!

Here’s a great perspective: every action has a cost and a benefit. We probably get that.  When faced with a possible action, I am pretty quick to determine what it is going to cost me in terms of time and effort.  And I’m also pretty quick to determine if I can do it really well right now.

Here’s a perspective that we often miss: every inaction also has a cost and benefit. If I don’t do it now, what is it going to cost me later?  Am I going to spend half a day doing laundry?  Am I going to make two trips to the street because the containers are too heavy to roll together?  Am I going to spend thirty minutes on dishes instead of five?

Am I going to have to apologize to someone for giving them no answer at all instead of the best partial answer I could give at the moment?

In my work with church leaders, I have often heard that we should eliminate “good enough” from our vocabularies.  We should never be satisfied with “good enough.”  We should always be striving for “excellent.”

The problem is that we often confuse “excellent” with “perfect” and we, therefore hesitate to deliver anything because we see the shortcomings.  Perfectionism is often the biggest excuse for procrastination.

 

Perfectionism is often the biggest excuse for procrastination. Click To Tweet

 

Here’s a little GEM to help us take action.  What is possible if we deliver Good Enough for the Moment? Here’s what I can do right now.  Here’s a starting point.  Here’s a baseline.  We have a long way to go, but here’s a first step in the right direction. 

Life is not nearly as much about accomplishments as it is about progress.  Good Enough for the Moment is not complacency.  It’s a springboard toward excellence.

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

Your lifelong journey matters to God.  Take a step in the right direction today.  Be someone’s GEM.

Three hurdles you have to get over to win at anything

Barriers are everywhere. Don't let them have the final word.

 

I love track meets!  When the Olympic Games come around every four years, the track events are the ones that get my attention.  My favorite track events are the relays, the sprints, and the hurdles.

I love the relays because of the precision and teamwork necessary.  The winning team is not always the one that has the four fastest competitors.

I love the sprints because it is just flat out amazing to see people run that fast.

And then we have the hurdles – speed vs. barriers.  Many a pre-race favorite has lost a race because he stumbled over one hurdle.

Other than my 4th place finish in the 4th-grade elementary hurdles event in 1972, I have never run a hurdles race, but I’ve seen a ton of hurdles in real life and have stumbled over more than one.

Hurdles are everywhere.  In this post I want to mention three of them.

In a previous post, I mentioned my favorite son-in-law’s work in the mental health field.  He told me that he uses a three point process with many of his clients to help them move forward: (1) Develop hope; (2) Set a plan; (3) Implement.

We didn’t go into great detail in this conversation, but it occurs to me that this process identifies three hurdles that we all have to get over if we are going to reach any goal.

Hurdle #1 – Hopelessness.  Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” Many a person has been defeated by hopelessness and the belief that she is destined to be a loser.  Part of the problem is that we don’t recognize the resources available to us.  Can I handle everything?  Of course not!  As a follower of Jesus, do I have resources far beyond what I can handle?  Absolutely!  But all the resources of heaven and earth in the hands of someone who has lost hope will result in nothing.

 

“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” - Henry Ford Click To Tweet

 

Hurdle #2 – Aimlessness. Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” I have been known to fly by the seat of my pants, create on the fly, make it up as I go, and be proud of my ability to be spontaneous and flexible.  I have also been known to get lost.  The truth is that I am never going to embrace detailed plans (I’m just not wired that way). However, a clear vision of a desired outcome and a few clear action plans give me enough of a sense of direction to allow for flexibility and creativity that are actually strategic. As a follower of Jesus, my primary aim is to demonstrate His character in every thing I do.  That provides positive momentum.

 

“If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” - Zig Ziglar Click To Tweet

 

Hurdle #3 – Passivity. It never just happens.  It never works itself out. Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” The most optimistic and clearly defined goals will never happen without implementation.  At some point, you have to hit the launch button. If we wait until everything is perfect, we will never move.  Start it. Do it. When it’s wrong, fix it and get going again.  As a follower of Jesus, I’m reminded that my actions do not make me right with God, but they demonstrate that I am right with Him.

 

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” - Wayne Gretzky Click To Tweet

 

Your life matters. Don’t spend it lying on the track in defeat. The hurdles are bigger than you, but they are not bigger than what God wants to do in and through you.

We are our own worst enemies!

Who you gonna listen to?

 

“You are never going to get this finished on time.” “You are so incredibly unqualified for this.” “You are a train wreck.” “You don’t deserve to be here.” “You are a mistake waiting to happen.” “What are you going to do when they find out?” “Idiot.”

Those are not very encouraging statements, are they?  I didn’t think so either when I heard them.  If they were supposed to motivate me, they didn’t work.  In fact, they had the complete opposite effect.  They discouraged me and left me feeling unmotivated and tempted to quit.

Who would make such disempowering statements?  That guy must have been a real jerk.

Well, that jerk was me.

I didn’t say those things out loud.  Well, most of them I didn’t say out loud.  I do have a bad habit of calling myself an idiot out loud when I make a mistake. I have to be careful about that and clarify that I’m not calling the person I’m with an idiot.  I try to do that before they punch me in the nose.

No, those voices are typically heard by no one but me.  They are inside my head when I feel over my head.  I may look like I have it all together on the outside, but inside I can be a big bundle of insecurities, trying desperately to make sure no one else finds out what an imposter I am. 

And while it may motivate me to try harder to do and produce more so that I can prove my worth by achievement, it doesn’t motivate me to be all that I have been created to be.

My favorite son-in-law is a mental health professional.  He told me awhile back that he often tells his clients that the accusing voices in their heads would sound absolutely ridiculous if they were to say those things out loud.  Then he has them try it out loud to see that it’s true.

When I call myself an idiot in Mrs. Sweetie’s presence, she always intervenes. “Don’t you dare talk to my husband that way!”  I am so blessed to have a best friend and partner when my worst enemy starts mouthing off.

Here’s the thing about being our own worst enemies: we are not intended to be so.  God didn’t give us internal accusatory wiring. When we find ourselves speaking those disempowering and accusing thoughts to ourselves, we can know that they don’t originate with the God who created us in His image and sent His Son to die for us.

The God for whom our lives matter will never, ever, call us idiots, mistakes, and train wrecks.  He may allow us to fail so that we will learn to rely more on Him and less on ourselves, but His voice is not one of angry accuser.

 

The God for whom our lives matter will never, ever, call us idiots, mistakes, and train wrecks. Click To Tweet

 

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4)

Let the voice of your Friend speak louder than all your enemies.

I am not innocent.

But I refuse to be part of the problem.

 

I got up with a heavy heart this morning. I’m experiencing an inner compulsion to speak to the ugliness and evil of racism, in light of the weekend events in Virginia.

I want to be clear in identifying evil without being guilty of self-righteous finger-pointing and name-calling. I want to speak the truth in love and honor Christ.

I want to call the people of God to BE the Body of Christ publicly and display an accurate and mature reflection of the character of Jesus.

In my work as a coach, if someone were to tell me, “I want to say …,” I would ask that person, “So what’s preventing you from saying just that?”

So, here’s what I want to say and I’m going to say it:

Racism is evil and sinful, no matter the source. When ANYONE denigrates another person because of the color of their skin, their country of origin, their socio-economic status, their native language, their ethnic or religious heritage, or anything that makes them “different” – whether in a tense public demonstration, a quiet break room conversation, a Sunday School class, or any other place – it is evil and sinful.

 

Racism is evil and sinful, no matter the source. Click To Tweet

 

Racism on the part of one person or one group is never – I repeat, NEVER – a legitimate reason for another person or group to respond with racism.  None of us gets to excuse our own sinful behavior by claiming that it is only a response to someone else’s worse behavior.

 

Racism on the part of one person or group is NEVER a legitimate reason to respond with racism. Click To Tweet

 

People who truly believe that they are superior because of the color of their skin, their ethnic or religious heritage, or their citizenship (that one’s going to tick some people off) and that seek the advancement of their kind to the detriment of others that they truly believe are less deserving because they are different should be made to feel less welcome at the table of public discourse and more uncomfortable in the gatherings of followers of Jesus.

But, I also need to be clear about some other things:

All racially focused discussions are not racist. When a marginalized group seeks equal treatment and respect by focusing on how their race has been treated, it is not racist, unless they are seeking advancement to the detriment of others.

A person who makes a racially insensitive statement is not a racist.  The statement should not be excused – and sometimes the legitimate consequences may be serious – but a person’s life and work is defined by character exhibited over time, not by statements in isolation.  So, let’s be very careful in painting people with incendiary labels. The true evil of racism is minimized when the labels get thrown around indiscriminately.

The church must not be a place where racism is tolerated.  I actually heard about one pastor who was fired yesterday after he preached a sermon on racism.  I know that kind of racism exists in a small minority of churches.  But keeping racism out of the church is not enough.

 

The church must not be a place where racism is tolerated. Click To Tweet

 

We, the people of God, are not simply called to comment on life’s circumstances. We are called to engage in life’s circumstances.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (who was martyred in Nazi Germany) said, “Our relationship to God is a new life in ‘being there for others,’ and participation in the being of Jesus. The transcendent does not consist in infinite, unreachable tasks, but in the currently available reachable neighbor. God in human form! … The church is only the church when it is there for others.”

Knowing our lives matter to God should result in our conviction that every life matters to God and that we stand with the different, the marginalized, the immigrant, the refugee, the outcast, the broken, the wounded and say, “We are here for you and we will make the first move.”

None of us is innocent.  But let’s decide to be part of the solution.

What happens if we succeed?

The question no one asks

 

I think life is full of “what if” questions.  What if I lose my job? What if the economy tanks? What if I get sick?  What if my plans don’t work out?  What if I miss my big opportunity?

In fact, much of our culture is driven by these kinds of questions and the fears that cause them.

This is not intended as a political statement, but an observation of reality: I have yet to meet one person who voted for President Trump because they were convinced that he was the best and most qualified presidential candidate and they were excited about the possibility of what his presidency would mean for the United States.

Without fail, every person who has told me that they voted for him has indicated that they were more afraid of the alternative.  So, the question that motivated many of his supporters was, “What if Hillary Clinton becomes president?”

Again, my point is not politics, but the underlying questions that motivate our decisions. 

This is also the motivation behind things like insurance, retirement annuities, and business contracts. We want to be sure we are covered for unplanned contingencies or unforeseen setbacks.

I’m not against any of those things.  In fact, I intentionally participate in them. But what I’m pondering today is a question that rarely gets asked:

What happens if we succeed?

Think about it for a minute. (No, that wasn’t a minute; take a few more seconds). When was the last time you set a goal, made a plan, shared a desire, cast a vision, and actually spent time intentionally considering what would be next if success happened?

We simply don’t ask the question.

Is it because we are deeply convinced that the deck is stacked against us? Or that there is only so much success allowed in the world and it is obviously going to others?  Or that success only comes to those who either have resources beyond ours or who step on others to get it? Or even that God doesn’t want us to have success because we will be less likely to depend on Him?

Or is it that we are using the wrong scorecards to define success?  I certainly don’t have all this figured out, but I think I may be onto something that is worth pursuing.  What if we had some questions to use to help us in this pursuit?

Questions like …

  1. Is success in this possible? If not, maybe our efforts would be better spent elsewhere.
  2. How will we know when we have succeeded? This helps us to make plans and set goals that are specific and measurable.
  3. How will we celebrate the success?  This includes successful steps along the way as well as reaching the ultimate goal. If it’s not worth celebrating, is it worth doing?
  4. How will we reinvest what we have gained? In other words, what’s next?  We have new resources or new learning.  How will we use them as a launching pad?
  5. How does our view of success measure up against God’s view of success? This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. (Joshua 1:8)

 

If it’s not worth celebrating, is it worth doing? Click To Tweet

 

Our lives matter to God. Our successes are found in His purposes.  How does that help you make your plans?

Oh, to be young and fuzzy!

Are you longing for the good old crawler days?

 

Recently, I got to accompany my 13-month-old grandson on his first trip to the Fort Worth Zoo. A few days later, I did the same with my almost 3-year-old granddaughter. In case I haven’t mentioned it lately, this grandpa thing is a good gig!

Now, a day at the zoo is a pretty good day for any reason, especially the Fort Worth Zoo, which is one of the top 5 in the nation.  But, of course, that’s not what makes the grandpa gig special. That’s all about seeing smiles of delight and hearing squeals of wonder from these little people whom I love more than life itself—and experiencing those in the same locale where I experienced it with their parents more than two decades ago.

Most exciting of all, no matter the age, is the chance that there might be a sighting of the amazing caterpillar!

Oh, you mean you don’t get excited about a fuzzy worm exhibit? Well, apparently the zoo doesn’t either because they are not highlighting caterpillars.

In fact, I’m not aware of any place where caterpillars are the featured attraction.  I did a quick Google search to see if I could find such a place, but the only caterpillar exhibitions I could find were featuring trucks and tractors.

You can, however, find places around the country that celebrate butterflies (or those formerly known as caterpillars). I found one website where you could search for butterfly houses and gardens by state and by country.

During my personal devotional time on a recent morning, I read Isaiah chapter 43. There were several verses that I highlighted, but the passage that stuck out the most was Isaiah 43:18-19.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”

This verse made me think about caterpillars. Caterpillars are not without purpose or value. But their purpose is not fully realized until they emerge from the cocoon and take flight. 

Who longs for the days of crawling?  Can you imagine a Kaleidoscope of butterflies (that’s the collective name for a group of them) sitting around reminiscing about the good old fuzzy crawler days or comparing the merits of various cocoonages? (That word I made up).

Unfortunately, too many of us are stuck in our cocoons longing for the good old caterpillar days instead of moving forward in God’s stream of ongoing creation.  I see it all the time.  We miss amazing opportunities to take flight while we crawl around bemoaning the loss of what used to be. We live from memory instead of vision.

Our lives matter to God and He is always up to something new. That is not in question. What is in question is whether we will resist it, deny it, or join in and cooperate so that we can soar.

How will you be alert and watching for what God is doing today?

Four steps to avoid becoming a slave to your technology.

These tools are supposed to serve us, not enslave us.

 

I love technology!  I love gadgets and tools and apps!  I love my iPhone and iPad and MacBook (yes, I drank the Apple kool aid a few years back)! I’m a junkie for learning and productivity and effectiveness. I’m a sucker for gadgets and apps that make it easier to complete tasks faster.

In fact, I can spend an entire day being completely unproductive while working with productivity tools.  Do you see the problem?  Can you relate?

Before there was such thing as an iPhone or iPad, I wrote in my book, Culture Wars, “You may have joined the Adrenaline Culture if you don’t own a watch or a telephone—they own you.”

Wow!  Maybe I should go back and read that book again!

It is so incredibly easy for us to become slaves to the very tools that are, theoretically, designed to assist us.  We are constantly available and interruptible, so much so that we can’t manage to finish a conversation with a flesh-and-blood person in front of us because of the intrusions of our devices.

 

It is easy to become slaves to the very tools that are, theoretically, designed to assist us. Click To Tweet

 

Not only that, we have created the expectation that we are instantly accessible – all day, every day.  Because of that, we have people in our lives who become incredibly frustrated with us if we don’t answer every phone call, instantly reply to every text message, and respond to email within 30 minutes.

Well, my friends, it is time to show our technology who’s boss! 

Wouldn’t it be great if it were that simple?  The truth is we didn’t get here overnight, and we won’t regain balance and margin overnight either.  But, if we don’t start with some positive steps in the right direction today, we won’t be where we need to be tomorrow, or next week, or next year.

 

So, here are some suggested baby steps:

  1. Deliberately take some time every day to be unavailable.  Start with 15 minutes a day that you are actually not in the same room with your technology.  Take a walk. Take a nap.  Do something unconnected and unplugged.  No excuses (I might miss an important message … I might need to take a picture … What if there is an emergency …).
  2. Set boundaries and expectations. Plan in advance how you will respond to and process phone calls, texts, and emails.  Voice mail is a wonderful tool.  My outgoing voicemail message actually tells people that I only check it a couple of times per day and asks them for specific information so I can be prepared when I return the call.  Because I have set that expectation, I can truly check messages on my schedule instead of someone else’s. 
  3. Schedule the technology interactions that you can.  Determine in advance the 2 or 3 times a day that you will check and respond to email.  Try this: 30 minutes mid-morning, 30 minutes mid-afternoon, 30 minutes at the end of the work day.  If you can’t manage a complete day’s worth of email in 90 minutes, your problem is bigger than technology.
  4. Wherever you are, be all there.  Don’t let technology rob you of real, human interaction.  Always choose your family over your technology.  Always choose conversation with your lunch companion over the call that comes in during lunch.

 

Always choose conversation with your lunch companion over the call that comes in during lunch. Click To Tweet

 

There is so much more I could say on this matter.  But for now, let me remind you that your life matters to God.  If your technology doesn’t support that as your assistant, you may need to fire it as your boss.

Please give me a rating (unless you don’t think I’m perfect)

The uselessness of fake feedback

 

You’ll be receiving a customer feedback survey on the service you received from me.  I will be in trouble with my manager if I don’t get all 10’s.

Yes, that is what she told me.  I won’t tell you which company because it doesn’t matter.  The not-so-subtle message is, “Tell everyone we’re great or keep your opinion to yourself.

“Fake news” is a big thing currently,  but it’s not new.  Neither is fake feedback. As far back as I can remember, people have asked for my opinion.  They really want it.  It really matters.  Unless I don’t agree with them or have a suggestion about how they might think about it from another perspective.  In that case, my opinion is not so valued.

 

Don’t try this at home, boys and girls:

She: Does this shirt make me look fat?

He: Does this shirt make me look stupid?

She: Wrong answer.

Me: The above scenario was entirely invented out of my warped imagination.

 

Now, in fairness, I understand the pressure of getting good ratings in our very public, social media-driven world.  Get enough 1 or 2-star Yelp reviews and you start to lose potential customers.  Get enough 1 or 2-star Amazon reviews and nobody but your friends and family will buy your book or other product (and they will only buy it if it’s on sale).

A friend told me that back in the day before online reviews, his company had a training about customer service.  They said that, on average, the person who has a positive experience will tell three people.  A person who has a negative experience will tell seventeen!

Now, make that as simple a clicking stars online and you’re messing with someone’s livelihood.  After all, who takes the time to go and read the reason for those low ratings? 

So, I get it.  The pressure is there.

Is there any lesson for us beyond, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?”

 

Here are some possible lessons:

  1. If you are going to give feedback, start directly with the person whose service, product, or interaction you are “rating.”  Talk to people!  Allow for questions and conversation.  Anyone who is truly interested in your feedback wants to know how they can get even better.
  2. Unless you have been hired by someone as a critic, it is not your job to protect the world from someone who offered you less than you expected.  I would go on with this explanation, but those who find the need to publicly point out every shortcoming have already dismissed me.
  3. If you are going to give a rating, make sure you are rating the right thing.  I actually got a 1-star review of one of my books on Amazon from a person who didn’t read it.  She gave a 1-star rating because she ordered the electronic version instead of the paperback and she doesn’t read eBooks!
  4. Give more praise than criticism.  Poor service/products and bad attitudes will eventually be weeded out by actual experience. Help people find the hidden treasures and the roses among the thorns, rather than the thorns on the rose bushes and the dirt under the treasure chest.

As those who understand that our lives matter to God, we understand there is a better way: “Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” (Ephesians 4:15)

Truth spoken in love trumps online clicks every time.