Friday, July 26, 2013

Are You Serving?

Serving. It's an interesting word. For some it brings up visions of restaurants. For others it brings up ideas of missionary work or soup kitchens or something like that. For yet others it is a word near and dear to their heart as soldiers or some other public servant. For me, the word encompasses elements of all those. I believe I exist to serve other people. I think it is programmed into me to serve. I serve people in my job, at my church, in my community, in my family. I can't help it. I just do it. I try to approach every activity as a means to serve others. 

Only recently have I been doing this consciously. I think I always did it, but I didn't really think about it. Now I seek it out. I look for ways to do my job, and just life in general, that will allow me to serve more or at a higher level. I look at examples of servants in the media, the Bible, history, other texts. I ask people, how may I serve you better. The big thing is, I actually mean that. I want to do more. I want to serve better. 

Ever since I made a conscious decision to serve on purpose, I have noticed some interesting things. One, I noticed that a lot of people don't believe you. They assume you are going for an angle toward personal gain. They don't trust that you are truly just trying to help with no thought of yourself. This can be a huge obstacle to overcome. Something else I notice is that when they finally do believe you are in it for them, it blows their mind. Its almost sad how hard it is to believe that someone would just want to serve. Finally, I can't put into words how much more fulfilling everything is. If you adopt a position of service in all that you do, it really will make your life better and much easier. It gives you perspective that seems to make your day to day problems feel small. 

What are your thoughts on serving? Do you believe a "servant's heart" has to be something religious? How do you serve? Who have you known that was a great servant? What are some tips/methods you use to serve?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Closed Minded

So I butted into a Facebook conversation last night with a former student and wrestler of mine. Good kid. The conversation was on atheists vs. Christians and what he perceives as Christians being closed minded. This, of course, is a very common accusation toward anyone involved in any religion. I think it stems from religious folk trying to impose their "morals" and "ideals" (or God's, depending on perspective I suppose) onto non-religious folk through legislation, evangelism, and even through discourse. Well, this conversation has me thinking. I will try to present my scattered thoughts on the subject in an organized manner.

1) If I don't believe as you do and I emphatically tell you why, how, etc., and in this discussion also try to "win" the argument or debate, does that mean I am trying to change your way of life or just best you at verbal fisticuffs? Can one not just debate for the sake of debate? It seems to be human nature (all people, not just religious or non-religious) to take comments personally due to our preconceived notions of the other side and also due to our personal, limited ability to stretch our minds outside of our own little worlds. No one is really immune to this unless you purposefully train yourself to see outside of yourself.

2) Is it such a bad thing to try to change someone's mind or way of life if I perceive their way of life as detrimental to them and I care about them? If I knew your house was on fire and you couldn't see it, would I be a bad person if I didn't warn you? What if I believed your house was going to catch on fire due to previous experience and circumstantial evidence, should I tell you? I mean, the temperature has not risen yet and there are no measurable data I can point to but I know that there are danger signs. Should I tell you? What if I am wrong? Should I never try to tell you again if there is even stronger evidence? My point is, if I care about someone and believe they are in danger of any sort, I should tell them. It is my obligation as a human being.

3) Do the mistakes, misinterpretations, abuses and generally evil deeds of people in the past justify the hatred of people in the present? I see this all the time. Christianity must be bad because people used it to justify slavery, genocide, etc. Islam must be evil because people blew up buildings. Those people were not right. Those people committed atrocities. I have not. There are bad people in every circle. You don't hate the circle because of the bad members. I am really sorry if some Christian was hateful or mean to you. You won't get that from all of them, I promise.

4) Finally, is it really so bad to be closed minded? Doesn't that just mean you have made a decision? Can't that be synonymous with "principled" and "disciplined" and "focused"? Perhaps one of the greatest "problems" in this modern age of enlightenment is that people never close their minds and thus never really move forward. Multi-tasking is a sure fire way to actually get NOTHING done. I am not approaching this from an "ignorance is bliss" perspective, more from a "make a decision and move on" perspective. You can always re-evaluate if something shifts your paradigm, but stop waffling. Look at our congress. As an entity, congress is the most open minded unit in the country. All they do is debate and discuss all the possibilities ad nauseum. They get nothing done. Is it closed minded of me to have made a decision, to stick to it and to move forward down that path? I don't think it is, I think it is called being decisive.

My 2 cents. The topic is now open for debate with all my open minded, enlightened waffler and my closed minded, mean, friends.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

My Wife

I love my wife. If you have not met her, you should. She is smart, funny, beautiful and a great complement to me. She tries really hard to be the glue for this family. She takes care of the kids, cooks, cleans, puts out signs for me, holds open houses (she is also a licensed agent) and does countless other random tasks. At the same time she is a friend to several other ladies at Church.

How does she complement me? She thinks about people more than I do. I get tasks done and try to do them efficiently. She tries to do them without alienating people. That frequently doesn't cross my mind. I think about others only when I stop moving. She thinks about others all the time. She also has a great memory and I don't. She remembers birthdays and conversations and things like that. I have to keep it written down. I love being in the middle of people, she does not. She prefers the company of one person at a time. Because of this, she makes deeper friendships where I make acquaintances (I am jealous of that by the way).

Is my wife perfect, no way. She gets too emotional and she loses stuff all the time. BUT, she is perfect for me. She knows my quirkiness and still loves me. She tries to help balance me out and does a pretty good job. If you haven't met my wife, you should. She is everything to me.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Appraisal Conundrum and "Murica"

This has been an interesting year so far. February was the busiest month I’ve ever had while June was somewhat leisurely. There was activity, yes, but nothing like the activity in February and March. The market is at an interesting turning point as well. Buyers are buying and sellers are selling. Appraisers, however are not always giving value. 

I had a contract fall through because an appraiser would not give the contract price on his appraisal. The thing is, we were under contract on that home in 5 days at list price and had a backup offer the next day for $2,000 less than list. The appraisal came in $10,000 short. Seems to me the market told us what the house was worth, the appraiser disagreed and it all fell through (that family cannot sell for at least 6 months). He told us there were not sufficient comparable properties to show the value. I told him that is why the price is higher, there hasn’t been enough inventory--supply and demand--basic economics.

I know this is a conversation that is a little difficult to stomach after the mess we were in, but a home is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. I understand that a big part of the problem was a “bubble” where people got into a buying frenzy and drove up prices. There has to be a balance though. If a market is going to recover, values have to go up. It’s sort of like when you first graduate college and look for that first job. They all want experience. If you can’t get hired due to lack of experience, how do you ever get experience? Same thing here. If you can’t get value due to lack of comparables, how do you ever get comparables to improve the market?

On a completely different note, today is July 4th, America's Independence Day. On days like today I think about how divided people are in this country but yet how united we are. Democrats think Republicans are heartless, Republicans think Democrats are socialists, Independents and Libertarians think they are all crazy. Even with this division, we are all Americans. We have common background. The vast majority came from immigrants (at some point in their lineage) and made this country what it is today--good and bad. Its our country and it is something to be celebrated. It was an experiment in government and, even though it isn't perfect, its better than any other system. Enjoy the holiday and at least for today, forget your "side" and just be an American. Go "Murica"