…because it’s the way it’s always been done.

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Why? An Important Question

Whenever you set out to do something or make a life choice if you’re like most people you have a reason for what you are doing or the choice you’re making.  A reason that answers the question, “why?”

Even if you don’t have an obvious reason for what you do or a choice you make, there’s still a reason.

How we answer that question is important. For example:

Some bad answers to, “why”?

“…because it’s the way it’s always been done”

In a few cases, you can maybe get a way with this answer if the way it’s always been done is good and successful.  But eventually the way it’s always been done becomes a hindrance to actually getting things done or moving forward.  Remember, “the way it’s always been done” is a method not a value or message.

A method answers the question, “how?”  How you do something does not describe why you’re doing it.  There are many different ways of selling a product.  There are many different ways of driving a car.  There are multiple ways of wooing someone.  There are different methods of sharing about what you believe.  HOWEVER, all these methods don’t describe the value you are choosing or the message you’re communicating.  One caveat.  Methods are often influenced by the value or the message (in other words choosing to share about Jesus with people while pole-dancing really isn’t the best method for sharing the gospel of Christ…) and methods may demonstrate a value or message but in of itself the method doesn’t answer, “why?”

So,  “…the way it’s always been done” is a bad answer for why you do something or make a certain choice.   What you’re really doing is defaulting.  When you default  then usually it means you really don’t know the answer to why? If I get this answer from people my next question would be, “Why are you doing it because it’s the way it’s always been done or why are you choosing that because that’s what always been chosen?”

(we’ll continue this series with the next post exploring another bad answer… “because ‘so-and-so’ is doing it” – The “Why?” picture was taken by “annnna“)

Undoing Discouragement

In his article, “Resist Discouragement“, Rick Warren rates discouragement as being the second greatest enemy of fulfilling your life mission (first was procrastination). I agree with Rick that there’s very little that puts a damper on the accomplishment of activity in your life more than the oppressing weight of discouragement. I’m sure my readers will agree as well – when things don’t go the way you thought they would, when people pick apart your “grand ideas” or when illness prevents you from doing what you want to do the resulting discouragement can not only put a halt to any progress you’ve made in your dream, mission, or idea but can also create a cycle of second-guessing and apathy that hinder any future activity.

So what to do about discouragement? We all suffer it from time to time – how do we undo it? Well, I agree with the start that Rick Warren suggests. It comes from recognizing that discouragement is a choice. It’s a choice that occurs when something contrary to what we expect, or opposition to where we’re going disrupts our plans and we choose to be discouraged because of it. The truth is – nothing ever goes hunky-dory, there will always be someone opposing you, or a wrench of some sort thrown into the plans we make (sometimes little wrenches, sometimes wrenches the size of buses!). We have no control over those things – what we do have control over is what we think about such things…

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable?if anything is excellent or praiseworthy?think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me?put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:7-9 (NIV)

The key is to dwell on Christ.? When you get discouraged, remind yourself that no matter how bad things get, or how awry plans go – you can find peace and comfort in the fact that Jesus won’t abandon you.? More often than not it’s in the midst of those things that could bring discouragement that we can find new direction, purpose, and vigor as we surrender to the thought that He is ultimately in control.? Don’t fret, pray.? Affect the things you can change and leave the things? you can’t in His hands.

So, an important element in undoing discouragement is to not dwell on the things that discourage us but instead dwell on Christ – but another help would be to include people who are encouragers in your relationships. In other words surround yourself with people who encourage you.? This takes work. It’s very easy to find people who will tear you down, are ambivalent, or drain you but not so easy to build relationships with those who will be there when you’re discouraged.? The key word in that sentence is build.? These kinds of relationships only come with an investment of time. This means that sometimes you may need to be the encourager in someone else’s life.

Needless to say, I believe discouragement can be undone.? It is a choice.? Be encouraged!