How Full Is Your Bucket? – 1 John 3:1-10

When I got my driver’s license I did
not realize the costs, but I was clear about the privilege.  I woke
up on March 22, 1978 saying “I get to drive today” and my world
has never been the same.  So it is with God.  John suggests in today’s lesson that those born of God through faith in Jesus Christ see their lives changed forever (and the world is changed as well).  Let’s read:

See what love the Father has given us
that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.
The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been
revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be
like him, for we will see him as he is.  And all who have this hope
in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.  Everyone who commits
sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.  You know that he
was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.  No one
who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known
him.  Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what
is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.  Everyone who commits
sin is a child of the devil; for the devil has been sinning from the
beginning.  The Son of God was revealed for this purpose, to destroy
the works of the devil.  Those who have been born of God do not sin,
because God’s seed abides in them; they cannot sin, because they have
been born of God.
  The children of God and the children of the devil
are revealed in this way: all who do not do what is right are not
from God, nor are those who do not love their brothers and sisters (1
John 3:1-10).

Here is how God grabbed me this week.
John Wesley’s sermon on this passage is called “The Great
Privilege of Those That Are Born of God
.” (see Kenneth Cain Kinghorn, John Wesley on Christian Beliefs: The Standard Sermons in Modern English, Volume1:1-20, 2002).  The word privilege
haunted me.  To be born of God means I get to love others even as I
love God.  Just like the privilege of a driver’s license means I
get to drive.  I get to love others because one morning the Lord of
creation said (once again), “I get to love Allen today.”  As I
remember that day, I was not a loveable person, but God got to love
me … my experience of that love in that moment changed me.

So what does this “Get to” love
look like?  One morning about two weeks ago I rose for some reason at
3:00 AM on a retreat with only one book to read … so I read it by
5:00 AM and then walked for an hour as God challenged me with its
contents.  Tom Rath wrote with Don Clifton, one of the founders of
the positive psychology movement, a book titled How Full Is Your Bucket? (2004). 

Each of us has an invisible bucket.  It
is constantly being emptied or filled, depending on what others say
or do to us.  When our bucket is full, we feel great.  When it’s
empty, we feel awful.

Each of us also has an invisible
dipper.  When we use that dipper to fill other people’s buckets –
by saying or doing things to increase their positive emotions – we
also fill our own buckets. 

But when we use that dipper to dip from
others’ buckets – by saying or doing things that decrease their
positive emotions – we diminish ourselves. 

…  So we face a
choice every moment of every day: We can fill one another’s buckets
or we can dip from them.  It’s an important choice – one that
profoundly influences our relationships, productivity, health and
happiness (page 15).

Here’s how negativity kills according to Rath and Clifton.  A study
found that our largest death rate among POWs occurred during the
Korean War.  38% of the POWs died because they developed “give-up-it
is” as their captors used the psychological tools of informing,
self-criticism, breaking loyalty to their country, and withholding
all positive emotional support (all positive letters from home
withheld, every “Dear John” delivered).  It doesn’t just happen
to prisoners of war:

  • The # 1 reason people leave their
    jobs? The feel unappreciated.
  • Bad bosses increase the risk of
    stroke by 33%.
  • Negative employees can scare off
    every customer they speak to … often forever.
  • 65% of Americans receive no
    recognition in the workplace in the past year.

We experience 20,000 moments a day.

  • We need 5 positive interactions
    for every negative moment.
  • 13 positive emotions per negative
    emotions are too many!
  • Folks with positive emotion
    lengthen their lives by 10 years.

Five strategies to increase positive

  1. Prevent bucket dipping:  Stop
    making negative comments!  Try it for a day … it’s hard, but
    just do it.
  2. Shine a light on what is right:
    When someone does something right say so … and here’s the
    kicker, you will feel better for making another person feel better.
    If you want to help bring change in someone celebrate what they do
    right (check out the positive impact test at
  3. Make best friends:  People work
    best in situations where their best friend, not just friends or good
    friends, works with them.
  4. Give unexpectedly:  The element of
    surprise coupled with generosity makes for positive emotions all
  5. Reverse the Golden Rule:  Jesus
    said, “Do to others as your would have them do to you” (Matthew
    7:12).  We call this the Golden Rule, but the Platinum Rule of
    business is “doing to others as they would have you do to
    them.”  Len Sweet suggests that Christians practice the Titanium
    of “doing to others as Christ would do to them.” 

So when folks gather on a day off to
rebuild a floor and re-shingle a roof, I celebrate that we get to
love our neighbors.

So when my wife joins others to mourn a
loss of a parent of one of the girls in her Girl Scout troop, I
celebrate that we get to love.

So when two parents talk to me about
their son and his marriage to a person fighting addiction, I
celebrate that we get to love.  They shared with me that “loving
her is not hard; liking her as drunk is hard.”

So when a person asks for $25.00 to
fill a gas tank, I want to say “you should plan better,” but God
said “you get to love her today.”

So when a person snipes at me for
something out of my control, I can apologize and assure them I will
not make that mistake again.

So this week when your tongue is ready
to strike, when your smart wit is ready to pounce, when your loathing
of another is barely concealed remember this … you get to love that