Growing up is hard to do!

Jarrid Wilson at Relevant offers some thoughts about the transition to adulthood.

You’ve made it through your teens and most (or maybe all) of your schooling. You’ve probably had at least one job or internship. You’ve (hopefully) learned to act mature and professional.

But your twenties are a time for even more growth, for becoming independent and taking responsibility for your actions and how you influence others.

To that end, here are 20 things people over 20 should stop doing. And believe me, I’ve been guilty of most of them.

from Pocket http://bit.ly/1o9hPN5

Tell the story to the ones who will listen …

The market isn’t always ‘right’, if right means that it knows how to get what it wants in the long run. Too often, we are confused, or misled, or part of a herd headed in the wrong direction.

It’s almost impossible to bring the mass market to its senses, to insist that you know better. What you can do, though, is find discerning and alert individuals who will take the time to understand. And then, if you’re good and patient and lucky, they’ll tell the others.

Which is why, over the last thirty years, farmers markets and other entities have slowly grown in influence. Because happy customers tell stories about remarkable products and services.

When you see the corn paradox, label it and act accordingly. Tell stories for the few, help them to spread.

via Seth Godin’s post “The Naked Corn Paradox

Can we talk?

The following is yesterday’s column that appeared in Kinston’s FREE PRESS.

Can We Talk?

By Rev. Allen Bingham / Columnist
Published: Friday, December 5, 2014 at 05:31 PM.

In my younger years I was cruising way too fast near the N.C. State University campus and a Raleigh police officer pulled me over for speeding. We discussed my speed and then with some sophomoric smart talk I was able to wiggle out of the ticket. As we parted the officer said “You’d better drive more carefully on ‘my streets’.” That was ironic! Recent news reports revealed that because of the increasing rise in the cost of living, most of Raleigh’s police officers lived in Garner. So I bit my tongue as I thought about the fact this “his streets” were most likely in Garner while “these” streets had been “my streets” for two decades. Both of us failed to see how “we” could live together in the city.

Years later I witnessed a friend of mine being treated as an outsider on another college campus. As we parted company after walking from the Theological School to the Student Center of Drew University a member of the campus security continued to follow him to his dorm. Later in the week I noticed this happening again.

Now my friend Noel was a big man! He was 6-feet 4-inches and must have weighed 275 pounds, but that was not why he was being followed. He was being followed across campus because he was an oddity at Drew. He was not odd because he was a theological student or even that he was a Baptist at a United Methodist seminary. No, Noel was simply a big black man out of place among the mostly white coeds of this small liberal arts college.

I asked Noel how often this occurred and he shrugged as he said “I’m just ‘walking while black’ and this happens constantly. I asked Noel what could be done about this. When he replied, “Nothing,” that made me mad. Noel was (and still is) my friend. He had been elected the president of the predominantly United Methodist theological school student body even though he was a “Baptist.” I made an appointment with the dean of the theological school and then the president of the university. I expressed my outrage that somebody the theological school trusted to represent us in every situation was being treated this way. Then I went to the head of campus security and handed him Noel’s picture, informed him of Noel’s status as a student, and demanded that he tell his team to back off.

Noel was able to walk without being followed by campus security from that point forward, but only on that campus. In the real world he is still subjected to “driving while black” and “walking by black” stops by police officers. And he pastors one of the largest churches in the city where he currently resides.

Recent news events have me bothered one more time as the tension between police officers and the communities they serve are being strained. The strain is rooted in an “us” and “them” mentality. As Marilyn Patrick, director of ICOR, recently reminded me. We have to remember every time we have a conversation with another person that “we” have to talk. “We” can talk, but “us” and “them” can never get together to talk (we only shout!). So I invite you to continue learning how to listen to the other person in the conversation. (Remember that LISTEN split in half and the letters rearranged leads to the spiritual practice of being SILENT). Then I invite you to speak in the first person plural about how “we” are going to mend “our” ways rather then lapse into all to familiar patterns of talking about “us” and “them.” In God’s eyes “them” is “us” when “we” are talking about being God’s children.

Allen Bingham is the Pastor of Queen Street United Methodist Church and can be reached at allen@queenstreetchurch.org.

When ‘God Bless You’ Is the Only Reward

If you are like me, I want credit for doing the right thing. Maybe it goes back to the Boy Scout challenge “to do a good turn daily.” There is a part of me that wants someone to notice and say something out loud when they catch me “doing something good.” Yet I also know that my character is most often best revealed when no one is watching. Frederick Douglass in a letter to Harriet Tubman once said:

“Most that I have done and suffered in the service of our cause has been in public, and I have received much encouragement at every step of the way. You, on the other hand, have labored in a private way … most that you have done has been witnessed by a few trembling, scared, and foot-sore bondsmen and women, whom you have led out of the house of bondage, and whose heartfelt ‘God Bless You’ has been your only reward.”

When was the last time ‘God Bless You’ was your only reward? What is the treasure you received in that simple blessing?

Introduce Yourself to Someone in the Neighborhood

Social Fitness Challenge #15Introduce yourself to someone in your neighborhood.

Do you know your next door neighbors? If not, that’s a great place to start this week’s challenge. Getting to know the people who live around you is the perfect way to start to build a strong community. By getting to know your neighbors, you are creating a support network of people who work together to protect and serve the needs of everyone in the group. And you never know – you might make a new friend!

Listen Carefully Rather Than Solve Another’s Problems

Social Fitness Challenge #14Listen carefully to someone without trying to solve his/her problem.

When someone comes to you with a problem or complaint, offer them a listening ear. To practice active listen you should 1) look into the speaker’s eyes, 2) tell her what you hear in your own words–as much as you can, put yourself in her shoes, 3) clarify by asking questions to ensure you understand the person fully, the whole picture, the points being made, and the meaning to the person, and 4) ask the speaker if she wants advice. If she accepts your offer for advice, then begin to reflect on the advice you would like to give her.

When you are thinking about what you are going to say to a person before he is finished speaking, you are going to miss significant information about his story. More importantly, people don’t always want advice. Sometimes all a person needs is someone to listen.