The Repentant Narcissist

Quite mistaken and living a lie,
A heart-wrenching truth I cannot deny.
I have lived these years upon a path,
Certain of vision, certain to last.
But such confidence not properly ground,
Caused me to fly and live in the clouds.
And this narcissism infecting the mass,
Is the thorn in my side, my burden, alas.
Like fuel to the fire of my sin within,
Self-interest permeates and I give in.
I was living with lenses warped and skewed,
Where I was the lead, while others construed,
As mere characters of foes and friends,
Objects of plot and means to an end.
Yet don’t get me wrong, though villain I am,
Not all of my efforts were so vilely planned.
The pain that is deepest and now in plain view,
Is the miserable fact that I never knew.
T’was my running thought and subtle intent,
To rise as a victor with benevolence.
But there lies the tell of my sinful disease,
Grace not mine to bestow, hearts not mine to ease.
And so I lay down my plight at the feet of the cross,
Self-interest condemned and my success a loss,
Knowing now full-well the best course for me:
Surrender my dreams and let You intercede,
Deciding the course, sustaining Your glory,
And me a mere character in Your magnificent story.

Struggling With The Etiquette of Correspondence

Have you ever felt weighed down by your email? Is it challenging to stay on top of responding back to people? Here are three points that might help alleviate that burden for both you and those who await your response.

1) Introduce a simple “Hey Tap” into your email-checking routine. When you are glancing through your email, hit the reply, and quickly insert some variation of “Thanks for the email, get back to you soon.” This can be very helpful in your correspondence and relationship maintenance because it communicates to the sender that their message has not been lost in the cracks (or junk) and that you are taking the brief time to acknowledge that their message is important to you. This removes the stressful pressure of trying to make sure that you aren’t blowing people off unintentionally. Because people have different expectations for response time, this will ensure that you are making the first step in respectful personal or professional etiquette.

2) Don’t let your inbox be your reminder list. Quite frequently we will use our inbox as a resting place for unanswered emails. This can be a good system for your first week of using a new email account, but very quickly the list grows beyond your visage. As they say, “out of sight, out of mind.” Thus, other measures may be more effective in keeping on top of your responses. Most email accounts offer you the ability to create subfolders for your emails to be stored. Consider creating a folder called “Unanswered Emails”. By having a specific folder with these emails in it, you will be more likely to respond. If you have a reminder function with your email or your phone, consider also implementing a reoccurring reminder that says “Check Unanswered Emails”.

3) Resist the temptation to “say it all” in your email. Often times we are personally discouraged from responding to an email because we are either waiting for the right words or we feel that the response would need to be more lengthy than we have time to compose. Emails are for your benefit! Consider tying off an email with “I have some other points to mention, but I’ll have to get back with you.” Using this method not only gives you the freedom to take a breath in your response, but it also gives your receiver the opportunity to respond to what you have written thus far, just as one would in verbal communication.

Remember that your ability to email is a benefit to you and should not be a shackle. Let’s be a blessing to our friends and colleagues by putting our foot forward in the etiquette of correspondence.

Avoiding the Unnecessary Taboo of Marketing

I went to a business conference once where a speaker said that no one is afraid of selling. I remember he then paused, looked around at the audience, and then exclaimed, “People are afraid of failing, not selling! Show me a person who, that if every time they attempted to sell something they succeeded, would say, ‘Nope! Not for me.’” That bit has really stuck with me over the years. At first, I thought it was extremely insightful and, thus, I took it as truth. However, as time went along and the ambitions of success would come and go, I was left with one constant that I realized was more important to resolve beyond successful marketing and that was ethical marketing. Of course, some people just don’t like the idea of selling. In fact, selling, marketing, and advertising are natural taboo topics for most people today, and yet these topics may not be so worthy of the disdain they are given when viewed in the proper light. Here are three points to think about:

Marketing is a Natural Part of Social Interaction

We are always promoting something. Did you like the restaurant you ate at? Did you hate it? Who did you tell about it? Anytime we give an opinion about something or someone, we are marketing. When we give someone directions to a business, we are marketing. If we Facebook or tweet about it, we’ve marketed it. We are all natural marketers. Marketing is never missing. It is always present though quite often not acknowledged.

There is Unethical and Ethical Marketing

This is a no-brainer. Marketing has its bad side when put in the hands of the greedy, the manipulative, and the narcissistic. And yet, marketing is not to blame. Marketing is the wielded weapon of the despot. Marketing can be the shoes that carry a villain to power. However, marketing is no more the villain itself than gasoline is the villain of a car crash. And there are so many examples we have to choose from as to what unethical marketing looks like. Movie and television depictions of these foes can be overwhelming and thus naturally cause all of us to taint the subject. And yet, remembering the first point that marketing is a natural part of social interaction, reminds us that by simply exerting awareness we will recognize that marketing is not, in itself, bad. And yes, there is ethical marketing too: positive and negative ethical marketing. Positive endorses something and negative deters. What makes it ethical of course is not determined by whether or not there is financial gain. Ethics is determined by the moral structure beneath it. Proverbs, for example, provides clear-cut moral structures. If you believe in Natural Law, as I do, then we believe that all men know right from wrong in their hearts. Whether seen from the Bible or from Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, man recognizes morality. Thus, the ethics of marketing depends on the bearer.

Marketing is Not Egotism

Some stray from the topic of marketing because, if you are marketing your business or your name then it may seem like you are arrogant or narcissistic. However, if you have a product or service that you believe in, or if by promoting your name you are putting light on what you are passionate about, then it is not really your ego that is being promoted. The effort of self-promoting for ego and identity has many signs and consequences. That is why it is important to have counsel with men and women of seasoned integrity who can help us with that assessment. Better to heed their counsel than to chance burying the talent because of insecurity. Furthermore, as stated, promotion will be done regardless by us. If you own a business and you are not talking about it, it would be good to remember that the next time you tell someone about your favorite brand of ice cream, you were marketing their business. If we look upon our service, our products, and even our influence in name as gifts or talents then we will be more likely to put our endorsements in their appropriate places, sleeping well at night, knowing that we marketed ethically.

3 Temptations Christians Will Face In 2013

1) Post-Political Fiasco Cynicism

Few will deny the impact the last couple of months have had on American confidence in our political leaders. With a great voice of cynicism resounding from the media, it is tempting to simply join in and start railing against the President and/or Congress, slamming anyone who has put us or others in financial jeopardy. There is no doubt that a great host of people are not only angry but also hurt and deeply affected by the choices (and lack of choices) of political figures in 2012. And yet, we must pause in the drama of it all and recognize that though this is where we live, it is not our home. While this maxim does not condone abandoning our civic responsibility as a united people of these 50 states, it does encourage us to remember the priority of our dependence on the Lord and our trust in His plan. We must rise, we must stand for Biblical values, and we must do so with passion rather than cynicism. The great divide between cynicism and passion lies in the motivation. Passion aspires with hope while cynicism, devoid of hope, bitterly dwells on unfairness. Let us go forward as passionate followers of Jesus Christ. (Verse for Thought: Eph. 4:29)

2) Further Entertainment Desensitization

With each passing year, the level of exposure we all have to violence, language, and sexuality increases. As Christians, it can be difficult to determine what standards we put in place for ourselves and our family to ensure that we are living lives worthy of our calling. This determination can only be accomplished with a reliance on the Holy Spirit’s guidance and good exposure to Godly men and women that have been around the block a time or two. We must, as Christians, aspire for one thing especially when it comes to this issue and that is the consistent acknowledgement of the seriousness of entertainment desensitization. Desensitization occurs when we let by and ignore the danger and drastic effect of violence, language, and sexuality. Acknowledgement is a must. Let us be inspired to change the channel, turn off the movie, and even talk a bit more with our families about what is going into our eyes and ears. (Verse for Thought: Mark 9:47)

3) Tax Return Salvation

There are many Christians facing a financial crunch as we enter into this New Year. While the hope of a better economy was whispered in 2012, by the end of it, facing a fiscal cliff, most of us lost that little bit of hope. We have to be careful coming towards April. Some will receive a tax return, others won’t. But regardless, it is important that our faith remains strong.  We must secure in the front of our minds the belief that the Lord supplies all of our needs. So, if you are getting a tax return then it is a blessing from the Lord in which you have a responsibility to apply it in a way that will glorify Him. If you are facing a debt as the tax season approaches, remember that the Lord knows what you face and while hurdles may require jumping, nothing is more important than your trust and dependence on Him. Nothing ever surprises the God of the universe and this truth can make a big difference in how we approach our victories and defeats. (Verses for Thought: Matt. 6)