I’m Not Becoming Perfect From My Practice

I realized something about myself the other day: practice doesn’t alway make perfect.

You know the saying. It’s often used to get people to work at something until they improve. I think there are a lot of things this applies to in life, but writing is not one of them – at least not for me.

When I work on my sermon, sometimes I will stand up and work on a white board in my office. I will walk around, pacing back and forth while I think, and then jot things down with my erasable marker.

I’ve been doing this for a while now, but it dawned on me that I’m not getting any better at it. I mean my writing is not any neater or easier to read than it was when I started this method.

If practice makes perfect, why am I not writing perfect “A’s” or “S’s”? My letters still slide into and up against each other. Sometimes I don’t close them off; sometimes I don’t even make a good attempt at forming the letters at all.

It sometimes makes for difficulty reading, though my wife, Lily, and I are pretty used to it and can figure my writing out with only a little frustration at times.

I know there is another saying that someone came up with … probably someone like me who ran into the contradiction with their own handwriting. That person said, “Perfect practice makes perfect.”

I don’t like that phrase very much because the whole idea of practicing is that we aren’t perfect yet. Maybe “proper practice makes perfect” is a better saying.

I can live with that one because clearly I don’t practice my writing properly.

But you know, I’ve found many things in life that also don’t stand up to this nice little slogan. For instance, I’ve been playing the guitar for years, but I’m not significantly better than I was ten years ago.

I also don’t practice very much, but that’s because I don’t see much progress or perfection taking shape when I do practice.

There are some people who practice driving and they don’t get better either. I know because I find myself driving behind them and beside them on the roads all the time!

If the saying, “practice makes perfect” doesn’t really work, my question is, “Should we keep doing things that we aren’t getting perfect at?”

Should I stop trying to play the guitar? … For sure some people should stop driving and leave that task to someone else! But there are some things that if we don’t become perfect at, well, it’s okay. We can get by; we don’t need to be perfect at them.

Writing for me is one of those things. When I see someone with neat handwriting I get a little jealous. But at the end of the day, I will live with the mess I create on my white board.

I will continue to decipher it when I review what I’ve written, and I will just be satisfied that I’m not perfect.

Here’s the thing: God isn’t waiting for us to be perfect; He takes us as we are and then He works on us. He doesn’t quit on us when we fail to make significant progress towards perfection, but He keeps encouraging us on, in spite of our imperfection and failed attempts. Your relationship with God is not one you should quit working on. Accept your deficiencies and keep working at them. One day in heaven you will be perfect.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What have you been working on that’s frustrating you? Leave your comments below.

Perfect In The Moment

Have you ever been perfect? I don’t mean getting a perfect score on an exam – you just have to study hard to know the answers. I mean, have you ever done something perfectly?

perfect-10-score

Maybe you assembled a BBQ and there were no extra parts left over. You marvelled over your feat … but that doesn’t really count if you had the instructions in front of you.

To be perfect in that, you would have to put the BBQ together with all the parts in the right place and nothing left over, WITHOUT using the instructions.

Now that would be perfect. It would also be impossible.

Being perfect is actually doing the impossible.  We are not perfect people; we all have some flaw … some more than others. But perfect we are not.

So when you find yourself being perfect, it does cause you to pause and cherish the moment, because it probably won’t ever happen again.

I’m telling you this because I was perfect a couple of weeks ago. It was just for a moment; it was over in a flash.

I didn’t even realize I was perfect until three days after my great accomplishment. In fact, I was already not perfect again by the time I found out I was perfect.

Have I got you hypnotized yet? Well let me tell you how it all happened.

I’m in a football pool. It’s not a high stakes, money laundering, loan sharking, football pool. It’s just for fun. No money at stake, the winner just gets the satisfaction of winning.

All we do is pick the winning teams from about 13 different football games each week. Oh ya, and they’re from three different leagues: US college games, NFL games and CFL games.

This pool has been going for the past nine years. And in the words of the league secretary, “… never before – not once – in our history has a franchise owner had a perfect weekend during the regular season. We’ve had 1 loss and plenty of 2 loss weekends, but NEVER HAS ANYONE HAD A PERFECT WEEKEND” (emphasis mine).

That’s right, I was perfect that weekend! I picked all the winners that week. And I did this with no manual, no insider information, not even a secret formula.

It was all pure luck – I mean, perfection.

I have to tell you, I felt pretty special for about 30 seconds after I read the announcement in my email. But I was alone at the time so I just got back to working on my sermon or something.

But as perfect as I was for that brief moment, my son was able to bring me down with a few words: “Dad you should have bought a sports lottery ticket. With those picks you would have won a lot of money.”

So what if I could have made millions, well, maybe thousands? What’s really important is I was perfect for that moment. No one can take it from me, and it probably won’t happen again.

Here’s the thing: Those times when you encounter God in a truly special way, in a way that only He can bring about, cherish those moments. Remember them. You’ll be able to find encouragement in them when you’ve lost your motivation. Those moments will give you strength to continue in times of difficulty. Supernatural times when God is so close and personal may not come every day, but they will always be crystal clear in your mind.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What encounter have you had with God that you will never forget? Leave your comment below.

What You Need To Know About Perfect Timing

You know when you get that “WOW” moment, when something happens at the exact right time? It might be an important letter that comes just when you need it. Maybe you arrive on the scene at the exact time you’re needed most.

photo 3

Whatever it is, we call it “perfect timing”, and it amazes us every time it happens, doesn’t it?

This week we were stripping the paint off our cottage deck. Some was wearing off, some was blistering off … and I’m not sure what was going through the mind of the previous owner when he picked the colour to begin with!

The first day was a beautiful sunny, warm day and we got most of the paint off the deck itself. But we still had the railing posts and the steps to do.

The next day it started out raining. The sky was very dark and it looked like that was what it would be like the rest of the day. We had almost decided to pack up and go home when we got a little break in the rain.

So instead of leaving, we started in on it. We worked for most of the morning and then took a break for lunch. By mid afternoon we had used up all the goop we had bought to get the paint off.

We were pretty much done, so we started cleaning up and putting everything back in order. All the deck furniture, BBQ, etc. needed to be put back on the deck, not to mention the railing inserts that needed to be nailed back into place.

When everything was done, and the shed locked, we went into the cottage, and turned around to look at the work we had done. And WOW, the rain just started coming down like God had recanted on His promise to never send a flood again!

If we had have been out there ten seconds longer we would have been caught. It was quite a storm because twenty minutes away in Owen Sound a tornado touched down, and later that day there was another tornado in another part of the province.

But for us, it was perfect timing! … It reminds me of a time when my then 1 1/2 year old daughter was jumping on the same couch I was sitting on. I was talking to people across from me and out of the corner of my eye I noticed she jumped too high and went right over the armrest of the couch.

Without looking, I stuck my hand out and caught her by the ankle, with her head just inches from hitting the floor. It was a great catch – again perfect timing!

Perfect timing is awesome to experience. But you never know it’s going to happen until it does.

Here’s the thing: We can get really frustrated wanting something from God and then waiting seemingly forever for an answer. Whatever you do, don’t get in the way of what God is doing so that you miss His perfect timing. When God answers, it may surprise you, be different than you thought, or come at the eleventh hour. But one thing is for sure: it will be perfect timing. Then soak in the WOW.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: When have you experienced that perfect timing from God? I’d love to hear from you; you can leave your comment below.

Customer Service . . . I’d Like Some!

Customer service is a very important part of a business or any organization. In these days with social media, customer service is even more important. If someone is treated poorly and has lots of followers on Twitter and Facebook, a bad review of your product or organization could go viral quickly.

customer_service_goes_bad

So you would think companies would be mindful of listening to their customers, trying to understand them, instead of frustrating them to the point of outrage.

I found out that all depends on who you are dealing with. If you are talking to a customer service rep, they are on your side, trying to make it easy for you to get the result you are looking for.

However, if you are dealing with someone in, let’s say, the accounting department, they are more likely concerned that numbers match up in their books. They don’t care about your experience or how you feel. They feel good when they experience a ledger that looks neat and all balanced-like.

You might be able to see where this is going. That’s right, I had a customer service issue with our photocopier company at work and I was dealing with someone who really only cared about applying a credit to our account … a credit they should have sent to our old photocopier company to buy it out! I just finished writing a long letter to the company – maybe that should have been my blog today!

So, as I take an extra beta blocker this morning (just kidding) to keep my blood pressure in the earth’s atmosphere, I need to get a few things off my chest.

When dealing with a customer, listen to them. Hear not only their words but the emotion that’s behind the words. If you sense there is a frustration, don’t repeat what you have already done (and which failed) over and over again. It does NOT calm someone down!

When you have promised to take care of something for the customer and have not done so, don’t ask the customer to research and come up with a solution. Find a solution for them.

When a customer comes back to you with a solution, don’t tell the customer again what you have already done (and which failed). It doesn’t give the customer the sense that you are listening to them.

When you realize that the issue is something beyond you, don’t make the customer craft a letter to present their case to the people above your pay grade. YOU go to bat for them.

Finally when you realize that maybe, just maybe, your company dropped the ball (even a tiny bit), acknowledge it and tell the customer you are sorry, or they will feel you don’t care about your customers, and that might start something on Twitter or Facebook.

Here’s the thing: We often get upset with God’s customer service when He doesn’t answer us, or provide what we are looking for from Him, or even when we think “how could God let that happen”. But consider this … He is perfect and we aren’t. We’re the ones who have messed up and are in the wrong, yet He is still gracious, and patient and loving to us. Wow! That is great customer service.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What is your most frustrating customer service story? Leave your comment below.