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Reflective Life – Lesson 1

September 24, 2010

A football fan knows the meaning of the red flag. A head coach throws it when he wants the referee to review the last play (hoping the ref will change his mind). I noticed that all coaches have these moments of hesitation before they throw it. I have learned they hesitate because they first ask assistant coaches way up in the booth to review the play. If after review, they see a chance for a successful challenge, they tell the head coach. It is this moment of reflection that can change a football game.

If you want to live a reflective life,then you need some equivalent of the assistant coach. Reflective people ponder decisions, attitudes, relationship changes and circumstances before acting. Reactive people rarely hesitate to go with what feels natural at the moment. You can easily guess which group leads the most successful lives.

Where does one establish moments of “review” in a day? Would it work best at the end of every day? How about as the day begins? Perhaps the moment we get home from work…would that be good for the daily review? Each person is unique and what works for me will be cumbersome for another. I choose the end and beginning of each day to review and reflect on the various elements of my life. Sometimes I will journal the results, but most often I just run them over in the mind.

However, in football, there are only some types of plays that can be reviewed by the referee. In the same way, there are daily details that are not worth reviewing during my reflective moments. Generally, I take five to twenty minutes to look over the following:
1. Decisions I have to make: If I can put off important decisions for at least one day, I will do so. I want to have at least one reflective session before settling on a course of action.
2. Attitudes toward others: As I review the day, I like to poke and prod my emotions and then honestly assess how I feel about the people I rubbed shoulders with that day. Each of these reactions I lay before God for His input. This has saved me countless hours of backtracking through toxic attitudes like fear, resentment or lust.
3. New things I learned: I don’t consider myself to have learned something just because I gained some new facts. For instance, I was recently at a graduation ceremony for a friend who had become a chaplain. During the ceremony, they gave some statistics regarding a problem in our county. I had not been aware of this happening in our town and upon reflection decided to find out more about it. I learned that the speaker had grossly overstated the frequency of this problem. But, I also found out some facts that have got me thinking about being more involved in this field.

Recently, I had a man call me about a friend of his. The friend has shown manic tendencies at work which resulted in him losing his job. He asked me to intervene and do some counseling with him. I agreed to think about it overnight. However, during my twenty minutes of reflection that evening, I realized it would not be wise for me to take on this particular counseling responsibility. There were complications, requirements, skill sets and personal difficulties that would cause me to regret having done this. Wisdom from God led me to contact my friend and decline to help. Though they were initially upset with me, they came back later and told me how much they admired my restraint.

All I had really done is make a call to the review booth. Twenty minutes of reflection each day lets you know when it is time to throw the red flag and when to keep it in your pocket.

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