To do

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Sharper Focus

by Kelly Pontsler, Major –

Things to do, places to go, people to see! What’s at the top of your “to do” list? I’ll admit that there are some corners in my house needing hefty attention. But the thing that is riding high on my list at the moment is the ever-growing stack of books to be read!

I love to read. And I have friends who love to read. So between their purchases and mine, I’m going to guess that I have a couple dozen books sitting on shelves, night stands and dressers, just waiting to tell me their story. It isn’t a lack of interest on my part, I assure you. But by the time I settle in to bed and pick up a book, a paragraph or two seems to be my limit before I’m sound asleep.

We’ve launched into a new year, turned the page on 2007 and look forward to the adventures and discoveries of 2008. I know my year is off to a good start because I’ve already transferred everything into my 2008 calendar and it’s still only January!

Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? News reporters and celebrities have been rattling off their predictions and lists of good intentions for this coming year. Some of us make a list of goals and draft a plan to achieve them, determined to accomplish good things. Some just resolve NOT to resolve, and take life as it comes.

I spent New Year’s Eve in the company of good friends, sharing a delicious meal and good conversation while we waited for the ball to fall in Times Square. Flipping back and forth through TV stations we landed on the Travel Channel. They were highlighting celebrations around the world. Tucked in the middle were recent poll results on the subject of resolutions.

The number one resolution overall was “lose weight” followed by “be a better person.” Be a better person? That got some discussion, as we tried to figure out what that meant and how you would measure success. I suspect that in most instances it would involve kinder gestures and gentler responses, generosity and positive action, although I’m still not sure how you could count it up or “know the score” at year’s end.

It has crossed my mind in the last few days that most of our resolutions are about doing something. Have you noticed that? They are a shortened version of our “to do” list. Action is measurable, concrete, tangible. It is, or it isn’t.

It was pointed out in a conversation at work recently that we Salvationists are DO-ers. We roll up our sleeves and get to work. We undertake our occupation as service to God and work diligently to maximize return for our efforts, as we strive to bring honor and glory to him.

We are GOOD at doing. What about being? Shouldn’t being a better person be more about who we are than what we do? Attitude matters. Drive and passion matter. Integrity matters. That famous Golden Rule, “love your neighbor as yourself, is first of all an attitude of the heart.

I’ve got loads of yellow sticky notes everywhere to keep track of my to do list, but what about a “to be” list? Has anyone ever written one of those? I can say honestly that I never have. Maybe I should? Maybe you should, too? If it feels a bit daunting, the “be attitudes” that Jesus outlines in the first few verses of Matthew 5 might be a good place to start.

So, dear friends, my New Year’s resolution for this year is to be a better person! I have a feeling that improving my being will also improve my doing. And that’s not all bad.

Now if I could just find more time to read!

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