This summer as we were settling into our home one of our visitors asked why do you have MYOB on our refridgerator. We have 4 pillars of parenting and within those pillars we have behaviors we are trying to shape within our daughters. It just so happened that MYOB was the character we were focusing on at the time. MYOB (and no, it is not some clever take on BYOB)…it means MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS
We know that if we do not instruct on this character trait early it will be a tough nut to crack later. I mean we all know those busy bodies who make it their business to be up in everybody’s business right? Every college I have worked in, every non-profit I have been a part of, even in the ministry there are those people who make it their business to be about every body else’s business. They show up places to just see what they can get into. They develop friendships simply to access more information. Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears (Proverbs 26:17)
Having grown up in a small town eerily similar to Harlan (but not being in a small town for over 20 years now) it has hit me like a ton of bricks just how big a challenge this can be in a rural community where everybody’s business is really easy to get into. We can easily compound the challenges by inviting all kinds of people into our lives with the constant use of social media. We live in a place and a time where it is so incredibly easy to get into other peoples business. I think this is why Jesus said, ““Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Essentially…MYOB. The idea is that we each have enough problems and challenges in our own life that when we go looking or digging into other’s lives for it we become prone to making judgements and it’s those judgements that lead to trouble. But learning the discipline of knowing what is your business and what is not leads a person to much better outcomes for all involved.
It is a healthy habit to learn early but it is a habit that can be learned at any age. There have been many a times in my ministry where someone will come to me with Johnny’s issue and I simply have to say, “If Johnny wants to deal with that issue how about you let Johnny come talk to me”. In a marriage, in a business relationship, in ministry, and in parenting there is incredible power when we can set the boundaries of what IS my business and what IS NOT and when we do so we lessen the power of judgement and open the power of grace.
Having recently moved to Harlan, it has been fun to just observe my new home. I will take the opportunity now to apologize if you noticed a guy creeping you out because you felt like he was “watching” you. My nature is to observe people. I have observed people in China, Korea, Canada, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Iowa. What I will share with you is people here in Harlan are no different than people everywhere. People are people everywhere…irregardless of age, geography, economic status, gender and politics. In other words, there are core commonalities to being human regardless of where you were raised, who you were raised by, and in what decade you were raised. Some would argue that technology changes humanity to which I would argue, technology changes how humanity functions but does not change humanity at the core.
I have seen parents in Harlan laugh with their kids just as heartily as I have seen parents and grandparents enjoy their children in China. I have seen indescribable suffering over the loss of a loved one here in Harlan..just as i have seen in all corners of the world. There are good people everywhere and there are people with bad intentions everywhere too. One observation, strong families promote a healthy society. Where you have strong families crime rates are lower, education is valued, work is valued, and generally there is greater respect, greater satisfaction for life, more harmony, and more peace.
At the center of a strong family is a strong marriage. Strong marriages are based on the abilities of each individual in that relationship to distance themselves from their selfish desires and intentionally pursue the interests of their spouse/family. The only power I know that can stand up to the power of self is the power of Christ. It is for this reason that Christ has to be at the center of a marriage. Play the logic out…when Christ is not at the center, marriages will struggle, selfish desires will rule, open up the gate for the decline of family and community. When politicians misdirect and mislead, when more and more kids are disrespectful to parents and teachers, when there is an increase in crime and so on there is a reason for it. I am just not sure many are making the connection.
Here is my point. My observation is that Harlan is not much different that the rest of the world…The truth about the strength of our society is dependent upon the home and whether or not Christ is at its center.
If you have paid attention to any christian social media or in general the christian response to the world in the past month or so you might get the idea that the second coming of Christ can’t come fast enough. With our national courts redefining marriage, the Vatican recognizing the Palestinian state, and the recent tragedy in Charleston, SC many followers believe the world is just falling apart, literally the world is going to hell in a hand basket. The shear volume of noise Christians create expressing fear and paranoia is staggering and confounding. Admittedly, there are times it is hard to see God in all the perceived chaos. What appears to be a lack of interest on God’s part might actually be an opportunity that far to many followers of Christ are missing.
Martin Luther wrote some wise words (words that serve as a great reminder for the post-christian world we are entering), “God our Father has made all things depend on faith so that whoever has faith will have everything, and whoever does not have faith will have nothing. There are times in our world God may simply be asking his followers to trust Him. Let me encourage any and all followers of Christ today. The world has always been falling apart to one degree or another but our God is in charge of yesterday, today and tomorrow. There is no need for the faithful to be a modern-day Chicken Little screaming from the top of our lungs (or even in the quiet of our home) “The sky is falling”. Psalm 89 is a wonderful reminder of how mighty is our God…
1 I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
through all generations.
2 I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
9 You rule over the surging sea;
when its waves mount up, you still them.
10 You crushed Rahab like one of the slain;
with your strong arm you scattered your enemies.
11 The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth;
you founded the world and all that is in it.
There is no need to have anxiety. In fact, we are called to live as if we believe our God is in control. Our God who conquered death still has his finger on the very pulse of our world. It is time for the faithful followers of Christ to take their faith off the shelf, dust it off a bit and live life with confidence that our God is still in charge