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Writing stories to pass values from one generation to the next

Reflection: An Oft-Neglected Discipline

Reflection

Reflection: An Oft-Neglected Discipline

Before the pastor started his message, he told the crowd that he wasn’t preaching just for the moment. He wanted us to take the Scripture from Romans and gnaw on it all week like a dog does a bone. If you know anything about Romans, you know that there is plenty to chew on.

The word picture of a dog chewing on a bone was a good one for me. Molly, our black Labrador retriever, can wear out a bone in no time flat. None of the rawhide bones that Mrs. Right has brought home as a treat for her have lasted very long. Except for the “bone of concrete,” the rock-hard plastic bone on which she has made scarcely a mark. However, the intensity with which she attacks the others is impressive.

Busy: The New Fine

That got me to thinking about a discipline that I feel is one of the most neglected: reflection. Think about it. A decade ago, when you asked people how they were doing, the most common answer was “fine.” Now, it’s “busy.”

Busy is worn as a badge of honor today. Busy means important. Busy means indispensable. But what has busy replaced?

Busyness has, to a large degree, replaced reflection. How much time do people set aside to consider where they are in life, how they got there, and what changes they need to make? Most people just don’t have time. Rocking chairs are more of a Cracker Barrel novelty than an everyday destination.

The Cost of Busy

A survey I did some time ago revealed–not surprisingly–that busyness is the biggest impediment of people sharing their family stories with the next generation. I would guess that the same could be said of businesses, churches, schools, teams, and other organizations. That’s too bad because those stories are the best vehicles for passing down our values from one generation to the next.

What are our patterns of success? Of failure? Not stopping to reflect on what got us where we are leaves us to re-invent the wheel at every turn.

Reflection is not a matter of doing nothing. It is not ceasing to move and therefore ceasing to think. It is simply slowing down and fixing our thoughts in careful consideration.

  • On a passage of Scripture.
  • On a decision past or future.
  • On a relationship.
  • On a difficult task.

A Reflection for Today

ReflectionTo what do you need to give a period of reflection today? To gnaw on, if you will. Trade in busy for contemplation. Don’t trade it in for worry–that’s a whole ‘nother issue all its own–but to deliberately consider where you are, how you got there, and what changes you need to make in some area of your life. Or perhaps areas of your life in which you simply need to pause and be grateful.

May I offer you a challenge?

Drive home from work with the radio off. Take a solitary stroll. Slip off to a quiet place in the house or in a favorite outside sitting area. Heck, go to Cracker Barrel and borrow a rocking chair. Just make time for for reflection. Think about it.

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About Al Ainsworth

Al Ainsworth is a values storyteller. He works with individuals, businesses, churches, and other organizations to pass along their values through the stories they tell…and re-tell.

Al is the author of Lines in the Gravel, Stories from the Roller Coaster (of a Faith Life), and the Coach Dave series. Subscribe to his email list for more values storying.

2 Replies

  1. Nice article and so very true, Al. My “good” years are now in my rearview mirror, but by reflecting on days of ole, I have found tons of information to share with others through my writing. Successes, failures, and life-lessons learned have turned into wisdom to help others in the here and now. The times I’ve spent in quiet reflection have made me realize I have much more to offer—my “best” is yet to come.

    1. Thanks, Tom. I always appreciate your feedback. I find that I rarely have writer’s block–always something to write based on a vast collection of experiences. Here’s to our “best” years!

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