Episode 1. Asset or Liability
Listen to the radio broadcast
Download audio file
There seem to be basically two types of people in this world – those who are a blessing and those who are a burden; those who are an asset and those who are a liability. Which one are you? Join …
There seems to be basically two types of people in this world – those who are a blessing and those who are a burden; those who are an asset and those who are a liability. Which one are you?
One of the things I love doing is tweeting. Some people don’t even know what twitter is. That’s okay, I was there once. Some can’t understand the fascination but I love it, here’s why. Twitter helps me to stay in touch with people who matter to me, people I respect and admire. People who live in the next suburb or clear across the other side of the world.
What’s happening in their lives, a funny experience, some great insight and even some great quotes. It’s quick, it’s easy and when I stop for a quick break and get a cup of tea in the middle of a busy day I pull out my phone or my iPad and just quickly check to see what’s come through on twitter and since each tweet is limited to a hundred a forty characters it’s nice and quick.
The other day on twitter I picked up this quote from Dr Tayo Adeyemi in the UK. Now I’m not sure if I’ve pronounced his surname correctly there. Anyhow this quote really caught my eye. This is what he said:
You are either a blessing or a burden, as asset or a liability, a problem solver or a problem, it’s your choice.
Short, quick, profound and it got me to thinking. I started going through all the people that I know, people I’ve worked with, friends and colleagues and you know something, it was really easy to categorise them either on the one side of the ledger or on the other.
Let’s stick with that accounting metaphor for a moment, are they an asset or a liability? Hmm, it’s a sobering thought and I’m imagining that if you went through the same exercise you’d be able to put all the people you know either on the one side of that ledger or on the other.
Of course nobody is a complete liability nor is anyone so perfect that they’re a complete asset. We all contribute to some extent and we all drain to some extent as well. That’s because, of course, none of us is perfect and then we’re all good at different things.
But even taking all those things into consideration on balance, weighing all their pro’s and con’s, some people overall are assets, others overall are liabilities. Some are a blessing, others are a burden. Some are problem solvers, and some are plain and simple the problem.
So then I began to imagine a world in which more and more of us became assets rather than liabilities. In fact call me crazy if you will, just imagine a world for a moment where everyone is an asset and no one is a liability. Just stop and think about that. Imagine how different this world would actually be.
So that’s the quote in a thought process that inspired this series of messages called “Are You a Blessing or a Burden?” and that’s the question isn’t it? Because you and I aren’t necessarily in a position to change the whole world, we can’t change every one of the seven point something billion people on the planet, hey we can’t even change our wives or our husbands or our children most of the time.
But there is one person we can change, ourselves – you, me. I wonder if you considered yourself for a moment, on balance, and asked, ‘am I a blessing or a burden to the people around me, an asset or a liability, a problem solver or part of the problem’?
We have to be kind of careful when answering those questions because if the truth be known we’re a lot more generous in judging ourselves than we are in judging other people. We’re so good at rationalising our weaknesses and our failures and blind spots aren’t we? We trivialise them and we sweep them under the carpet. Okay so if I asked the people close to you, family members, work colleagues, whether you are on this side of the ledger or that, how would they answer?
A couple of thousand years ago the Apostle Paul was sitting on death row in a Roman dungeon. He’s writing a letter to his friends in a place called Philippi and this is one of the things he says to them, Philippians chapter 2, verses 3 and 4:
Don’t do anything from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each one of you look not to your own interests but to the interests of others.
It’s an encouragement, an exhortation to be a blessing instead of a burden. If we’re expecting everybody to do stuff for us, to look out for our interests, to meet our needs and yet we don’t do the same for them because all we care about is us, not them.
You know what they call that? That’s being a hypocrite. This thing call it what you will, selfishness, self-centredness, whatever there’s some of that in each one of us. See how Paul starts out, he says to his friends and to you and me; do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit.
Imagine a sea, a land-locked sea like the Dead Sea for instance where all the rivers flow in but none of them flow out. It’s exactly what happens with the Dead Sea. The only way water gets out is through evaporation by the heat of the sun and the reason it’s called the Dead Sea is because there is so much salt in the water that not a single organism pretty much can live there.
Our selfishness is like the Dead Sea. We want everything to flow inward towards us, we want others to be a blessing to us, we want circumstances to favour us, we want the sun to shine on us, we want, we want, we want. It’s all about the direction of the flow of the blessing.
Many a man’s life, many a woman’s life, writes a man called S D Gordon a couple of hundred years ago, is like the circumference of that Dead Sea. When everything flows inwards it’s dead and by experience you and I know that’s true. Hey, I’m someone who spent the first half of his life trying to live it that way and I wondered all the time why it never satisfied me, why I was never truly happy and contented.
See Paul addresses both sides of this equation in the short passage we just read. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but instead look not to your own interests but to the interests of others. In other words, stop living your life trying to be the guy who is blessed all the time and start blessing other people. Turn the direction of the flow from inwards to outwards.
And then as evidence of the fact this radically different approach actually works, he goes on to cite the prime example, the most obvious example, in the very next breath he says and I’m reading here from a message translation, Philippians chapter 2, verses 5 to 11:
Stop thinking of yourselves the way you are, think instead the way Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but he didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all, when the time came he set aside the privileges of his deity and took the status of a slave and became human.
Having become human he stayed human, it was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges, instead he lived a selfless obedient life and then he died a selfless obedient death and the worst kind of death at that, a crucifixion.
Because of that obedience God lifted him high and honoured him far beyond anyone or anything ever so that all created beings in heaven and on earth, even those long ago dead and buried, will bow down in worship before this Jesus Christ and call out in praise that he is the master of all to the glory and honour of God the Father.
In other words, the answer is in being a blessing instead of being a burden, an asset instead of a liability, a problem solver instead of a problem. It’s about a complete fundamental, 180-degree change in direction from having blessing flowing inwards to getting the blessing to flow outwards to other people.
There’s an awful lot in that so we’re going to spend some more time over the course of this week on the program chatting about this very thing and in the meantime let me leave you with that quotation I gave you for you to ponder.
You are either a blessing or a burden, an asset or a liability, a problem solver or a problem, it’s your choice.