Life Lessons From Spongebob

Having a three year old in the house means we watch a lot of Spongebob Squarepants. We watch Spongebob in the morning, in the afternoon, and at night.

I’ve grown to like the cartoon sponge, and I’m willing to admit that I think Spongebob Squarepants can be a positive role model. In fact, I think there are some things we can learn about life from Spongebob Squarepants.

I Want to Be Like Spongebob Squarepants

  1. He is positive. Spongebob starts every day by saying, “I’m ready!!!!” His positive attitude is seen in pretty much every response. It’s a common thing for the Spongebob to respond positively to something that everyone expects him to respond negatively. We could all imitate Spongebob and change our attitudes to be positive.
  2. He is persistent. Another thing about Spongebob is that he doesn’t give up too easily. He perseveres. It seems like he’s been trying to get his boating license forever, but no matter how hard he tries, he can’t pass the test. His teacher, Mrs. Puff (she’s a puffer fish), ought to be impressed with his persistence. I want to be persistent at what I’m trying to accomplish.
  3. He is playful. One of Spongebob’s hobbies is to go “jellyfishing.” He catches jellyfish with his net. He’s constantly got a playful attitude. Maybe that’s why he’s a cartoon, but I think we adults can take ourselves too seriously sometimes. I want to be playful like Spongebob.
  4. He is friendly. Spongebob gets along with everyone, even his neighbor Squidword. He finds ways to get people to like him regardless of how silly he is. His best friend is an extremely dumb starfish. He has a great relationship with a squirrel who lives underwater, and his boss likes him, too. I want to make friends as easily as Spongebob.

Isn’t it funny what you can learn from a porous, absorbent, yellow sponge that lives in a pineapple under the sea?

A Lesson about Grace

A Lesson about Grace

Yesterday, we had t-ball practice. It was hot, the kids were tired, and hardly anybody really wanted to be running around in the heat playing tball. Even though Nathan has made significant progress in his skills, yesterday was not a great day for him at practice.

Before I continue, you have to understand that I always bribe reward him with a Slurpee after t-ball practice if he’s a good boy.

Unfortunately, yesterday, he was in rare form, hitting other people and generally disobeying. He wasn’t horrible, but he wasn’t obeying with all of his heart and soul and mind, either.

So, we got into the car after practice, and I asked him if he thought he deserved a Slurpee. I asked what he had done during practice, and then I asked him to tell me if he thought he should get a Slurpee or not. He said he didn’t deserve one but he really wanted one. I agreed with him that he didn’t deserve it.

I stopped at the 7-eleven anyway. As we were getting out of the car, I told Nathan he didn’t deserve a Slurpee, and he busted out in tears, saying, “But I really want one.” He thought he wasn’t going to get one. I told him that sometimes we get stuff we don’t deserve.

I resisted teaching him more about the concept of grace, because I’m not sure how much he really understand, but it’s exactly that kind of love that the Father has for us. He gives us things we don’t deserve all the time. It’s His grace that is amazing. It is His love for us despite our lack of love for Him that makes Him a great God.

I hope that Nathan learned something from our little trip to 7-Eleven, and I hope he will understand more about our gracious God in the future.

The Last Three Years – Part 3

The Last Three Years – Part 3

In part one of this series, I talked about graduation. In part 2, I wrote about what the students are doing with their degrees. This time, I’m reflecting on how I’ve changed as a person after being a part of the program during the last three years.

You cannot visit the places I have been and return as the same person. There is a transformation that happens as you get to know these people and their situation. There is a change in the way you think about God, the human situation, and about yourself. I have changed as a result of my visits various places. I like to think I’ve changed for the better.

How I’ve Changed

  • The way I think about freedom – Often, we take our freedoms for granted. Certainly, the USA is not a perfect place, but we do have freedoms that other people in other parts of the world would love to have. Independence Day is coming up. When I see the flag waving, I think differently now. In fact, last December, when I went to see the Miami Dolphins’ game with my Dad, I started to tear up as I heard the national anthem. I have changed.
  • The way I think about blessings – Blessings come in many different shapes and sizes. One thing is for sure, the blessings I have are given to me so that I can be a blessing to others. God blesses people with different kinds of blessings. I have learned to look at what I have instead of what I want (although that’s not always easy), and to count those as blessings.
  • The way I think about missions – There are many mission principles that change when you visit a country other than your own. I have learned that sometimes being flexible is much more than a thing we preach to short term mission teams. It’s something that sometimes we have to do as long term missionaries as we think about strategy, principles, and ministry actions. I have learned to adapt strategy to the context.
  • The way I think about ministry – Sometimes the best way to get a real look at struggles in ministry is to watch what others have to do in order to minister to their congregations and communities. I have seen and heard stories of ministers who have been persecuted because of their ministry. Suddenly, my struggles in ministry are not as invincible.
  • The way I think about sacrifice – Calling is a word we throw around in church and ministry conferences, but sometimes I wonder how much we really feel called to what we do. The people I have met are called to work with young people and to work in the church. They are not receiving any other “fringe benefits” like many of us do. It’s a calling thing. Calling in many contexts requires sacrifice. I have changed the way I look at my calling and what God has in store for me.

I’ve learned many other things, too. These are just a few of the many things that I have learned in my travels with the opportunities I have had. I feel fortunate to have learned things during the last three years. It has been an educational experience for me, too.

(Picture: Me on a street in Santa Clara)