Tag Archives: humility

The Systematic Buzz Phrase Projector

Story of the Day for Saturday October 6, 2012

The Systematic Buzz Phrase Projector

 

                . . . Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you hid these things from the wise and intelligent and revealed them to children.”  

                                                         Matthew 11:25

 

Have you heard of the “Dr. Fox Hypothesis”? Dr. John Ware and his colleagues from the University of Southern California introduced Dr. Myron R. Fox to a distinguished group of educators: psychologists, sociologists, physicians, and social workers.

Dr. Fox’s topic was “Mathematical Game Theory as Applied to Physical Education.” But the audience did not know that Dr. Fox was really an actor.  His speech was a meaningless jumble of non sequiturs, invented words, irrelevant details, and entertaining jokes.  But he said absolutely nothing at all.

The audience loved his speech, and no one realized the speech was nonsensical. Anonymous evaluations afterward said the lecture was clear and stimulating.

Further research by others has demonstrated this is not a fluke. You can write totally unintelligible articles, and as long as it comes from a legitimate source in the reader’s area of expertise, the article will usually win high marks.

 

If you are in business and are ever called upon to make a report, I recommend to you Philip Broughton’s “Systematic Buzz Phrase Projector.”  He produced three columns of ten words. You simply pick one word from each column and incorporate them in a sentence.

For example, the first column has words like: “integrated,” “systematized,” and “functional.”  The second column: “organizational,” “reciprocal,” and “incremental.” And the third column includes: “flexibility,” “time-phase,” and “projection.”

Broughton claims, “No one will have the remotest idea what you are talking about, but the important thing is that they’re not about to admit it.”  One man, who resorted to Broughton’s “Buzz Phrase Projector,” received a standing ovation and a top man in the organization said it was the best presentation he had ever heard.

 

The theologians of Jesus’ day should have been the first to recognize the Messiah. But, because of their pride, they became blind. God reveals truth to children. And you don’t have to be young to be a child. Jesus calls a “child” anyone who is humble.

It used to bother me that Jesus praised the Father for making the wise and intelligent blind to the truth. But what he meant, I think, is that truth is not found because we’re intelligent, but because we’re humble. If you are proud of your biblical knowledge, you are in a dangerous place.

 

Frederick Buechner, in his book, Wishful Thinking, said, “Pilate asks What is truth? And for years there have been politicians, scientists, theologians, philosophers, poets, and so on to tell him. The sound they make is like the sound of empty pails falling down the cellar stairs.”

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 

 

Sound of Empty Pails Falling Down the Stairs

Story of the Day for Thursday July 19, 2012

 

Sound of Empty Pails Falling Down the Stairs

 

                . . . Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you hid these things from the wise and intelligent and revealed them to children.”  

                                             Matthew 11:25

 

Have you heard of the “Dr. Fox Hypothesis”? Dr. John Ware and his colleagues from the University of Southern California introduced Dr. Myron R. Fox to a distinguished group of educators: psychologists, sociologist, physicians, and social workers.

Dr. Fox’s topic was “Mathematical Game Theory as Applied to Physical Education.” But the audience did not know that Dr. Fox was really an actor.  His speech was a meaningless jumble of non sequiturs, invented words, irrelevant details, and entertaining jokes.  But he said absolutely nothing at all.

The audience loved his speech, and no one realized the speech was nonsensical. Anonymous evaluations afterward said the lecture was clear and stimulating.

Further research by others has demonstrated this is not a fluke. You can write totally unintelligible articles, and as long as it comes from a legitimate source in the reader’s area of expertise, the article will usually win high marks.

 

If you are in business and are ever called upon to make a report, I recommend to you Philip Broughton’s “Systematic Buzz Phrase Projector.”  He produced three columns of ten words. You simply pick one word from each column and incorporate them in a sentence.

For example, the first column has words like: “integrated,” “systematized,” and “functional.”  The second column: “organizational,” “reciprocal,” and “incremental.” And the third column includes: “flexibility,” “time-phase,” and “projection.”

Broughton claims, “No one will have the remotest idea what you are talking about, but the important thing is that they’re not about to admit it.”  One man, who resorted to Broughton’s “Buzz Phrase Projector,” received a standing ovation and a top man in the organization said it was the best presentation he had ever heard.

 

The theologians of Jesus’ day should have been the first to recognize the Messiah. But, because of their pride, they became blind. God reveals truth to children. And you don’t have to be young to be a child. Jesus calls a “child” anyone who is humble.

It used to bother me that Jesus praised the Father for making the wise and intelligent blind to the truth. But what he meant, I think, is that truth is not found because we’re intelligent, but because we’re humble. If you are proud of your biblical knowledge, you are in a dangerous place.

 

Frederick Buechner, in his book, Wishful Thinking, said, “Pilate asks What is truth? And for years there have been politicians, scientists, theologians, philosophers, poets, and so on to tell him. The sound they make is like the sound of empty pails falling down the cellar stairs.”

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

How It Should End

Story of the Day for Monday July 2, 2012 

How It Should End

 

                   Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, do you now want to reach your goal through human effort? 

                                                                   Galatians 3:3

Why is it that, whenever we try to be more religious than other people, we end up becoming worse?

The Puritans felt the Reformation didn’t go far enough. Seeking greater purity, some separatist groups removed themselves from other Christians.

Alice Morse Earle, who liked rummaging through old documents, discovered some juicy news from these groups. John Lewis and Sarah Chapman, she found, were accused and tried for sitting together under an apple tree on the Lord’s Day. A soldier from Dunstable was fined forty shillings for wetting a piece of an old hat and stuffing it in his shoe on the Sabbath. In 1656, Captain Kemble from Boston was put in the public stocks for his “lewd and unseemly behavior” of kissing his wife at the doorstep of his house. (This was the first time Kemble had seen his wife since a three year voyage).

 

Why have so many people done things in the name of Jesus that Jesus himself would deplore? Could it be that, whenever we seek to become superior to others, we’re moving in the wrong direction? The prime virtue of a Christian should be humility. When we discover we’re covered in muck — just like everyone else — we can honestly report the grim news to God, and know he’ll forgive us. Humility is what faith is about.

Seeking to be better than others, however, neglects humility in favor of pride, judgmentalism, false piety, self-righteousness, minimizing personal faults, fear of those on the “outside” (which breeds slander) and group conformity for fear of expulsion.

 

“Well, Bartholomew, I thank God we aren’t like the heathen.” (pride)

“Me, too.” (conformity based on fear of expulsion from the group)

“The heathen probably lurk in dark alleys and torture cats.” (fear of those outside the group, which leads to slander)

“Yup.” (conformity based on fear of expulsion from the group)

“But, praise God, on the Judgment Day, the Most High will reward us for the fruit of our labors.” (self-righteousness)

“Yup.” (conformity based on fear of expulsion from the group)

“Hey, are you eating that without praying first?” (judgmentalism)

“It’s, ah . . . it’s just a stalk of celery.” (minimizing personal faults)

“So? I thank the Almighty for every morsel that touches my lips.” (false piety)

“I thanked the Lord, but I said it in my head.” (lying to cover own sins)

“You should’ve at least bowed your head in reverence.” (false piety)

“I’m going to do that from now on.” (conformity based on fear of expulsion from the group)

 

We begin the new life by relying on the grace of Jesus, and that’s how it should end.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Brick by Brick

Story of the Day for Tuesday May 22, 2012

Brick by Brick

 

                By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; with knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.

                                                                                Proverbs 24:3-4

 

Herbert Simon, a Nobel Prize winner in economics at Carnegie-Mellon, performed an experiment with fellow psychology professor, William C. Chase.

The experiment utilized chess players: one group consisted of novices, the second, of intermediate chess players, and the final group was composed of chess masters with international rankings.

Simon and Chase set up a partially played chess game, and each participant was given five seconds to look at the board. Then they were asked to re-position the pieces on a blank chessboard from what they recalled of their five second observation.

Who do you think did the best? You got it. With twenty pieces left on the board, the chess masters correctly recalled the piece and position of 81 percent of them. The novices only placed about a third of the chess pieces correctly.

 

So far, this experiment isn’t interesting, since anyone could predict the outcome. Their second experiment, however, was surprising. But, before we get to it, can I ask you something? Why do you think the chess masters did better than the novices?

The most obvious answer is that chess masters are brilliant people; no one can compete at the international level unless they have brains as big as cantaloupes. Another explanation is that chess masters have developed mental techniques for recalling the pieces.

These are good guesses – which is why the next experiment was so surprising. Chase and Simon set up the chess board again, and gave each participant five seconds to view it. This time, however, the pieces were randomly positioned by a computer. When each group tried to re-create the board from memory, the chess masters did slightly worse than the novices!  So much for big brains or memory techniques.

 

What enabled the chess masters to do so well in re-creating an actual chess game from memory was not brilliance, but experience.  By years of practice, they can “see” the game with exquisite insight. In five seconds, they can “see” it, “Ha! The King’s Gambit versus the Nimzovich Defense.”

 

The Lord makes no connection between wisdom and brilliance. Spiritual wisdom is not based on intelligence, but humility. Through humility we accept God’s grace and love. And, through humility, we let God teach us the best way to live.

 

A chess master learns to “see” one game at a time. We build the house of wisdom brick by brick. But, over time, we will find the rooms filling up with rare and beautiful treasures.

Being the “Rightest”

Story of the Day for Saturday May 5, 2012

Being the “Rightest”

                                   You rescue the humble, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.  

                                                                        2 Samuel 22:28

 After God has delivered his opinion on haughtiness, it is amazing how many of his followers vie with each other to be the haughtiest.

Christians have split up into countless denominations and every one of them believes the same thing: we’re righter than anyone else about doctrine, and we feel pretty smug about it. When was the last time you heard a denomination admit: “We want to follow Jesus, but, frankly, we’re not sure our doctrine is perfect”?

Don’t get me wrong: it’s important to be right about stuff. But it’s even more important to be humble. None of us knows God so well that we have eliminated all the fuzziness in our understanding of him.

Yet, how often do we admit that we’ve bumped up against Bible passages that don’t want to agree with our present understanding? We Christians – and especially we Bible teachers – are not eager to talk about the many passages in Scripture that still have us puzzled.

 

In September of 1864, London’s Soho district was ravaged by a cholera epidemic. 143 residents in the Broad Street area died within a single day.

Dr. John Snow believed the cholera outbreak was caused by contaminated water from the public Broad Street pump. But everyone else – including the Medical Committee and a local curate, Rev. Henry Whitehead, believed Snow was wrong.

Dr. Snow wrote up his observations, On the Mode of Communication of Cholera, but Whitehead and the Medical Committee overseeing the epidemic disagreed with his conclusions. In opposition to Dr. Snow, Whitehead wrote an opposing account, The Cholera in Berwick Street.

In an effort to prove Snow wrong, Rev. Whitehead began a personal investigation. He went door to door – asking residents about sanitation and their use of the Broad Street water pump.

When he finished his investigation he realized his data supported Dr. Snow’s position. Whitehead did what few have the humility to do: he publicly renounced his former position and urged the Medical Committee to listen to Snow.

 

We now know that Snow’s view about cholera has been validated. But for a decade after Snow presented his evidence, the medical community continued to call his position unsound. Whitehead, alone, was humble enough to admit that his original opposition to Snow had been wrong.

If you want to feel superior to others, don’t gloat that you’re the “rightest”; strive to be the humblest. Then you can take pride in being . . . hey, wait a minute – I think I just goofed up somewhere.

                            (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

It’s Okay to Change Your Answer

Story of the Day for Wednesday March 28, 2012

It’s Okay to Change Your Answer

  Just as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17

The secret to becoming more Christ-like is, oddly enough, to behave in a way that Christ never did.

Even though Jesus was often criticized for his behavior, he never admitted he was wrong. That’s because he was never wrong.

In our case, however, not much is going to happen in our lives until we learn to listen to the criticisms of others and admit when we’re wrong.

If you’re thinking, “Okay, but I’m seldom wrong when others criticize me,” then you’ve come to the right place, because I intend to show you that you’re . . .wrong. Let’s start with this: suppose you’re taking a test and then go back and change your answer. Is your changed answer more likely to improve your score?  Three quarters of college students say no – your changed answer is more likely to be incorrect.  Professors feel the same way, only more so.  Only 16% of professors believe that changing your initial answer on a test will improve your score.

Guess what? They’re wrong. Researchers have been studying this subject for over 70 years now. One researcher examined 33 different studies on this question and every study agreed: students who change an answer on a test are more likely to improve their score.

So, why do the majority of people still favor their initial answer as the correct one?  Could it point to a deeper issue?  Could it be that we have an aversion to admitting that we were wrong in something we did?  Could it be that we are so enamored with our views and opinions that we are reluctant to admit we’re wrong?  That’s what it seems like.

If we want to grow into the image of Christ, we must stop being so impressed with ourselves.  Our focus must not be in defending how right we are, but in admitting how wrong we are.  Only a humble heart can admit faults.  Only one who admits his faults can know how good it feels to have Jesus forgive him.

Do you know what I do when others point out flaws in my character?  My first instinct is to defend myself.   But I cannot grow from the correction of others until I begin by considering the possibility they are probably right.

Darn it.

Others can see faults in us to which we are blind.  We need to listen, evaluate, repent . . . and know that it is okay to “change our answer.”

Yeah, yeah, I realize there are many times when those who criticize us are wrong.   But they aren’t wrong as often as we think.

We aren’t going to make much progress in our spiritual life until we learn that others can see things in ourselves that we cannot.

                                              (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Rumba and the Bird Brain

Story of the Day for Tuesday March 13, 2012

Rumba and the Bird Brain

                 You will be driven away from people and will live with the beasts of the field, and will eat grass like cattle. 

                                                                 Daniel 4:32

Our friend, Val, is an animal lover, and is always taking in abused pets. Beside her ponies, donkey, and a blind horse, she has a herd of happy dogs, two parrots, and a cockatoo, named Rumba.

Rumba is a mischievous bird. If she hears me walking in the hallway, she calls out, “Hey you! . . . What’s your name?”  Before I know it, I’m standing in front of her cage and having a conversation with a birdbrain. (Or is it the other way ‘round?)

Cockatoos have an uncanny sense of rhythm, and, while I’m quite self-conscious about dancing, pretty soon she’s bobbing her head, and then I’m bobbing my head, and one thing leads to another . . .

Soon, we’re both swaying and jiving, and I’m yelling, “Oh yeah!” and “Whoo, baby!” As long as no one’s watching, dancing with a cockatoo is a hoot.

But, if you’re self-conscious about dancing, you should always shut the door first. It wasn’t until we were on our way home that my wife told me that she and Val heard the commotion and watched me strutting my stuff.

Oh great — so much for maintaining the reserved dignity with which I like to carry myself.

 

Dignity is a good thing and I commend it for your consideration. But it also carries its hazards. When we assume a dignified pose, it is very difficult to avoid the notion that we are, in some way, superior to others. Honor is a breeding swamp for pride.

 

King Nebuchadnezzar was a powerful king, and there’s no shame in that, because someone’s got to do it. But his exalted status led him to become enamored with his own importance, so God turned him into a cow.  No one laughs at cows for grazing in a field because cows have no sense of self-importance. But when a king gets down on his hands and knees and eats like a cow, it can go a long way in correcting an overinflated ego.

 

Vince Lombardi was at his football office when his wife called to tell him she had invited two Catholic priests to dinner.

In order to have an undisturbed conversation after dinner, the Lombardis put their four-year-old daughter, Susan, to bed.

As the four chatted after dinner with coffee and brandy, little Susan marched into the room – her nightgown sopping wet from her armpits down. She walked up to the two Reverend Fathers, pointed her finger under one nose and then under the nose of the other Father and said, “Either you or you left the seat up, and I fell in!”

 

The loftier our pose, the more humbling it will be in the cattle field.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

They Can See Right Through Us

Story of the Day for Monday March 5, 2012

They Can See Right Through Us

                  When you fast, don’t be like the gloomy-looking hypocrites. They contort their faces so it becomes obvious to everyone that they’re fasting.

                                         Matthew 6:16

 Have you ever noticed that people who are trying to look cool don’t really look cool; they look like they’re trying to look cool?

 

When I order sub sandwiches they have a tip jar at the end of the counter. I like to tip workers, but sometimes they’re attention is turned elsewhere and they don’t see me giving my generous tip. So, I like to wait until they see me – but here’s the trick: I try to make it look like I’m furtively sneaking a tip in their jar yet hoping they’ll notice. That way, they’ll see me as both humble and generous at the same time.

 

Jesus thinks I’m a poser when I do that, and, of course, he’s right. Posing is a big deal to him because our vanity destroys the most critical attitude of a believer: humility. Only humble hearts receive undeserved gifts. And that’s what Jesus came to give us.

Becoming proud of our humility is an oxymoron. It doesn’t impress God, and, if you must know the dismal truth, it doesn’t impress other people.

 

Daniel M. Oppenheimer is a cognitive psychologist at Princeton. He published a study about the benefit of using simple language, and entitled it: “Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity.”  (I found his title a little ironic until I realized this was meant to be humorous; his subtitle says: “Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly”)

Oppenheimer wanted to know if people think we’re more intelligent when we use complicated language rather than using simple words. He found that 86 percent of university students admitted that they deliberately use complicated words in their essays to make their papers sound more valid or intelligent.

 

His study revealed that, contrary to prevailing wisdom, people do not think you’re more intelligent when you write obscurely – they think you’re less intelligent. In other words, whenever we try to impress others with our intelligence, our attempts backfire.  They can see right through us.

 

Jesus watched the “religious” people as they prayed and gave alms to the poor, and fasted. All of those things are good. But he observed that these people wanted other people to notice and admire their spirituality. Yet, craving attention is not spiritual, so he called it for what it was and warned us not to imitate that kind of hypocrisy.

 

But, if you still insist on trying to impress people with your spirituality, let me give you a tip: the key is subtlety. And, if you need any help, come with me some day and watch me pay for a sub sandwich.

                                                 (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)


Even a Bug Can Teach

Story of the Day for Wednesday February 22, 2012

Even A Bug Can Teach

                  When pride comes, disgrace with follow. With humility comes wisdom. 

                                                      Proverbs 11:2

The 19th century was the golden age of British conquest. The sun never set on the British Empire, and the cultured English bathed in their glory.

Having conquered and colonized vast uncivilized cultures of the world, in the spring of 1845, they set out to conquer Nature.

Sir John Franklin led the best-funded expedition in history to find the fabled Northwest Passage to the Orient. Two 350-ton vessels were equipped with steel reinforced hulls, a 1000 book library, and heated cabins.

Confident of their invincibility, they defied the arctic seas . . . and lost.  The massive ice flows slammed into their ships and wedged them fast.  For two years they waited for the ice to release its grip, but the ice refused to budge, and all of Franklin’s men perished.

 

Oddly enough, Franklin’s men met the native Inuit of the area. A decade later, Francis Hall spent time with the Inuit, who told him of their encounters with Franklin’s crew. The Inuit gave seal to the starving men, but the British sailors never asked for help in survival. Though the Inuit could travel long distances on their dog sleds, they never asked for help in sending out a rescue party.

The Victorians of this age were intent upon asserting their superiority over all other cultures. They saw the arctic natives as ignorant savages, and refused to swallow their dignity by begging them for assistance.

 

Years later, twenty-eight-year old Roald Amundsen, slipped out of the harbor at Oslo with six others in a small, second-hand fishing boat. They sailed until the arctic winter set in and found themselves in the same vicinity as Franklin’s stranded expedition.

But Amundsen sought out the Inuit. He befriended them and learned their secrets of survival in the arctic. They taught him how to hunt seals and build igloos. He was amazed to find their reindeer clothing far better than his own. He lived on their diet.

When he borrowed their sled dogs for an exploratory trip, he bogged down and had to dump half his supplies to make it back to the Inuit village. They were amused, but showed him how to reduce the friction of the sled runners.

 

When the spring ice thawed and allowed the Norwegians to continue their journey, Amundsen dismayed the crew by refusing to sail. He claimed they still hadn’t learned enough from the Inuit in how to survive in the Arctic.

Amundsen would not only sail on to discover the Northwest Passage, but would later outrace the British to plant the first flag on the South Pole.

 

God tells us in the Bible to observe the behavior of ants and learn from them. Even a bug can teach us spiritual truth, but only the humble have the ears to listen.

                                                     (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

When It Doesn’t Add Up

Story of the Day for Thursday December 22, 2011

When It Doesn’t Add Up

                          You rescue the humble, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.

                                              2 Samuel 22:28

Are you pretty good at adding numbers in your head? Without using a pencil or calculator, can you add these numbers and tell me the sum?

 

1000

40

1000

30

1000

20

1000

10

 

That didn’t take much time, did it? It was a simple problem, but, unfortunately, your answer is wrong. Do you want to try adding the numbers again?

Now, obviously, I don’t know that you got the wrong answer. But I do know that if your answer was “5000,” it’s wrong. And I also know that 95% of those who try this test give “5000” as their answer.

Those who admit they’re not good at addition are more likely to come up with the correct answer. Do you know why?

When I tell you your answer is wrong and invite you to try again, those who are humble are more likely to try it a second time, and discover their first answer was incorrect.

Those who take pride in their ability to add numbers in their head, however, are annoyed that I told them they got the wrong answer. When I ask them to try adding the numbers a second time, they are more likely to decline my gracious invitation.

 

Joel Barker, in his book, Paradigms, spoke in Deerborn, Michigan, with a leadership group of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He asked the group how good they were at adding and subtracting. They thought that was funny.

Then he gave them the addition problem I just gave you. After showing it on an overhead projector, he covered the problem up. When he asked them for the correct answer, they all shouted “5000!”

He asked them how sure they were of their answer and asked those who were confident they had the correct answer to raise their hand. All 280 of them raised their hand.

 

When we become overconfident in our standing before God, we also become slower to see our sin. The quicker you are to admit you’re wrong, the quicker you will find what the Lord wants to give us – his mercy, wisdom, and comfort.

                                 (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)