Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thermometers and Thermostats

First let me say I cannot claim the origination of this idea – it is from a beautiful book by Evelyn Christenson, Lord Change Me. 

Thermometers are useful tools; measuring the temperature at a given moment.  Put the glass into the sunlight and watch the liquid rise, degree by degree.  Move it into the shade and the falling liquid shows the lowering temperatures.  A thermostat measures instead the temperature and then works to change the temperature around it, matching a pre-programmed temperature.  The place is too hot; it’s time for colder air to be used.  Is it too cold, then it’s time for heat to flow through the air vents.

People can be like thermometers and thermostats.  I’m not referring to getting hotter or cooler by standing in the sun or shade.  But, our attitudes are a bit like temperature gauges.  After all, we refer to a temper as being hot headed and fiery.  Attitudes can also be cold, icy in fact as someone turns from caring into completely ignoring another person or simply not being aware enough to care. 

Yesterday was Monday.  Though I’m not really one of those people who believe that Mondays are just going to be terrible just because they are Mondays, it was a classic Monday.  I had physical therapy and that part went fine.  But, I forgot the card for a co-worker at home – oh well, bring it tomorrow.  I got to work and again, it wasn’t bad, just busy.  Before I knew it, it was eleven o’clock.  Where had the morning gone?  It seemed like I just couldn’t move fast enough to both catch up and move ahead.  I really prefer to have every thing organized and act proactively rather than just react to the daily oddities that occur.  A webinar during lunch led to a short time to get some work done before heading to another meeting, and then rolling into another meeting.  I looked out the window – when did it get dark?  There were moments of frustration, when I could feel myself getting annoyed.  Please don’t try and talk to me when I’m on the phone.  Please just listen to my answer and go do your thing.  Please – I’m off limits for just thirty minutes….  If I were a thermometer today, my attitude would have been room temperature.  Then, it slowly would have climbed, cooled, climbed, cooled, etc…  How exhausting! 

Instead, I chose to be a thermostat.  There will be more work to do tomorrow, there will be phone calls to answer, problems to solve, research to do, and e-mails to read.  But, it is my choice to have a good attitude through the stressful moments.  And when I have a good attitude, I do not contribute to a thermometer moment someone else might be having.  Instead, I can help change the temperature around me.  It is work, just like changing my attitude to match that pre-set temperature, and then making sure my actions, words, and reactions are matching where they should be. 

Follow God’s thermostat, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness,”  (Ephesians 4:20-24).  Can you imagine what it would be like if God were a thermometer and not a thermostat?  If you haven’t figured it out yet – just go look at the ashes next time you have a bonfire – yep – that would be me and you down there, dust and ash.  Instead, we have a Father who loves us to keep close to Him and reflect His temperature.  This is the part that is so exciting – we don’t have to set the temperature!  That part is already done for us.  Instead, we must work to maintain that temperature.