The Five Languages of Love

november-26

 

Children need love. Every parent says, ‘I love my child’—yet so many children grow up with a void. Maybe the parent didn’t realize what they should’ve done or what is considered love.

Let me share the five languages of love from the author Dr. Gary Chapman.

Touch

Hugs, Kisses, holding the hand and walking, cuddling together while watching something on TV – these are deep joys for young children. I still remember rolling and playing a wrestling and tickling game on the bed that brought immense joy and fulfillment to my kids and is still remembered as our cuddling game.

Words of affirmation

In our desire to see our kids get better and better, often parents tend to be more critical and corrective. But love is expressed though appreciation: “Well done, my son.” “You look so pretty, my daughter.” These are received as words of love. Children flourish under encouragement.

Quality time

Someone has said love is spelled T-I-M-E. If you love them you will be with them. Kids love parents to be with them, chat with them, share stories, and listen to them. In the busyness of life this is often forgotten. I know the number of times I have fallen short, but I know that there is no substitute for time. If you have more than one kid, take each one out separately for a special date. They will cherish that.

And as they grow older, get involved in their areas of interest. Love is seen in you being happy and involved in their world.

Gifts

Children love receiving gifts. Have you noticed how excited they get about their birthdays? The party is secondary; the real joy is in unwrapping the gifts. Without moving towards materialism, we should see that they know we love them as we gift them with things they can enjoy.

Service

When they experience service and care, they know you love them. Whether it’s the hot coffee during their long hours with books, dropping them to their best friend’s home, or getting their favourite dish ready—service is interpreted as love.

Children at different stages will appreciate one language more than the other. For example a toddler would appreciate love expressed through hugs and kisses more than receiving gifts, while an older teen would consider it extremely thoughtful and loving if he received a gift rather than a kiss.

Whatever works for you and your kid, express love. And if you are a kid reading this blog, go ahead and appreciate your parents as they do their best to love you.

photo credit: Jenny Downing via Photopin

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Lessons learnt on an Indian train

november-4

 

The latest train journey to Patna was a huge learning experience for me. I trust this post will be one for you as well.

With the sudden death of my uncle I decided to go and be with the extended family for a day. I booked a ticket online on Rajdhani a comfortable A.C train from Delhi to Patna.  I was waitlisted on no. 10, but I was hopeful. After all, there was still a day to go—with a few last minute cancellations I could get a confirmed seat.

Just before departure I was still on no. 1

I dashed off to board the train, hoping that I would pay the extra charges on the train and get myself to Patna. I knew that was a possibility as I had done it years ago with the Ticket Collector (TC) who had cut a receipt and given me a confirmed berth.

But this was different. I hadn’t realized that if you’re booked online and you’re on the waitlist, the ticket automatically cancels. I had erred and I was in a fix; technically I was travelling without a ticket.  I learnt a lesson about online train ticket booking.

I spoke to the TC on the train and offered to buy a fresh ticket and pay the extra charges. He gave me a berth to sit and said he would come back later.

I waited and waited. He came a couple of hours later and said I needed to pay an amount of Rs 5400/-. That was huge. The ticket costed only Rs 1500/-. This was way beyond what I had imagined and way beyond what I had in my pocket.

He then asked me to pay whatever I had with me—an opportunity for him to make a quick buck. I refused. It’s my conviction not to bribe. I said I’d pay the full amount at the next station with an ATM on the platform, Kanpur. He was not pleased. He was clearly losing his opportunity. He gave me three options: pay the Rs 5400/- now, pay him a good amount, or just get down at Kanpur.

I got down.

I found myself stranded in Kanpur – I braced myself to travel in a crowded, dirty, unreserved compartment and bought a second-class general ticket.

A train heading to Patna arrived. This was going to be one difficult night.

Hoping that I would at least get a seat to Patna, I approached a TC on the platform. He looked at his papers and said, ‘Go to B1, berth number 59. I was thrilled—this was a wonderful AC compartment with a pillow, blanket, and sheets. He cut me a fresh ticket and I traveled comfortably to Patna.

Another lesson learnt: when you make a mistake and have options in front of you, stand for what is right and God will honour you. He will make a way for you.

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Merciful doctors extinct ?

october-21

 

Barh  is a small town 75 kilometers from Patna I remember going there when I was very young and sitting in the clinic of Bade papa (big daddy), my uncle, Dr. S.P.Deokuliar—a very simple man with a big heart. He was a noted civil surgeon. I remember the poor coming to him and him lovingly treating them, very often not charging a fee. Bade Papa loved the place and lived there for much of his life.

Last week he passed away. I went to see the family in the same small town. Not much had changed; there was the smell of cow dung around, people doing their simple tasks, and small shops along the road dealing in a few rupees. The poverty of people around was still glaringly visible.

As I sat there, a simple villager who had walked a long distance came to pay his last respects. He sat next to me, a city dweller, and began to chat.

“Doctor Sahib did not just give us the medicines, he cared and he loved—he would even take us to the hospital because he knew we would find it hard there. He would make sure all went well since we were very poor.”

I felt proud of Bade Papa.

Sitting on the wooden bench outside Bade Papa’s clinic I was reminded of an incident that happened in Delhi a few weeks ago.  I met a young, enthusiastic, and opinionated doctor.

She said, “I am aghast to see the greed in my profession. One day a man came to the hospital. He had a simple headache – but my senior doctor made him do various unnecessary tests that were beyond his means. The man did the tests and went out with a bill of Rs 50,000/-. Sad! The doctors here are interested in making money and only making money.”

A couple of others standing next to me echoed the same sentiment.  I have heard this kind of story repeated again and again. The man with the headache left, cheated by a person he was trusting. The senior doctor was not a good model for her, Bade papa would have been.

I am sure there are good doctors around today as well, but I suppose they may be few spread very thin in this vast nation. Greed can change an efficient doctor; it can change you and me.

We need to understand that a man’s life does not consist on the abundance of his possessions.

I am hoping that society will see many people, especially doctors like Bade papa, who would lay aside greed and treat the hurting.

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What’s your world view?

october-15

 

Last week I hosted a discussion with a fine group of thinkers at a club in Delhi. Doctors, scientists, engineers, corporate guys, and journalists  gathered for an interactive time to look at how we can see genuine change in the lives of individuals and the city of Delhi at large.

Many of us were shaken by the news of a father who recently killed his daughter and son-in-law in Haryana. What shocked us further was the father’s attitude and statements after his gruesome act.  No remorse, no repentance; instead he was proud of what he had done. This and many other happenings in Delhi made our group ponder on the reasons that lead to such acts.

One of the prime reasons people do what they do is due to their pattern of thinking.  For the father, his value of pride in his society or the pressure of living in a shame culture led him to believe that killing his daughter was justified and a thing to be proud of. His pattern of thinking, his belief system, his world view,  influenced his action.

A man’s action stems out of what he believes

Historically we have seen evil patterns which have caused people to do things which we now know are wrong. One such practice was Sati—a practice in which a widow was expected to burn herself alive in the funeral pyre along with her dead husband. It was only Raja Ram Mohan Roy and William Carey that saw the evil and changed their pattern of thinking.

We can look at these examples and consider them as extreme cases. But this applies to all of us. I want to suggest that each one of us has a belief system, a pattern, a world view that we hold on to. Our actions are an outcome of our world view.

Those who are religious look for the miraculous. The superstitious often find their actions to be fear based. The corporate capital of India, Nariman Point in Mumbai has  buildings that say they do not have a 13th floor even though they have it. They call it 12B, not 13. Their superstitious belief system has caused them to be afraid.

Some  have a scientific world view and constantly wonder if faith in God is compatible with science.  Ascribing intrinsic value to an individual is possible for someone who believes man was lovingly created by God, but if he is only a product of some scientific activity then a person is no different from all else and can be viewed as just another product.

Many intellectuals have discarded God and become atheists. Now, Atheism finds it difficult to accept morality in absolute terms. Here there is no God and there are no morals set by God. Each person decides his own morality based on relative benchmarks. A young person once said this to me: something is not nice only when someone does not like it. If everyone likes it then it is nice. He found it profound. However, this thinking bases morality on people’s views rather than something that is clearly wrong.

What’s your world view?

Here’s a Biblical thought – Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

This raises a few questions for us all. Am I conformed to a pattern of thinking?  Does my thinking reflect what is good and pleasing? Do I need a renewal?

Let’s look within and ask: What’s my world view?

PS: Click the image above and see the patterns change. :)

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The Wonder of Rain

october-10

 

Years ago we were engrossed in studying Science and Geography. Do you remember the water cycle? I do. For me the image is still so clear in my mind. And I remember learning the big words – evaporation, condensation, and precipitation.

As I put my trust in God, I began to see his wonderful hand in creation.  The wonder of rain drew me to understand the greatness of God and his intelligent design.

The following description I read over ten years ago helped me appreciate God as the creator and God as the sustainer. This was written by a noted Bible scholar, John Piper. Have a read and enjoy.

Is rain a great and unsearchable wonder wrought by God? Picture yourself as a farmer in the Near East, far from any lake or stream. A few wells keep the family and animals supplied with water. But if the crops are to grow and the family is to be fed from month to month, water has to come on the fields from another source. From where?

Well, the sky. The sky? Water will come out of the clear blue sky? Well, not exactly. Water will have to be carried in the sky from the Mediterranean Sea, over several hundred miles and then be poured out from the sky onto the fields. Carried? How much does it weigh? Well, if one inch of rain falls on one square mile of farmland during the night, that would be 27,878,400 cubic feet of water, which is 206,300,160 gallons, which is 1,650,501,280 pounds of water.

That’s heavy. So how does it get up in the sky and stay up there if it’s so heavy? Well, it gets up there by evaporation. Really? That’s a nice word. What’s it mean? It means that the water sort of stops being water for a while so it can go up and not down. I see. Then how does it get down? Well, condensation happens. What’s that? The water starts becoming water again by gathering around little dust particles between .00001 and .0001 centimeters wide. That’s small.

What about the salt? Salt? Yes, the Mediterranean Sea is salt water. That would kill the crops. What about the salt? Well, the salt has to be taken out. Oh. So the sky picks up a billion pounds of water from the sea and takes out the salt and then carries it for three hundred miles and then dumps it on the farm?

Well it doesn’t dump it. If it dumped a billion pounds of water on the farm, the wheat would be crushed. So the sky dribbles the billion pounds water down in little drops. And they have to be big enough to fall for one mile or so without evaporating, and small enough to keep from crushing the wheat stalks.

How do all these microscopic specks of water that weigh a billion pounds get heavy enough to fall (if that’s the way to ask the question)? Well, it’s called coalescence. What’s that? It means the specks of water start bumping into each other and join up and get bigger. And when they are big enough, they fall. Just like that? Well, not exactly, because they would just bounce off each other instead of joining up, if there were no electric field present. What? Never mind. Take my word for it.

I still don’t see why drops ever get to the ground, because if they start falling as soon as they are heavier than air, they would be too small not to evaporate on the way down, but if they wait to come down, what holds them up till they are big enough not to evaporate? Yes, I am sure there is a name for that too. But I am satisfied now that, by any name, this is a great and unsearchable thing that God has done. I think I should be thankful – lots more thankful than I am.

Grateful to God for the wonder of rain.

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Could I do a Satsang?

Last week I experienced something amazing: a satsang.

october-4

I believe in Jesus and the Bible and I’ve always been active to see the glory of God in the church. The thought of a satsang in my spiritual journey didn’t ever cross my mind. I was educated in English and I grew up listening to western music. Could I do a satsang? My spiritual experience of worship too, used western instruments. Could I do a satsang?

Could I do a meeting with sitar and tabla?  It would be gloriously Indian, but would it glorify Jesus?

Satsang. ‘Sat’ means truth and ‘sang’ means company.

It’s the company of the truth—a company with an assembly of people who listen to, talk about, and assimilate the truth. Jesus said, “I am the truth.” Wow!

Somehow people have historically associated Jesus and Church meetings with the west.  But a satsang can be authentic. It can be traditionally Indian yet full of God and truth. It was such a joy to share the truth from the Bible at the first satsang we hosted at Dwaar, Delhi. The crowd gathered in a traditional Indian ambiance to sing bhajans with Sitar, tabla and flute. God’s presence echoed through the meeting and we were encouraged to walk with the Truth.

sat ke sang chalna. Jai ho!

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“C” the difference – Leader essentials 3

september-18

So far we have looked at character as the fundamental essential for a leader. But that isn’t enough. Leaders need to have skills and expertise in order to lead well.

This takes me to the next two C’s in our series ‘C’ the difference:

1. Competence 

People are looking for skilled leaders—those who know what they’re thinking and doing.  Whatever field, he should endeavor to learn the subject and be willing to be trained. A leader who is constantly upgrading himself will command a following.

I remember years ago in our Church context we didn’t have a single good musician. A verse from the Bible that we regularly quoted to one another was: make a joyful noise to the Lord.

This helped us stay encouraged but also made us push aside our desire for competence. The Bible also says play skillfully to the Lord, but we ignored that. I have seen many good men not going further because of a ‘chalta hai’ mind set—an attitude that does not go for excellence and competence. You want to lead well?–then work hard to grow your competence.

2. Communication

Good leaders have followers. If you don’t have a follower you are not a leader. Recruiting followers requires communication. Often leaders think that because they have said something, people would have understood it. But that is not the case. The outcome of good communication is clear understanding and a response.

In my early days, in the context of administrative organizing, my mentor once said to me: ‘It is better to be clear than to be right.’

I debated that in my mind: Isn’t being right more important? But later it dawned on me that bad communication in that context would have caused a riot, but if the communication was good,  even if the best option wasn’t chosen, there would still be order. Communication is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced.

So friends, let’s guard ourselves from laziness and  work on our competence and communication. These are essentials.

photo credit: Viktor Dobai via Photopin

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Politics and Religion- where should the two intersect?

Politics and religion have always had a complex relationship. Remember the sages and kings in India? The church and state in the west?

Understanding this equation was never going to be easy.

In India religion and politics seem to be inseparable. Caste politics, which flow from a base of Hinduism, is rampant. Communal forces seek to capitalize on polarization of votes, minorities try to figure out some way to stand together so that no harm befalls them, and others who brand themselves as the true defenders of secularism often sound fake. All countries go through this tension.

Most spiritual leaders seem to be at a loss and are unable to bring genuine influence to the politics of the land. And the politicians seem to have very little basis for their so-called spiritual leanings. Much strife and little reasoning is the order of the day. Most individuals go through their own struggle in this regard.

How would you define yourself?

Are you fundamentally political yet trying to fit in some belief into your world-view, or are you fundamentally religious hoping your faith influences your political view.

I believe a person’s genuine spiritual conviction can play a crucial role in the administrating of a people or a nation. Good people are key—not just good in their area of competence but primarily good in their character.

This is where spirituality comes in.

People like Martin Luther and William Wilberforce were hugely influential in politics. Martin Luther was a church leader and a social activist who as the leader of the SCLC, maintained a policy of not publicly endorsing a U.S. political party or candidate: “I feel someone must remain in the position of non-alignment, so that he can look objectively at both parties and be the conscience of both—not the servant or master of either.” In a 1958 interview, he expressed his view that neither party was perfect, saying, “I don’t think the Republican party is a party full of the almighty God nor is the Democratic party. They both have weaknesses … And I’m not inextricably bound to either party.”

Wilberforce was convinced of the importance of religion, morality and education. He championed many causes and campaigns: the Society for the Suppression of Vice, the Church Mission Society, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and others.

His underlying conservatism led him to support politically and socially repressive legislation. In later years, Wilberforce supported the campaign for the complete abolition of slavery.

But is religious legislation the way forward?

I found this talk by Ravi Zacharias interesting. Here he says, “Anytime religion is politicized it’s in danger of extinction.”

What do you think?

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“C” the difference- Leader essentials 2

august-29

 

Leadership is about ‘people’. We are not primarily called to lead paper, projects, or organizations—we are called to lead people. Successful leaders understand this value.

Today we shall look at the next two C’s.

1. Care

In management circles much is spoken about leaders who are good at either tasks or maintenance, the latter focusing on relationships. Tasks are important but achieving them with a team is crucial. Good leaders care for people, not just tasks. Those who care have a stronger following.

Jesus is the good shepherd—he loved, cared, and even served his disciples. He knew leadership wasn’t about position, but about genuine love and understanding. He called his disciples friends. They felt so encouraged and challenged in his presence that they were willing to leave everything to follow him.

Are you a caring leader? Do people see you as someone who is interested in their well being or someone who is only interested in goals and numbers?

2. Chemistry

Good leaders work in a team. The chemistry between team players is crucial in the functioning of a good leader. Teams that can relate in a relaxed manner, have fun, and do social stuff together will also work with good chemistry.

All leaders have strong views and a team can have people with very strong and contrasting opinions. Good leadership is about taking all along. To keep the good chemistry, I have learnt that resolving conflict is essential. It isn’t easy but it’s needed. The following tips have helped me build and work effectively in various teams.

– Have a large heart, give the benefit of doubt to the other person

– Be willing to humble yourself and seek forgiveness when wrong

– Forgive the other team member and keep no grudges. Bitterness ruins the chemistry

– Resolve conflicts quickly; don’t linger; take the first step even if you were wronged

– Be honest and ‘speak the truth in love’—your opinion is important, but love is the greatest.

Bad relationships can entangle a good leader. Let’s resolve anything that’s still bothering us and never forget that leadership is about people. This is essential.

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‘C’ the difference – Leader essentials

Having a good leadership team is crucial. All of us know that. But getting a good team is a challenge. We wish for a perfect, ready-made team, but we must raise one.

Jesus gathered a group of men, spent time with them, and equipped them for the task ahead. The principles are still the same today.

I’ve spent much of my life training and raising men to carry responsibility. Here are the first two C’s to ‘C’ the difference:

1. Call and Confidence

We’re called by God. We’re called for a purpose. Do you know it? Those who know their purpose have a head start. Many people struggle with a lack of confidence that stems out of their low view of themselves, or a misplaced understanding of their identity. They struggle even though they’re gifted.

The starting point of success in leadership is ‘in the being’ and not ‘in the doing’.

2. Character 

Character is what makes a man. Called men need to live transformed lives, willing to say no to sin and yes to righteousness. We need to be honest and ask ourselves some tough questions:

Am I a loving husband and a good father? Am I controlling my tongue and avoiding all unwholesome talk? Am I resisting the pornographic sites? Do I handle money with integrity? Do I keep my word? Can I be trusted? 

As we focus on these, we develop our inner being, which is crucial for our leadership. Leaders who are respected and imitated are the ones with good character—the ones who are transparent, gracious, and generous.

Friends, our race is cut out for us: it’s not a sprint—it’s a marathon. Our good character will help us keep the course till the end. So let’s focus on our ‘being’. It is essential.

august-19

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