Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me

Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me is one of the best hours on radio.  Paula and company keep it fresh and crazy funny, and I love it.

But we have a spectrum of places where we don’t want people to tell us or spoil it for us.  Just before a punch line, just before the big plot reveal — don’t tell me for all the right reasons, thank you.

That some child made my polo shirt, or that someone was poisoned making my smartphone, or that someone is dying of cancer thirty years early for working in a factory without safeguards for air and has cancer — wait.  Wait.  Don’t tell me.

A hundred years ago, courageous journalists exploded the layers of horror/guano surrounding beef in the stockyards, steel making, and even later migrant farm workers sipping water from puddles and running to bushes with a five year old child to the bathroom — as both were working.

And a lot of people said, “Wait”.  Never tell me.

Here is the inversion.

Some students thought about people needing to get investment money to change their tiny portion of the world, and started Kiva.  It has exploded.

Never before has the world had more tools at your disposal to make a profound impact — anywhere.

So, rather than bury your head in the sand and cry, “Wait” as in “Don’t tell me ever”: hold your breath and while you are conjuring an astonishing response to something that needs to be quashed, changed or obliterated whisper, “Wait.  Wait”  I am coming up with a life changing response, not just a funny line.  “Don’t mess up my innovating.   Please.”innovating


My Appointment with Me

When I was a kid, I was taught to have a daily quiet time with God.  It had two benefits.  One, I read scripture, so what I was reading was independent of my day, my fears, my priorities.  It had a leveling effect.  Other things were important, besides what I was freaking out about.  Two, I was talking to God. BSing God seemed an inherently terrible idea.  I moved it sideways, so that BSing me was not a good idea, had zero or worse return on time invested.

I still work to keep that appointment.

I have added other people for appointments: wife and first love, Jill.  Partners in business, students, faculty, extended family, CPA, all require time and conversation.

But every once in a while, I need to remind myself to make an appointment with me.

I noticed something when Jill and I were newlyweds.  I was working/serving at a church and I noticed that if I told people and staff that I had a lunch with Jill, they were happy to keep talking and taking my time for another fifteen minutes.  Or more.

My time with my wife was no one else’s priority.

It had to be mine.

I started telling everyone that “I have an appointment” and they would let me walk out the door, to be on time for my time with my wife!

It is the same for time with me.  If I tell people I have an appointment, they nod and defer.  I If I say it is a bike ride, or mowing with earphones, or reading National Geographic, or sitting in my office and without any noise or distractions — thinking.  They blow right by that and keep talking.

So I say I have an appointment.

And occasionally, those turn into appointments with God, to come back full circle to my quiet times as a kid in college.


When I was young, I wanted to avoid failure.  I was smart, failure is for losers.

It turns out that failure is for generals who win wars, scientists who forge new answers, all overcomers, athletes who set records, and entrepreneurs who build new ventures.

Failure is no less distasteful, hateful, or a bummer; but my stance toward it is different.  It is my tutor, but only if I am trying something new and unheralded.

No great success has any other mother than failure.

Lifelong Passion

When I was in my twenties, I served on staff in churches because I loved Jesus.  I saw older men who had begun by serving Jesus in churches, but no longer did so.  They quit, crapped out, fell away, stopped, and a host of other ungenerous, unkind ways to simply sum someone else’s life.

In my fifties, I resigned from serving on a church staff.  I spent more time, drained more of my soul managing an organization rather than serving or loving anyone.

In my twenties, I knew my passion for Jesus would sustain me, allow me an obedience in a long line, enable me to finish well.  I still do, but the world is more complex than I understood.

I remember Larry Bethune, a pastor, saying, ” I am going to leave church work and go into ministry. ”   We laughed, but now I smile quietly.

People wear you down.  Churches goof up.  People fail you and hurt you.  You fail people, dear ones, and hurt them.  You find that people and churches study their navels and loving the poor, fighting for justice, and establishing new answers to stupefying challenges missionaries face around the world, is relentlessly, witheringly, draining.

To have fire left in you in life’s autumn, it turns out, is like salvation: a gift.  You should not claim gifts as if you manufactured them; you nurture them as precious bought kindnesses you could never have deserved.