Fridays with Phil

Life, family and unshakeable faith



Choices that hurt

We all make choices. Some of our choices both help and hurt at the same time. They are beneficial but uncomfortable. They are right but they go against the grain.

When you have a debilitating illness, there are certain medications that are prescribed which alleviate pain and the body’s response to illness but at the same time take their toll in other areas.

To help me manage the effects of Motor Neurone Disease (muscle fasciculate, cramps, shakes), my neurologist has given me medication. Unfortunately the drugs come with warnings of blurred vision, dizziness, drowsiness, high blood pressure, weight gain etc. You get the picture.

It’s the dilemma of many people in our world who neither choose the illness, nor choose the effects the drugs may have.  But in the end we make a decision, it’s the lesser of these evils.

I wonder, how do you make the right choices in life? Choices like:

What medication do I take, if any?
Will I marry this person?
What degree do I study?
Should we start a family?
Should we buy a house?
Do I spend $200k on a trial drug?
Do I want quality of life or extended life?

Here is how I try to make the right choice.

Don’t let happiness be your guide, let peace.  When you have peace, joy is around the corner and joy is a necessary ingredient for lasting happiness and satisfaction. As one person put it, “Being sick well means living with joy despite the illness.

Seek counsel from experts in their field and wise people.  Remember sometimes those with knowledge aren’t the ones who have wisdom.  Wisdom is knowing how to use knowledge. Give time to thoughtful contemplation, this is different to just accumulation of facts.  Value other people’s opinions but remember they may have different values and life goals to you.

Consider this: what will be the impact on others? Try, to the best of your ability, to play out the consequences and see if it ends with increased experiences of love for you and the ones closest to you. Don’t base your decisions on what YOU want but on what is needed.

Allow your heart to get involved and search for what is instinctively true and right.  I’m not talking about what feels good to the senses but what has a deep and pervading “I know” attached to it.  It reaches to the personal integrity of what you believe is morally and ethically right.

For me, the Bible has given me some moral and ethical absolutes and prayer helps me practice those by God’s grace.  Sometimes the absolutes outweigh the popular and the majority.

Your decision to have life may mean certain things you now live with must die: bad habits, unhealthy relationships, negative thought patterns. In this way, sometimes life is found in death.  Don’t let pride or fear stop you from changing a wrong choice or making a right one.

Making the right choice, even those that hurt, is a balance between heart and head. I would encourage you to trust yourself and know yourself, don’t fear what others may think. Sometimes the right decision costs us something personally.

Remember this, right decisions take courage no matter what the outcome may be.

My hope for you today is that you choose the best life possible.


Today’s potential

It is true that some get more out of their 60 minutes in the hour than others.

What makes you more likely to reach today’s potential is directly related to how you put your time to use. You see, time is life.  When we let time ‘pass by’, life sails on by with it.  Time is a non-renewable commodity.  It is more important than energy and more valuable than money.

To manage time, I have learnt that sometimes slower is actually faster.

Preparation may seem like a slower process than just getting stuck in and doing it.  However, planning your approach can actually save hours of wasted trial and error.

Whenever I am preparing for a holiday, I spend time planning as much as I can.  I prefer to arrive departure card completed as well as knowing my plan for transit from the airport so I can start enjoying a new city.

Planning isn’t a kill-joy, it actually allows you more time to be spontaneous.

In making the most of time, learn to do the shuffle.   Shuffle things around to best make use of time available.

If you’re a morning person, don’t leave your most draining tasks until late at night.  Use your time to your advantage.

When I was working in Auckland CBD, if I left home half an hour earlier, it saved me almost an hour in peak-hour traffic.  Instead of wasting time in transit, I organised my life to leave earlier and use that time on the other end for meditation before starting my work day.  I could literally save time by planning well.

Psalm 90: 10-12 says, ‘Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away… Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

I hope today that we may make the most of our time, as men and women with hearts of wisdom.

Being efficient is doing things with excellence in the least amount of time.  Being effective is knowing which things to do efficiently.  Doing the wrong things efficiently is not the most effective use of time.

It can be as simple as working out what you value.

When you decide that, it will help you prioritise your time.   Values help you determine what’s important and therefore make the tough calls when they need to be made.  The word “no” is a powerful time management tool.

Using time well is a way of honouring the important in your life, the people around you and the values you live by.

Right use of the right time for the right purpose brings about right outcomes.

Are there phone calls you can make in transit instead of when you are with other people?  Could a phone call save you driving across town for a meeting? Or could you strategically organise your meetings near each other?

I would encourage you to do the mundane, routine tasks which require less energy when your energy is low or you’re tired, not during your most valuable times or when you have the highest energy levels.

When I was coaching a young married couple, they were frustrated that they had no time off to have fun.  What time they did get off, they spent doing chores – washing, cleaning the house etc.

I encouraged them to learn to shuffle based on what they valued (i.e. time together).  They could steal slices of time on weeknights, for example, ironing on Monday, vacuuming on Wednesday, washing on Friday.  You would be amazed at how it freed up the large block of time they wanted for their weekend.

Just a few of my thoughts on harnessing today’s potential.


Know it all?

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Knowledge is a wonderful thing but the right response to knowledge is a better thing: wisdom.

I would say that most of my mistakes have happened, not through lack of knowledge, but how I used the information I had.

For example, when I was managing Kmart in Blacktown many years ago, I was chasing a man who stole goods from the store.  I knew he had run up the stairs of the car park and so I followed him.  When I approached him, he grabbed me and tried to throw me over the edge of the three storey car park. Fortunately others saw and pulled him off.  I knew where he had gone but I was foolish in my response to this knowledge.

Our response to knowledge is the difference between wisdom and foolishness.

What knowledge or truth do you have today that requires you to act and respond well?

You may know that someone loves you deeply but your response to that love is to take advantage of it, to continually test it and manipulate it for your own end.  That is foolishness.

Without right response, knowledge is a dead-end.

Even the Apostle Paul in talking about how God is kind and merciful (i.e. knowledge) says, just because He is, doesn’t mean we should act as fools and test him (i.e. response). Romans 6:1-2 says, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!…

I have many friends with MND (also known as ALS) who all have the same knowledge about this disease available to them but their responses have varied.

For example one of the symptoms of MND is losing the ability to swallow and therefore being eventually unable to eat food.  The answer to this from a medical platform is to have a PEG attached to your stomach so that you can get food directly to your stomach via a tube.  The problem is you need to get this attached months or even years before you need it or your body is too weak to have it attached.

I have seen people say “no” to the tube for many months then change their mind and say “yes” only to be told its too late.  They responded, but the timing wasn’t right.

It challenges me on how important the right response to knowledge really is, it could even be the difference between life and death.

In your life, it could mean saying “no” to something you have said “yes” to, or it could be saying “yes” but at a different time.

Procrastination is usually loud.  Doing nothing is often talkative.

Whereas, wisdom is active, it is sure and it is often quiet.

I like this quote: “We can be knowledgeable with other men’s knowledge, but we cannot be wise with other men’s wisdom”  ~Michel de Montaigne.

I believe wisdom is ours for the taking if we master our response to knowledge.


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