This is Thanksgiving week here in the US. This week, I am going to
try and share a post each day about something I’m thankful for. We’ll started Monday with perspective and continue today with Relationships. Lots of different types. This topic is definitely Off-Topic and I talk about the Bible and my faith a little bit throughout it. If you want SQL stuff only, avert your eyes
But first… Why Give Thanks? A few reasons depending on the lens you wish to employ. For me, sometimes I forget to show thankfulness – so consciously “counting my blessings” is a good way to remember how I’ve been blessed – it helps me have an attitude of gratitude. Like I talked about in the perspective post, thinking of things to be thankful for is a great way to face the next challenge. It sounds corny, but a glass half full attitude really does produce something different in you than a glass half empty kind of attitude. Finally, It’s God’s will that His people are thankful people – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 reads, “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I firmly believe that the good that comes to me (and the good that seems to come out of me occasionally) is from God.
So… What kind of relationships am I thankful for?
Along the way of life I’ve had a few mentors. I’ve probably had more than come to mind but one of the most influential in the professional world has to be a former manager of mine, George. I blogged about him before so I won’t go into all of the details but I’m thankful that throughout my career and my life there have been people willing to invest their time and their energy into me with nothing expected in return. Through a few conversations with Brian Moran, Joe Webb, Andy Leonard and other successful SQL Server independent consultants, I paved the road to go into business for myself this summer with eyes wide open. When considering a position on the board of directors for SQL PASS this year I had an excellent, and honest, conversation with Brent Ozar about it. Through that conversation I realized that it wasn’t what I needed to do to accomplish what I wanted to see PASS accomplish.
I’m thankful for mentors. What makes a mentor? I don’t know the textbook answer but I think it is someone who embodies these qualities - Concern for others before themselves, Listening Skills, Honesty, Integrity (putting that honesty to good use even if they are saying something you don’t want to hear and they don’t want to have to tell you), Desire for others to succeed. Someone who has had success in whatever area you are being mentored in and has those qualities is a rare find. So I think the folks like George, Andy Kelly, Andy Leonard, Brian Kelley, Pastor Andrews, Pastor Arnold, Brian Moran, etc. who posses those qualities and have formed some shaping towards who and where I am today.
I have a whole family – well the immediate family anyway My kids love my wife and I. My wife loves me. She knows my weaknesses and loves me anyway. She gives me an honesty check every now and again. She sees me struggling with a work problem and reminds me gently that God isn’t just “God of the big” with her, “Well have you prayed about it?” reminder. Next August we’ll be celebrating our 10th year and while there have been momentary valley’s, we’re growing closer together in different ways. I love her and she loves me. She cared enough about me as a human when we first met to more or less point out where I was wrong in life, where I was on the path to ruin. Through our early friendship and what it became, I’ve grown up in so many ways. Throughout our relationship she’s been a part of me dredging up some ugly baggage from childhood and she’s helped me unpack that all nicely. Through her and her family, I got to see what Christianity was actually all about.
My kids are great. 6, 3 an 1 and they each teach me different lessons about life. I see the way they watch me and it humbles me. It scares the heck out of me that these kids want to emulate daddy and mommy (the mommy part doesn’t scare me). They are precious and I thank God for bringing each one of them into my life. I thank God that we have our health, when so many I know don’t. That we are functional – I didn’t grow up as part of a functional family, it is pleasing to know that that isn’t something that prevents me from living in one now.
I’m thankful for restored relationships in the larger family of in and out laws. I have parent in-laws who are great and love me for who I am and treat me like their own kid. I have in-laws who adore my children and see them nearly every day. They love them and they are positive influences on them.
Christian Brothers and Sisters
Until I was 21 or so I thought Christianity was about doing. I thought it was about holier than thou people who were better than I could ever be and unless I picked up their rule book and followed it word for word I’d never be one of them. I didn’t want to be one of them – I thought they were joyless, hypocritical, mean spirited, self centered, arrogant, self-righteous fools. I got this from the few random church services I attended, watching TV and seeing the attitudes of some of the more vocal “do as I say” crowd. It was only after I actually met Christians – people who have admitted they were with sin, people who admitted the need for a savior and who believed and trusted on Christ – that I realized my stereotypical view was false. It was only after I met true Christians that I ever heard that the Gospel wasn’t “I’m better than you, be like me and you’ll be fine, kiddo” but it was actually “I’m broken too. I sin, I do things I don’t want to do and don’t do things I want to do. I’ve tried to be ‘good enough’ but I had to admit I can’t be so I believe and trust on Christ and He’s changed me and He can change you, too. I would have never come to Christ on my own but I didn’t have to – He came to me from the Christians he put in my path (Phil when I was in High School an he planted a seed.. Megan when she met me. Her mom and grandparents. The people at First Baptist Church, Pastor Andrews there) and He stole me – in spite of my best efforts to protest. I’m a different person because of this relationship that I didn’t want and would have never looked for. I’m a different person because people loved me – in spite of areas of my life that weren’t lovable. In spite of hard sin, they loved me anyway.
Band Of Four – I’m also incredibly thankful for the bond I’ve been developing with three dear Christian brothers in the SQL Server Community (Jack Andy and Brian). We meet regularly and are going through a tough and introspective Bible study together right now. These brothers know me as well as I know myself. I can totally let down any guard with them – and do. They see the good Mike and they see the bad Mike. We are bonded in Christ and a closeness that is unlike I’ve ever had with anyone other than my wife. We challenge each other to properly prioritize our life (Christ first) and we check in on each other. When Jack’s dad had been going through his battle with cancer and his hospice days, our prayers were deep and from the heart – to the point of being moved to tears just thinking of our brother’s father going through this. This is like mentors but on steroids. We keep each other accountable. We lift each other in prayer. I am so deeply thankful for these Christian friendships and the growth I’ve seen in my own walk with Christ from it.
So.. What relationships are you thankful for this Thanksgiving season?
Tomorrow I’ll give thanks for my business and the journey these past 4-5 months of independent consulting have been. Thursday it will be my profession – the SQL Server community, bloggers, etc. and Friday? Well I guess we’ll just have to see what is laid on my heart by then.