Looking for the Label? (Angel in the Kitchen)

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One of the first things you want to do in the kitchen is label stuff.  When you don’t, you’re in for trouble. Some things look almost the same, but are actually very different.

White vinegar, bleach and ammonia are all thin, clear liquids commonly found in the kitchen. So, if you have an unlabeled bottle filled with clear liquid, it’s hard to know exactly what it is. If you mix it with a little olive oil, you have a 33% chance of coming up with salad dressing. You also have about a 67% chance of needing to have your stomach pumped.

Actually, things wouldn’t go that far. Minus the label, you’d probably be smart enough to test the stuff to determine exactly what it is. This takes some thinking, though. Let’s see, you could dab a bit in your hair: if it doesn’t go white, then it’s probably not bleach. You could give the stuff a good sniff: if it makes your head feel like it’s about to explode, and brings torrents of tears to your eyes, then it’s probably ammonia. Other look-alikes that aren’t taste-alikes: sugar and salt; flour, cornstarch and baking soda. If they weren’t labeled we’d have to figure out what’s what.

This photo has absolutely nothing to do with this article. But this dog’s expression is priceless .

Some things look different but are quite similar. White pepper is just as peppery as regular, black pepper; and a brown egg tastes the same as its paler counterpart — both make a nice omelet. But brown eggs are brown, and white pepper is usually labeled as such. Face it, in the the kitchen, we NEED our labels. When things are labeled we don’t have to think; we don’t need to test or figure stuff out. We can relax and turn our brains off.

One of the last things you want to do is label PEOPLE.  When you do, you’re in for trouble. Some people look almost the same, but are actually very different. Some people look different but are quite similar. So we need to figure out what’s what — or rather, who’s who. Face it, in the the kitchen, we need our labels. When it comes to people, we WANT our labels. When people are labeled we don’t have to think; we don’t need to try and figure them out. We can relax and turn our brains off.

Avoid the temptation: don’t label people! We need to approach every person as a unique individual — not as someone we’ve prejudged, categorized and labeled. Some of the labels we resort to out of laziness include: black, white, Asian, male, female, Republican, Democrat, good, bad, thin, fat, smart, and blonde. (Aha, see how stupid labels sound?)

Black-eyed peas, green peas, yellow peas, crowder peas, snap peas, snow peas, split peas…. Peas NEED labels. People don’t.

Labeling people is easier than getting to know them. Labeling people gives us an excuse to either interact with them or simply dismiss them. Labeling people limits our own options and demeans the person being labeled. It’s counterproductive — and it’s destructive.

Since labels help us keep “stuff” in its proper place, we assume that labeling people will help us do the same. We mark people as stupid or wise, helpful or worthless, givers or takers, etc., etc.! More times than not, our labels are incorrect. That blonde is a brain surgeon, the guy in the raggedy jeans is a business tycoon, the little old lady in the drugstore is a champion mud wrestler, those two suspicious-looking dudes staking out your neighborhood are Mormons, and that geeky kid with the thick glasses — the one who looks like the next Apple CEO — well, he’s just extremely nearsighted.

Gender, ethnicity (we never use the term race as a distinguishing characteristic, because we all belong to the same race: the human race), political affiliations, economic status, geographic origin, educational background and religious belief should never be used to label and limit people.

Do you like being labeled and categorized? Nobody does. We sure don’t. We never like it when someone feels they have us pegged, that they know what makes us tick and what we can and cannot accomplish. But we make allowances for these label-makers, “for they know not what they do!” We also try our best not to follow their example. Labels are for peas and pepper — not people.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28  KJ 2000)

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.” (Romans 12:9 NLT)

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Encouragement for Creators: Critical Care for Creators

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As long as someone somewhere is trying to accomplish something, there will be critics. And as long as there are critics in this world, you’ll hear or read negative, even ugly, comments on just about everything under the sun. If you’re a creator, inventor, entrepreneur, athlete, leader, business professional, or _____________ (fill in the blank), your work and quite possibly you yourself, will be criticized at some point. Critics will take special aim at you — whether you deserve it or not. And a few will try to get in some cheap shots. Fact of life. So you need to learn to be bulletproof.

U.S. President Ronald Reagan, like many leaders before him, came under frequent attack while in office. We can imagine the political criticism of his policies, whether legitimate or unfounded — along with all the slurs, jokes, and trivialities that accompanied it — had to get old fast. But Reagan never seemed to get frazzled by his critics. In fact, the media labeled him The Teflon President, because nothing nasty that anybody was spouting seemed to stick. Reagan simply let everything slide off his back.

There are two kinds of criticism: valid and invalid. If you encounter valid criticism (Truth), try to learn from it and improve. “To one who listens, valid criticism is like a gold earring….” (Proverbs 25:12 NLT) However, if you encounter invalid criticism (unwarranted, untrue, or immaterial), take it with a grain of salt. Never allow such barbs to pull you down. Think about the motivations behind invalid criticism:

1. Money: There are professional critics who get paid to “evaluate” books, movies, music, sporting events, food, restaurants, public figures — you name it. The best of these critics try to be honest, unbiased and realistic. The worst are nit-pickers who find great pleasure in exposing the minutest flaws and tearing things apart, usually to be entertaining. Face it, critics get paid to be critical. Many feel if they can’t find something wrong, they’re not doing their job thoroughly. Weigh the value of their OPINIONS, and discard any unjust or unfounded criticism. Then move forward.

2. Jealousy: We need to explain this one? Seriously? Okay, there will always be people who are envious of your accomplishments, especially if THEY aren’t successful. Writing or saying bad things is often an attempt to minimize what you’ve achieved, and justify their own shortcomings. Some people try to lift themselves up by lowering others. Soar above it!

3. Fear: No one wants to be left behind! Your friends and family may fear you’ll succeed, while they won’t. By the way, fear and jealousy are critical collaborators. Negative comments from a fearful person should elicit a degree of compassion. Smile and encourage these cowering critics. Don’t take their words to heart.

4. Competitiveness: You may not know this — heh! — but people are competitive. We’re born that way: a baby will compete for a mother’s attention; children quickly learn games rooted in competition; teenagers compete for friends and acceptance; students for scholastic honors and college placements; and adults in the workplace jockey for career advancements. It’s best to not allow this motivator to rule your life and control your thoughts and actions. Many do, though. So, when they try to minimize your achievements, don’t allow their negative comments to DISTRACT you from your personal goals.

5. Pessimism and negativity: Some people are just plain negative. Some actually have a critical spirit; and these people will always find something to complain about, something to nit pick. Antidote: continue to be positive; let these people pick their nits. You have more important concerns.

There will always be critics in your life, people who don’t want to see you rise higher; who may even hope you fail; people who want you to stay right where you are! Understand the motivations behind invalid criticism.  Love the critic, but let the criticism bounce off you. How did Jesus respond to His critics? For the most part, He didn’t. He stayed focused on His mission and mostly ignored them. Go, and do thou likewise!

“We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us.” (2 Corinthians 6:8 NLT)

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