Your Tomorrow Begins Today

Posted in Motivational

Your Tomorrow Begins Today dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher coach trainer educatorRecently I was listening to a guidance counselor in a school tell kids about setting goals.  She discussed the value of short term and long term goals, then had the kids write them down and asked them to share them with their parents. It was a good exercise to get them thinking about the future and what they wanted it to look like, but there were some problems.  She did not tell them HOW to reach their goals. She did not discuss setting deadlines for reaching the goals.

To be fair, she only had an hour and she was covering a lot of ground in a short period. She was trying to drive home how making bad choices can keep us from reaching our goals; but, if you are going to discuss goal setting, should you not talk about “HOW” to reach them and the necessity of setting deadlines?

If we merely talk about goals without having an action plan and a deadline, then we are just daydreaming. Writing down your goals is critical to success, but it is just the first step. If that is all you do you might as well roll over and go back to sleep because nothing is going to come of it.

I know of an educator who was talking to a group of High School students about setting goals. One of the boys appeared disinterested in the discussion. When confronted about it, tears welled up in his eyes and he blurted out, “The problem is, nobody will show me HOW.” It was an emotional moment for the student and the teacher.  Then the teacher said, “What if I show you HOW?”

For the next few minutes the class brainstormed on the goal the boy had set.  They talked about what he needed to do to reach his goals and the various things that might trip him up. Then they talked about the timing. They discussed when he wanted to accomplish the goal and how would he measure the progress. It was a valuable lesson in education because he now for the first time had hope that he could reach his goals.

A few things I have learned about goal setting that might help you, your kids, and anyone you might be teaching:

  • Goals definitely need to be written down. There is something about putting it in writing that gives it birth.
  • Make sure the goal is realistic. You might want to play in the NFL but if you don’t have the skills then that will never happen.
  • A goal should be measurable. If you can’t determine whether you are making progress or not, you need to redefine the goal.
  • Have a deadline for when you want to reach the goal. No deadline, no value.

We are churning out too many graduates that have not defined their goals. They got a degree and now are wondering, “What do I do now?” The missing link is this: we need to help kids identify their gifts in their early years and give them opportunity to explore them. What can you do to help them identify their gifts?

  • Observe what your kids gravitate to. If they are gifted athletes, let them try sports. If they love music, let them play an instrument. If they are avid readers, give them books they like to read.
  • Identifying someone’s gifts is not as difficult as you might think. You will see that some kids have natural leadership skills and others tend to follow them. Just make sure they use their gift for good.
  • Other kids will show great mechanical ability. They can take a set of blocks and create a monument. Introduce them to engineers so they can see what that lifestyle looks like.
  • Some will show the ability to cook, write, hunt, fish, sew, or do public speaking. There are a million gifts and each of us is wired uniquely with different gifts.

One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is to help them identify their gifts. Once they know what they are good at, they can create a goal and a path to get there. You may be the one to set them on the road to fulfilling their destiny.


Dan Skognes

The Blind Spot

Posted in Funny, Motivational, Relationships

Blind Spot dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coachI was teaching in an elementary school recently and having a discussion with a young boy about his homework assignment.  I noticed he was looking intently at my face.  He suddenly blurted out, “Ewwwww….you have HAIR in your nose!”  LOL.  It is a good thing I was not drinking my coffee because we both would have been drenched at that point. I said, “Buddy, you do too. Everyone has hair in their nose.” He shook his head in disbelief.  I am sure he was going to have a chat with Mom about that one when he got home. Hope she was not drinking coffee when he told her.

Isn’t that just human nature?  We tend to see flaws in others and never think it might apply to ourselves. I know for me because I am a writer it is very easy to pick out grammatical errors in the writing of others.  However, I know for a fact that I often don’t see the same mistakes in my own writing. I can’t explain it, but I guess that is why most writers require an editor before publishing. We know what we are saying and somehow overlook the structure or grammar problems in our own work.

I think it must be a defense mechanism that is built in naturally, but it is not necessarily a good thing. We can’t seem to see ourselves as others see us. That explains how people can struggle with things like anorexia. They see themselves as overweight and yet they are thin as rails.

To really “see” yourself clearly, there are a few things you can do to clear your vision:

  • First and foremost, you have to admit you have blind spots. If you can’t admit that, then don’t read any further. If you don’t think you have any, ask someone who loves you to tell you the truth. I have a feeling you will be surprised.
  • Ask people who know and love you to let you know when you are getting off the right path. It does not matter what it is, you just need someone who will speak the truth to you in love, not just tell you what you want to hear.
  • When you find yourself focusing on the faults of others, it is time to rewind and look in the mirror. Find the beam in your own eye before you start removing the spec from your brother’s eye. It is a lot less hypocritical if a huge beam is not sticking out of your own eye. Right?

Clearly seeing yourself can be both enlightening and disheartening at the same time. Sometimes we have faults that are toxic to ourselves as well as to others. You have probably known people who struggle with addictions. If they can’t break the addiction on their own, they need professional help. If you have a friend or a loved-one who is an addict, the worst thing you can do is ignore the problem. The second worst thing that hurts is when you enable them.

If you have a tender heart, I know how hard it is hard to confront and how easy it is to enable, but I guess that is what is needed: “tough love.” True love is willing to say no. It is willing to intervene. It makes the difficult decision that goes against your heart’s cry and the cries of those you are enabling. Really loving someone is making a decision for them that they can’t make for themselves.

P.S. Now that I am painfully aware of my nose hair, I have purchased a trim kit. It is the least thing I can do to minimize the trauma on the kids I encounter.


Dan Skognes

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Posted in Funny, Motivational, Relationships

Superman Badge dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach

The other day I had the opportunity to teach in an elementary school, and it was my job to fill in for a variety of classes throughout the day. The first class I went in to was pretty rowdy.  I think they had several bowlfuls of Captain Crunch before school started. One of the little boys came and showed me a paperback book on The Adventures of Indiana Jones.  He asked me if I had ever read it.  I said, “I AM Indiana Jones.”  LOL.  His eyes got wide and he asked, “Really?”  Then he declared to the class that I was Indiana Jones!  From that moment on, I had their attention.

One little boy asked me if he could have my whip.  I said, “No, how would I fight the bad guys if I ran out of bullets?” Then he asked for my hat.  I said, “No, how would I keep my head warm? And besides…it makes me look cool.”  LOL.

They asked me who was my favorite superhero.  I told them Superman.  I always wanted to be him when I was growing up.  The next thing I know this kid hands me a Superman badge to wear that he had made for me. I proudly wore it over my name badge the rest of the day. I got to be my superhero all day long. How cool was that?

Another class had this girl who was celebrating her birthday. In this class the birthday person wore a tiara (like what you see in beauty pageants). I asked her if I could see it. Immediately a chorus went up from the kids, “Put it ON! Put it ON!”  I asked them, “You want to make your teacher look ridiculous?” “Yes!” they shouted. So…I put it on.  I forgot they all had IPads with cameras! It sounded like a bunch of paparazzi rushing to get a photo of a star. They were hooting and hollering over that silly photo.  Then their regular teacher came back.  LOL. She asked me if they had behaved, and I said yes because they really had been good kids. Then they showed her the photo and she laughed too.  They got a good photo of her laughing at my picture.

One of the girls I taught that day came to me immediately as the class began and informed me in a whiney voice, “I have a headache.”  I looked at her sympathetically and asked back in a whiney voice, “Does it help when you whine?” Her eyes widened, she smiled back at me, laughed, and shook her head no. I asked her if she wanted to go to the Doctor, but she was ok.  I suspect she did not get enough sleep or had too much Captain Crunch and was crashing from the Crunch. By the end of the period she was not 100%, but she was at least talking with some of the other kids and feeling better.

Here is what I learned that day:

  • To speak with kids, if you want to capture their imagination, talk their language. Whatever it is THEY are interested in, you have to be able to talk about it with them. You don’t have to KNOW about it, just be willing to TALK about it. Of course, if you KNOW about it you have a lot more credibility.
  • It is OK to pretend. Kids get that. Adults seem to have lost that gift for the most part.
  • Never forget that whatever you do or say is likely to be captured on camera. We live in a digital age, so think before you decide to do something stupid, like wear a tiara.
  • If you are sick, don’t whine. In fact, if you are feeling good, don’t whine. Nobody wants to hear it and it does not make others feel sorry for you, so stop it. When a whiner hears someone whine back to them, it IS pretty funny.
  • Kids are a lot like old people, they just say what is on their mind. I think that is why I get them.


Dan Skognes


Posted in Business, Motivational, Spiritual

Money dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coachEverybody needs it.  Everybody wants it. It is like air in that it is pretty hard to live without it. One thing I know for sure is that money reveals character. Whether you have a lot or whether you have a little does not matter in relation to character.  What matters is how you handle it and how you feel about it because that reveals the real you.

There was a show when I was growing up that was called The Millionaire.  It was a cool TV series where an extremely wealthy man would find someone in great need and give them a million bucks. I think we all have fanaticized about THAT happening. There were no strings, but how they responded to the immediate wealth was fascinating; some turned out very well and some not so good. Their true selves were revealed in how they responded.

Most recently there was a show on TV called The Briefcase. It was a short-lived series where some middle-class family was given a briefcase containing $100,000. They were told they could keep it all, give part of it away, or give all of it to another family that was as needy as they were…possibly even needier. They were given clues over a period of days as to what the other family was like and the depth of their need. At the end of a few days they had to make their final decision. What they were NOT told was that the other family had also been given $100,000! They were in the same boat about what to keep and what to give away. It was fun to watch and interesting to see how people changed as they came to grips with the decision they had to make. It was an agonizing time and they often vacillated back and forth before they made their final decision.

I know we need money, but do I want to put my trust in it? No. In fact, our currency tells us who we need to trust. “In God We Trust” is printed on it, but do we do that? Unfortunately, often we don’t. Even though we know God is there for us and with us, even though He has our best interests at heart, and even though He has done many things to bless us before…we succumb to fear.  When there is lack of money the danger is that money becomes our god, and we may find ourselves doing things that are less than intelligent in hind-site.

Money, by the way, is not evil. Many people misquote the Bible when it comes to money.  It is the “love” of money that is the root of all sorts of evil. When we worship and love money, we are headed for some very hard lessons that will be painful and possibly fatal. It would be interesting to know how many people are depressed or have committed suicide over it. I think we would be shocked if we knew the depth of the problem.

We will only know peace when we learn to be content regardless of what we have or don’t have. Think about it: if we are always chasing the dollar, how can we ever truly be at peace. We need to chase God and pursue Him with all our heart. When we step into our God-given destiny the money will take care of itself.  Will we still be tested? Absolutely! God will continue to peel away the layers to reveal Himself to us and reveal any flaws which we might still be holding on to.

Money is a terrible taskmaster to serve. It is unloving, unkind, and without feeling. In reality, money is just a tool. We can use it or abuse it. We can steward it, or we can worship it. We have to decide where we stand in relation to God and money. We cannot serve both. So…who will you serve? I am putting my faith and trust in God.


Dan Skognes

When Your Back Is Against The Wall

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

When Your Back Is Against The Wall dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coachIf you live long enough, you will face a no win situation. This is where your options are few, and none of the outcomes are favorable. It is a tough situation because if you make the wrong decision it could end up costing you financially, relationally, or even cost you your life. Have I got your attention?  Good.

What do you do when your back is against the wall and you don’t know what to do? I will tell you what I have found that works. It may sound counter-intuitive, and it is.  It may go against how you feel, but I will explain why this makes perfect sense. Here is what I have learned:

  • When you don’t know what to do, hit your knees and pray. If it is a major decision it is a good idea to fast and pray. There is something about fasting that helps focus your thoughts and sharpen your senses.
  • Don’t trust your heart. I have made so many wrong decisions because I trusted my heart. The Bible says the heart is deceitfully wicked, who can know it? Yet…many people seem to make snap decisions with their hearts instead of really thinking through the consequences. Don’t trust your feelings.
  • Listen to that still small voice. You know what I am talking about. It is that voice inside that tells you, “You are making a big mistake. Stop!” Listen to that warning. If you are married, both of you need to be in agreement.  If one of you has a gut-check, don’t do it. You will save yourself a lot of grief if you will not move forward when you hear that voice.
  • Here is the hardest part: wait on God. This is counter-intuitive and goes against everything we see and feel.  But…here is the truth: God’s timing is perfect. He is always on time, but it is in His time. Do you trust Him? If you do, then wait.  If you don’t, then ask Him to give you the faith you need to sustain you through the trials you face. Waiting on God is not passive.  It does not mean you sit back and eat bonbons all day. You actively seek, knock, and then wait on God to open “the right door.”

Proverb 3:5-6 says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean NOT on your own understanding (God’s ways are not our ways). In ALL your ways acknowledge Him, and he WILL direct your paths.” As the old hymn says, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way…to be happy in Jesus…but to trust and obey.” Hebrews 11:6 says: “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.” Psalm 119:105 says: “Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path.” Read God’s word, trust Him, put Him first in all you do…and He will direct you. Be willing to wait for what is best. The bottom line is, we HAVE to trust God. The good news is that He is trustworthy.


Dan Skognes

Give Latitude Instead of Attitude

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

Give Latitude Instead of Attitude dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorDo you want to have less stress in your life?  Do you want to wake up saying, “Good morning, Lord!” instead of “Good Lord, its morning!?” Do you want to see the cup half full instead of the cup half empty? Well, if you are normal, the obvious answer is “Yes.”

So why do we settle for giving attitude instead of latitude when nothing good comes from giving attitude? There are several reasons I see that we revert to this unhealthy behavior:

  • Insecurity. We are not confident in ourselves so we over-compensate.
  • Fear. We are afraid of the outcome if we don’t assert ourselves.
  • Selfishness. We are more concerned about ourselves than we are about others.
  • Bitterness. When we fail to forgive others that have wronged us, we only hurt ourselves.

When we give latitude to others, it says a lot about who we are:

  • We are people who have learned to control our emotions instead of letting them control us. That is called “growing up.”
  • It shows that we understand what love is all about. Love is patient, kind, understanding, and selfless.
  • Every time we show latitude it helps us grow, and others are blessed at the same time.
  • It means we will live longer, healthier, and happier lives as we detox ourselves of stress.

So, next time you are in traffic and someone cuts you off, what are you going to do? You can let it go and bless them, or you can flip them off and curse them; your choice. Someone said: “A bad attitude is like a flat tire. You are not going anywhere until you change it.”

Life is too short to live stressed and depressed. The good news is: all you have to do is flip the switch. You can go from attitude to latitude with a little practice and you will see good things happen as a result:

  • The sun will shine brighter.
  • The air will smell sweeter.
  • Food will taste better. Seriously, when you don’t have an upset stomach from all the stress you are carrying, food tastes great!
  • The future will be something to anticipate with joy instead of dread.
  • You will sleep better.
  • You will have healthier relationships.

Sometimes we feel like the light at the end of the tunnel is a train that is bearing down on us at full speed. Quit worrying; it does no good. Quit stressing; it can kill you. Quit griping about what you don’t have and thank God for what you DO have. Give others what you expect: the benefit of the doubt.

You get to choose how your life will be lived out. Give latitude. You will never regret the blessings that you and others receive.


Dan Skognes


Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Engagement dan skognes motivation blogger speaker trainer teacher coachThis is probably one of the most used and abused words in the training and education world.  It does not matter if you are talking about teachers, trainers, coaches, managers, or leaders….engagement (or lack thereof) is an issue.

Is there a simple way to get people engaged in their work, their classroom, or their families?  Well, what I have found is that the answer is both simple and complex.

You begin with the mind, but you have to capture the heart. You can teach someone facts and figures all day long and have it go in one hear and out the other. We have all experienced that.  So the real question is: How do you capture the heart?

Relationship is the best way to engage someone.  If you have relationship with someone, then they listen not just to the words, but to the meaning. They are open to the teaching because they trust you. They will listen because they feel heard and respected. They anticipate that they will gain something from the teaching.

But what do you do if there is no relationship?  How do you capture the heart of someone that wants nothing to do with you or what you have to say? It that even possible?  The answer is yes, but with some conditions. If you want to capture someone’s heart that you trying to teach, here are the rules for engagement:

  1. You still build a bridge for the relationship. You cannot force people to have relationship with you, but it is your responsibility to build a bridge for them to cross when they are ready, then you give them every reason to cross it by being trustworthy, non- judgmental, loving, kind, transparent, and patient. It may take some time, but many people will cross the bridge if they believe you are for real and not here today and gone tomorrow. If they believe that you truly care about them, that is half the battle.
  2. You have to learn to speak their language. Every person on this planet speaks their own dialect. It is unique to them, just like their fingerprints. It is based on their experience, their age, their intellect, their family, their culture, even where they live. You have to learn to speak the verbiage they understand. Have you ever been in a room and someone starts throwing out $10 words expecting that you know them, and you feel like a dummy because you feel clueless about what they just said? Don’t assume people know what you mean. Don’t use acronyms with people that don’t know your industry. Check for understanding. Look for clues in body language as to whether they get it or not. Ask them to rephrase in their own words what you just said if there is any doubt that they understand.
  3. You have to not just strive to build relationship and speak their language; you have to give them something of value. If there is no perceived value, you’ve lost them. Let them know what is in it for them and how this will help them. Relate it to real life.

I was teaching a class of third graders and this one kid was being a bully to someone else. When I asked him what he was doing, he said, “He made me mad, so I hit him.  My mom told me not to take anything off of anyone.” How do you override advice from Mom?  Carefully!

I put on my referee hat and said, “Well, in this school and in this class it is NOT OK to hit anyone, so let me give you some advice to help you for the rest of your life. If you go around hitting people that upset you, what do you think can happen?”  The hands were flying up across the room. “You can get hurt,” one kid said. I responded, “Yes, and you could go to jail or even get killed! It is serious stuff to start taking the law into your own hands, so don’t do it. If you have a problem with another child, you come get me or another teacher to help you. In the words of the song from one of your favorite movies, let it go!” The kids laughed and started singing the chorus of the song.  It was pretty funny. The tension was gone and order was restored…at least for the moment.

So, if you want to engage your class, your team, your company, or your family, build the relationship bridge. Anticipate that at some point they WILL cross it. Learn to speak their language, and have something of value to give them verbally. The reward is worth the effort. If you want to teach them, you’ve got to reach them.


Dan Skognes

My Favorite Teacher

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

Ann Christian dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coachI was recently interviewing for a teaching job, and one of the questions was, “What teacher had the most impact on your life?”  That was an easy question for me: Ann Christian. Ms. Christian was my 10th grade English teacher back in 1967. She was awesome, and she changed my life without ever knowing it.

It was an act of God that brought me to her class to begin with. I was getting ready to go to High School and excited to be moving up with the friends I had made over the past few years. Then I got the news. I was not going to Woodrow Wilson with my friends.  Because of where we lived, I was on the fringe of the district and they decided I should go to another school in Dallas….Hillcrest High.

I was not a happy camper over that and tried to figure out how to go to Woodrow, but there was no getting around the system. I had to go to Hillcrest! Fate, it seemed was taking me down an unknown pathway.

That decision turned out to be a good thing for me. Hillcrest was predominantly Jewish at the time. There were also three black kids…and me…a white Protestant. There may have been other Protestants at the school, but I never met them. I decided to make the most of it since I really had no control of where I was going to go.

Ms. Christian had an incredible impact on me. Here are a few things I loved about her as my teacher:

  • She encouraged me to write, and that is something that I have done ever since I was in her class.
  • She saw things in people that they did not see themselves and was able to draw that out of them. I had no idea that I loved to write till she gave me the key to unlock that door and encouraged me to open it. I have that ability today to draw things out of people that they do not see in themselves, thanks to Ms. Christian.
  • I had the reputation as the teacher’s pet…but I was OK with that because I knew she really loved me….and I loved her. I would have done anything to make her proud of me. She had that ability to inspire people to greatness.
  • I have to admit I was initially drawn to her teaching because she was so beautiful. How can a 10th grade boy NOT love a great looking teacher that truly cares about him and everyone in her class? I realized as I got to know her that it was her internal beauty…her character…that really attracted me the most to her as a teacher. She was genuine…the “Real Deal” as we say here in Texas.
  • She could correct you without crushing you.  I remember one day I was laughing and talking to my neighbor in class and she called my name. I looked up at her with an “Uh-Oh” face, and she smiled, shook her head, and said, “I just can’t get mad at you!” We laughed, and I shut up and got back on task. She made her point, but she spoke it in love.

I tried for years to find out what happened to her. I wanted to thank her for the impact she had had on my life. Unfortunately, I found out she died in 2007, and she had been living in the town I was born in: Waco.  Kind of ironic, isn’t it? I would have driven down to Waco had I known where she was.

Ms. Christian, you will always be special in my heart. I wish I could have told you how much you meant to me throughout my life. Thanks for inspiring me to think, to learn, and create.

If there was someone like Ms. Christian who really impacted your life for the good, please tell them while you can. You never know when it will be too late to let them know how much you cared for them…and it will be the reward they lived for…to know they left a legacy of learning and love.


Dan Skognes

Fifty Shades of Great

Posted in Business, Motivational, Spiritual

Fifty Shades of Great dan skognes motivation blogger speaker trainer teacher coach consultantDo you believe you have the ability to be great?  Are you born with that ability? Is it genes, luck, or acquired skills that cause some people to achieve great things?  Well, it is complicated, and as the title alluded to, there are various shades of greatness which we may or may never experience.

First of all, let’s agree on one thing as an assumption.  We are born with the ability to do great things. You will see why I make this assumption as you read on. This of course assumes you have mental capabilities that are at least normal. Physical disabilities do not necessarily preclude you from achieving greatness. The Special Olympics is a living tribute to those who have not let their disability define who they are or what they can do. So, assuming that we are born with the ability to do great things, why is it some do and some don’t?

Well, let’s agree on point number two. What you think is great is not necessarily what I think is great. We all have our opinions of what constitutes greatness. If you are a gifted athlete, it may be no big deal to consistently score 30 plus points in a game like Michael Jordan, but this is where it gets tricky. There are many many gifted athletes, and yet how many Michael Jordans are there? Not many rise to that caliber, but it does not mean that the other gifted athletes are not great…just not AS great.

I was coaching an executive that aspired to perfection in all he did. It is good to aspire to great things…but perfection?  I hated to burst his bubble, but none of us are perfect. We can aspire to continuously improve. That is a good thing. But there are many shades of great that we can learn to value in ourselves and in others.

When looking at great things or great people, consider this:

  • All great things were birthed from the desire to achieve. I was salesman of the year for a major medical company one year, and you know what they did to me the next year? They raised my quota again! I exceeded the quota the next year as well. The moral is, just because you feel you have made it, realize that there is always another level to reach.  We never “arrive” this side of Heaven.
  • Celebrate each victory that you have achieved. Whether it is top salesman, number one trainer, best coach, outstanding speaker, or whatever, take that victory and savor it. Just don’t settle in it. Some people have to relive the victories of yesteryear because they don’t continue the climb, so that is all they have left is memories. That is sad, don’t you think?
  • Great people are still people.  We all have flaws, weaknesses, and things we wish we could change. Great people seem to have the ability to capitalize on their abilities and strengths to the point that we don’t focus on the frailties. Everyone loves a winner (unless you were betting against them).
  • We have a tendency to underestimate the power of a positive attitude in attaining great things. There is a proverb that says, “As a man thinks, so is he.” That would be wise to remember if you aspire to achieve the extraordinary things in life. Change your attitude if you want to affect your altitude.
  • No great thing was ever accomplished in the comfort zone. Get out of your comfort zone and face your fears head on. Otherwise, you will live in the land of regret.

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?  Be honest. Do you see greatness?  Do you see a beautiful unique creation of God, or do you focus on that new wrinkle that just popped up out of nowhere, or that new gray hair? I believe that God, because He is great, and we are made in His image, has instilled greatness in us.  It is not for our glory. It is not for our bragging rights. That is where most of us get sidetracked. It is for His glory and His purpose. We are most alive (in my humble opinion) when we have totally submitted our will to His. In the process of dying to self, we can become that which God intended for us to be all along…His great great great great children.


Dan Skognes

Despicable Me

Posted in Relationships, Spiritual

Despicable Me dan skognes motivation blogger speaker trainer teacher coach educator

I was at a church service recently where a lady was giving her testimony.  She was giving the example of the mistakes she had made in the past that had cost her dearly. We sat spellbound listening to how she had made terrible choices and the severe consequences that resulted because of her poor judgement. Then she asked if anyone else wanted to share. Crickets….LOL. Nobody was interested in airing their dirty laundry in public. We were willing to listen to more of her stories; we just did not want to share ours!

I thought about this after church and realized what had happened and why nobody wanted to speak up.  It was actually pretty simple to understand. People do not want to think of themselves as Despicable Me. I do believe that personal testimonies are powerful to help people know the grace of God, but they can be opening a wound that you don’t want to have to relive.

Here is what I learned about Despicable Me:

  • You will never have a healthy self-image until you learn to forgive yourself and forgive others. Forgiveness is the foundation on which you can rebuild relationship and restore your self-esteem.
  • Don’t be a person that is always dredging up the past and glorifying the mistakes that were made.  I am not saying this lady did that with her testimony, but I have known people who want everyone to relive the depth of their vile behavior that they used to live in, rather than glory in the grace of God and concentrate on what He has done with them since. Concentrate on the light, not the darkness.
  • People don’t need to know the dirty details of Despicable Me.  We could all write a book if we wanted to, I am sure. We all have skeletons in the closet, but if God has forgiven us, we don’t need to continually relive that memory. Let it go. Your testimony can be general when it comes to the past mistakes. Leave the details in the closet. God does not remember them once you have confessed them, so why should you?
  • It has been said that sin takes us further than we wanted to go. It makes you stay longer than you wanted to stay, and it cost you more than you wanted to pay. So count the cost. Think before you act.

Because I have made so many mistakes in life, I do have a great perspective on what NOT to do…but I wished I would have thought about the consequences of the actions and relive that moment. The problem is, we do not have a time machine.  All we can do at this point is learn from the mistakes….and don’t repeat them. I saw a sign the other day that said, “I don’t make the same mistake twice.  I make it five or six times just to be sure.”  LOL. Sadly, I can identify with that statement at various times in my life.

If you have that perspective of yourself as Despicable Me, please know that who you see in the mirror is not necessarily who you are. We are all God’s creation. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. If you know Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are adopted into His family. You are not an orphan. You are forgiven, and you are loved.

I am so thankful that God loves us, despite our despicable acts. His grace and mercy are sufficient.  God gives us the ability to go beyond our ability. He can help memories that haunt us to heal. We just have to let Him lead us, and trust Him every step of the way.


Dan Skognes