Living The Christmas Spirit…John Page Burton

As I share with you this morning, I am sitting at my desk gazing out a large window that faces the national forest. I feel privileged to be able to watch the snow as it gently falls from the sky. I appreciate the intoxicating beauty of the trees that are now wearing a new coat of fresh powder and I’m reminded that it has been several years since I have experienced a white Christmas. I am extremely grateful for this moment.

I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on the word Christmas and also share some thoughts on ways each of us can continue to celebrate the true spirit of Christmas throughout the year.


Compassion. All of us were born into a different set of circumstances. No one is better than anyone else. Whenever we are presented with an opportunity to lend a helping hand it is up to us to reach out. We must refrain from judging other people or their current situation. Remember…”but for the grace of God there go I.”

Humility. Remaining humble. God has blessed each of us in different ways. God graciously provides all of us with the appropriate lessons needed for our growth. In our success, be grateful and when we fail, be grateful. When we express gratitude we leave little room for a “better than” attitude.

Respect. It is up to us to treat everyone we meet with dignity and respect. We are all children of God. In an instant our lives can dramatically change for better or worse. How we treat those who are less fortunate than we are will define our true character more than anything we can ever say.

Inspiration. We should strive to be an inspiration to the people in our lives. It is just as easy to speak words of encouragement as it is to deliver cut downs or criticism. We must seek to find the good in every situation, choose our words carefully, refrain from anger and always come from a place of genuine kindness.  Our children, family, friends, co-workers, service providers and numerous others are watching our behavior and it is our responsibility to set an inspiring example.

Service. Every day we have an opportunity to be of service to someone who needs our help. We must be willing to offer our time, treasure and talent. There are numerous people and organizations in every community that need assistance and they will welcome us with open arms. Remember… givers gain!

Tolerance. We live in a extremely judgmental society where far too many people believe that their candidate, religion, race, sexual preference, education, employment or zip code is superior to that of someone else. Tolerance in today’s diverse world is critical for the advancement and enrichment of our society. We must be willing to judge people at face value rather than relying on misguided perceptions.

Miracles. Life is a miracle. Everywhere we look we see miracles. The sun consistently rises in the east, our child is born, a family member beats Cancer, we meet our soul mate or we are able to land the perfect job. We must learn to appreciate the miracles in our lives and never take anything for granted.  Christmas is a celebration of the greatest miracle of all. When we find ourselves in a challenging situation we must pray for and believe that a miracle awaits us.

Authenticity. Each of us is unique. We are called to bless the world by being authentic. Many of us invest a tremendous amount of time and energy into being someone other than ourselves. We say what we think people want to hear, buy material things to impress people who really don’t care and eventually many of us find ourselves emotionally bankrupt. We must re-connect with our authentic self and embrace our own unique journey.

Sacrifice. We live in a world that features an abundance of material options. For many, the words instant gratification, have replaced the words hard work and sacrifice. Everywhere we look it seems that people are going deeper and deeper in debt to quench their insatiable need to “look good”. Many of us have lost the appreciation and sense of self that is a bi-product of sacrifice and hard work. We must share the concept of delayed gratification with the next generation or It may be lost forever.

In closing I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas and a very insightful NEW YEAR!!!

The Abundant Power Of RISK…John Page Burton

For most of us the word risk evokes one of two emotions, fear or challenge.  Risk is the potential that a chosen action or activity will lead to a loss. Almost every human endeavor will involve a degree of risk. Driving my car to the grocery store has an element of risk as does rock climbing. Most of us will view rock climbing as a far greater risk to our well being than driving our car to the store, even though more people died in automobile accidents last weekend than have died in rock climbing accidents in the past decade. Each of us will assign a specific level of risk to every action or activity that we consider engaging in. We will then determine if we feel “safe” engaging in this action or activity. Sadly, many of us choose to “play it safe” and opt for the path of least resistance. Those individuals who are considered “risk takers” are people who assign a different meaning to the word risk. They recognize that the greater the risk the greater the reward and so to them risk becomes a challenge. I believe that there are four main benefits for those of us who choose to take risks in life.

R=Rejection. Every risk we take also contains the possibility for rejection. For most of us the fear of rejection is unbearable. Rejection is perceived as an attack on our personhood which leaves us feeling “less than.” Our challenge is to build up our own “rejection immune system” which over time will allow us to view rejection in a much less personal way. In order to do this we must be willing to take risks. We must be willing to get uncomfortable and press ahead. With each risk we take, we gain a new level of confidence, one that gives us the courage to take on even bigger risks. Embrace rejection…It builds character.

I=Introspection. When we take risks we have the opportunity to learn who we really are. Looking inward we are able to discover and extinguish dormant fears, programming from our past and other limiting beliefs that have held us hostage and prevented us from playing a much bigger game of life. Introspection leads to breakthroughs and breakthroughs lead to self respect and happiness.

S=Self Empowerment. Let’s face it, taking a risk and experiencing the rewards of that risk is a very empowering feeling! Anytime we choose to take the path of least resistance and we “shrink” from our challenges we truly will feel “less than.” Most of us will go to great lengths to justify our behavior but at the end of the day we know whether or not we gave it our best shot. Every time we step out of our “COMFORT ZONE” and take a risk we feel a high level of self empowerment. Self empowered people tend to live above average lives. You and I deserve it!

K=Knowledge. Knowledge is a good thing. APPLIED KNOWLEDGE is a great thing! Risk takers “earn while they learn.” Every time we take a risk we gain knowledge. We learn about our strengths, limitations, tendencies, programs and beliefs. With each risk, we build a reliable data base that we can refer to in the future. We will all FAIL, it is inevitable. The key is to process each risk, learn from it and then take that knowledge and apply it to your next risk.

Finally, it is important that we honor where we are in this moment. I have been around the block a time or two and I can say with certainty that I have never met a single person who is immune to fear. We are all human and fear is a major part of the human experience. Express gratitude for your fears, they are a gift. Express gratitude for every risk you take, it is has made you stronger. Remember that the bigger the risks, the greater the rewards. Embrace your challenges and know that your breakthrough is right around the corner. Be blessed!

As always, I appreciate your thoughts and feedback.