Who do you know in your circle of friends that is “Out-Of-Order”?  Who is the first name or face that immediately came to mind?  I would like you to come up with three things that you know for sure, have witnessed or that you have some intuitive sense that something is not right in some area of their life.  Now, take those three things and parallel them with your own life.  How are you the same?  How are you different?  Let’s look at your “best friend” now; what about those three things in their life?

These are important factors in how successful you are.  How can that be you may ask?  I think you may already know that answer and it has long since been buried deep inside of you and you have fallen in a “default” mode of:  ignoring those things, justifying the actions because the person is so brilliant in another area, or perhaps they live out that naughty side of you. 

I’d like to tell you a true story to illustrate the lesson here.  When my girls were in middle school, there was this prevalent undercurrent of sheer viciousness between every girl.  Hateful words, gossip, meanness to the enth degree, undercutting of each other’s reputation and just play ugliness.  Every single girl got hurt at some point between 6th grade and 9th grade.  There were no winners and parents were powerless to do anything about it.  At the time I was a Girl Scout Leader and a Master Girl Scout Trainer for my local counsel.  In one of my train the trainer off sites we were discussing “girls who fall through the gap”, or girls who fall off the radar and become socially outcast and walking straight into big trouble due to the ridicule in school and at home and in some cases even abuse.  This weighed heavily on my heart as I thought about my precious girls, the friends, and the entire population of middle school population.  I found out (which was no big surprise) that this is universal here in the United States.  We were given tools and skills to recognize this behavior (for those of us with girls this age-it was in our face every day and one cannot look away from the hurt), and solutions for minimizing the conflict. 

As I drove home from my weekend of education and equipping, I began to think about how I could demonstrate this in a way that was visual (to parallel the tears and hurtful look on their faces) and that required zero words.  When I arrived home, I do what most of us do and went into the kitchen to prepare dinner.  I opened the refrigerator door to be knocked over by the smell of something which should have long since been thrown out.  There were several items in the same proximity and they too had spoiled and then it hit me, I had the perfect picture to drive home my point.

At the next troop meeting we planned our next badge we would earn.  It was about learning how to bake something.  As it was fall the girls decided to make apple pies.  Went went to the apple farm and picked our bushel and came back to our meeting place.  The girls had a great time making the pies, flour was thick in the air, the eating with ice cream was the best part.  Once clean up began, it was obvious that we had lots of left over apples.  I asked the girls what we should do with them.  They decided to keep one each for the next meeting and each of them would take a couple home to their families. 

We distributed the apples.  Then we put the left over ones for the next week in a brown paper bag and it got placed into our “Troop Box” where we kept all of our supplies and other things.  The next week when the two girls  who were in charge of handing out the snacks and supplies went to the “Troop Box” and the rest of the troop was in their typical circle formation waiting, and I might add doing exactly what I described above with the nasty, backbiting, gossipping behavior and suddenly there were two shrills and “ohhhhh  yuck…..and some other noises which were disgusting….”  These two young ladies brought the box over to me and I quieted everyone down and brought them in close to tighten the circle. 

I began to explain how our behavior has a direct and sometimes unpleasant contamination to others that we associate with or are aligned with or are in a cliche with.  I pulled out the bag of apples and one of them had broken skin and was bruised.  In the “closed environment ” of the paper bag   (cliche, middle school girls)  that one bad apples had rendered all the apples not fit to eat.  Every apple was damaged.  The smell and the          ushy-gushy apples which fell through the wet paper bag had done more than words could in driving home this lesson to these young ladies.

This same thing is true in our daily lives.  When we stay around those who are not of a high standard, of your moral character, honest and so on you begin to act, say, and think just like they do.  It does take time, but it is a slippery slope.  Separate yourself and seek out those who are one level above you in stature, standard, education, character, a job level above you and so on.  In this environment you rise to the next level instead of being pulled down.

Now, go back up to the top of this copy and answer the questions again.  Who is “Out-Of-Order”?