You're born with personality. You can see it in the crib. Some babies are quiet and calm — submissive. Others seem to be born with a baseball cap on backwards saying, "make me."
There are two types of people, Type A and Type B. Type A people have a hard time relaxing. One man's New Year's resolution went this way, "I'm going to learn to relax if I have to spend seven days a week, 24 hours a day trying to learn to do it." Now that is not relaxing. Type A's are the competitive, hard-driving movers and shakers. They think things like, "If I could do this in the microwave, I could do it more quickly." I heard about a guy who put the VCR in the microwave and watched "Gone With the Wind" in 14 minutes. They switch from lane to lane on the highway and read their mail while talking on the phone and driving.
Type A's are very competitive. Take a church softball game for example. They want to beat the Methodists to death - in the name of Christian love, of course. If you play ping-pong with them and suggest that you play for fun, say just hitting it back and forth, they will think you are a communist. Every now and then they stop to smell the roses, then they decide to sell them for Mother's Day. They finish people's sentences, don't listen well, make lists, and like to talk about how much they have done. Their conversation revolves around their accomplishments. "Enough about me, let's talk about you. What do you think about me so far?"
I love to watch Type A's in the grocery store. They get in the checkout line and, of course, the lane isn't moving fast enough, so they switch lanes. Naturally, the lane they switch to slows down and the lane they moved from speeds up. Then they move between the two lanes — sort of in the middle — waiting until the last minute to see which line goes faster. I have some free advice for Type A's. The law of lines is: whichever lane you are in slows down and whichever lane you switch to slows down. Stay in the first lane, the rest of the world will go faster. I guess you can tell that I have Type A tendencies. I count the number of items in a person's cart if they are in the express lane and go ballistic if someone writes a check in the "cash only" line. Type A's spend more on what they do instead of who they are and measure themselves by their accomplishments. When they do this, they are in the express lane to burnout.
Now there are other personalities which are Type B. These people don't burn out, they rust out. They cause stress for the rest of us. They are the ones who write the checks in the express lane. They are so slow they get USA Yesterday. If they slowed down any more, they would be in reverse. It takes them two hours to watch 60 Minutes. For them, the real problem in doing nothing is that they can't stop to rest. There is no sense of urgency.
They don't have to bring up their accomplishments — they don't have any. Relaxing in a recliner doesn't make them feel guilty. A formal evening includes watching Wheel of Fortune with their shoes on. The only word processor they're familiar with is Vanna White. They aren't full of stress, but neither are they full of success.
We are all traveling on the highway of life and trying not to fall into the ditch on either side — the ditch of achievement (burnout) or the ditch of apathy (rust out). Some of you are in the fast lane, some are in the slow lane, and some have managed to find the middle. This is not the fast lane nor the slow lane but the best lane. The lane we might call Type C. Giving life to words like character, control, compassion, commitment, consistency, continuation, and courage. The key to life is to neither burn out or rust out but to last out. Finish the trip of life on the road that was designed for you.
So for all the Type A's, don't forget the rest stops. By the way, since most of you Type A's are leaders — don't forget the people you lead. On the trip of life, you may be ready to make another 100 miles, while the people in the back seat just want to find a bathroom. And for all you Type B's, don't forget to make progress. Let's make sure we are in the right lane, and if you see someone in the ditch, help them out. Be a Type C — the Christian personality.
Charles Lowery is pastor of Hoffmantown Baptist Church, Albuquerque, N.M.