Work

27Dec

4 Reasons to See a Counselor This Year

This is the year…or is it?

I think it can be if you go see a counselor.

A new year is dawning and goals are being made, life changes being imagined.

I’d like to suggest that the key to seeing those goals accomplished might be you seeing a counselor.

Last year I sought out a counselor for a few reasons. My wife and I needed an outside source to help us see some things a bit more clearly. We both had some changes at work that we wanted to process through with a qualified professional and we were both in a season of life where we just needed some encouragement.

I am so grateful for the Church – the body of Christ. Some reasons are obvious but one subtle reason for my gratitude has been a shift I’ve noticed over the last decade or so – Christians are speaking out loudly about the need and help that professional counseling provides. In doing so, pastors and other notably visible leaders are helping to shatter the negative stigma counseling has carried for far too long.

Seeing a counselor doesn’t make you weak. It proves you’re strong.

A few notes:

Pastors are not counselors.

I’m a pastor and am trained for a lot of situations – but serving as a professional counselor is not one of those areas. I am not qualified or capable. If you find a pastor who claims to be without the required credentials and education/experience, run. As a pastor, I can provide spiritual direction and some sense of general wisdom – but most of my job relationally is simply to be with them and remind/help them to see that God is with them.

See: 7 Questions to Ask on Date Night: From a Pastor and a Therapist

See: 7 Questions to NEVER Ask on Date Night: From a Pastor and a Therapist

Counseling is affordable

We had to adjust our budget to accommodate for the expense but we didn’t have to make a drastic change to afford counseling. We just stopped wasting some money. When people complain about not being able to afford counseling my first response is usually, “How can you afford not to get help?” Then, I ask if they have cable or satellite TV service. One of those two responses usually solves the problem.

However, if the financial burden sincerely is great, there are options. Churches may be able to help defer the cost and in my town there are fantastic counseling options with income-based payment options. Basically, there is simply no good excuse.

 

4 Reasons to See a Counselor This Year

1.) To help you see blind spots.

Sometimes all you need is an outside perspective with the skills to see into your situation. It is easy for us to get tunnel vision in certain areas of life and fail to see a simple solution because it might not be as obvious to us and it is to a counselor. A lot of answers to our problems lie just outside of our sight. Counselors can help you see the blind spots.

2.) To be encouraged for what you’re doing right.

As long as you’re making a sincere, full effort, counseling should never feel like a beat-down. It can feel emotionally draining but that part if often necessary. Think about whatever issue you’re struggling with right now. Maybe your marriage is strained or you’re struggling with feeling inadequate as a parent – maybe you are still dealing with some hurt in your past. Whatever it is, imagine how good it would feel if you could share that part of your life with someone and be encouraged that it might not be as bad as you have made it out to be.

Maybe you’re doing more right than you realize.

Some of my favorite moments of counseling have been receiving encouragement for what I didn’t realize I was already doing well. That give you motivation to work on whatever you’re currently not doing well.

3.) To achieve better work/life balance.

Everyone says they want this but nobody really wants to make it happen.

Too many lazy people talk about work/life balance but they’ve never really learned how to work too hard in the first place. Too many workaholics talk about work/life balance but have no real intentions to stop making work an idol in their life.

Seeing a counselor this year can help you actually achieve work/life balance because they can help you achieve what matters most.

Counselors tell you the truth about you.

If you’re lazy, they’ll tell you. If you need to stop and rest, they’ll tell you.

4.) Strengthen the most important relationships in your life.

This is the best reason to go to counseling. Whether it’s your spouse, kids, or your parents – these are the most important people in your life. Or at least they can be. Maybe counseling is just what you need to repair or renew those relationships.

See: 13 Questions to Gauge if You Need Marriage Counseling

27Dec

Do More Better

Most people are looking for ways to do more work that matters.

Disclaimer: I’m not talking about working more hours. I’m talking about becoming more efficient, learning what projects to say yes or no to, and doing stuff that matters.

If you fall into this category of people, allow me to recommend Do More Better: a Practical Guide to Productivity – a mercifully short book written by pastor/author Tim Challies. Challies is an active blogger at www.challies.com.

challies

Overall Pros:

  • Gospel Focus – One of my biggest pet peeves in current church culture is our obsession with labelling everything Gospel-cenetered ______. However when discussing productivity, it is easy to begin boasting in our own efficiency or criticizing others who are not as effective as we are, at least as we judge effectiveness. Challies does not allow the reader to stray from the Gospel truth that God saves the most efficient and most lazy of people – and our productivity does nothing to impress God or earn his love.
  • Brevity – this makes sense for a book about productivity, right? Challies gets right what most productivity writers get wrong. At 119 pages, Do More Better teaches you what you need to get to work and you can knock it out in one sitting.
  • Practical Action Steps – Challies does not waste pages overly discussing productivity theories or quoting other productivity authors, like many do. Within each short chapter he gives practical action steps to implement right away.

On why we work

You are already very good at doing things that benefit you. We all are. From your infancy you have become adept at expending effort toward your own comfort and survival. But when God saved you, he gave you a heart that longs to do good for others. Suddenly you long to do good to other people, even at great cost to yourself. After all, that is exactly what Christ did on the cross…and he calls on you to imitate him. – 13

One of the best sentences in the book is Challies’ definition of productivity.

Productivity is effectively stewarding your gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God.– 16

In Chapter two, Challies identifies three productivity thieves:

  1. laziness
  2. busyness
  3. the mean combination of thorns and thistles (as a result of the Fall, sin has complicated work, making it harder to produce than God originally intended. Notice: work is not a consequence of sin. Work being difficult is).

The bulk of Do More Better is focused on specific, practical tools. Challies outlines his own productivity system without insisting the reader adopt his own. He does clarify that this system has worked well for him and others.

Challies lays out main areas of responsibility and then clarifies roles and responsibilities with those areas. He then gives each main area a loosely binding mission statement so he has a parameter in which to remain focused on what matters most.

The question I had, which Challies quickly answered was, “What about tasks that don’t fit into those five or six main categories?”

Challies provides three possible solutions:

1. Drop them – so much of our productivity potential is wasted on things that don’t matter. I am a pastor so people matter most in my world. But, to spend the most time with people there are times I have to say no to other people. For example, I know I work best at the very beginning of each day. So I usually start with the door shut to my co-workers, some of whom work differently than I do. As the day progresses, I generally meet with people more after lunch as my productivity levels start to drain but my relational capacity is still high. I have to drop some things so I can do the things that matter most.

2. Delegate them to someone who can do them better – this is absolutely not dumping something you simply don’t wish to do on someone else. In my world, we recently upgraded our worship team equipment, which I know nothing about. Instead of me wasting hours and hours trying to learn and eventually making a bad decision, I asked a few of my friends who are much more knowledgeable than I am to help me make the best decision. They saved me time, money, and helped me focus more on my own strengths as they served me with theirs.

3. Do them – this is where Challies’ gospel focus is heard loudly. As a Christian trying to pattern my life after Jesus, there should be no task that is beneath me. The founding pastor of my church, one of the largest in town, can regularly be found with a broom or mop in his hand cleaning up and serving in ways no one else sees. He does what needs to be done and serves just as honestly and joyfully without an audience as he does when he is preaching on stage to a packed house.

Challies spends a chapter each on three productivity tools: tasks, calendar, and information. I found his chapter on systems to be particularly insightful, especially the system he uses to create to-do lists and beginning the day strong.

He also discusses systems to evaluate yourself and your work in review. The two bonus chapters in the back are especially helpful (6 tips for email and 20 general productivity tips).

If you are looking to increase productivity and do more that matters, this book is for you.

Disclaimer: I received a free, discounted, or advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

9Aug

I’m Praying I Get Fired for This

Nobody wants to get fired.

I’ve never had the experience and most of me hopes I never have to know what it’s like.

But there’s another part of me that earnestly prays to be fired one day over one word: capacity.

I sincerely hope and pray that God allows me to be a part of a movement of his grace so powerful that it fills our church with so many people with so many different experiences, problems, and triumphs that I am simply incapable of effectively carrying the leadership load of such a movement and a change in that position is necessary.

In short, I’m praying to see someone else work me out of my job.

I love my church so much and want to see God do something mighty within her, something far more abundantly than I even know how to ask. I want something to happen there that exceeds my current ability so quickly that a change has to be made to keep the Gospel movement spreading at a rapid pace.

Everyone has their own leadership limits. Knowing those limits isn’t weakness; it’s wisdom.

Of course I am also praying to continue to grow in ability so that I can see that movement happen from my current position, but I’m convinced far too many churches, organizations, and companies become stagnant because they hit the leadership capacity ceiling of whoever is in charge and instead of making a change to help propel them to the next level they stay put and settle into complacency.

I care too much about my church to allow that to happen.

I first started thinking about this concept of capacity almost a year ago now. I got to spend a weekend at the Village Church in Dallas, TX and in one of the breakout sessions, one of their three Lead Pastors, Josh Patterson, spoke about their hiring process. He mentioned he looks at four C’s when interviewing new applicants:

 

1. Competency – Can you actually do the job?

2. Compatability – Will you be a good fit within the greater organization?

3. Core values – Are you trustworthy? Do you have good work ethic? Can I trust that you’ll do what you say you’ll do?

belegit

The first 3 C’s made a lot of sense to me and I had heard them before. The fourth one initially caught me off guard.

4. Capacity – Do you have the skill set to adapt and grow with the job as it gets more demanding?

 

Patterson said when they do annual staff evaluations, they can evaluate their staff’s performance very quickly with just a few questions, all centered around capacity.

  • Do you actually have the capacity for your job that you seemed to display when you were first hired?
  • Do you possess the capacity to continue in your current job as it has grown more demanding than when you first started?

Patterson later said that they have let people go almost every year of the church’s existence because of how they answered the latter question.

His reasoning is simple: Why let one person’ capacity, no matter how good or nice or beneficial that person is, limit the future of the organization as a whole? How much more true is this in a church where what’s at stake may not be numbers or member satisfaction but the very Gospel itself?

Although it would be hard to take, I sincerely hope to be fired one day because of capacity concerns. I will never stop learning or trying to lead to the best of my ability. However if that pink slip day comes, I can take great joy in knowing that God allowed me to be a part of something so much bigger than me, and by moving me aside it was able to continue advancing for the greater good.

I know my current leadership limits. While I am constantly working hard to expand my capacity, one person should never be a good enough reason to hold a good movement from continuing to advance further and further.

Whatever you’re most passionate about, it’s not all about you.

  • Some people are skilled enough to preach for 50 people but not 500. Some are skilled enough for 500 but not 5,000.
  • Some people are skilled enough to manage 10 clients, but not 100. Some are skilled enough for for 100, but not 1,000. You get my drift.

It doesn’t mean you’re less of a person, especially not in the eyes of the One who created you in His image. So rejoice in your weakness.

mostimportant

Seek to expand your capacity, but never try and be someone you’re not. God doesn’t need another version of someone else, which is why he made you YOU.

14Jul

Being Honest in a Hypocritical World

In a recent article in the Atlantic, The Hypocrisy of Professional Ethicists, Emma Green compiled years of data mined from studies done on the ethical implications of various professions. She sought to discover if people who, at least in part, give advice for a living were practicing what they preached.

Some of the conclusions were what one might expect in a study like this.

  • One study of 500 doctors found 38% to be overweight. The national average is only 33%, although doctors rate of obesity is lower than the national average.
  • Nearly 4,000 police officers in Florida were surveyed and almost 800 of them had been found to be driving 90-130 mph on toll roads, many while off duty.
  • According to a security company’s study, most of the shoplifting that occurs in the retail stores is committed by employees, not shoppers.

Yet the main point of the article was fascinating. It discovered that ethicists, people who think, write, and teach what is right and wrong for a living are noticeably less ethical than both the general population as well as other non-ethics professors. Not only that, but on many occasions their behavior directly contradicted their stated beliefs. 

  • 60% of ethicists surveyed said they found eating red meat to be morally wrong, yet only 27% do not regularly eat it.
  • Ethicists are not more likely to vote donate blood, or register as organ donors.
  • Books on ethics checked out of the library are more than 50% likely to be permanently missing as compared to other books.

But if you’re reading this, you are most likely not an ethicist. Frankly, I do not know any that I like.

So what about the rest of us?

 

What if the way we live our lives and make our daily decisions was analyzed? Would we be hypocrites or legit?

 

As a Christ-follower, I have a firm commitment to be as honest and open as possible. We, more than anyone, have nothing to hide because our failures, weaknesses, and shortcomings only make the God we serve look that much more glorious for loving us. See: Fake or Real?

I wonder…what would the statistics look like if we compared the lives of Christians to the lives of non-Christians? Could you tell a difference? Would there be a difference in your life? In mine?

Two arenas jumped into my mind where Christians can be legit and really make a difference.

Christians need to be legit in our marriages. 

SplitShire-8645

Our church wrapped up a series on marriages a few months ago and in one of our home group sessions, one of my friends said, “I’m not sure there’s a more consistent testimony to the faithfulness of God than a committed, loving marriage.”

She is absolutely right. While you in no way need to be married to bear witness to God’s faithfulness, marriage is a nearly universal experience in our culture, regardless of your particular belief system.

But marriage can be tough, and I think sometimes Christians tragically forget that they married an imperfect person. Much more often, they forget that they themselves are imperfect.

When two selfish sinners (all of us) are able to selflessly give themselves to one another in the covenant (not contract) of marriage, and stick with it for six or seven decades, people will ask, “How do you do it? What’s the secret?” They can answer simply that they spent their lives giving one another the love that God so richly gave to them through Jesus.

Christians need to be legit in the workplace. 

hardwork

One of my favorite articles ever written is entitled, “Today’s Lazy Youth Pastor.” In it, Jonathan McKee laments the state of many youth workers he comes into contact with, thinking they’re overloaded with work, stretched too thin, or burned out. While that is definitely true for some, it happens much more in other staff positions.

I wonder if that article could be written about you at your job. Today’s Lazy ________.

Christians send a loud message of the faithfulness of God when they work harder than their co-workers. When asked what gives them such drive and ambition, they can respond simply with Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…you are serving the Lord Jesus Christ.”

I love those verses because while they include pastors, that is not the primary audience…“WHATEVER you do.”

  • If you’re a school teacher, when you work hard you’re serving the Lord.
  • If you’re a CEO, when you work hard you’re serving the Lord.
  • If you’re a plumber, when you work hard you’re serving the Lord.
  • If you’re a stay-at-home Mom, when you work hard, you’re serving the Lord.
  • If you’re a used-car salesman, or a lawyer, when you work hard you might be serving the Lord. 🙂

When Christians are lazy at work, we fail to be honest. We become hypocrites who make Jesus look like a fake if we are constantly give half-effort.

“If you show up on time, WORK while you are at WORK, and smile you will be noticed. Most people don’t even do that.” – Dave Ramsey

In what other areas do Christians need to be legit? 

23Feb

Make the Snow Day(s) Count

I have lived my entire life in the South.

We tend to freak out a bit when it snows. Or ices. Or slushes. Or rains.

Or when the temperature plunges below 60 degrees.

The last few days we have had a few inches of snow, nothing like what our friends in Boston are enduring but enough to cancel a few school days, especially in the more rural parts of our area.

Snow days keep kids home from school and many adults home from work. Snow days present us with an interesting opportunity if we take advantage of it.

5 Ways to Make the Snow Day(s) Count

1.) Do something adventurous.

Start a snowball fight. Grab a trash can lid and find the nearest hill to sled down. Build a snowman without singing Frozen! Find an empty parking lot and do something crazy.

Maybe don’t do that last one but you get the idea…get off the couch and do something awesome!

2.) Do something restful.

Maybe the adventurous route is not for you. Your life is hectic enough and the snow day presents an unusual opportunity for you to rest. One of my former students recently wrote a great article about the need to be still.

Take a nap. Read a book. Make a fire. Enjoy the silence. Draw a bath. Journal. Whatever you find life-giving and restorative, do that this snow day. The busyness of life will still be there when the snow melts.

3.) Work anyway.

One of the only things I dislike about snow days is how they can really mess up the rhythm of the week. If you’re like me, there are certain things I do every Monday morning or Thursday afternoon, etc.

Most of these tasks need to be accomplished snow or shine. As I’m able to on snow days, I just do them so things don’t fall off my plate as the week progresses.

4.) Spend quality time with family.

If you get the opportunity to spend a snow day with family, don’t waste it. Don’t do #3. Cuddle with your spouse. Throw snowballs with/at your kids. I am not yet a parent, so I do not know the parental dread that comes with hearing schools are closed.

But I do know that if you have children, you have a blessing many do not have. Don’t take that for granted today.

5.) Chip away at your dream.

You are living on borrowed time, my friend! Whatever your dream is, you have a day, today, to get closer to seeing it become a reality.

Want to write a book? Punch out a few chapters today.

Want to start your own business? Iron out the next part of your business plan.

Unsure of your next step? Find someone who’s successful at what you want to do and read their book today.

 Question: How do you make the snow day(s) count?

17Nov

5 Reasons Your 20’s Matter

It can’t go on like this.

Adolescence cannot last from 11 years old to 29 years old.

The headlines are everywhere:

Most sociologists view adolescence as beginning at puberty (for some at 11-12 years old) but that’s not the problem. The problem is there is no longer any conceivable end to the age of adolescence.

Adulthood used to be measured by 5 major milestones (completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying, and having a child). Yet these depict a cookie cutter path to adulthood that not everyone takes. (See: You May Never Get Married)

And that’s okay. Some of the most mature people I know have never had children or been married and some of the most irresponsible crazies I know have the most children. But I would argue the first three of those traditional milestones are still really important.

So are 20-somethings just up the creek without a paddle? It’s getting harder and harder to obtain financial freedom. Student loans are a necessary evil for many and that debt can shackle you for decades. Not to mention the degrees you took the loans out to obtain mean less and less all the while more and more education and experience is being required for entry level jobs. Where do you go to work to get the 3-5 years experience that everyone seems to want for you to get a job?

I know the deck can seem stacked against 20-somethings in many ways. But that’s not my concern. I see it almost everyday. Some of my friends have looked at the landscape of their 20’s and simply concluded, “This period of my life doesn’t matter.” And that’s a narrative they have bought into: hook line and sinker.

All this talk about millennials yet so few conversations with them. With that in mind…

5 Reasons Your 20’s Matter

1.) You’re not a teenager anymore. You’re not an “emerging” adult. You’re an adult.

While there is no denying adolescence, it needs to have a definitive ending point. Your 20’s are not simply a continuation of your teenage years. They are not a time to grow up; they are a time to be grown up. I know it can feel like you’re stuck sometimes but real life is happening all around you today. (See: The In-Between Places)

The apostle Paul wrote the following about maturing into adulthood:

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. – 1 Corinthians 13:11

2.) The relationships you make and cultivate in this defining decade will shape the rest of your life..

Many people meet their spouse in their 20’s. Who you date matters because who you marry matters.Your 20’s are not a time to waste time dating losers you know you could never marry. Keep the bar high because if you lower it a whole bunch of jokers will start jumping over and then you’ll have deal with the fall out.

The friends you have in your 20’s are also different than any friends you’ve had before, even if they’re the same people. In high school and college it can be hard to tell who your real friends are because they’re picked largely based on proximity. You go to class together. You live near each other, etc. But once you graduate college and/or start working, you really start to learn who your real friends are. Friendships can be harder to maintain but ultimately more worthwhile.

3.) You’ll gain financial freedom or financial captivity.

Student loans stink. Learn to HATE your debt. Think about all you could do without that amount weighing you down every month. Work hard. Get promotions. Move up the ladder as you’re able and feel comfortable in doing so. Learn how to manage a budget. (See: Chop Wood, Carry Water)

It’s not just a financial issue; it’s a discipleship issue. Everything is God’s. We’re managers at best. Manage well. Your success or failure in this area during this decade will largely determine your financial health for the next three decades. (See: The 1 Thing We Fight About)

4.) You’ll find your sweet spot at work, eventually.

A lot of your 20’s is spent discovering what it is you’re truly passionate about. You’re young enough to switch careers and depending on your personal life situation (married/unmarried, with/without kids, etc.) you can really pursue a wide path. But don’t be afraid to settle in when you find something you love. No situation/job/boss is perfect. (See: Why I Love and Hate Kids Ministry)

In the immortal words of Monica to Rachel, “Welcome to the real world. It sucks. You’re gonna love it.”

5.) Your 20’s are not your own.

You don’t own any part of your life. It’s all a gift of grace. Life with Christ isn’t just for your 30’s and beyond. You’re not even guaranteed to make it to 30.

Your 20’s are a wonderful gift, given to you and me from God. Honor him with these years. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I have had more to be truly grateful for in my 20’s than ever before.

You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (and your 20’s). – 1 Corinthians 6:19b-20  (italicized mine)

Question: What would you add to the list? Why else do the 20’s matter?

11Sep

When the Cool Kids Grow Up

There are not many universally binding truths, but I think I’ve discovered one:

Nobody, and I mean NOBODY wants to go back to junior high.

Some people sincerely wish they could go back to high school. Those years were genuinely the best of their life. That is not true for me but I understand how it can be for some. Others would say the college years were the best of their life. The tremendous amount of freedom as a newly minted “adult” mixed with the incredibly small amount of responsibility when compared to the real world has been able to produce a high level of satisfaction for many who have walked across the college campus.

But nobody ever says, “You know what year I really miss?!? 7th grade. Life has been crashing downhill since that majestic year.”

But why is it that some enjoy junior high? What happens to the “cool” kids in 7th grade when they grow up? Child Development, an academic journal, has the answers. They just published their findings from a 10-year study where they followed hundreds of students from ages 13-23. Their data shows that one can easily predict who will be a successful adult based on how they act when they’re just 13.

The study found that the 13-year old students found “cool” among their peers were the ones who acted much like older teenagers. They frequently made out with other students, regularly changing partners. They snuck into R-rated movies and wore excessive makeup in an attempt to look older than they were. In interviews with the research team it was actually the “cool” kids who expressed much deeper insecurities and concerns with being perceived as cool than the ones exalting them as such.

But why 13? The research team discovered that most teenagers they followed were participating in some version of these behaviors by the time they were 16-17 years old but the behaviors of the 13-year old “cool kids” had to keep escalating as they grew older in order to remain in the “cool” zone.

So what happened when they turned 22? 23? Most of them failed to graduate college. Virtually none of them had cultivated deep friendships with anyone and a large amount of them had serious substance abuse problems.

Conclusion? The “cool kids” in 7th grade might not be that cool when they grow up. In fact, more often than not they fail to grow into successful, stable adults who contribute to society and future generations, at least initially.

But there’s a deeper lesson here for all of us, not just 7th graders and 23 year olds:

Are you desperately trying to fit in at school? at work? Are you constantly seeking the approval of people you know you shouldn’t?

Do you find yourself deeply concerned with the opinions of people you know aren’t deeply concerned with you?

Today’s the day to make a change. The cool kids usually don’t stay cool so don’t worry about what they think. Be the you God made you to be. The world doesn’t need another “cool kid” or God would have made one. He made YOU. That’s what the world needs.

10Aug

Start a Ruckus Today

Does what you’re working on today really matter at all?

Sisyphus is a fascinating but little-known character in Greek mythology.  He gets in some pretty bad trouble and is tasked with spending eternity rolling a huge boulder up a giant hill only to have it fall back down to the bottom where he returns to repeat this mind-numbing, muscle-crushing exercise. His life is spent fuming in unending frustration and toiling in futile effort.

Do you ever feel like Sisyphus, like you are banished to repeatedly perform the same boring tasks that comprise a dull and uninteresting life?

Have you ever asked this question, “Why are things the way they are?” only to receive this answer, “Because that’s the way it’s always been.” Maybe it’s time for you to stop accepting the status quo. Who cares if this is always the way it’s been done if nobody can explain why it’s still done this way.

It happens all the time. I’ll be sitting and talking with someone and they say something like, “Man, I’m just not feeling close to God anymore” or “My marriage just isn’t quite what it used to be.” I’ll ask them the same two questions wise people have asked me when I had similar thoughts.

  1. What are you currently doing to foster those relationships?
  2. What of those current actions is different than your previous routine?

The wisdom behind the first question is obvious: If someone is complaining about their level of happiness but is unwilling to work on improving it, a separate conversation needs to happen. They need to be reminded that nobody owes us happiness.

The wisdom behind the second questions is fairly simple as well yet can be much harder to actually put into practice. Many of us are failing in life, marriage, and work because we’re simply living in the past, still celebrating past successes instead of focusing on the present and preparing for the future. But another group also needs to hear this question: those who keep doing the same things over and over again while expecting different results. Sometimes what we need most is is what we want least: CHANGE.

But why is it that some people tend to live through times of change better than others?

  • Why in the world do some people seem to enjoy change?
  • Why do some marriages succeed while others fail?
  • Why do some people get promoted while others settle into unintended complacency?

Why do older adults struggle to keep up with the most recent social media apps but teenagers seem to move fluidly from one to the next with little to no learning curve?

Why are newspapers dying but writers are thriving on Twitter/blogs/online magazines?

Why was R.A. Dickey an awful pitcher for years with the Texas Rangers but then later won a Cy Young award with the New York Mets?

The answer to all these questions lies in one simply word: disruption.

Disruption is inevitable. It is not a question of “if” but “when” disruption and change come crashing down. As much as we might wish to, we cannot control it. But we can control our response to the unexpected.

Some people seem to enjoy change more than others because they know disruption of the status quo can be a really good thing.

Some marriages succeed while others fail because two people refuse to get stuck in a marital rut that eventually erodes away their life together.

Some people get promoted while others settle for unintended complacency because they know every significant advance in the history of the WORLD started as a disruption from the norm, an unexpected and probably unwanted change.

Older adults struggle to keep up with social media (if they even want to) because they are flabbergasted at the idea of learning 3 new platforms once they have finally mastered one. They don’t want to change.

Newspapers are dying because they refuse to move to online platforms…you know…the places where everybody else has been reading the new for a few decades now.

Last and definitely least, R.A. Dickey was so terrible for so long as a Texas Ranger because he was a bad pitcher. Until he took unexpected time off (because nobody wanted him) and reinvented himself as a knuckleballer. In 2012 he accomplished what no other knuckleballer ever had; he won a Cy Young award (given to each league’s best pitcher).

So what about you?

I doubt you need to ditch your career in marketing to reinvent yourself as a knuckleballer. But who knows?

You probably do need to consider how to lean into disruption instead of running from it. You do need to learn how to harness the potential blessing of unexpected change.

In his book, Tribes, Seth Godin takes it one step further. He advocates for you and me to not merely lean in to change, but start causing it! Be a change agent in every arena possible. Don’t just accept the disruption. Start it!

One of my friends wants Apple to make a Southern version of Siri named Charlene that would call you “honey” while always telling you where the closest sweet tea was. Think a digital, less-racist Paula Deen. Maybe she could mutter disapprovingly  “Bless his heart” when some madman cuts you off in traffic.

If this Charlene Siri could encourage you to change a stuck area of your life, she would simply say,

“Start a ruckus today!” 

6Aug

I’m So Glad I’m Failing

It all started a few years ago in our Texas garage. Not as a dream, but as a necessity. A stress-reliever. A much-needed escape.

Before my wife’s growing company, All Things New Interiors, was…

  • a profitable booth in the largest store of its kind in our city
  • a professionally designed website
  • a company offering in-home interior design consultations
  • featured on one of the nation’s largest interior design blogs
  • K…wife bragging over

Before it was anything, it was a much needed creative outlet during an incredibly stressful time in our lives. At that time, there were few ways we experienced the grace of God more than in the beginning days of that dream in our garage.

On January 1st of this year I launched my own dream, www.steven-hill.me, my personal blog on faith and culture. In a post just before the official launch I stated my main goal for the blog:

I want to become a better writer this year. That’s my main motivation for this blog. It’s unashamedly for me. If it is worthwhile outside of advancing my skills as a writer, that’s wonderful. However, if it accomplishes that initial goal it will be a success in my eyes.

While my meager 50-ish posts this far have accomplished a shadow of this goal, I have mostly failed in my writing venture. My second goal came in the form of a commitment: to post 3 times per week. I checked today and I haven’t posted in almost 3 months and there were several stretches where I did not write for at least a week.

There’s a million reasons people fail at blogs, and that’s what it is: failing and the “reasons” given are nothing more than excuses.

However, I chose to fail in my blog because I wanted to trade one dream for another. Mine for my wife’s. I always knew I would return to the blog at some point, but I honestly felt (accurately) that we were entering a window for All Things New Interiors to succeed that would quickly close if we didn’t leap through it.

My evenings changed from writing and editing to updating inventory and advertising our products across various media platforms. I went from reading and researching future articles to delivering and acquiring furniture all across the River Valley.

Even though my temporary writing cessation was not the typical, slacker-blogger burnout, I am failing to achieve my original goals, and I could not be happier. It was a joyful trade of one dream for another. My blog failure was a conscious, calculated decision to place priority in the right place.

Over the last few months, saying “yes” to my blog was not worth the things I would have to say “no” to in order to make it happen.

We recently celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary and this past year has been the best year so far, due in no small part because of our partnership in this venture. I have written regularly about marriage but have learned the most about marriage from laying aside one dream for another.

I remember when we first tried to expand All Things New Interiors outside of our garage in Texas. I took some of our “top” items (terrible quality compared to the work we do now) to a local antique shop where I knew the owner. She came out to my car as I walked her through the steps we did to breath life into the old bones of these pieces, foolishly beaming with pride. She rejected our furniture time and time again.

Looking back on that time now, I am so glad we were rejected then because if we weren’t we might not be where we are now. I was commuting 2.5 hours to seminary twice a week and working full-time so I did not have time then to help make that dream a reality like I do now.

I don’t know what’s going on in your life right now. Maybe you’ve been rejected or are experiencing a setback. Maybe you can’t quite seem to get your dream off the ground or maybe you need a creative outlet like we did to relieve stress.

There will come a time when this new dream will fail as well. My sincere prayer now is that when it does fail, it dies by giving way to an even better, more meaningful dream.

Wherever you are in life today, say yes to the things that matter most, even if it means trading one dream for another. You’ll be glad to fail too.

1May

Stop Believing This Lie

I’m consistently disappointed when I expect something fake to satisfy like something real.

Like the McRib. I love the McRib.

Except I don’t. But every time it comes around, I have to have it.

mcrib

Maybe it’s the clever marketing. Maybe it’s the way it only comes around every now and then. Maybe it’s how I always seem to find a friend who’s stupid/curious enough to want to embark on this culinary adventure with me.

fakemcrib

(The above picture is a real picture taken by a McDonald’s employee while unpacking cases of frozen McRibs)

But here’s my problem with the McRib: it’s wildly disappointing…every time. Every time I’ve had it, I regret it. The expectations I allow myself to build up are never met.

Why don’t I love the McRib like I love a good rack of ribs? Because I believe the same lie we all believe in some area(s) of our lives: that something fake can satisfy like something real.

But fake can be so much more convenient than the real thing…

  • It’s easier to snag a drive-thru McRib than smoke a rack of ribs.
  • It’s easier to fake a friendship than be there for someone when it’s inconvenient.
  • It’s easier to give up than endure.
  • It’s easier to blow through money you don’t have than to stick to a budget.
  • It’s easier to follow attraction into whatever bed it takes you than to honor your vows to your spouse.
  • It’s easier to slack off when given trust by a boss instead of working hard no matter who’s watching.

We’ve got to stop believing the lie that fake is better just because fake is easier.

  • Don’t settle for being a fake friend.
  • Don’t settle for being a fake spouse.
  • Don’t settle for being a fake co-worker.
  • Don’t settle for being a fake version of who God made you to be.

If you want to read more about how the Gospel can help you upgrade your life from fake to real, check out Timothy Keller’s book, Prodigal God. You can purchase the book below:

 

Question: Is there a part of your life you need to upgrade from fake to real?

Feel free to leave a comment below.

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