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How To Stop Hating Your Job

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Growing up it was my job to make sure the yard was mowed.  And I had massive hay fever.  I can even one-up that: according to my allergist, I’m allergic to grass.  I hated that job.  Eventually I got a job at our local meat market and I liked it.  I never got the chance to put up one of those posters with the strips of paper at the ends that you rip off that read "Alan’s Lawn Care Service.”  Needless to say, since I worked at the butcher shop, my poster with the strips of paper with “Alan’s Bologna Service” wasn’t a hit. 

I wasn’t meant for lawn care.  Neither are you. 

Sometimes we view our careers this way.  We work jobs that we are not passionate about.  Not only that, we work careers that aren’t healthy either (family health, relational health, spiritual health, etc).  We settle for “i’m just working here to get my paycheck so I can eventually do what I truly love.”   I want to challenge that thought.

I’m convinced that our career and calling should not be separated…cannot be separated.  Strong statement coming:  Hating your current job is hating your current calling.  You are called to work.   God’s purpose for Adam was to work in the Garden.  It’s in the Garden we find out what we are made to do: 

"God blessed them and said, 'Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.  The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”  Genesis 1:28, 2:15

Mankind’s purpose is to “work and care” for the Garden of Eden.   Work is a precondition of Adam before the fall and not a result of the fall. The only thing that happened that affected work was that it became harder for Adam… But work was always God‘s original design.     As a matter of fact, the original word meaning for Eden is “delight.”  Your work is to lead you to grow and cultivate delight in your life.   In other words, you were created to to do work that gives you amazing enjoyment, pleasure and deep satisfaction.

Sometimes however, we can view our purpose in God's design as a “hired lawncare service" when we are doing our jobs.  Meaning, we don’t “own” our place in the Garden but simply “fill a spot to do a job” until we find our "real place" and then we take our jobs and our places seriously. 

That’s not what God intended.  God's intention is that whatever work we do, we are to be fulfilling our purpose caring and working for creation. Maybe that’s why hating your job could be one of the worst feelings you could experience.  Maybe that’s why losing your job is so devastating.  You were made for work, "delightful work” and anything short of that is falling short of God’s purpose for you and the calling for your life.  A line from John Mark Comer’s book below says this:

““Work is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet. That’s what you’re looking for-the intersection between what you love and what your world needs.” ”

— John Mark Comer, from the book, Garden City

This doesn’t mean that your calling always has to be glamorous.  We tend to elevate those with the loudest voices, the greatest talent and best looks.  However for communities to thrive, God needs everyone to do their job which makes everyone's work valuable.  We need those who care for the children, deliver the mail, make the hotel beds, cook the fast food burgers, grow the crops and collect the recycle bins just as valuable.  Those who work in these industries, fields and careers are needed to work together to make a culture that we can thrive in.

“God’s intention is that whatever work we do, we are to be fulfilling our purpose caring and working for creation.”

This doesn’t mean you won’t have a "bad day" at work.  We deal with a  broken world and broken people.  So our world, our job, will be difficult at times.  However, it does mean that despite the kind of day you’re having, when you see that what you do as God's purpose for your life...what you were made to do will be meaningful, significant and bring you purpose and joy to your life.  When you walk into your job, your business, your place work...your original design and purpose is to creatively partner with God and take the world somewhere significant.  

You might be thinking, “I like what you’re saying but this doesn’t really apply to my part-time cashier job at American Eagle does it?” 

One. Stop working FOR God and start working WITH God

Here’s the point:  you are a co-laborer with God (1 Corinthians 3:9).  That means you are not working FOR God but WITH God.  That makes you a partner and partnership is critical.  It makes you an owner of your workplace because it's not a position you took but a place you are called to be in.  It makes you a lover of your co-workers because they are God's creation that you get to care for and grow.  It makes you a steward of responsibility that God has given you to make your work environment a better place because you aren't made to punch a clock or earn a paycheck.   You create systems, experiences and relationships that make others want to come back tomorrow.  Why?  Because they are seeing and experiencing Jesus. 

 

Two.  Let Your “Work Station” Become Your “Worship Station“

They see you worshipping Jesus.  The word "work" in Genesis 2 in the original Hebrew means “abad” which means…”worship.”   You were made to worship.  You are made to “create Eden” in your community.  You working is you worshipping which means you are continuing what God intended from the beginning. 

 

 Three. Stop Having A Career And Start Following Your Calling

God makes it clear that “whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17).  God isn’t into separating our career from other calling but that they are one in the same.  Some of us are called to be a teacher and use our educational degree to champion the next generation.  Some of us are creative geniuses at numbers and that is your calling in life…to "work the numbers."  Some of us are burdened with a desire to serve the community or nations with non-profit work or start our own endeavor.  Some of us are called to partner with the church and work inside the church and pursue a career in the church world building and equipping leaders.  Whatever we do in life, it all works together for the good when we center ourselves on discovering our purpose and walking out that purpose authentically (Romans 8:28).

You’re challenge today:  Stop being a lawn-care service and own your yard.

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The 3 F-Words The New Young Christian Are Using Today

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Keeping up with the current “language expansion” is difficult in today’s culture. There is a need to express yourself, to be seen, to be heard and to belong. There are a few words that are describing their current reality and you should be aware of them. Maybe you are a “next-gen Christian” and I’m speaking your language. Or maybe you are leading the next generation forward and you are navigating this landscape while trying not to get lost in the wilderness of
”lit” and “turnt” and “woke.”

Tim Elmore, sociologist of culture has identified some current words that are mainstream in the next-gen that you should be aware of that The New Young Christian is using today. Check them out below:

FOMO

You know this one already: Fear Of Missing Out. This is a sentiment Generation Z has been expressing for years. Why do they have this fear? They’re on social media sites, seeing peers post pictures and videos of everything they’re doing: that best vacation ever, that best party ever, the best selfie with friends ever; you get the idea. And while we know those sentiments are not accurate, the feeling a viewer gets is they’ve just missed out on something fun. In fact, those posts ignite the notion that your life is really boring compared to everyone else. I mean—who posts photos of real life, like taking out the trash or doing homework? Generation Z gives all new meaning to the phrase: “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” When I was a teen and wasn’t invited to a party—I likely never found out about it. Today—thanks to social media—the party is broadcast and it’s “in your face” that you missed out. Obviously, it’s human nature to compare our lives to those of peers but studies show that FOMO leads to extreme dissatisfaction and has a detrimental effect on our physical and mental health: mood swings, loneliness, feelings of inferiority, reduced self-esteem, social anxiety, and increased levels of negativity and depression.

What can we do? Help them recognize that if they worry about missing out, they are likely missing what’s right in front of them—real life, real people and maybe, real conversations and satisfaction. Help them focus on what’s happening where they are.

FOBO

Here’s one that’s picking up steam: Fear Of Being Off-line. This fear is newer than FOMO, but gaining traction among adolescents. If they’re honest, many will acknowledge they actually get anxious when their phone is not beside them. It’s not so much fear of missing out on a party, as it is fear of not being connected. Teens who have a parent take their smart phone away for a day (as punishment) will frequently give their password to a friend so they can stay present on-line and keep their Snapchat streak or that convo going. I spoke to a college athletic coach recently who told me he requested his team to put their phones in a basket for the bus ride to an away game. He described the bus ride as “painfully silent” and stressful. However, on the ride home, he had them put their phones away again, and this time the players realized they could actually talk to teammates across the aisle. Imagine that. Research on Coming of Age on Screens” carried out by Crowd DNA studied the lives of 11,165 youngsters aged 13-24 across 13 countries and five continents. One take away was stunning: 70 percent of teens and young adults confess to FOBO.

What can we do? Share the neuroscience about our human need for silence. When we have margin in our day, we develop the capacity for creativity and empathy. And stress drops. After the initial “withdrawals,” students can learn to appreciate it.

FOMU

This one has grown over the last five years or so: Fear Of Messing Up. It’s brought on by the pressure kids feel to perform. It represents the increased angst students feel about failing at something—a test, a sport, a relationship, a course, a job, you name it. Sometimes the fear is so great, they won’t even start something unless they’re assured they will succeed. Unfortunately, FOMU is a symptom of a “fixed mindset.” Psychologist Carol Dweck warns us these “fixed mindsets” prevent people from taking risks, from learning and from growing in new areas. It often shows up in the phrase: “If I can’t win, I won’t even try.” Or, “If I am not the best, I won’t even play.” It’s so sad, because so many American teens envision themselves as entrepreneurs, while simultaneously being risk-averse. These two realities don’t go together. Without knowing it, both parents and faculty have created this FOMU, by pressuring them to make the grade, make the team or make the cut. We wanted them to be excellent but too many misinterpreted us and assumed we meant perfection.

What can we do? Take the pressure off and let them be human. Remind them that you got a few “average” grades in school and didn’t excel at everything you tried. Remind them that our greatest lessons come from failure. Growth should be the goal.

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How To Get Your Confidence Back

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No matter who you are, there is one thing many of us will have in common with everyone else:  we all have experienced moments we have lost our confidence.  That moment when we felt like we weren't going to succeed.  That moment when we thought that "someone else should be doing this...not me."  That moment when we suddenly realize that "I don't believe in myself...I can't do this."  Some of these moments are fewer and farther in between than others but every leader has or will experience moments in their lives where they don't trust themselves in a moment.  Confidence lost. 

 

So if you lost some of your confidence or want to grow in confidence then consider the following:

 

TRUST THE RIGHT SOURCE

Let's define confidence for a moment by defining what it is not.  Confidence is not arrogance.  There is a difference.  Arrogance is an overbearing pride and extreme self-importance.  Confidence is a trustworthy reliance and belief in someone.   The word "confidence" has a word embedded in it that is critical to being confident.  It's the word, "confide."  True Biblical confidence is found when we place our trust, reliability and confide in Christ.  It’s easy for people, especially driven people, to put their trust in their network, their title, their paycheck, their personality, etc.  But the second we lose any of those, we lose our confidence as well. When we intentionally put yourselves in the presence of Christ, when we are vulnerable with our fears and insecurities, when we place our trust back into God’s hands and take it out of our hands...that's when confidence strengthens in full force.  Practically speaking, the more you are in God's presence, reading God's word and speaking regularly to God, letting God fill you, letting God inspire you...the more confident you will be.  

Confidence is not what You do with God but what God does with you...so don’t limit God by your insecurity.

 

 

BECOME SECURE IN WHO YOU ARE

I think we lack confidence when we see someone else doing it better, bigger and stronger.  The biggest killer of confidence is comparison.  So our response is, "I'm just going to be myself and they can take it or leave it."  Although a brave statement, confidence isn't found in just securing yourself in your personality.  Knowing who you are is the result of confidence but not the starting place of true Biblical confidence.  Confidence is being secure in God's will which is both "who you are" and "what you do."  God's will is about you first "becoming" the right person first, then "doing" the task second.  Who you are will always precede what you do.  When you stop comparing yourself to others and cease striving to have someone else's calling but be yourself according to how God made you and love what God is wanting you to do with your life, your confidence will conquer.  The minute I start depending on what others think of me is the minute I start doubting what God can do with me.  Depend on God and listen to what God says about you instead of what others ssay about you.  Some of the most confident moments you'll experience in your life is when you are most secure in Christ's definition of who you are and what He's called you to do.  

 

When we intentionally put yourselves in the presence of Christ, when we are vulnerable with our fears and insecurities, when we place our trust back into God’s hands and take it out of our hands...that’s when confidence strengthens in full force.

 

TRUST GOD MORE AND YOURSELF LESS

The root of confidence is going to be where you put your trust?  Pride says, "I got this."  Confidence says, "God's got this."  Biblical confidence is rooted in obedience to what GOD is calling you to do.  Pride is rooted in arrogance to what YOU are wanting to do.  The Bible asks a question of "why so down and lacking confidence, put your trust in God" (Psalm 42:5).  WHO you put your trust in determines HOW you progress forward.  Whether you realize it or not, God trusts you more than you trust yourself.  You are called to do great things.  That's not a leadership cliché’ but a truth from Jesus who reminded us, "Greater things you will do because I go to the Father" (John 14:12).  I think that's why I love James and John arguing over who is greatest in the Kingdom (Luke 9:46).  Basically "who is more awesome...me or you?"  was the argument Christ had to settle.  Notice Jesus didn't shut them down for their confidence but simply asked them if they had what it takes to do the big thing God called them to do.  Spending time with Christ on a regular basis allows Him to bring the greatness in you to the surface for you to discover but it also He brings the confidence to do what God is calling you to do.  


The messages of what others say about you is no match for the mind of Christ in you.  

 

GUARD AGAINST OPINIONS

Don't let other people's opinions chip away at your confidence.  They may not sabotage your confidence but it will chip away at it.  The young leader has to do their best to not be ruled by what other people think but instead be ruled by what God thinks.  You'll get opinion from everyhewere.  If you live only by other people's opinions you won't be confident.   The reality is a 100 opinions of others on how great you are to "build your confidence" doesn't compare to the weight of only God's opinion on who you are.  The messages of what others say about you is no match for the mind of Christ in you.  That mind comes from confiding in God, trusting in God with your calling and your future.  The danger is once something is chipped away at it enough, it has potential to be discarded.  But God says this, "Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised (Hebrews 10:35-36).  



 

The biggest killer of confidence is comparison.

SECURE YOURSELF

Insecurity always shows up I a person’s life.  It can possibly be disguised but it can’t be hidden.  I have found a direct correlation between my security in my relationship with Jesus and my security with other people.  If I'm insecure in my relationship with God then I will be insecure with my relationships with others. On the other hand ... the more secure I am with God the more secure and confident I will be in moving forward in God's plan for my life.   Remember, “You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength”. You can do all He calls you to do, because He will equip you for His call – and strengthen you when you need strength most. If you are facing insecurity in leadership, remember “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).  Insecurity is when I'm focused on what others think about me but security is when I'm focused on what God thinks about me.  The more I am anchored in God’s “yes” for my life, then the more When you truly find out how God made you to be...you will never want to be anyone else or do anything else.

 

I have found a direct correlation between my security in my relationship with Jesus and my security with other people. 

 

BE ON THE OFFENSIVE

Leaders who are lacking confidence are protective of their performance.  They are sensitive about their positions.  They are constantly aware of others authority and try to control others around them to protect their position, performance an auithority.  Leader’s who want to grow in their confidence move from a posture of defensiveness to an offensive position.  Confidence leaders  celebrate others performance and champion them forward.  Insecure leaders see their significance as “God’s gift to their community or organization” but confident leaders see their “positions as a gift to their company” and try to have their department and relationships be supportive to each other.  Confident leaders hold an offensive posture by giving authority and responsibility away to others allowing the community to celebrate their “collective” potential.   

 

FIND INSPIRATION FROM OTHER CONFIDENT PEOPLE

Seek wisdom from other leaders who have gone before you.  I love that the Bible is full of leaders who were felt unqualified and who were lacking the skills and education to do the job.  When I feel overwhelmed or insecure, I read the stories like those of Gideon, Moses, Joseph, David, or Joshua repeatedly to supply me with great encouragement.)  Find knowledge from mentors who are farther down the road than you.  Read books on topics that interest you and from authors you want to mimic of learn from. Up your education.  Join a network.  The more you grow in information the more competent you will feel in your role.

 

DISCOVER GOD’S PERSPECTIVE

Insecurity rearranges everything you see and hear in leadership. So maybe the chaos you're experiencing as a leader in your organization, family, etc is because you are listening to the wrong voices or you are focusing your eyes on the wrong things. If God holds everything together then being held by God means and with God and in God means you should be the most secure person so a lack of confidence could mean that you were feeling out of the grip and hand of God.  Focus on Christ and experience your foundation becoming firmer.  

 

Confidence is not what You do with God but what God does with you...so don't limit God by your insecurity.  When God affirms you it's not for just for a moment but to put you in a place of extreme security in Him. Confidence is what sustains you.  

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BLUNT on Humility

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Humility doesn’t makes sense in our world.  Humility calls for you to be courteous, respectful and patient in a world that is shrill, disrespectful and intolerant.  So to be humble is to be unreasonable.  Humility goes against the grain of reason because this virtue compels you to not think about yourself in a world that is obsessed with itself.  Go against the grain. Place a value on people over perceptions, responsibility over immaturity and personal dignity over personal drive.  Humility understanding you don’t need the attention.  It’s putting others first.  It’s encouraging others to believe bigger and become better.  It is living in the enjoyment of life that comes when others around you are thriving.  True humility means looking out for the interests of the collective good over your own personal gain.  It’s considering others better than yourself and other’s needs bigger than your own.  Be humble by being consumed with being cheerful and insightful individuals who take a genuine interest in the affairs and the affections of others. 

  

Humility places a value on people over perceptions, responsibility over immaturity and personal dignity over personal drive



Humility is not denying your strengths but embracing your weaknesses.   It’s discovering there are great parts about you along with your flaws. The more honest you are about your strengths and weaknesses, the more humble you will become.  Humility is not thinking "less of me" but thinking "more about God”.  The more you discover God’s love for you, the more grateful you will be for a life saved by grace and receiving it … without achieving it.  Compelling you to live a life of confidence in God and not in yourself.  A confidence in God attributes credit to God for your successes and accepting your own failures.  It's connecting all your blessings back to God and celebrating all your successes because of God.  The more comfortable I am with being me the more I don't need others to approve me.  I draw less attention to myself and give more attention to others.  False humility is an evasive “I’m nobody” with continued deflections in the face of sincere compliments.  True humility is an enthusiastic “you’re somebody” with graceful appreciation because of sincere compliments.

A humble person is driven to develop others and not be threatened by others.

Humility is security.  It’s saying you don’t have to be the loudest, the brightest or the biggest in the room.  Humility says I get to improve you.  Insecurity says I have to impress you.  So, make your life less about appearances to others and more about the advancement of others.  Humility compels you to surrender and make choices that are centered on the advancement of the mission instead of being clouded by the obsession of your own name.   A humble person is driven to develop others and not be threatened by others. It’s the difference between selfish ambition and Godly ambition.  The result of pride is resistance from God.  The result of humility is acceptance from God.  Grace is the ultimate expression of God’s acceptance and favor in a person’s life.  Giving anyone who surrenders to it a supernatural confidence. It is a confidence that with God, you can do anything for anyone.  A humble person is confident with the grace received to understand that who they are and what they will ever do is dependent on who God is and what God will ever do.  Don’t mistake confidence for arrogance.  Arrogance is endorsing what has been achieved through your own efforts but confidence is celebrating what has been accomplished through God’s. 

Don’t mistake confidence for arrogance.



If you liked this brutally honest post about humility, check out our latest book about other relevant topics of faith and life that we are getting honest about at www.mybluntbook.com


What do you think about humility?

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7 Ways to Navigate our Highly Charged Political Culture

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As the next generation and those of us leading the next generation, one of the hardest emotions we have to manage is our passion for justice. More than ever we are a generation that desires to “right wrongs” that are happening in the world around us.  And that’s a good thing!  However, there are times when our passion for justice overides our command to honor those in charge.  Jesus chose to honor first before bringing justice to the world and we should do the same.  As wrong as it was for him to be shamed by those in charge, discredited by authorities and falsely accused, Jesus chose not retaliate but to honor those in charge and leave the justice up to God through the cross.

But I’m fully aware that it’s not as easy as were saying. So, how do we honor those God has put over us when we don’t agree with them?  Here some suggestions:

1. Stop labeling each other and start learning from each other

Christians can fall into the trap of dishonoring others whose political beliefs or ideas are different.  Left-leaning Christians engage in rhetoric that labels our right-leaning authorities as anti-poor, anti-woman, anti-immigrant and so on.  Right-leaning Christians can label our democratic friends on the left as anti-capitalist, anti-white, anti-baby, anti-cop, etc.  What if we labeled each other as human beings?  What if we saw each other as creations of God?  Those labels give us a starting point to engage with others that isn’t political but personal to God.  They give us permission to accept each other despite our political positions so we can listen to each other rather than scream at each other.  Pursue the right perspective of each other before pursuing the right to push back against each other.  Your perspective of who you are is the best starting point to engage others where they are at.

2. Being disagreeable doesn’t mean being dishonorable

When the actions of your leadership disagrees with your view of what leadership is, you have a choice to make.  Young David, an up-and-coming leader became successful and did everything right with those around him.  Even with those who were in authority over him.  King Saul, a political and spiritual leader that David reported to, chose to be irrational and dysfunctional.  To the point of wanting to kill David.  How would you honor a man who relentlessly sought to kill you? David had an understanding of the authority.  That God puts kings in charge and he knew that God had established making Saul king (1 Sam. 9:15-16). While Saul was his political leader, David’s honor for Saul was seen through is “honor lens” every day.  Every response by David towards Saul’s rants and ravages revealed to others how not only how much David loved God by how much he honored.  David spared Saul's life in the cave (1 Sam. 24:4-22) and again on the field of war while Saul was sleeping (1 Sam. 26:1-12) until finally this irrational ruler was defeated in battle and fell upon his own sword.  David not only grieved his death, prayed and fasted but wrote a song about his fallen leadership (2 Sam. 1:17-27). Instead of recounting all of Saul's weaknesses, the song he wrote actually recounted his honor.  Whenever possible, show respect for those in charge no matter how crazy they can sound (and maybe even write a song about them).

3. Engage with maturity don’t expel with immaturity 

It’s hard when we don’t get our own way.  My kids have taught me that.  They throw a tantrum, hit, throw and scream.  That’s what immaturity fosters.  Maturity provokes civility, conversation and peaceful discourse.  When we choose to riot, rebel and resist, it communicates a message to others that is immature.  God wants us to be mature as Christians.  Not just mature but “Christlike.”

For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.

He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. 1 Peter 2:21-23

It’s tempting to bully behind your keyboard and tweetstorm.  But it would be far more valuable to donate your time, financial contributions or professional skill-sets to an organize your community (life group, small group, facebook group, book club, etc) and find where you can be a resource of information and a steward of conversation. Many people feel like they can’t get involved because they don’t know where to start. Just find a door of opportunity and start the conversation.

4. Instead of creating walls, create opportunities

Jesus chose to go into difficult places, not avoid them.  He was seen with the marginalized, the broken and the hurting.  He was a friend of drunks, sexual deviants, outcasts, etc.  He was more pro-woman than any political figure in history considering the context of the first century.  He was more “politically right” with his beliefs about Scripture, loving the religious, supporting the Roman military and leading with charity.  He also was more “liberal” with the way He chose to love:  Jesus fed the hungry, reached out cross-culturally, identified with the poor, loved the religious and fought for the outsider.  , etc.  He chose to live by breaking down walls.  When we break down walls and come together with those who are different than us, we show the world that we are His disciples and that Jesus is who He said He is (John 17).   

5. Live in the “in-between” 

We know a lot lately about not wanting to live in the “upside-down.”  But do you know about living in the “in-between.”  The in-between is that space between the extremes  of faith and politics.  Here’s what I mean.  Take Matthew and Simon.  These are two of Jesus disciples.  Jesus recruited Simon the zealot (essentially and anti-government, religious radical) to be on his team and Matthew (a pledged allegiance to the Roman government employee).  Jesus showed us all that two people on polar opposites of the political spectrum can live and love in community together.  We will always be surrounded by these two sides: those who “share my faith but don’t agree with my politics” and those who “share my political view but don’t agree with my faith.”  How you live in-between will determine how you honor.

6. “Pump the breaks” on conditional honoring 

We are quick to dismiss others who don’t agree with our political views, parenting views, etc. We seem to have drifted into a conversational norm of “ I will respect you if you respect me but if we disagree then ‘screw you.’”  People are going to disagree with you.  Simply writing them off and calling them a name or putting a label on them doesn’t make us better as a community. Just because you don’t agree with them doesn’t mean they aren’t human.  God wants us to honor all people (1 Peter 2:17).  Honor is not emotional response but is meant to be a humble response.  Even Jesus who was being dishonord by everyone around him who was deserving of honor but received none, chose the higher road and we should too:

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names.” Philippians 2: 3-9

7. Submission to authorities not subversion of authorities

Imagine being forced to live under a political leadership you didn’t vote for and completely despised.  Some of us would say, “lived it for 8 years” and some would say “living it right now.”  In Daniel, four young and ambitious leaders found themselves living under and working under an administration that was different than what they believed in.  The administration was enforcing rules that was against the convictions these young people believed.  Rather than rebelling and resisting, these young people took a different approach:  they honored their leadership about the expectations, the rules and regulations they didn’t agree with:

[Daniel] asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods. Now God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel. …Whenever the king consulted them in any matter requiring wisdom and balanced judgment, he found them ten times more capable (Daniel 1:8-9, 20).

The result of responding the right way gave them more political and relational clout than they ever could have imagined.  Instead of just protesting and screaming at the sky, what if we chose to have rational discourse with those in charge over us?  We may have the right to protest, but is it the right thing to do right now in your disagreement?

Anything else you would add?

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Finding Your True Self While Surrounded By Comparison Pressures

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Today, we live in a “tell everyone” culture.  Instagram, twitter, facebook, blogs all push us to record ourselves.  Think about the trends we’ve seen unfold over the last 20 years or so: 

 

We take hundreds of “selfies” on our phones.

It’s been calculated that the average Millennial will take 25,000 selfies in their lifetime. We love to record ourselves, on photos and in video. We even feel the need to capture how we look in everyday moments of the week.

 

We feel we must record our stories.

Millions find a way to document heir story and tell it to others. In the past, the autobiography ought to be the "preserve of the people who had something important to say" or who were of "lofty reputation.” Today—anybody can start a blog and write about themselves.  

 

 We build personal platforms to talk about our lives.

People create platforms for their lives, hobbies or interests. Thanks to social media, millions of platforms have been created so others can see who we are and what we’re doing.

 

The thought is do these realities foster a new kind of self-esteem? Does my desire to record my life signal a healthy posture to pass value on to others or does it indicate I’m starving for attention?  Do these realities influence me to believe that my sense of identity must come from lots of “views” or “shares” or “likes” or “retweets?”

 

Is that our scorecard now?

 

Futurist Len Sweet writes in his book, Nudge, “We live in an attention-deficit culture more adept at gaining attention than at paying attention.”

 

I believe we live in a 21st century culture that fosters an identity problem. In generations past, our sense of identity was primarily drawn from:

 

  • Finding where I fit in the bigger picture and how do I contribute there
  • Demonstrating my worth by using my talents while on a team of people
  • Belonging to a family and guarding the honor of the family’s reputation

 

How Can We Build True Identity?

 

 

 

1. Discover our authentic talents and use them to add value to other people.

 

We will cultivate a robust self-esteem when we feel what it’s like to use our unique abilities to serve those less fortunate.  The more we put others first in a me-first society, the more we will discover who we are and who God is.  

Let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8

 

 

 

2. Connect to a name or cause that’s bigger than us and play a role in that cause.

 

Whether they know it or not, we long to “belong” to something bigger than ourselves.  When we find a community that has a greater purpose and it's obvious I'm better when that community is together.  Whether it's a family, I tried, the church, and organization or whatever place where your values lined up… Let those values be linked to a cause that you can believe in that goes beyond you.

He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" declares the LORD. Jeremiah 22:16

 

 

3. Rely on personal achievement, not just affirmation, to convey our value.

As someone who loves which affirmation I've come to realize that affirmation from others won't be enough.  Identity is forged through doing something valuable with what we’ve been given.

Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalm 37:4 

 

 

4. Attach our identity to something that cannot be taken away.  

Connect your identity to something (your faith, your cause, your family, etc.) that can’t be stolen by others.  Your identity should never depend on the opinion of another person alone. That’s why social media comments or popularity are not reliable or sustainable.  I love that Mary chose the one thing that couldn't be taken from her and that was her connection to Jesus. 

But only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:42

 

 

5. Become emotionally secure enough to compliment other’s gifts and value.

It's true that we actually feel better about ourselves when we can authentically praise someone else for their virtues, and stop constantly comparing our features. 

Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Philippians 2:3

 

Any you would add?

 

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Sifting for Truth Amongst the Fake

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Fake news.  False reports.  Fact checking. 

 

Here’s what I’m realizing:  everyone has a deep desire to know the truth.  Our hardest part is differentiating truth from opinions.  Truth is absolute and opinions are resolute.  Truth is factual and opinions are emotional.  Truth is accurate and opinions acclimate.  Truth authenticates and opinions speculates.   Truth is principled and opinion is personal.

 

If you think asking questions or doubting what you believe makes you less of Christian…you are mistaken.

 

I realize there are times when our opinion’s come into alignment with truth.  I would argue we want our opinions to be truth.  But what I’m simply trying to do is show the difference between how we analyze a situation versus how we feel about a situation.  Because there are times when how we feel about something is different than what is the truth about something.

 

Truth authenticates and opinions speculate. 

 

Recently my son and I were working math problems.  I have a hard time changing the oil of my car in my driveway to show my son that “his dad is valuable for life success” so I have to resort to showing off my video game skills, breakdance moves and keen math intuition.

 

(fun fact:  I was considering being a math teacher – but not the boring kind but the fun kind – the kind that says “If you have the high score in Call of Duty of 750,000 and your buddy, jacked up on 5 hour energy drinks beats you by 36%, what is the total points that ….” – you get my drift). 

 

My son begins to ask for help on checking his long division.  When I pointed out that 19 divided by 6 is not 3, he began to get upset and tell me how he knows it’s right because he “felt he did the right formula.”  He then points with his fingers and shows me that “see dad, three 6’s fit into 19.”  We all know there is a remainder of “1” that my kid couldn’t wrap his head around or understand. Even though he was right about three 6’s, the teacher would still mark it incorrect if he didn’t show that.  His feelings were very real and he was right in his logic up to a point but his limited knowledge of the truth of division and his passionate feelings about being right about the answer misguided him. 

 

 He felt he was right…but he was still wrong.

 

I hate to say it, but 2 + 2 will never equal 5 no matter how you feel about it.  It is simply a truth that we all live by.  We feel passionate about things.  We may even establish them as truths in our own mind.  However, there is a difference between opinions on matters and the truth of the matter.  As we spend time in our young adults communities and in your small groups or one-on-one, key cultural issues will surface in the midst of the conversation along with a variety of opinions.  So how do we find truth in the midst of opinions?

 

4 Thoughts To Help You In Your Journey For Truth: 

 

1. SCRIPTURE IS ALWAYS OUR STARTING POINT

As young adults and leaders leading this next generation, we can’t waver on the source of our truth. “Experts” are willing to give us their latest research and findings after studying a particular topic. Of course we should read, listen to, and chew on the findings in the areas of culture that we are passionate about? Absolutely! However, research and findings can never replace the complete source of truth: Scriptures.  So start with what the Bible says and work your way forward from there.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

 

 

2. KEEP ASKING QUESTIONS

If you think asking questions or doubting what you believe makes you less of Christian…you are mistaken. You are owning your faith.  That is exactly what God wants and what the Christian community needs.  Followers of Christ who aren’t blindly following but who are sincere about what they believe makes the church relevant and stronger.  When we are in our communities, we don’t have to avoid the things that may seem difficult or may cause some controversy in the conversation. The fact that we are willing to talk about the hard questions of culture and faith breaks down a mindset that many young adults have:  You are not allowed to doubt or ask questions in church.  Simply not true.  The refugee crisis is divisive to Christians, some believe it’s our duty and some believe it’s dangerous.  So ask the questions and debate the answers.  You are not less of a Christian for doing it. 

 

The issues that we are reading about and talking about aren’t just policies on paper but are tied to human beings connected to these issues.

 

As said earlier, we have to point out that some issues are not as easily solved or answered with the Bible or the church.  That’s ok.  Live in the grey but let BOTH loving God AND loving people guide your actions.  Loving God without loving people makes you “religious” and loving people without loving God makes you contentious.

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  1 Corinthians 13:4

 

 

3. ITS NOT “WHAT” YOU THINK BUT “HOW” YOU THINK

In a society where everything is figured out for us by typing in a few words in Google or asking Siri, we have lost the desire or ability to actually think through an issue. Recently, if you think differently than the other, you are labeled anit-_______ than celebrating our differences, we have lost our courage to have conversations with those who think differently than us.  As a young adult community, take the role of helping each other learn how to think.

 

In many cases...we have truth connected to our faith AND to a person. 

 

Ask hard questions—not information questions—but questions that intersect with the daily realities of life. Key individuals in my life challenged me to think. There were college professors and mentors who did not allow me to simply be satisfied with the “correct” answer or the “churchy” answers.  They asked me WHY I believe that which pushed me to consider how I came to that conclusion. I am grateful for leaders who gave me permission to “pushback” and helped me use my mind to find truth on critical issues. 

 

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

 

 

4.  THE TRUTH OF AN ISSUE IS DIFFERENT THAN THE PERSON TIED TO THE ISSUE

The hard part is when the truth of the Bible conflicts with our love for the person.  Recently I was at a restaurant and I was talking with some bright and smart young adults in my community.  When we were talking, I realized the world isn’t as black and white on issues as it used to be.  What I mean is that issues that we are reading about and talking about aren’t just policies on paper but are tied to human beings connected to these issues.  We can’t talk about the truths of refugees, abortion, same sex attraction, etc without connecting them to someone we know or someone who knows someone. 

 

 

This makes it complicated.  Because as Christians, we have a source of truth that is undeniable to us:  Jesus.  He made it clear that He is the way, the truth and life.  The Bible, the Word of God, is also our source of truth.  As Christians we believe it to be the ultimate source of how we develop our convictions and celebrate our values.  However, it becomes complicated when we are trying to decide how we feel or what we think about a cultural issue.  In many cases...we have truth connected to our faith AND to a person.  This is where feelings cloud our judgments, judgments affect our opinions, opinions direct our emotions, emotions give us reactions.

 

The truth of a matter doesn’t change the truth that we love the person connected to the matter.  Grace and truth work together to give us posture and narrative that builds unity in our community rather than unraveling our community.  If you don’t have truth, you will have a weak community that doesn’t stand under pressure because their foundation will shift when the opinions do.  If you don’t have grace, you have a community that is selfish and exclusive.   The essence of the word “grace” means charitable and favorable.  So if we choose to not show favor and charity to those different than us, then your community becomes prejudiced.  Let grace and truth work together.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14

 

Any other thoughts I’m missing?

 

 

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Want to Be Fruitful? Look to Your Roots

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We live in ambitious times. Ambition is celebrated and rewarded in our culture. Being ambitious to find your purpose isn’t wrong, but striving to obtain possessions and power is. Because when you strive for those things you miss out on enjoying what you have, where you are and whom you’re with. Success isn’t determined by how ambitious you are but by how faithfulyou are.

 

What’s underground isn’t as celebrated as what’s above ground: our platforms, our titles, our accomplishments, our things, etc.

 

Success will always call out for you. Especially if you are talented, gifted or have a platform that gets recognition. In our culture we have a tendency to overvalue 15 minutes of fame and undervalue 15 years of faithfulness. We curate 280 characters on Twitter but don’t cultivate 280 days of character in our lives. Faithfulness is an attribute of God, and a fruit of the Spirit. Faithfulness determines success.

 

Opportunities are everywhere.

 

Success is misleading.

 

Stop trying to measure success by comparing yourself to everyone else. Someone else’s success can’t be yours because their yes to God isn’t yours. Success will not always equal the outcome you want in a situation, but your success will always be youryes to God.

 

We curate 280 characters on Twitter but don’t cultivate 280 days of character in our lives.

 

Succeeding at the wrong thing could be your biggest failure. That’s why it’s important to steward your “now” well because it is training and shaping you for your “next.” Don’t take shortcuts. Shortcuts “cut short” the work of God on your life. Grow where you’re planted. Become grounded and develop a root system.

 

Success will always call out for you.

 

I was out to dinner with a great friend this weekend and we were talking about the unseen parts of our lives that are so critical and rarely celebrated. We don’t celebrate the prayer lives of others, we don’t Instagram our “dad diaper changes” so mom can take a breather, we don’t periscope our devotional lives consistently to show the world we know how to seek God, etc. What’s underground isn’t as celebrated as what’s above ground: our platforms, our titles, our accomplishments, our things, etc. The reality is roots precede fruits. To bear fruit that you will enjoy and that will endure, you need great roots. Stay grounded and focused and watch God bring your successes to life and build you a future you can trust.

 

(THIS POST IS CUT AND PASTE FROM MY LATEST POST AT OUTREACH MAGAZINE...YOU CAN FIND MY OTHER WORKS HERE)

 

7 ROOTS OF SUCCESS:

 

1. DEPTH

The depth of your success is determined by the quality of the people with you. Success is a team sport; no one ever succeeds alone. Therefore, the impact of your leadership ability is measured by the people you attract to lead alongside you.

 

2. CAPACITY

Your capacity for success is determined by your courage to take great risks, and the wisdom to know when not to. It’s your capacity for understanding, thinking and acquiring wisdom and knowledge and how you process and order your wisdom.

 

3. SUSTAINABILITY

The sustainability of your success lies in the divine tension between having a short memory in the courage department of your mind when you fail, and a having long-term memory in the wisdom department of your mind so you don’t repeat the same mistakes again.

 

4. POWER

The powerof your success is determined by the level of confidence you have in your own ability to complete the mission and the amount of trust you empower others with to help them accomplish their mission. The amount of faith you have in God’s ability to cover your weaknesses, as well as fix your failures is more powerful than you realize.

 

5. LONGEVITY

The longevity of your success is determined by your ability to reproduce world changers and history makers—people who can carry greatness into the generations you will never see. Its proof is in your level of ability to empower true greatness in others. Success is successors. Those who come after you and live on beyond you to carry your mission beyond you and to fulfill their mission because of you.

 

6. STRENGTH

The strength of your success lies in the grace you display in tough seasons, the level of kindness you give to those who fall short of your standards and the patience you display when you or others fail the mission.

 

7. DEFINITION

Your success is defined by your faithfulness to your divine call, not in the outcome of your mission. In other words, faithfulness is success because ultimately outcomes are determined by God, not you.

Read more from Alan Pastian »

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Building a Foundation of Success

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We live in ambitious times.  Ambition is celebrated and rewarded in our culture.  Being ambitious to find your purpose isn’t wrong but striving to obtain possessions and power is.  Because when you strive you miss out on enjoying what you have and where you are at and who you’re with.   Success isn't determined by how ambitions you are but by how faithful you are.  

 

Succeeding at the wrong thing could be your biggest failure. 

 

Success will always call out for you.  Especially if you are talented, gifted or have a platform that gets recognition.  In our culture we have a tendency to overvalue "15 minutes of fame" and undervalue 15 years of faithfulness.  We curate 140 characters on twitter but don't cultivate 140 days of character in our relationships.  Faithfulness is an attritbute of God.  Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit.  Faithfulness determines success.

 

Opportunities are everywhere.  

 

Success is misleading.  

 

Stop trying to measure success by comparing yourself to everyone else.  Someones else's success can't be your's because their yes to God isn't yours.  Success will not always be your outcome you want in a situation but your success will always be YOUR YES to God in a situation.

 

Succeeding at the wrong thing could be your biggest failure.  That's why it's important to steward your "now" well because it is training and shaping for your "next."  Don't take shortcuts.  Shortcuts "cut short" the work of God on your life.   Grow where you're planted.  Become grounded and develop a root system.  I was out to dinner with a great friend this weekend and we were talking about the unseen parts of our lives are so critical and rarely celebrated.  We don't celebrate the prayer lives of others, we don't instagram our "dad diaper changes" so mom can take a few minutes breather, we don't periscope our devo lives consistently to show the world we know how to seek God, etc.  What's "underground" isn't as celebrated as what's above ground:  our platforms, our titles, our accomplishments, our things, etc.  The reality is roots precede fruits.  To bear fruit that you will enjoy and will endure, you need great roots.  Stay grounded and focused and watch God bring your successes to life and build you a future you can trust.  

 

Don’t take shortcuts.  Shortcuts ‘cut short’ the work of God on your life.  

 

 

Here are 7 Building Blocks for a Foundation of Success:

1. Your depth of your success is determined by the quality of the people with you. Success is a team sport; no one ever succeeds alone. Therefore, the impact of your leadership ability is measured by the size of people you attract to lead alongside you.

2. Your capacity for success is determined by your courage to take great risks, and the wisdom to know when not to.  It’s your capacity for understanding, thinking and acquiring wisdom and knowledge and how you process and order your wisdom.  

3. Your sustainability of your success lies in the divine tension between having a short memory in the courage department of your mind when you fail, and a having long-term memory in the wisdom department of your mind so you don’t repeat the same mistakes again. :)

4. Your power of your success is determined by the level of confidence you have in your own ability to complete the mission and the amount of trust you empower others with to help others  accomplish their mission.   The amount of faith you have in God’s ability to cover your weaknesses, as well as fix your failures I more powerful than you realize.   

5. Your longevity of your success is determined by your ability to reproduce world changers and history makers – people who can carry greatness into the generations you will never see.  It's proof is in your level of ability for you to empower true greatness in others or shrink people’s confidence in others.  Success is successors.  Those who come after you and live on beyond you to carry your mission beyond you and to fulfill their mission because of you.  

6. Your definition of your success is defined by your faithfulness to your divine call, not in the outcome of your mission. In other words, faithfulness is success because ultimately outcomes are determined by God not you.

7. The strength of your success lies in the grace you display in tough seasons, and the level of kindness you give to those who fall short of your standards, and the patience you display when your or others fail the mission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When Monks Fly: More Christian Innovation and Less Cultural Immitation

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Recently I traveled to England.  Whenever I go to the UK, I try to visit new places that I haven’t been to before (Stonehenge, Oxford, Whales, etc.). This time I was introduced to a quaint English village called Malmesbury.  In the center of town there is an historic abbey filled with history, relics and incredible stories.   

 

Christianity is destined to be at the center of culture creating ideas, bringing inspiration and fulfilling aspirations.

 

While admiring this beautiful old Church and it's legacy, I couldn’t help but notice a stained glass window with a monk with wings named Eilmer of Malmesbury.  Inspired by the Greek fable of Icarus (Icarus father Daedalus crafted and fastened wings to his son Icarus inspiring him to fly),  Eilmer himself was inspired to take to flight  Being an avid stargazer and studier of astrology, he perched on the top of the Abbey and proceeded to jump...being the first man recorded to fly.  He is expected to have flown over 200 meters- stunning his colleagues and mesmerizing the town and becoming the first man (and monk) to fly!   

 

 

 

Greek poets have dreamt about it. 

 

Ancient myths and legends have written about it.  

 

Man has desired it.     

 

A Christian did it.   

 

 

Although his first attempt was his last (Eilmer only made one flight) it seemed to inspire many others to take the same leap.  Maybe this inspired Leonardo de Vinci coming up with more than over one hundred sketches for flying.  Perhaps that promoted two French brothers by the name so Joseph & Michel Montgotifere to come up with the idea of the air balloon. Possibly this compelled two American brothers by the name so Orville and Wilbur Wright to test their first flight at Kitty Hawk located in North Carolina opening their first flight school for public.   

 

Stop reacting to what you see happening and start responding to where you see Jesus moving. 

 

Here’s the point:  

 

Christians are meant to be cultural influencers.   Christianity is destinied to be at the center of culture creating ideas, bringing inspiration and fulfilling aspirations.  In Malmesbury and in many of these old communities, the center of town has a church with a steeple rising above the others homes where the community built itself around the church because the church was full of life, ideas and creativity making the community a better place.  Now many of these churches are hollow relics of outdated ideas and irrelevant beliefs.  While still physically located in the interior of these beautiful villages, they are spiritually perimetric to its village inhabitants. 

 

Once Christendom was central in community and the source of thriving innovation, it now seems peripheral to community and languishing with imitation.  

 

 

 

So the question is, “Where are the flying monks?” 

 

 

When culture had a dream to fly, God gave it to Eilmer.  When the community had a desire to believe for the impossible, God gave it to the church. All Eilmer had to do was take the leap. Despite rationale, reason and restraint, Eilmer chose to climb the stairs, open the window, scale the roof and take the leap.  And you should culturally take the leap, too.  

 

 

 

Taking the LEAP in culture means: 

 

 

  

L - LEAD TOWARDS SOLUTIONS

  

So much of what we are seeing in culture is a result of brokenness.  Broken people break people.  Hurt people hurt people.  But healed people heal people.  Free people, free people.  Stop reacting to what you see happening and start responding to where you see Jesus moving.  It’s easy to look at unredeemed people, places and things in culture and reject them.  Instead let’s be restorers of culture.  Let’s be the ones with the solutions to help fix what is flawed.  Have conversations not confrontations.  Live a lifestyle of generosity in front of others.  Model forgiveness.  Choose integrity in all circumstances.  If God has given you the ability to see the broken places around you then he will give you an ability to see a need to help the broken places around you.   Instead of creating walls, create opportunities.  Jesus chose to go into difficult places, not avoid them.  He was seen with the marginalized, the broken and the hurting.  He was a friend of drunks, sexual deviants, outcasts, etc.  He was more pro-woman than any political figure in history considering the context of the first century.  He was more “politically right” with his beliefs about Scripture, loving the religious, supporting the Roman military and leading with charity.  He also was more “liberal” with the way He chose to love:  Jesus fed the hungry, reached out cross-culturally, identified with the poor, loved the religious and fought for the outsider, etc.  He chose to live by breaking down walls.  When we break down walls and come together with those who are different than us, we show the world that we are His disciples and that Jesus is who He said He is. 

  

  

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.  

John 13:34

  

 

 

 

E - ENGAGE ENTHUSIASTICALLY

 

Take an inventory of what culture admires, enjoys and believes in as you attempt to engage with culture around you.  Humbly ask questions, look for signs of admiration in what they are talking about and start engaging.  When you discover what culture admires (i.e., the altar to the unknown god) that’s your starting point to engage and find the common ground in it.  If they love spirituality…so do you.  But your “center” is Jesus.  If they are talking about a movie, find out its theme.  Celebrate the themes of redemption, forgiveness, honor and sacrifice…all Biblical themes (don’t worry about rating, language, etc.; you’re finding common ground remember?)  Find spiritual themes behind music songs and celebrate those themes (Coldplay, Mumford & Sons, Ariana Grande, etc.)  .  Observe supernatural themes and redemptive analogies in tv and movies (American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, etc).  Use culture to speak to these things.  If you feel you can’t watch it but you hear others talking about it, then do easy research.  There is enough on Wikipedia and other entertainment sources to give you an understanding so that you can have some knowledge about these cultural pieces even if you don’t know the show. 

 

Because the world isn’t looking for someone to win the latest debate in the culture wars. The culture war is dying out and the idea of being in a “battle” is an imagery that is less appealing to both Christians and non-Christians. 

 

It’s easy for us to put people into catagories:  unsaved friends, worldly neighbors, secular campus, immoral co-workers, etc.  I understand that these are harmless descriptions in most instances but over time we place ourselves in a position of US and THEM when God is desiring WE.   Jesus created meaningful relationships with society’s sinners and outcasts.   Establish a relationship on common ground.  Instead of shaming culture for their false beliefs and gods, Paul does something that we also can do:  find common ground.  Paul does this by asking about, listening to and acknowledging their “Unknown God.”  This was his common ground and we can do the same. 

  

“So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: ‘Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way,for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.”  Acts 17:22,23

  

  

  

A – ACCESS YOUR AUTHENTIC UNDENIABILITY

  

Rise above culture by being undeniable.  There was an undeniable authenticity to who Jesus was when He was engaging in culture.  When culture wants to dictate the rules and call the shots…Jesus made his own rules and called His own shots.  Culture was set on the agenda but Jesus was sent on assignment.  Jesus wasn’t drawn into the fights of others but instead, Jesus was demonstrating faith to others.  Jesus never allowed others to pull him into their debate.  Because the world isn’t looking for someone to win the latest debate in the culture wars. The culture war is dying out and the idea of being in a “battle” is an imagery that is less appealing to both Christians and non-Christians.  If we posture ourselves to a dialogue than to engage in a battle for truth, we will most likely be more effective.  So, Ignore becoming another whining or angry voice in the mess. Instead rise above it. Stick to the agenda Jesus gave us from the beginning because it hasn’t changed:  Love God, love others and make disciples. Let me tell you what evangelism is not: 

  

+  Having an acute knowledge of theology 

+  Being super bold about faith issues 

+  Reserved for only certain Christians 

+  Bringing people to church 

+  Being extremely educated and extraordinary 

  

Simply put, evangelism as moving someone one step closer to Jesus.  It’s sharing your story of how Jesus has impacted your life with someone.  It’s inviting someone into your life and having a conversation with them about your life. To be someone who can share faith with others, all you need to be is unschooled and ordinary.  

 

Simply put, evangelism as moving someone one step closer to Jesus. 

 

"Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus."  Acts 4:13

  

  

  

P - PRIORITIZE PATTERNS

You have the power to shape the culture. To do so, you must model the behavior you want seen.  This means acting the way you want others to act. This means doing the things you want done, done. 

  

Jesus showed a new behavior for us as followers of Jesus that we were to model:  erase the boundaries that divided up culture as “us and them” and declare “we.”  Jesus modeled living a life of going into broken places and fixing them.  Jesus modeled this idea of "living out restoration" so much that He confused others with his actions to be with those who were considered unclean that He Himself was thought to be a drunk, glutton, friend of the cheaters…basically a sinner just like those He was reaching (Matthew 11:19). 

 

Be an inviting person instead of a convincing person.

 

That doesn't mean we can just do what we want and go to wherever we want to go without thinking.  Jesus was intentional with everyone he met and everything He did.  Jesus set Himself apart with His disciples to worship, show devotion to God away from the world.  Jesus had his 12 disciples that He prayed for and with that were lifegiving relationships that were essential for him.  To live consistently as a restorer and to redeem culture, you need a healthy community that you can get encouragement and prayer from.  You need a place to get realigned with God’s truth regularly so that you don’t drift off course.  So model having more conversations and less confrontations.  Live a lifestyle of generosity.  Model forgiveness. Be an inviting person instead of a convincing person.  Don't get me wrong, being convincing is a good thing.  But don't sacrifice your access to others at the expense of being assured by others you are right.  This makes us not only lose touch with our culture but it isolates us as well.   Smugness and superiority in things of faith are not appealing but humility and serving goes a long way.   I think that’s why grace is so appealing.  Grace is inviting and not imposing.   Grace and truth go together (John 1:17). So let grace lead the way and truth will back you up when necessary. 

  

  

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 

John 1:17

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How To Keep Going When You Don’t Feel Like It

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As leaders, what inspires us to stay strong, keep growing and keep committed to what God is calling us to do without giving up? 

 

4 leadership thoughts to stay inspired to keep going when it gets tough:

 

Remember it's roots before fruits.

People are quick to celebrate what they SEE a person doing but tend to forget that what was SOWN determined it's success.  We don't live in a heavily aggregate society like in the past, but the Bible is clear that what we reap, we sow (Galations 6:8).  Many keep that in a negative context but what about the hope in those words!  If you are leading an organization or a team, what you say and do will produce fruit.  If you want to see your organization have a heart to help others, then take them to places where others are hurting.  If you want to have a generous church, then talk about the power of giving, etc.  What you sow is seed that produces roots that leads to fruits.  The reality is, it's what's underground that really matters.

 

Don't compare yourself to others because your obedience will never look the same but the blessing is guaranteed.

Comparison traps are far to easy to fall into.  The more I follow others in social media, the more I find myself sizing myself up.  When we do nothing but look through the instagram lens for what God is doing through other people, we are simply getting a snapshot of their lives. Social media is a billboard, not a journal. Ministry is hard, whether it's 10 people or ten thousand.  You're called to fulfill  what God has called YOU to do...not someone else.

 

Become better at responding to altars than making altars.

That's old-school lingo to simply say, reduce the high amount of spiritual activity in your life and choose seek God first, as often as you can, when you can.  We become good at being concerned about helping others become better spiritually at the expense of neglecting our own walk with God.  Your "yes" to God's request will produce far better results for you and others than your "yes" to everybody else's requests.  A well that is dry is just a hole in the ground but a well that is full of water becomes a source of life for a whole community.

 

In your weakest moments God is always the strongest.

Your maturity is evident when your leadership becomes less how you feel and more about your faith.  We have to move beyond emotion to believe that God loves us just the same when we're at our worst and when we're at our best.  It takes faith to believe that God will use us in my least confident moments to produce a strong result to affirm our leadership.  Strength is not measured by might or power but by God's Spirit (2 Corinthians 12:9/Zechariah 4:6).  So allow your weakest moments that you are experiencing to become the strongest moments with God to produce the greatest faith you have ever seen.

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DAGGERS & SPURS: Understanding the Difference Between Friends and Enemies

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One thing is for sure:  belonging is necessary.  We belong with each other and we need each other.  We need each other for wisdom, counsel, encouragement, perspective, support, inspiration, loyalty, faithfulness and to push us. 

 

Hebrews 10:24 says, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”

 

We all know the uncomfortable feeling of experiencing the jab of a friend.  The times when we feel the prick of their words and actions and it doesn't feel good.  That sharp prick can be one of two things:  a spur or a dagger.  Because their is a big difference between a "spur in our side" and a "stab in our back."

 

Many of us know the pain of a dagger in the back when we lose the trust of a friend through betrayal, dishonesty and disloyalty.  We trusted them and they chose to stab us in the back.  But the purpose of spurs is different than the purpose of daggers when it comes to friendships.  A swords purpose is stop forward motion by "killing" the opposition but a "spurs" purpose is to unleash potential.  A spur's purpose is to unleash the capacity in the animal to go farther and faster.

 

Both are sharp and inflict pain but one is concerned about moving friendship forward and the other is concerned about stopping friendship all together.  That's why God is clear that we must "consider" or "to think carefully before making a decision" when you feel the prick and the pain in a relationship.

 

I think too many relationships ended prematurely because the pain of a spur was mistaken for dagger in the back.  A friends purpose is to push you past your hurt, past your pain and past your "past" so that you can run in such a way to not just gain ground but to win.

We need friends to challenge us. 

We need friends who we can be transparent with.

We need friends who we have been given permission to call it like they see it.

We need "Nathan's." 

David needed a Nathan who challenged him and was given permission to access his life in a way that no one else could to speak to him in a way that no one else could (Samuel 12).  Nathan showed David the error of his ways.  This friendship was not only reliable and trustworthy but centered in God.  Making Nathan's wisdom and counsel not just emotional and to the point but saturated with God's wisdom and authority.  Because that's when David's perspective shifted back to God's perspective.

 

 

Sometimes friends tell us what we don't want to hear and the question is are you listening?

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Inspiring Millennials To Lead

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Millennials want examples that can be trusted.  Many parental, political, spiritual, athletic and famous examples have let them down. So choose to be one of the few that they can look up to.  Many older leaders think millennials aren’t interested in generational wisdom transfer. This is not true. Younger leaders are hungry for mentoring and discipleship. 

 

LEAD BY EXAMPLE.  

 

Build it into your organizational environment!  Create a monthly mentorship group at a coffee shop with you and your younger staff, give them “office hours” to simply talk about whatever they need to (work and non-work-related issues. 

 

Broken homes have created a loss of role models for many young people.   There is a need for strong, “family-like” role models and the church is the best place to find them.  So create a family environment. Have “family dinners” as a staff.  Take time for “family prayer time.”  Make sure the work environment is experiential and family oriented. 

 

LEAD EACH PERSON UNIQUELY

 

Creating immovable standards or rules that apply to everyone no matter who they are isn’t helpful.  I don’t connect with my own children the same (they are at different ages and stages and genders).  So don’t be afraid to customize your approach at work.
 

BE A FATHER IN THE FAITH

 

Paul said we have a lot of teachers of faith, but a father in the faith is a rare find. Stop complaining about the person you wish they would be and start being the person they hoped you would be.  Even if you don’t’ have the time, find older mentors who do.  This gives them a chance to understand your church or organization while learning from a proven leader.

 

Some churches have started internship programs to inspire millennials with their best practices.  You can do the same.   Millennials love opportunities for quality time-individually and corporately. So make quality time a priority with your millennial-especially when they are new on the job. 

 

GIVE THEM SPACE TO RELATE

 

Throwing millennials right into their tasks when they come into organization is a set up for failure.  Give them a week to not produce but to simply relate.  Have them visit different department and simply soak up relationship, environment and culture.   

 

Churches can travel at such a fast pace that it is tempting to let new team members hit the ground running. This can communicate a negative culture to the new team member and also presents an environment that reacts to circumstances rather than proactive strategy.

 

Any you would add?

 

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People Didn't Get Me So Here's What I Did

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When you compare yourself to someone else you were simply saying you were trying to be someone else. Giving you a false inferiority under them if they're better or giving you a false superiority over them if you're better.  You never were supposed to feel superior or inferior but to be an admirer.  And more than admire be an enthusiast.  Celebrate what others are doing instead of comparing what others are doing is the best way to stay free from jealousy and pride. Your uniqueness doesn't and shouldn't make you superior or inferior but peculiar. No one can worship God like you or for you.

Since your life is an act of worship, every word you speak is a unique vernacular and sound that is distinct to the chorus of your community: every action is a unique expression to the mosaic of what the kingdom of God looks like the others.  If you don't know who you are and you don't know your identity then culture will tell you who you are and declare your identity.  The younger you are the harder it is to know who you really are because you haven’t had enough experiences, enough trials, enough pleasures to know what you like and what you don’t like.  But don't let that discourage you.  You still have history, past moments, passions, interests and relationships in your life that speak to who you are and what you're about.  

 

How do you learn who you are?  Here some fast points to get you thinking:

 

1.  Get Rid Of The Other ME’s

As you’re discovering yourself you will discover there are a few “me’s” you have to avoid: 

The ME I don’t want to be:  this "me" shows up in bitterness, unforgiveness, etc.

The ME I pretend to be:  this "me" shows up in insecurity, vanity, dishonesty, etc

The ME others want me to be:  this "me" shows up in people-pleasing performance, perfectionism, etc

 

But there is a ME that God wants you to be. That is the true you. Recognize the voices of these other "me's" and simply get rid of them.  Like assassins they will do everything in their power to sabotage your true identity so take them out first.    Henri Nouwen writes, “Spiritual greatness has nothing to do with being greater than others.  It has everything to do with being as great as each of us can be."  So let's find our inner greatness and watch God move through you like never before. 

 

Secure and self-aware leaders exude confidence and give confidence to others.

 

2.  Be yourself more often

Stay true to who you are. Secure and self-aware leaders exude confidence and give confidence to others. In a changing world, the habit of self-discovery is critical for the stability of your career, your relationships and your organization.  So if your relationships, environments, title or job changes...you don't. You stay true to who God has called you to be.   It’s not about what you do but who you are.  Which means your identity precedes your activity.  I propose Human being first then human doing.

 

 

3.  A better “me” is a better “we"

Great leadership starts with self-leadership, which means you know yourself. This is paramount. “Who am I?” is the foundation to “How do I ___________?” Everyone wants to be great. But few are willing to put in the hard work to get there.  You can’t take people to where you’ve never been so you’ve got to push yourself to get to where you want to go first.  When you discipline yourself and create habits to advance yourself, you have pioneered a trail that others will follow.  Essentially proving the point that a better “me” is a better “we."  Your self-leadership will always benefit those around you so lead yourself well. 

 

When you discipline yourself and create habits to advance yourself, you have pioneered a trail that others will follow.

 

4.  Know who you’re not

The best thing that you can do is invite honest feedback into your life.  Who has that permission to be honest with you, your career, your personality and your future?  We all know that girl on American Idol who was told “fulfill your dreams” and “you have an angel’s voice” only to have J-LO and leaving Seacrest to clean up the mess.  Don’t be that kind of voice to those around you…you are not avoiding a conflict but promoting a bad future for those in your life who need that honest feedback. 

 

Enlist a team of people around you to be honest with you and that you can be vulnerable with.  Do this regularly and ask them what you’re NOT good at.  It’s hard to receive criticism.  I know.  But think of it less as criticizing you and more of creating you…into a better person.  Teachability is a trait that is hard to master as a young leader so be intentional with others and cultivate a posture of teachability with others.  Give those you trust in you life permission to be honest with you and watch your gifts be brought to the surface.  

 

Teachability is a trait that is hard to master as a young leader so be intentional with others and cultivate a posture of teachability with others.

 

5.  Take a Test

Self-discovery tests are great tools to help identify who you are and what you're good at. It doesn’t matter if you prefer StrengthsFinder, Myers-Briggs, DISC, or any other reputable one. Pick one or two and get started. Know very clearly your areas of strength. Think of these tests as excavation tools.  They are unearthing what is already there. They will highlight areas, give you language and get you started.

 

Once you have a few results in hand, review them next to each other and look for words, phrases and patterns that come to the surface. This removes the emotion out of it.  A printout can’t “hurt your feelings” but will still be honest with your identity, gifts, and passions. And keep doing it every few years to see how your gifts and passions have changed.

 

6.  Schedule regular get-aways.

You need to put into your calendar times to "work in" your calling and "work on" your calling.  Basically, you have to pull out of the hustle and allow yourself time to work on yourself as a leader so that you can get back to working on your projects.  Book appointments with people you trust that you have given permission to speak into your life.  Run your current schedule, projects and life by these people.  They will give you insight as to what you need to work on. These must be personal retreats where you focus on reflection and introspection.  Go alone to a quiet place if possible and unplug from your phone, e-mail, and social media as much as possible.  Be intentional about answering specific questions about who you are and how you’ve changed since the last time you did this.

 

You need to put into your calendar times to “work in” your calling and “work on” your calling. 

 

7.  Keep Learning Because Self-discovery is not a one-hit-wonder

Self-discovery is about excavation and not production.  Producing who I am for others comes from outside pressures.  You mold yourself for the expectations of others.  Excavating who I am comes from the inside.  It’s already there and is embedded into my personality, etc.  It’s about unearthing who I am and what I’m meant to do.  Once you feel you have discovered your identity, you’ve probably changed. So self-discovery is not a one-time perception but a lifetime of excavation.  

 

 

Schedule identity-discovering exercises into the rhythms of your life. If you aren’t intentional about identity, you’ll ignore it because YOU are too important to be too busy to be overlooked or ignored!

 

What practices do you have that you could add?

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#blunt on conflict

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If you're in relationships you're going to be in conflict. My goal is to make peace with whoever I'm in conflict with.  If you're a peacemaker then you're a son of God (Matthew 5:9). Disagreement with someone does not mean misalignment with someone. I can disagree with my wife but I'm still in union with her. I can disagree with my boss end it doesn't mean I'm not unified with my organization.  A peacemaker's goal at the end of the day is reconciliation because a son values his family. So confront your bad attitude before it becomes a bad behavior leading to bad fight.

In most conflicts we are trying to "be right"  but it's more important to "do right."  So if you are at odds with someone go make it right then proving you were right. As a matter fact God says He values your right relationship with someone else more than your worship (Matthew 5:23-24).  Your community matters to God more than you think. Forgiving quickly and often is one of the most potent ways to show others Christianity really works.  Let your conflict be an invitation to cultivate a deeper community with those around you and not an excuse to dissolve your community.

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Part 2: Following Jesus When I Don't Feel Like It

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Following Jesus when you don't feel like will likely be one of the first tests you walk through when you start to follow Christ...and these testing moments will continue. If you haven't read Part 1 and catch up on what we are talking about you can read it here...

 

Spiritual living isn't void of feelings.  Spiritual living relies on feelings to affirm and confirm what God is doing and refuses to make feelings the primary source of God's will for your life.  The primary source of God's will for your life is and always will be obedience.  

Jesus made that absolutely clear when He said if we love Him we will obey Him (John 14:15-31).

 

Matthew 26:33-35 speaks about Peter who is a great example of a Christian whose emotions and obedience are in  alignment.  Peter is following Jesus and doing ministry with Jesus.  To the point where he emotionally outburst, "

 

33 Peter told Him, “Even if everyone runs away because of You, I will never run away!”

34 “I assure you,” Jesus said to him, “tonight, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times!”

35 “Even if I have to die with You,” Peter told Him, “I will never deny You!” And all the disciples said the same thing.

 

Peter and all the disciples are obediently following Jesus as close as possible.    They are also emotionally charged with passion and excitement for who Jesus is and what they will do for Him.  These are similar to our moments when we follow Christ with our own passions and our own exciting, "I will never deny You moments" :  At a worship experience and we are shouting out lout with all we have that we love our God, when we are sharing our faith at a coffee shop boldly and fearlessly, when we pray with someone at school or work and we don't care what others around us think, etc.  

But then we see a moment when we see Peter feeling like we do sometimes.  Peter, like us, has a moment where his own feelings about how he feels about himself and how Jesus feels about himself are misguided and not truly reflecting who Peter is and who Jesus is  

 

After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”

“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.

Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”

“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.

A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.   John 21:15-17

 

 

Peter felt Jesus didn't love him...but He did.  Peter felt Jesus was mad at him...but He wasn't.  Peter felt he wasn't worthy...but he was.  Peter felt he was unforgiven but he wasn't.   Peter felt he wasn't worthy to be a disciple (went back to old profession of fishing)...but he was to be the disciple leading the outpouring in the upper room in Acts.  He didn't feel like "the rock" but Peter realized that moment that how we feel about ourselves and how we feel about God isn't always true.  Peters misguided feelings are finally aligned with God.  Peter obeys God from that moment forward to obey the command of Christ when He said, "Feed My sheep."   Peter wasn't feeling it but Jesus certainly was.  

 

Finally we get one of the best highlights from Peter's ministry when he is preaching in Acts 2 and thousands come to Christ.  Passionately feeling it and purposefully obeying the call of God on his life that Jesus spoke to him in his early days, "Upon this rock I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18).

 

Obedience and feelings don't always line up.  When we don't feel it but we are doing it it's like our feelings are dragging.   Maybe I'll say it this way:  

 

OUR FEELINGS HAVE TO CATCH UP TO OUR OBEDIENCE.

 

Maybe that was the problem with Peter.  Peter was with Jesus.  He was following him from the boat to the shore, talking and eating together...but was he feeling the vibes?   No.  He was doing what Jesus asked but his feelings didn't catch up to His obedience.  Sometimes Jesus will call us closer to Him to pray, to love, to worship, to give to follow and we just need to obey because eventually our feelings will catch up and we will know because not only will we be doing the work of Jesus but also we will be feeling it as well.  Jesus said it best,

 

My sheep listen to my voice: i know them and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall enter perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.  John 10:27-28

 

 

How to not let your feelings get the best of you:

 

1.  Remind yourself that a loss of feelings doesn't mean a loss of faith.

I don't call my dad every day.  If I don't feel like I love my father every day it doesn't mean he doesn't love me every day.  I see my dad a few times a year but our love doesn't change and my feelings don't change.  God is my father and i'm His son.  Nothing can change that.  God is not a Father who abandon's and leaves you orphaned.  Quite the contrary.  He adopts you into his family and nothing can separate you from his love (Romans 8:15, 31-39).  So if you feel like God doesn't love you,  trust in the strong bond of the Father's love that he will not leave you. And even you cannot remove yourself from Him.  He's you're Father and he loves you unconditionally.  

 

2.  Be all in with God because God's all in with you

We may not always believe in us but God always believes in you.  What He starts He finishes.  The good work He begins in you is also the faithful work He completes in you (Philippians 1:6).

He's not like me when I'm trying to build an empire state building puzzle.  After I build it for a while, the border, then i'm out.  I'm not the guy who has the puzzle on the table for 6 weeks and delightfully shuffles over to the 10,000 piece nightmare and say to myself, this is so relaxing staring into a pile of chaos.  So I'm notorious for pulling out.   God's not...He's all in and will finish what He started.  

 

3. Know how God feels about me is different than how I feel about me sometimes

Just because you don't feel like you are worthy doesn't mean God doesn't think you are.  Just because you don't think you're worth the fight doesn't mean God isn't fighting for you right now.  Your perceptions and feelings about you are going to be different than how you feel about you.  

 

4.  Respond to God's promises than reacting to your feelings

God makes these promises to you when you don't feel like worshipping or praying for seeking God:

 

When you seek him with all your hearts you will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13)

When you press on to know Him, He will come to you like spring rain (Hosea 6:3)

When you come to jesus, your heart hunger will be satisfied (John 6:35)

 

 

5.  Remind yourself when we are faithless Gos is faithful

Even though I may not be loving God like I should every day, God is still loving me.  2 Timothy 2:13 says, "If we are faithless he remains faithful, for He cannot disown himself."  In the midst of my uncertainty he is certain to be with us no matter what

 

6.  Do what you used to do

When was the last time you were "on fire for God?"  What are you doing during those times that give you passion to keep going?  You're reading your Bible, spending time in prayer, hanging with other Christian friends, in Bible study, staring your faith?  Start doing those things and watch your feelings change

 

7.  Walk by faith and not by sight.

We walk by sight. We walk by feelings.  We walk by hearing.  We walk by feelings.  But God's best for us is to walk by faith as often as we can (2 corinthians 5:7).  Obedience is visible expression of our faith.  So follow God in obedience and see Him more than you ever thought you could.

 

8.  Don't live passively

The key here is refusing to be passive and making a conscious decision to do what’s right. Being passive means you wait for an outside force to move you or to feel like doing something. Use your will to choose what’s right. And pray for God’s grace to give you the ability to do it.

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Part 1: Following Jesus When I Don't Feel Like It

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Let’s be honest, there are times when it is really easy to follow Jesus, and then there are times when it is really difficult.

For example, when I am in a worship service and the song is powerful and moving to me then it’s easy to follow Jesus.

When I am sitting on the beach watching the sun rise, listening to the waves and looking at the ocean contemplating the peace and beauty of God, it’s easy to follow Jesus.

When I am sitting on my patio with a cup of coffee in my hands reading my Bible with my new Hillsong record on...it's easy to follow Jesus.

But …

Let someone be driving in the fast lane when they should be in the slow lane…

Talk behind my back and then forgive you for it...

Guy in front of me with 12 items in the 10 items or less lane....Oh, hail to the no.

 

These are meant to be funny...and to poke fun at how life is challenging in small ways as a Christian.  But what about the harder times in life when "I'm not feeling it" :  

 

When I'm reading Scriptures and when they are supposed to be the life-giving Words of God they just feel like words on a page to me...

When I'm praying to God who is my creator and Father but it just seems like I'm talking to myself...

When I'm worshipping in church and others around me are enjoying God and I just seem to be singing a song and I begin to wonder if this is all real...

 

There are times when it's hard to follow God and here's the simple reason:  I am not feeling it.  I don't feel like I love God.  I don't feel like worshipping.  I don't feel like reading my Bible.  I don't feel like going to church.  I don't feel like praying.  Again, I am simply not feeling it. 

 

 

And here's the difficult part:

Feelings come across so genuine.  Feelings are usually so authentic.  Feelings are so strong and they get me so emotional.  They are so vivid.  They seem so tangible.  They seem to validate who I am and what I am doing.  Which makes them easy to trust.   

But they are also misleading.  

 

Their are days and seasons when you feel like you love your spouse and then there are days when you don't feel it.  Because life happens:   You have to clean the house; you have to go to work; you have to change a diaper; you have to pay bills; you have to get up early or you are running late; you are short-tempered; you haven't seen each other in a few days...and the grind wears on you.  Ask me if I love my wife like I did on our wedding day when we are in the middle of a fight, the answer would be "not feeling it."  But ask me if she is the love of my life and I would say yes before you can finish the question.  Our marital love is a spiritual decision that started on my wedding day when she said yes. I chose Heidi when I felt like it and I choose her during the times when I don't...but I still choose her and always will.   I don't let my feelings dictate my marriage but I let my covenantal choice I made 19 years ago remind me that she's the one and all I need.  I can't fall out of love with her because I never stumbled into it but I chose her to be my love as she chose me.  My emotions don't disqualify my marriage when it's tough but my emotions affirm my marriage when we are close.  The point:  I don't always "feel" like I love my wife but I have chosen to commit myself to her even when my feelings don't match up.   My feelings where telling me that I didn't love her because I didn't "feel it" but the reality is our marriage is for life and I love Heidi more than anything in this world. 

 

There are days I don't feel like I love God.  But I am in a love relationship with God that isn't based on how I feel for the day but based upon the faith that God gave me to love Him and live for him 24 years ago.  So i trust my covenant  more than I trust my feelings or my emotions.  

 

But does that mean I shouldn't feel emotion or be emotional? 

No.  

God is emotional and has feelings.

 

 

 

If we are made in God's image, then we also are emotional and are supposed to have feelings.  Here's how God feels about spiritual things:  

 

God feels anger:  Psalm 7:11; Romans 1:18

God feels laughter: Psalm 37:13; Psalms 2:4

God feels Compassion:  Psalm 135:14

God feels grief: Genesis 6:6; Psalm 78:40

God feels love:  1 John 4:8; John 3:16

God feels hate:  Psalm 5:5; Psalm 11:5

God feels joy:  Zephaniah 3:17; isaiah 62:5

 

And the biggest point of it all:  God came into our world to know every temptation and every feeling and emotion we can experience but the difference is that as a human being... He didn't sin (Hebrews 4:15) while feeling everything we felt.  That's what makes God so trustworthy and understanding about your emotions and your feelings about a situation:   He knows what you're going through emotionally because He is emotional, He made you emotional and He knows what emotions you're feeling right now.  

 

We can live from faith to faith (Romans 1:17), strength to strength (Psalm 84:7), grace to grace (John 1:16)...but not from feeling to feeling.  

 

If you live from feeling to feeling you are in danger of "emotional living."  Emotional living is the opposite of a spiritual life in Jesus or "spiritual living."    So how do you know you are emotional living?

 

HERE ARE SOME DANGERS OF "EMOTIONAL LIVING":

 

Danger #1:  I don't feel God so God's not with me or cares about me.    

Emotional living says if you don't feel God then God is either mad at you, upset at you or doesn't want you.  Spiritual living understands nothing can separate you from the love of Christ (Romans 8).  

 

Danger #2:  I'm feeling it so I better jump in and just do it.   

Emotional living leads you in the wrong direction because what if what you are feeling isn't true...now you're heading in the wrong direction.  Spiritual living puts a reliability on God's wisdom and counsel and you choose not to make abrupt hasty decisions but calculated wise decisions with the right counsel. 

 

Danger #3:  I feel it's right so it must be true.  

Emotional living doesn't tell the truth.  Emotional living wants your emotions to speak first and then let truth back-up what you're feeling.  Spiritual living relies on Scripture to confirm and affirm the truth of a situation.  

 

Danger #4:  I feel it strongly so this must be my reality.  

Emotional living encourages that the only tangible and reliable substance to your faith is your tears, your joy, etc.  Spiritual living understands that what you feel right now is now what is actual.  

 

Danger #5:  I feel like I am the only one that understands what I am going through because no one feels it like I do.  

Emotional living isolates your feelings to be unique to you and that no one in your community could possibly understand.  Spiritual living relies on your community for support and prayer to help you navigate the decision or the season. 

 

Danger #6:  I don't feel like praying or reading my Bible so God must not be real. 

 Emotional living makes your spiritual life dependent on having a feeling to back up every spiritually good desire.  Spiritual living understands that faith is critical for moments when you don't feel like it and that faith sustains you till the next time you do. 


Spiritual living isn't void of feelings.  Spiritual living relies on feelings to affirm and confirm what God is doing and refuses to make feelings the primary source of God's will for your life.  The primary source of God's will for your life is and always will be obedience.  

Jesus made that absolutely clear when He said if we love Him we will obey Him (John 14:15-31).

 

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Part 2: How to Know If You Are Dating a Girl or a Woman

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Who you partner yourself with for life can make or break you and your future.  We asked the question on Part 1 of  "How To Know If You Are Dating a Boy or a Man?" in our most recent post here.  Now that we have asked that question...what about for our lady friends?   

One of the attributes that you can look for in finding the girl of your dreams is maturity.  A Good Guy is interested in dating a woman…not a girl.  I know there is a whole list for guys as well because girls want to date a man and not a boy, essentially.  However, I want this series of posts to help guys not only rise up and be the men God is calling them to be but also for girls to be the women God is calling them to be as well.  I have been talking hard to guys in the last few posts so here is my brief post to the ladies to encourage them and challenge them as well.  These are my thoughts with some females who have helped me develop them:

 

A VERY STRAIGHTFORWARD COMPARISON BETWEEN DATING A GIRL AND A WOMAN:

 

A GIRL CRITICIZES OTHERS BUT A WOMAN COMPLIMENTS OTHERS.

OK girls, if you want to turn the “good guys” away, just be a “catty” girl.  Be that girl who talks about other girls behind their backs, comparing yourself constantly to others and for the sake of all things in the universe, don’t ask me this dreaded question:  “Do you think she’s pretty?”  Because a guy doesn’t know how to answer that one outloud without causing the apocalypse.   A guys wants to find a woman who complements others; who loves God’s creation; who loves her friends and accepts others as they are; who affirms her church, her community and her leadership. A guy doesn’t want to date a girl who criticizes because it’s just plain draining.  

 

A GIRL WAITS FOR THINGS TO HAPPEN BUT A WOMAN MAKES THINGS HAPPEN.

A woman knows who she is, knows what she wants and goes for it...professionally, relationally and spiritually.  She isn’t afraid to ask the questions, ask for help and collaborate with others.  She has friends "beyond her best friends" and doesn’t have a trail of burned bridges behind her.  She’s assertive, smart and plans effectively.  A girl can lack ambition and patience.  She thinks short-term and thinks often only about herself.  Check out Proverbs 31 for some ideal lady characteristics, guys. 

 

A GIRL FLIRTS WITH MANY BUT A WOMAN IS FAITHFUL TO ONE.

A woman is confident, strong and knows who she is.  She knows how she’s acting in the moment and realizes that she represents her guy when she’s with her girlfriends and when she’s with others.  She is aware of what she's wearing, what she says and how she's acting around others.  She's clearly communicating verbally and nonverbally with those around her.  A girl however, is draining.  Her guys is constantly trying to "figure her out" because she's playing games with him.  She says things indirectly that are ambiguous and unclear.  Ladies, guys are already confused as it is...why make it more difficult?  She plays continued games that may work for now but he will eventually grow tired of the games.  So ladies, be a woman who doesn't need to flirt but desires to be faithful in all situations and watch your man only have eyes for you.

 

A GIRL IS ENTITLED BUT A WOMAN IS ENCHANTING.

Guys, women are magical.  They lure us to them without even trying.  It’s the simple things that seem to make her sweet, beautiful and alluring.  An enchanting woman loves the small gestures, the sincere romance and the authentic conversation (along with some gifts…come on, guys, we don’t go cheap on me).  A girl who is entitled talks about what she wants and if she can’t get it, she starts plotting what she wants through her and his friends.  Guys, we have a lot more fun by dating a woman whose priority is not material things and false expectations but is overwhelmed by the time and thought put into a simple gift than an extravagant one.  But guys, that does mean for you to know what her likes and tastes are.  Because when you give her what she wants because you know her well, that puts her over the moon for you.  At the end of the day, it's not about the price or the stuff but it's about do you know her enough to know what she likes.  

 

 

A GIRL TRIES WAY TOO HARD BUT A WOMAN IS HARD TO GET.

Heidi, my wife, was a woman from the beginning.  She had standards.  She knew what she wanted.  She loved God and wanted a man who loved God.  I found myself doing what I could to win her over.  I met her in church.  Not at the club, at an after-party, etc.  (Hello, single people...!!)  Church is a great place to meet people (Oh, and find some really awkward ones, too...did I just say that out loud?)  We went water-skiing with friends and I got to know her.  Eventually I took her out and the rest is history.  We grew to love each other.  We got married and have just celebrated 20 years in Hawaii.  You know what guys...I still romance her.  We celebrate birthdays like royalty, we go out on Valentines Day like we did in the early days, we have anniversary’s at some really great places that have really great pools (especially pools that have people that bring food right to you...we are a big deal and we are fine with that), I give her “just because” flowers at work, etc.  I say that because what "won her" to me while dating is what "keeps her" with me in marriage.  She made me work for it.  And you know what…I liked it.  When a girl pursues a guy, maybe it’s me, but it feels a little different to me.  Nothing necessarily wrong with that but I want to be the man who has to win her over … and it brought out the man in me.  So girls, stop throwing yourself at him but let him chase you...if he's the man for you, he'll "see you" and run right after you.

 

 

A GIRL GOES ON THE DEFENSIVE BUT A WOMAN GROWS IN DISCERNMENT.  

A woman knows her surroundings.  She is aware of the spiritual climate in the room and knows when the battle is not against others (“flesh and blood”) but when it’s a spiritual battle.  A girl assumes the worst and gets defensive towards her guy and others.  She gets offended easily and assumes the worst.  She becomes hurt easily and lives from a posture of defensiveness and constant mistrust.   Guys, you aren’t always going to get it right so find a woman that can help you discover what’s wrong with you and your situation because not everything can be solved by blowing things up, punching it in the face or driving really fast (although a 2016 Mercedes Benz C-Class Coup would be nice right about now and relief my current stress...just sayin'). 

 

 

A GIRL WANTS YOU TO CHANGE TO HER LIKING BUT A WOMAN ACCEPTS YOUR FLAWS BECAUSE SHE LIKES YOU.  

A woman knows your weaknesses.  She doesn’t expose them but covers you and makes you a better man.  I’ve counseled couples and their seemed to be some expectation that the other was going to change for the other.  News flash: not gonna happen. A guy is much more willing to become a better man when he knows he’s loved unconditionally by his woman. I mean isn’t that the foundation of relationship with Jesus?   A girl who tries to do a personality makeover on you (grunge to preppy, simple to sophisticated, etc.) is not the girl for the long haul.  I’m not talking about just manners or style that many dudes lack:  not putting the seat down, chewing with your mouth open or talking and using language like you’re from a Quentin Tarantino, wearing a bass-fishing t-shirt on your first date, etc.  It’s called get some manners, bro, because to keep a girl around, you gotta get civilized and while you're at it, take a look in the mirror and make sure you look halfway decent.  I’m saying if you have to earn love in a relationship by acting a certain way, then you are dating the wrong person because a woman’s love is unchanging and it was will last through the tough times.

 

A GIRL IS SELFIE-OBSESSED BUT A WOMAN IS OBSESSED WITH SELFLESSNESS.

Hey girls, “pouty lips” or “the duckface” is not always cute to guys.  Frankly, they can seem over the top.  Are the selfies in fun or do they point to a bigger issue?  Does she care about herself?  How she looks?  How many likes?  Or does she care about others?   Is she more concerned with numbers of followers or making a difference in others?  Her instagram feed will be pretty revealing if she’s a girl or a woman.  Take some advice from and  "The Biebs":

‘Cause if you like-the way-you look that much-oh baby, you should go and love yourself...'

 Not only that but a girl is selfish with her money but a woman is generous.  A girl is needy but a woman meets a need.  She lives a live of generosity by giving freely.  Her life is characterized by being a person who says that others matter.   Because when she prioritizes others, the others around her will prioritize her so she is never in lack or in want. 

 

A GIRL GOSSIPS ABOUT OTHERS BUT A WOMAN GAINS RESPECT FROM OTHERS

Perhaps life is just too boring or maybe jealousy is to blame, but some girls love the drama (I get enough of that for one day watching a Scandal commercial).  This type of pandemonium is unheard of with a woman because she’s too busy going for her dreams to waste her time and/or helping others achieve their dreams and potential.  You don’t want to date a girl who gossips and causes division. Just like her, you’ll waste your time getting wrapped up in the cray-cray.   Not to mention, she’ll probably do the same thing to you with her family and friends. A woman has a respect with you and with others in her community.  You want to find the girl of your dreams, ask others around you what they think about her….because that will be the test of if she’s right for you. 

 

A GIRL TAKES CONTROL IN THE RELATIONSHIP BUT A WOMAN GIVES HIM CONTROL IN THE RELATIONSHIP

A girl is controlling.  She is one of those girls who commands him to open the door for her, tells her what he should order for her, etc.  Although I appreciate the take-charge idea...wrong execution because in the end she is the one yelling at her guy because he's not being the spiritual leader in the relationship.  Plus, most some guys don't realize they are even being controlled in this.  They are enamored by her looks that he doesn't see her manipulation with him resulting in a guy who has lost his fighting spirit.  A woman let's him lead and take charge spiritually.  A woman wants him to own his faith, own his spiritual life and own the relationship.  

 

 

Anything I'm missing from this list?

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Part 1: How To Know If You Are Dating A Boy or a Man?

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When it comes to relationships, we don't want to awaken love till the right time.  And the right time is usually marked by maturity.  We will have a post similar to this to the ladies.  Now I am sending one out to the guys.  Here we go: 

 

How To Know If You Are Dating a Boy or a Man:

 

1.  A boy makes you feel like you're not good enough but a man makes you feel like you're more than enough.  

Hey girls, if you have to constantly prove to your guy that you are more attractive and better looking than the other girls around you then he doesn't deserve you.  From what i've heard, it's hard enough to navigate the pressures with other girls so she don't need some false pressure from a guy, let alone from the guy that is dating her.  If a guy truly loves his girl, she will be enough and what she lacks, he compliments and becomes her strength.  

 

 

2.  A boy is possessive but a man is protective.  

If the relationship is healthy, she will trust you.  If she doesn't, then you'll naturally be afraid of losing her.  So guys, what we do is we try to control the moment because of our own insecurity, pride, etc.  If you make her feel cherished and loved...what girl wouldn't want to be in the arms of a dude like that?  So lose the grip, son.  

 

 

3.  A boy is considers whether he could do better but a man is confident he has the best.  

Hey girls, a guy who is always looking for the next best thing that comes his way is not the guy you want to be with.  He should only have eyes for his lady.  Guys, if you are looking at other women when you are in the presence of the lady you committed to, then you aren't ready for a relationship.  A guy can change his mind, that's fine.  But a guy that has committed himself to a relationship but is only in it for the benefits for himself is a guy that is not ready to be dating anyone.  A man makes his commitment and sticks with it.  If he starts to question where his relationship is going, then he will have the conversation when necessary. 

 

 

 

4.  A boy is interested in "looks" but a man is interested in life. 

 How you mesh with your girl is what matters.  Looks fade.  Feelings diminish at times.  But how you do life together is what sustains you for the long haul.  Hey girls, how you line up with faith, passions, interests, raising kids, how you vacation, what movies you like, how you spend your Saturday Nights, what you laugh at, what you cry at, what you fight about...will show you if he's into your looks or into building a life with you.

A man is less concerned how you look to family and friends and is more concerned how you love family and friends 

 

5,  A boy makes her accomplishments feel threatening but a man makes her accomplishments worthy of protecting.  

I love celebrating my wife's accomplishments.  Heidi has had a great career in the music industry, orphan care, church life, the financial industry and ministry.  Her success at all these things doesn't threaten me but makes me proud of what a woman she is.  Guys, champion your lady to be successful because she's more capable than you think! 

 

 

6.  A boy plays in the moment but a man prepares for the future. 

 A lot of us guys can't think past the next 2 minutes when they're with a girl.  All we see is her beauty.  All we are trying to do is not talk like an idiot or act like a complete moron.  So every moment with our girl makes us feel crazy because we don't want to blow it.  And when we get to the romance part, we are going a 1000 mph.  So it is tough to pace, take it slow and enjoy the next few hours when we are with the girl of our dreams.  So guys, that's why you have to not live from feeling to feeling or moment to moment but think about the big picture.  Too many guys have lost a good thing from acting in a moment.  So when I say prepare, I am saying think about before-hand what your actions could do to her or to you or to those around you.  Think before you act, fellas.  

 

 

7.  A boy looks to gain popularity from your family and friends but a man gains promotion from your family and friends.  

It's like this:  If people she respects most doesn't like him or care to be around him, then it's probably not a good fit.  Plain and simple, y'allz.

 

8. A boy guesses what's happening and jumps to conclusions in situations but a man gains wisdom adjusts his composure.  

Guys get hotheaded.  We love a good fight.  We don't wanna be wrong and we can be very prideful.  So fella's, seek the wisdom.  The best for that is in the Bible so if you haven't read the Scriptures in a while, then there's your first problem, dummy.   Put yourself in the presence of those who are wiser than you and who have done relationships well.  They probably have a good piece of advice to give you.  

 

A man is always confident he has the best than always wondering if he can do better.

 

 

 

9.  A boy is concerned how she looks to his family and friends and man is concerned how she loves his family and friends.  

A man wants his girl to be liked by his family and friends.  Because those closest to his family and friends have a pretty good radar on if she's the one.  So girls, take special heed to the other special lady in his life...his mother.  How you interact and love those who are special in his life is a good way for you to make an impression.

 

 

10.  A boy spends more time with his friends because they're important to him and man spends more time with her friends because they're important to her.  

The girlfriends of your lady are just as important as your bro's are, fellas.  So when you double date with her bestie, don't make it a big deal...just make it work.  She'll love you for it.  

 

11.  A boy is reckless with his life but a man is reliable with his life. 

There is an understanding that in relationships that If there is one thing I look for in love, it’s security. Because I understand that there are many things in life that we depend on but can’t be 100% sure of — our job, our health and etc. In view of this, I want a partner whom I know is going to be there for me, in sickness or in health, for better or for worse. Because that’s what I’m gonna give him in the relationship too.

A real man lets you know that you can rely on him by being consistent in both his words and actions. He lets you know that he tries his best for you every time. He will not make promises that he knows he can’t keep, or do things that he knows may sabotage the relationship. Because he wants to make sure that you feel safe and protected with him.

 

 

 

PART 2: HOW TO KNOW IF YOU ARE DATING A GIRL OR A WOMAN...click here

 

 

Any I'm forgetting?

 

 

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Flourishing In Your "Life Grove" Part 2

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Our lives are made up of specific domains.  These domains dictate to us how we operate, succeed and flourish.  Each of these specific areas of our lives are expected to grow and prosper.  No matter what season you are in, you are already rooted in these places and are bearing fruit whether you believe it or not.  This space of fruit bearing in your life is your "Life Grove."  Check out Part 1 of last weeks post on "Managing your Life Grove" here.

 

We are expected to produce fruit in life because God has given us capacity to grow.  These specific areas are not just "supposed to grow" but they are to "flourish."  To flourish means to

 

"...to be in a vigorous state; thrive; to be in its or in one's prime; be at the height of fame, excellence,influence, to be successful; prosper." -Webster  

 

When something is growing, it's vigorous development is not just hoped for but expected.  When you are rooted in Christ, growth is an outcome of your connection to the Holy Spirit (Galations 5:22).  Your Life Grove is not supposed to be a struggling and languishing grove of sadness but an orchard of life where you and many are enjoying it's fruits.  

 

To see anything growing and producing fruit, there is intentionality.  Your Life Grove won't see the fruit you are hoping for unless you are purposeful in how you are growing these specific areas of your life.  Think of each of these specific domains as areas of your life that have to go through seasons.  Just as in the natural, our lives have a winter, spring, summer and fall to harvest from, each of these areas of our lives have to go through seasons to see the fruit come and for you to flourish.  

 

So we set goals and be intentional to see the "fruit" come from our labor.  Each time a season , each limb a goal and and each fruit a result of what you have done.   Your season depends on where God has you, what your stage in life is.  For example, your fruit from your relational tree will look different when you are in the season of being a new husband than when you are in the season of being g a father of a teenager.  Just like trees have limbs that are carrying the potential fruit, think of each limb on your tree as a goal for this year.  Each limb carrying the fruit buried in it's branches that will grow and develop over time till harvest.  Finally each fruit will be the result of your hard work, spiritual disciples and forged habits over time.  

 

So let's write down a goal from each area from your Life Grove.  Michael Hyatt says there is a study that supports how writing down goals helps us achieve them.  Gail Matthews of Dominican University of California, author of "The Effectiveness of four Coaching Techniques in Enhancing Goal Achievement",  did a study by recruiting 267 professionals from different careers:  attorney's, educators, artists, entrepreneurs, etc.  After tracking them over several weeks she discovered that writing one's goals increased achievement y 42%.   Writing them down helps you to clarify what you want, motivates you and helps you celebrate or as we would say "eat the fruit of your labor."  

 

You have heard of the SMART goal setting system:  Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Sensative.  I want you to see your Life Grove from a perspective and with the intention of you wanting these areas to FLOURISH.   For you to "flourish" in your life you need to set goals.  You need to be asking yourself questions about what specifically do you want to grow in and how you will accomplish this growth in your life.  

 


To FLOURISH you need each tree in your Life Grove to have these specific attributes to what you want to see accomplished in each of these specific areas of growth:  

 

F - Fearless   

The first attribute is about risk.  Let your goals be a little scary to you.  It's one thing for goals to be realistic but that gives you the potential to believe and set your goals to low.  Set goals that will challenge you and expose you to believe beyond what you are capable of.  Question:  How risky are your goals for this area of your life?  Are they challenging you and stretching you?

 

L- Lifegiving 

The second attribute is does this goal excite you.  The more excited you are to reach your goal the more motivated you will be.  How inspired are you by this goal for this area of growth in your life?  Does it engage our heart?  Does finishing this goal excite you? Is it fun to think about?

 

O - Operative  

The third attribute for you to flourish in your Life Grove is that they are operative.  In other words, how will you operate your life by asking what is the action that you have to take to get to the result.  To have a directive to accomplish your goal is critical (for example, "be more consistent at working out" isn't operative but "run 3 days a week" is operative).  What is the action step needed to accomplish your goal?  What movement is necessary for you?

 

U - Urgent 

Your goal should have an urgency to then to finish.  Or in other words, what you want to do should have an "end date."  Your goals should be time-sensitive.  It should have a deadline and a frequency.  Deadlines will force you to give it attention and action.  

 

R - Realistic

The fifth attribute of your goal is that it must be realistic.  You have to commit to this goal and believe that you can accomplish it.  This means you have to personally be wiling and able to work towards this goal.  Is the goal you are reaching for realistic?  Do you see yourself able to accomplish this? Are authentically motivated to do this goal?

 

I - Incremental 

Your goals should be measurable.  You have to know WHEN you reach your goal and you have to know HOW your progress is being charted.  Monitoring your progress is the fun of reaching goals and it gives you incredible satisfaction.  How will you measure your growth and progress?  How do you notice when you've reached your goal?

 

 

S - Specific

The next attribute is that your goals should be specific.  You should have focus because the more focused they are the more inspiring they are.  Identify exactly what you want to accomplish (for example, "advancing my education" is too vague but "get a masters from U of M" is more specific and will make your more productive).  What exactly do you want to accomplish in this area of your life?  

 

 

H - Harmoneous 

The final attribute is about having your goals be in alignment with your season, your values and your vision.  These goals are meant to relevant to the season of your life (If not, you won't see the growth your hoping for).  They have to have a "harmony" to them and work with the other areas of your life rather than having goals compete and create friction ultimately working against the others.  Do your goals align with your seasons?  Do they encourage progress for you and others around you? Do they compliment the legitimate demands and needs of others in your life?  Do they align with your values as a person, family and follower of Jesus?

 

Use this FLOURISH template to set goals (branches)  for each area in your life grove to see the fruit that you are hoping for in this season of our life (an example is given for you below as well.). Imagine below a branch on each tree in your Life Grove and just like a caregiver in an orchard goes out each day to inspect the limbs to look for the fruit, you can do the same thing for your own Life Grove.  See the example below:  

 

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for example:

 

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