Do What You Love

Burning the candle at both ends

I used to think my heart was the enemy. I thought to listen to my heart’s desires was tantamount to sin. I felt if I was suffering or doing something hard, then I must be pleasing God. Enjoying things or doing something that came easy was equal to not trusting God. Because of this mindset, I put my strengths aside and always focused on growing my weaknesses. I didn’t take time to enjoy life. I always felt there was something more that I could be doing.

Man, I was so wrong.

If you are only doing the things you love to do, then you are making a mistake. At the same time, if you are just doing things that you do not enjoy, then you are also making a mistake. It’s like I heard Pastor Chris recently say, “If you are burning the candles at both ends then you are not as bright as you think you area!”

Ministry Burn Out

On my first day on campus at LSU in the fall of 2000 the school newspaper read, LSU Ranked #1 Party School. I made it my mission to change that. I would pray, preach, and proselytize until we were off that list.

I became so devoted to my mission that I decided to avoid attending sporting events or joining a rec league team at school. I didn’t pursue any social or extracurricular activities. If it didn’t have to do with church or ministry, then I didn’t want to have anything to do with it.

The result was burnt out and exhaustion. I did see some great things happen in ministry on our campus, but they were not sustainable. I hadn’t learned to do the things I love along with doing the things that needed to be done.

Where is your trust?

Time would go by, and even after college, I had a hard time learning to do what I love. This all lead to me making a massive change in my life to rediscover my faith. Before that, I wore the title workaholic like a badge of honor. I didn’t know it was only showing my wounds to the world. To me, taking a day off or having a hobby that was unspiritual was a sign of weakness. I didn’t realize by not knowing how to rest I was just putting my trust in my own strength instead of God’s.

Enjoying God

We shouldn’t be lead by our feelings, but we also should not be avoiding the enjoyable things of life because we think it is more spiritual. I love it when my kids enjoy the things I provide for them. I imagine God is much the same. When we do what we love we are experiencing the love God has for us.

What do you think? Do you feel like most people are too lazy or are there too many burning the candle at both ends and consider its spiritual when in actuality it’s not? Let me know in the comments.

Do What You Hate

You can learn to love what you hate. I believe doing what you don’t like is the key to having what you love. You may not believe me but read along for the next couple of minute to see if this is true. At the very least, you can let me know how I am wrong in the comments.

Oatmeal Is Gross

I hate oatmeal, sweet potatoes, brown rice, skim milk, and black coffee. Can’t stand them! BUT, and this is a big BUT, I have learned that I need to do what I hate if I want to enjoy what I love.

Years ago, I read starting your day with oatmeal is one of the healthiest things you can do for your body. After that, I broke my habit of pop tarts, or waffles and syrup, or sugary cereal, and began eating oatmeal. At first, I disliked it. I was motivated by avoiding health problems. Over time though, I started to enjoy it.

Even though I don’t like these other food items I mentioned, I started eating them as well. Over time I trained my taste buds and mind to look forward to healthy satisfying food instead of the immediate gratification and delayed regret that comes from junk.

Have What You Love

You know what else I don’t like? I don’t like waking up early to work out and missing out on TV, sports, and movies to work on a budget. With these things, just like the healthy food I mentioned, momentum is created when I begin to do what I hate. Doing the right thing is intrinsically satisfying PLUS you get the fantastic results.

“If we keep doing what we’re doing, we’re going to keep getting what we’re getting.”

Steven Covey

If you are going to have what you love in any area, then you are most likely going to have to do what you hate at some point to get there. Making changes is hard. The best kind of results are not immediate. Eventually, you will love the results, and you won’t want to go back. In the meantime, you may need to toughen up, do what you hate. I believe it is the price of admission for achieving your most meaningful goals.

Do what you hate and let me know what you think!

Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Do More

In my last blog, I wrote about how doing less is the key to doing more. So why write a blog entitled, “Do More,” right after that? Well, I don’t think anyone wants less for their life. We all want to achieve more, have more benefits, and accomplish more in the future. We want to “do more” of the things we love.

Like I said in the last post if we want more than we need to do less. Here are three things we need to do less of if we’re going to do more of the things that mean the most to us.

Stop doing too much

One of the books I read last year that helped me do more was Finish, by Jon Acuff. I highly recommend it. He says one of the best thing you can do is cut your goals in half. The funny thing is right before reading this, I had just set my goals for the year. I shared them with Amy. Her response was, “Your goals are stressing me out, and they aren’t even my goals.” This is important because the people who tend to set goals are the same ones who set too many goals and don’t get to them all. They give up and do less.

I immediately cut my goals in half after reading that chapter in Finish. Amy was relieved. I ended up accomplishing my new reading goals and then tripled them. I built momentum and did more by setting a more attainable goal.

Stop waiting for permission

Sometimes we can put off doing what is in our heart because we are expecting everyone else to be as excited about our passions as we are. If that is the case, then God would have given those passions to others instead of you.

Stop waiting for someone to give you permission to be who God made you to be and to obey what He has put in your heart. When you stand before God, and He asks you what you did with your life and what He put in your heart to do, those other people won’t be there to take the blame. Go for it!

Stop making excuses

Last year I had a goal if getting an article published by a major Christian magazine. I felt discouraged because my writing wasn’t getting more recognition. I felt I had something to say, but no one was listening. Then I asked myself, how many magazines have I submitted articles to? Am I expecting people to chase me down and ask me to write for them? Of course, that’s what I wanted, but that is the easy way out. It wouldn’t require any effort on my part.

As long as I didn’t put myself out there, I didn’t have to deal with the rejection that may come if this didn’t happen. I could still make the excuse that I was good enough, but I just wasn’t being given a chance. Putting myself out there would get rid of my excuses and force me to deal with that fact that I may, or may not be good enough… yet.

I did get an article published last year by Relevant Magazine. They put it on their homepage twice last year, and you can read it here.

Do you need to stop doing any of these three things? Can you think of anything else that is keeping your form doing more?

Let me know in the comments or send me a message!

Do Less

It seems it is always popular to post and talk about doing more in the New Year. I think this is a big mistake. Doing less is the key to achieving more.

Start With Less

I’m not setting a bunch of goals for myself this year. Instead, I am only setting one goal. I asked myself, if at the end of the year if I could only accomplish one thing, what would it be? I would start with less goals to accomplish the things that really matter.

Some goals we set for ourselves are about getting into healthy habits and well-balanced routines. These are things we are always going to need to focus on. I have things I would like to accomplish in those areas as well. I just don’t want to focus on those things to the point that I don’t achieve my “one thing.” Our “one thing” is the goal we would rather see completed more than anything else.

Busy Doing Nothing

Sometimes we can get anxious about moving towards the things that mean the most to us. The higher stakes can make the fear of failure or rejection seem more real. This leads us to begin doing things that keep us busy, but don’t necessarily accomplish our goal. It gives us a false sense of accomplishment. We are doing good things, just not the “one thing” we need to be doing.

This is the equivalent to a college student cleaning his or her room the night before a big test. Cleaning your room is good, but it’s not going to help you ace that test.

What Is Your One Thing?

If you could only accomplish one thing this year, what would it be? I know there are a lot of good things you can do. Hopefully, you will do those as well. But what is the one dream, ambition, or goal you have been meaning to start or finish? What is the one thing you don’t want to see the year ending without having accomplished?

For me, it is publishing the book I have been working on for years. I believe in my book, and know it is going to be a huge help to many. My “one thing” is to publish this book. It’s scary. I am afraid things may not work out as I see them. Sometimes, I feel stuck. I have decided though, that I am going to keep taking steps each day until I see my “one thing” become a reality.

So, what do you think? Is doing less the best way to acheive more? Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear what your “one thing” is or a good book recommendation on this topic.

Finish Messy

If you’re anything like me, you may have already messed up on your New Year’s Resolution. One last snack… One more morning sleeping in… I’ll start next week… Sound familiar?

Don’t worry if your perfect record hasn’t even lasted a week. The reality is the only way to finish is to finish messy.

Exposing Perfectionism

If you read one book about goals this year or are planning to set goals, then you need to read FINISH by Jon Acuff. If I could recommend only one book about self-development that I read last year, it would be this one.

One of my favorite things this book does is expose the lies of perfectionism. Trying to maintain ridiculously high standard and the appearance of perfection sets us up for failure. It may even be a way we can make excuses for not finishing. “Ugh, I slipped up. Goals over I guess! Back to life as usual. Nom, nom, nom (that’s my eating junk food noise).”

In Finish Jon says, “perfectionism is a desperate attempt to live up to impossible standards. Perfectionism will do anything to protect those impossible standards. It can’t let you find out how impossible they are, especially with the cold eye of data, so it terrifies you into thinking that you’ll be crushed by disappointment if you peer behind that curtain.”

He continues with, “But more than just analysis, perfectionism offers us two distinct distractions: Hiding places Noble obstacles A hiding place is an activity you focus on instead of your goal. A noble obstacle is a virtuous-sounding reason for not working toward a finish. Both are toxic to your ability to finish.”

Lets Talk About Goals

We are starting the second week of the year, and maybe you have realized you are not perfect and are ready to give up. I want to encourage you to keep going. I am going to write a series of blogs over the few weeks on goals. My goal, with my blogs about goals, is to encourage you to keep going right here at the beginning when many people give up.

Come back next week to check them out. Let me know what you are doing to attain your goals this year. You may even disagree with some of my approaches. I’d like to hear from you about that as well.

And remember, check out this excellent book by Jon Acuff. He is also a great follow on Twitter. I got the audible version, and I loved hearing Jon read the book himself. Very entertaining! Felt like we were sharing a bowl of queso and laughing together as I learned about setting and finishing my goals.

Enjoying the Journey

A story of happy accidents.

Do you have something you are passionate about but maybe are not the most talented in that area? For me, that is running. I started running almost by accident. One year, after moving to a new school, I found out I had missed football tryouts. Instead of sitting out of sports completely I decided to look for another option. That’s when I found out the Cross Country team doesn’t have tryouts. They will take anyway willing to suffer a hilly trail, blisters on their feet, and constantly sore calf muscles. While running through country roads, winding paths, and quiet downtown streets I fell in love with running. It was a hobby birthed almost by accident.

If only all accidents had a happy ending.

Most times in life an accident means trouble, pain, or at least a change of plans. I wish they were all happy accidents, but most of the time they are not. I heard the sticky note was created by accident. I wish I had more accidents like that. Most of my accidents would lead to me giving up on creating, not creating something that changes a company for the better.

Have you ever had an accident slow you down?

A New Goal

Last year I set the goal of finishing a half-marathon under two hours. About six months later I finished a half marathon at 2:00:44. I started slow and missed my goal by 44 seconds. I wasn’t exactly happy about this, but at least I was getting close. It seemed inevitable that I would break two hours at the next half marathon. When the next race came a few months later I finished at 2:00:04. Four seconds people!

At that point, I wanted to throw my running shoes over the nearest powerline (ala Marshawn Lynch) and give up forever. I would let my running dreams hang over the neighborhood by their treacherous laces as a reminder to all who saw them to never run. Running will break your heart.

One More Try

Instead of giving up though, I doubled down on my efforts. I found a partner who was a Boston Qualifier, aka much faster than me. I went back to the gym and committed to a cross-training plan. I showed up early mornings at what I call the unforgiving circle of torture or what you may know as the local track. I put in the work. I even took it easy when I got too soar. I did everything right, and you know what. I was running much faster than a two-hour pace.

Everything was working according to plan until another accident found its way into my plans. Seven days before my race where I was almost destined to obliterate my two-hour goal I allowed my momentum to carry me down a hill too fast and twisted my knee in an awkward way.

I wouldn’t be able to run my race. I wouldn’t make it to my goal.

Another Disappointment

What really upset me was that I had never worked so hard, been so consistent, and invested so much time towards a running goal. So many times I got to the finish line and know I didn’t do my best in preparation. This time I had. I truly did my best but wouldn’t get the satisfaction of finishing. It felt like something I paid for was taken from me right as it almost touched my fingertips.

But was there any lemonade to be made from these lemons? The thing that caused me the most pain, the amount of time I had invested in this goal, would ultimately by my saving grace. When I really thought about it, yes it was a sacrifice, but getting up early to run and going to the gym to workout was its own reward. I was healthy, had lots of energy, and felt good about myself. Making new friends and growing in relationship with old ones all came as a result of the journey to get to that under two-hour mark.

An Unexpected Destination

I didn’t make it to the finish line, but that was always only 1% of the experience anyway. If you can’t enjoy the other 99% of the process than you probably aren’t investing in the best thing for you. When I looked back over the time leading up to that disappointment I can happily say that I enjoyed the experience of preparation. The final destination was not the two-hour half marathon expected through. Instead, the journey took me to a place that taught me a new lesson in enjoying the journey.

Life is full of unfinished business, unrealized expectations, and unfulfilled dreams. If we measure life by destinations then we ignore the lessons and pleasures of the journey to those destinations. Many times God is not just leading us to somewhere or to do something but to become someone. I want to be someone who enjoys the journey and helps others do the same.

Unfinished Business

3 Ways to Handle Unmet Expectations

Have you ever thought of the perfect comeback except it was too late? Maybe someone put you on the spot and you didn’t think of the right response until the ride home. You left the conversation with unfinished business. Once you realized precisely what you wanted to say the chance to show the world your wit and brilliance had passed you by like someone waiting for a bus that has already come and gone.

It’s taking too long

Lately, I have been working on an outside project that is taking much longer than I expected. Ladders, tools, and pieces of wood are spread out all over the place. It has become a huge inconvenience. Not only that but each item is also a reminder that the project I want to be complete is currently just a mess. Parts of my heart can look this way at times as well.

Unfinished business can leave us with an uncomfortable weightiness. It’s like a cold for the soul. What do we do with this feeling? It can come from the abrupt ending of a hope or dream we wanted to work out. It’s the ache in the soul that arrives when people we love depart too soon. We know this feeling when the plans that we meticulously document in the journal of our heart are surprisingly blotted out by someone else’s intrusive marks.

What exactly are we supposed to do with unfinished business?

1. Honesty – This may be the most difficult thing to do, but we first need to be honest with ourselves. We should ask if this should ever have been our plan or desire to begin with. Was this ever the right relationship or career path or is it just wanted I wanted to work out? Is there a better fit elsewhere?

2. Healing – We need to be careful about continuing our journey on broken feet. Pushing through without pausing to heal may appear to be the best path but often leaves us stranded, vulnerable, and worse off than before. Wounded warriors are immortalized in film but are often the first casualties in the story of life when they do not stop to get the help they need. You will encounter pain in your journey but if every step hurts it may be time to not give up, but rest for the sake of finishing well.

3. Hope – Unfinished business can sometimes just be a reminder of who is the one actually writing our story. When we take the pen out of God’s hand we often settle for a dimmer version of the brighter story he had planned for us. Unfinished business reminds us to trust, have faith, and lean on the Author of our lives. You never know what surprise ending He may have in store for us if we insist on our own narrow expectations.

A missed opportunity, a failed accomplishment, and people who leave our lives too soon can leave us with feelings of despair. These are also opportunities for us to not only be reminded where our trust and comfort should really be but to also witness the miracle of God finishing the dream in a way that is beyond anything we could have ever expected.

Doing too much

Doing less so that you can accomplish more

Have you ever seen someone is “doing too much” or being what we used to call a “try hard”? Maybe they are being inauthentic, trying to impress someone, or overcompensating for some reason. On the basketball court, he is the guy with all the new gear but can’t dribble or shoot. At a party, this may be the person who talks too loud and laughs at his own jokes but no one is really interested. In some ways, we can all be doing too much. It may not be annoying as the person I just described but doing too much can lead to us being less productive overall.

Normally our greatest strengths are also connected to our weaknesses. I have the gift and curse of doing too much. In fact, one of our family values is “hard work.” This is because it is not only a strength of mine but also of Amy. Our parents have a great work ethic and have passed that down to us. It is something we want to pass along to our kids as well. But is there such a thing as doing too much? Are you someone who sometimes has trouble accomplishing everything on your task list?

I didn’t realize how busy I was until the other day when I was on the phone with a friend I listed all the things I was involved in.

1. Training for a half marathon

2. Writing a book

3. Keeping up with a blog (Setting aside time for creative thinking, writing posts, editing posts, creating email marketing campaigns, scheduling social media posts, finding images to support the blog posts, etc.)

4. Working on numerous DIY projects that include finishing a deck, building a pergola, creating a stone pathway, adding a shelf desk in our kitchen, creating a hanging storage system in our garage, etc.

5. Onboarding new employees at ARC

6. For the first time, we were doing two ARC trainings in back to back months followed by the ARC conference

7. Preparing for the ARC conference

8. Reading 5 books at the same time (Leadership Book, Audio Book, Self-help book, funny book, small-group book, and not to mention my daily Bible reading and the book I was reading to Sophie each night)

9 Leading a small group and

10. Preparing a team of 25 for a mission trip to NYC. And I’ll stop here even though some of the most significant challenges we faced as a family are not even listed here.

I wonder what your list would look like?

Here is the thing about doing too much. This list of 10 things is actually not a list of accomplishments but of failures. I know that sounds harsh but I mean failure in three very specific ways.

How Accomplishments Can Become Failures

When we do too much…

  1. ...we don’t do anything to the best of our ability – While doing all of this I was constantly feeling like I was falling short in each specific area because my attention was constantly divided. I couldn’t do one thing without thinking about all the other things that needed to be done. I was exhausted mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually which means I was never able to give my best.
  2. …we fall prey to discouragement – When I would look at my to-do list over the past couple of months I would often get so discouraged that I would not feel like doing anything. If there were only a couple of items on the list I could have been energized to get them accomplished. In my case, the shadow from the mountain of tasks before me often darkened my day before it even began.
  3. …we live by the tyranny of the urgent instead of by the priority of our values – A long list of activities and accomplishments may be impressive to some. My experience has taught me that doing a lot often means not doing what is most important. What is not on the list above is being a husband, dad, child of God, and being a witness of Jesus Christ. When we try to do too much we often end up sacrificing the things that are most important on the altar of accomplishment.

In the past couple of months I have not been blogging; which is one of my favorite things to do. This is because I have been doing too much which is an old habit of mine that is resurfacing. Learning lots of lessons from this and maybe it will give me content for future posts. For today I will wrap up with this thought: The key to doing more is actually doing less. We have to learn to edit the good things in order to be focused on the God things.

Thoughts for reflection:

  1. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What weaknesses are connected to your strengths? How can you manage this?
  2. What are your priorities in life? How can you arrange your to-do list to match your priorities and values as a person?
  3. What good things need to be edited in your life in order to focus on the God things?

Reignite Your Dream

A Biblical Approach to Unfulfilled Dreams

Have you ever tasted the bitterness of an unfulfilled dream? What should we do when we start with a dream but find ourselves left with disappointment? There is a biblical approach to unfulfilled dreams that will reignite things that we thought were long extinguished.

God gave Joseph big dreams. They fit him like a child walking around in her parent’s shoes. Fulfilling these dreams seemed too big for him and meant for someone else. Sharing his dream did not bring about affirmation or praise. Instead, he suffered rejection and persecution.

This is his brothers’ response to hearing Joseph’s dreams:

““Here comes the dreamer!” they said. “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, ‘A wild animal has eaten him.’ Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!”” Genesis‬ ‭37:19-20‬ ‭

The thing they thought would stop the dream is the very thing that brought it to pass. No person can stop what God is doing. Our job is not to bring God’s dream about in our timing. It is to guard our heart as He brings it about in His timing.

This doesn’t mean what Joseph experienced next wasn’t painful. It was. This doesn’t mean that guarding his heart brought immediate reward. It didn’t. In fact when Joseph was offered a quick fix to his heartbreak doing the right thing did not make things better. It made them worse.

“Potiphar was furious when he heard his wife’s story about how Joseph had treated her. So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained.” Genesis 39:19-20 

Instead of giving in to despair after another betrayal Joseph does something that changes everything. When his dreams weren’t coming true he focused on the dreams of others. This turned out to be the key that would unlock his dreams.

“While they were in prison, Pharaoh’s cup-bearer and baker each had a dream one night, and each dream had its own meaning. When Joseph saw them the next morning, he noticed that they both looked upset. “Why do you look so worried today?” he asked them.” Genesis 40:5-7

Joseph did not overlook these two people or allow his own hurt to excuse himself from getting involved. He didn’t blame others for his pain but instead did his best to bring healing to the pain of others. If we want to reignite our own dreams then we should become a spark for someone else’s.

Without helping the cup-bearer with his dream Joseph never gets the chance to help Pharaoh with his. Without being sold as a slave Joseph never gets brought to Egypt to liberate not only his family but the known world from hunger. Without guarding his heart Joseph misses the opportunity to be lifted up as a result of bending down to help someone else.

3 Keys to reigniting our dreams

Remember that no person can stop your dream. The very thing you think may stop your dream may be the thing that accelerates it into motion.

Guard your heart above all else. Don’t allow feeling sorry for yourself excuse taking the easy way out.

Focusing on other people’s dreams reignites and refines the dreams in our own heart.

Joseph was elevated because he found a way to focus on others when he could have focused on himself. A God-given dream is never about you getting promoted but about you being the best position to do the most for others and bring glory to Him in the process.

 

A New Year Not About Me

5 Ways to Make 2018 About Others

I read the headline of an article the other day that said Meghan Markle is not setting a New Year’s Resolution. I guess that is supposed to make the rest of us feel like we don’t need to make resolutions either. I didn’t read the article but if I was writing it I would say that she is marrying a prince in 2018 so she really doesn’t need a resolution. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

For the rest of us though, we are looking at 2018 and thinking about goals and how we can better ourselves. If you are like me, just about every New Year’s Resolution you have ever made is about yourself.

I noticed the end of 2017 my focus became a lot about me. Looking through my social media feed at the end of the year I noticed a lot of pictures of me and my family and not a lot of attention being brought to others. I don’t want that to happen again in 2018. So I want to resolve to make 2018 more about others. Here are 5 ways I am going to try to do that.

Be Interrupted

It’s never convenient to join in someone else’s moment of need. If you are waiting to have time for other people’s crises then you will never have time to be a help. You are either there or you aren’t. Accepting the fact that you will have to be inconvenienced to experience the joy of helping someone else is a given.

Celebrate Others

I want to genuinely celebrate other people’s wins and not just wonder about when I am going to get my next win. We all win when we celebrate each other’s wins. It’s a win, win, win.

Ask Why

When someone disagrees with me my usual response is to lawyer up so to speak. I start formulating the plan of attack to prove them wrong. The only problem with this is that I don’t learn anything in the process. Next time someone says something that disagrees with my perspective I want to ask why. Maybe I will learn something I never knew before.

Schedule Serving

I don’t want to just wait until I am inspired to serve or give. If this is a value then I need to schedule it. I also know that I cannot serve every time there is a need or I will end up burned out, exhausted, and no good to anyone. My goal is to find the best opportunities on my calendar for me to serve and commit to those.

Intentionally Collaborate

I want to bring other people into my circle. I don’t want to win by myself. I want a small group of accountability. Mentors and friends that are helping me along. I want to share my ideas with others that can accelerate them beyond what I could on my own.

Eat Away at Selfishness

Bonus: Does anything eat away at selfishness like giving? I want to be a bigger giver in 2018 and hopefully snap out of some of my selfish ways of thinking about money. I want God to give me resources not just to make my life better, but to make others lives better as well.

These are just a few random thoughts on making this New Year not about me. What are you going to do to not make 2018 about you? Is there an area I didn’t cover that you have ideas on how to make it more others focused? Let me know and share this post to see what others may add.