Better is Always Harder

Posted: September 8, 2011 in Culture, Leadership, Personal

I love new and better. There’s something about something clean, refreshed, waiting to be discovered that gets my heart rate up and my anticipation factor doing multiples.

We all wants things to be better. A better experience. A better product. A relationship to be better. Better is… well better. However, our likelihood of getting better is all dependent on how we get it.

Buying better is faster. It has an immediate reward we all love and crave. With the amount of innovation our culture generates regularly, there is always something better around the corner. We live in exciting times! There was a time when something new and improved came about once a generation. We get that experience nearly monthly now.

The trap in simply buying better is that we can train ourselves to think that better is something I can just pull out my wallet to get. Buying better can become our method to hide our disappointment in the lack of better in the other areas of our life. We use it to avoid the reality we can ignore when we’re shopping. Better is always harder.

How do we get better in the things we can’t buy? Read the rest of this entry »

Lose Your Illusion

Posted: September 1, 2011 in Faith

Ever feel like things are getting out of hand? Your stress level getting out of hand? Have a difficult relationship putting your pants in a bunch? I’d like to help you with that.

No, I’m not going to do your work for you, or have that conversation you need to have, or even play rainforest music and give you a massage. Here’s what I can do though. I can change your perspective.

Did you know all the stress your feeling is based on an illusion? That all the weight you’re carrying isn’t helping you and you don’t really even need to carry it? In fact, your stress level is not only decreasing your quality of life, it’s actually shortening your life. For what? For something that we think we can master but actually masters us.

What are we talking about? Control. More accurately, the illusion of control. There’s so many things in this life we thing we’re in control of. How we live. Our job. Our spouse. Our kids. Our income. Our standard of living. Our preferences. Our relationships. On and on. We think if we can just work hard enough, do and say the right things, if we just push the right buttons things will work out like we want.

It’s just not true.

That’s why we’re so devastated when our lack of control is so completely revealed to us. When we lose our job. When a hurricane wipes out not just our house, but our entire neighborhood or city. When someone else can ruin our reputation. When our kids do things we’ve told them a hundred times not to.

We can barely control ourselves. We say thing we know we shouldn’t. We do things we even while telling ourselves not to do it. We get emotional and make choices that come back to haunt us. Anger, desire, apathy.

Our illusion is strengthen by the times our exercise of control pays off. I meet that deadline. I navigate that relationship. I make the hard call. The more I exert control and it works in my favor, the more I believe that I can really master my destiny.

But it’s not true. There are things I can manage, but I’m never in control of them.

When I finally admit I don’t have control, you know what I experience?

Freedom.

That’s right. Freedom is the ability to pour yourself heart and soul into something and not be responsible for being in control of it. I’m free to give everything I have to make it the best. I’m free to walk away. I’m free to trust Jesus for the outcome. My job is faithfulness and dedication. God’s job is success.

This isn’t a release of responsibility. This doesn’t mean we don’t measure, evaluate or strategize. What it means is I recognize that ultimately someone else is in control. Jesus. And when I can live there, I can enjoy success but not tie my self-worth to it. I can appreciate the good things in life without being dependent on it for my happiness.

My illusion of control is a bad master. My belief that God has gifted me uniquely and called me to give my best gives me peace and security in me and whatever I do.

What are you trying to control? How strong is your illusion you can master everything in your life? How willing are you to really trust God with your whole life, not just what you think you can’t handle? Give him your whole life and discover what freedom really is. You’ll be amazed at the difference.

Smash Your Brand

Posted: August 30, 2011 in Culture, Leadership

This is a great article and worth the read. It’s about company brands, but applies to our church as well. Who ROCC (or your church or organization) is, what we represent, what our mission is, all of it is something that has to be at the core of everything we do.

There is a consistency of communication, of experience, of terminology, of look, of quality that establishes what our church is about far apart from our logo or a pithy mission/vision statement. It’s more than just words from the stage. It encompasses people’s complete experience with our church. To do that, we have to dig deeper inside each of our environments and continually look for ways we can sustainably imprint what we are all about on everything we do.

This goes beyond what we leaders do, though we are a big part of it. We need to continually release the vision and passion into our people.

Leadership creates the environment, product and experience. But what takes a brand viral isn’t leadership, it’s the people.

Everything we do as leaders is part of creating our brand. How are you making your organization a smashable brand?

SMASH YOUR BRAND

What Has Your Attention?

Posted: August 25, 2011 in Faith

There are so many things demanding our attention these days. Many of them are important. Others are distractions. My marriage demands my attention. My son demands my attention. My finances demand my attention. My job demands my attention. These are all important things to pay attention to!

Then there’s the things I want to give attention to. Relationships. This blog. Twitter and Facebook. Interests like films and technology.

Then there are things that take my attention from me. Emotions like anxiety, fear, insecurity. Disappointment or irritation at problems that interrupt or derail my plans. Frustration at having things I want to get to but can’t seem to be able to. Obligations I don’t feel are important and yet have to do them anyway.

It’s easy to get caught up just running from thing to thing trying to get them all done. We accept it and call it “life.”

However, life is just what happens around you. What’s most important is what’s happening in you. Life goes on right up until you die. After you die, the only thing that matters is what happened in you while you were alive.

We continually neglect our inner-selves to pursue our outer-selves. We let our inner-selves be shaped by the external things in our lives. That’s why we abandon relationship when we get hurt. It’s why we quit church when we feel it failed us. It’s why we neglect our kids for the sake of our career. It’s why we drown ourselves in distraction or addiction to hide from the emptiness haunting us… inside. Read the rest of this entry »

Taking the High Road

Posted: August 24, 2011 in Faith

Have you ever faced criticism or judgement? Maybe you’ve been lied to or had your trust broken. It’s one thing to know everyone has fractures in their life that inevitably hurt others. But when you’re the one that gets hurt, how do you respond?

This is one of those things that defines us as believers. It’s a true reveal-er of our heart condition. It’s one thing to know what you’re supposed to do. It’s another thing to choose it willingly.

Taking the high road is a core belief of mine. Taking the high road means I willingly give away that which I can’t control. It means I willingly give grace when judgement feels right. It means loving others despite how they have treated me. It means choosing nobility over pettiness. It means repairing a relationship instead of walking away.

We don’t take the high road because we’re better than someone else. We don’t take the high road because it gives us cred in other people’s eyes. We don’t do it because we’re supposed to or it’s what “good Christians do.”

We do it because at our core we know we are often the offender. The more I am in touch with how I’m broken and how I’ve broken others, the more I understand the power and need for grace. Even if the one who hurt me doesn’t recognize they need it or even want it, I give it because I’ve received it.

Once I deeply know the power grace has in my life, how can I withhold it from others?

And yet, it’s still something I have to work on. When I get self-focused, I lose perspective on grace. When I get caught up in the heat of the moment, I loose my compassion in the moment. This is heart-training. This is reaction training. This is focus training. It is training to be like Jesus.

Do you have a relationship you need to take the high road with? Do you have a relationship you failed to take the high road with in the past, but you could take steps to do it now and repair the relationship? You give grace to the extent you’ve received grace. And even if you’ve never had a single person in your life give you grace, God himself pours out grace on you and offers a new life where you are guilt-free. How awesome is that? Awesome enough to give away?

Growing A Heart Like Jesus

Posted: August 23, 2011 in Faith

Yesterday, I wrote about choices and how the way we make them affects our relationship with God. Our heart determines whether we do what’s right out of obligation to be “good” or we expressing the goodness already inside us. It seems like an argument over semantics, but it’s critical to our growth as a believer.

The goal of our life is not to live well, or have great influence, or build an impressive organization, or racked up a heap of good deeds. Our goal is to pursue Jesus, to continually grow in how we think, feel and act like him. Everything else flows out of that.

But shaping our heart is no easy task. It is so much easier to shape our behavior. Which is why we get stuck in religious attitudes and rituals. We believe we satisfy the requirements of a relationship with Jesus by doing what he wants. We think of ourselves like an employee- what’s required of me to meet the obligations of our contract so I can fulfill my end of the contract.

Jesus doesn’t want employees. He wants shareholders.

So how do we shape our heart? It’s messy. It still requires we do the right actions but out of a different motivation. It requires we change how we think, feel and act. We do this by seeking Jesus.

Our priorities are to seek first, then think, act & feel. If we’re not seeking daily, our heart isn’t changing. When we’re not seeking, something else takes our priority. That’s because we’re wired to seek. We’re made to follow something. Whatever dominates our thoughts, feelings and actions is what we’re following. Maybe that’s your job. Maybe it’s a relationship. Maybe is success or recognition or recovery or an addiction. Read the rest of this entry »

What’s Your “Choice” Filter?

Posted: August 22, 2011 in Faith, Personal

I’ve made a lot of bad decisions in my life. Left to my own devices, I manage to mess up my life fairly well and quickly. Because I’ve made so many bad decisions, I know there must be right decisions. That’s what good Christians do, right? We make the right choice. But the world isn’t all black and white and chasing the “right” decision in areas of grey runs me ragged.

So I many times I leave the right vs. wrong filter and move to the better vs. best filter. This seems like it should solve my choice making problems. What’s the best thing I can do at this moment? Know what happens to me when I ask that question regularly? Best always trumps better. That makes best “right” and better “wrong.” I’m right back where I started.

This verse challenges me in making choices:

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

The instant I feel obligation or guilt in trying to make the “right” decision, I am “burdened…by a yoke of slavery.” Here’s the problem- I’m seeking to make the right choice because I should. It’s the right choice.  If I don’t, then I am not a good person, or a good follower of Jesus. This is what the Israelites were doing, and what Jesus came to change. We’re not made right with God by what we do. It’s impossible. That’s why he came. But we continually put ourselves back into the old standard of trying to measure up. Read the rest of this entry »