How to Love Annoying People

Posted: August 4, 2011 in Faith, Leadership

You can’t help it, and maybe even feel guilty about it, but there are people in your life that really annoy you. They don’t think like you, look like you, joke like you or act like you. Everything they do makes you grind your teeth and wish someone would hit you with a shovel to put you out of your misery.

Jesus said we’re supposed to love them but we’re just not sure how to do it. We think simply tolerating them should give us medals in heaven. And for those five-minute conversations? We think Jesus should give us a standing ovation.

But he doesn’t.

I think he kind of sighs in disappointment and slowly shakes his head. “You just don’t get it.”

We tend to have an intellectual acknowledgement that Jesus died for these “extra grace required” or EGR individuals. Deep down, I think sometimes we believe Jesus died for all of us normal people and included EGRs as part of a package deal. But it’s not true. (Normal relative to your perspective, of course. You might be the annoying person in someone else’s life!)

The hard part is when you think you’re actually loving them and you realize it’s not really love. It’s pity. They just don’t get it, God bless their hearts. If only they were more _____________, their life would be so much better.

You want to know how to love difficult people? People that just drive you absolutely crazy? I’m going to give you 5 steps. Are you ready? Read the rest of this entry »

There’s a lot of people talking about changing the world. A bunch more who think it’s a good idea. The rest are just trying to survive today.

Changing the world is a BIG idea. It sounds awesome, but how do you do it?

I’m a realistic idealist. I believe strongly there’s a way things SHOULD be, but I’m old enough now to understand how the world works. I live in the tension. Maybe you do to.

Jesus commissioned us with a BIG task. To change the world by leading it to him and teaching them what a life with him means. That’s your job, by the way. Not just your pastor. Not just really godly people. Or your elders. It’s YOUR job.

Well, that’s fine and dandy, but saying we want to change the world is one thing, but how do we actually DO it?

Well, here’s the three steps to get you on your way: Read the rest of this entry »

When the Church Hurts You…

Posted: August 2, 2011 in Faith

I’ve been talking with some folks recently who were hurt greatly by the church in the past and are trying to reconcile with what God is doing, or at least wants to do in them, in the present. I’ve been there myself. Am still there in some things.

When we are hurt by the church, where can we go? Where do we run? We tell ourselves we can pursue Jesus on our own, but that never really works out. He’s the relative of that person or circumstance that hurt us. It’s becomes an awkward relationship.

Sometimes, we get preëmptive. We’re quick to define our boundaries. Quick to ascribe motives to others’ behavior. We get cynical and hard-hearted. And why shouldn’t we? We’re the injured one, remember?

Other times, we withdraw. We give no one the chance to hurt us because we don’t give them a chance to know me. When things get personal or dangerous, we opt out and look for the next safe rock to hide under.

We get angry. This is the CHURCH! This shouldn’t happen here! This is where people are supposed to get it right!

It’s easy to forget the church isn’t full of expert Christians. It’s full of broken people pursuing Jesus. And hurt people hurt people. Even pastors. For an honest pastor’s confession, read this post from my friend Justin Davis. We pastors don’t always get it right either.

The church is God’s method of reaching the world with the message that he loves, forgives and restores. But if the church is his primary method, what do we do when the church is the very one who hurt us? Read the rest of this entry »

Changing Your Perspective

Posted: August 1, 2011 in Faith, Personal

This weekend, I completely redesigned my office. Even though I’ve been at River Oaks for almost a year, I never completely moved in. The walls were still white. There was a children’s ministry verse painted on the wall. I had a bookcase but all my books were still in boxes in my garage.

At first it was because I was too busy acclimating and building teams decorating was the last thing on my mind. Those first couple months were pretty hectic. After a while though, I just got used to my surroundings. I settled in to my environment. I got comfortable. But really, I was unhappy in my environment but too busy and lazy to make a change. Been there?

It was way past time to tackle this project! So this weekend, I took advantage of my family being out of town and got to work moving furniture, taping, painting, fixing, redesigning the layout and decorating. It’s a completely different room!

It made me wonder: how many things do we leave in our lives just because we’re used to them?

  • Many of us have the same fears we’ve had since childhood. Fears of abandonment or rejection even though we’re believers and happily married? Fears of never measuring up to some unattainable standard?
  • Many of us have habits we’ve left untouched in years. Some bad, secret habits. Some slowly self-destructive. Some we use to hide in.
  • Many of us have casual relationships with people we’ve never gone more than an inch deep with. We’ve never taken the risk to delve deeper and share our faith. We’ve never asked about anything deeper than sports or work or hobbies.
  • Many of us go through life, running from one event to the next, never taking a breath, never stopping to evaluate if the things we’re so busy with are really worthy of giving our entire life to.

Changing our perspective often gives us a window into ourselves we often miss. Change your environment and sometimes you see things you couldn’t see before. The trick is to intentionally unsettle yourself to see things differently. You can’t stand in the same spot you’ve been in for years and think you’ll have a new perspective.

We have to be more than willing to change, we actually have to do something about it. My office wasn’t going to paint itself. Our life isn’t going to look different until we change our perspective, or environment, or until we ask someone for help, or until interrupt the regular flow of our life.

What areas of your life have you left unchallenged? Where have you settled and don’t even realize it? What do you think has to stay the way it is and what would really happen if you did something different?

Sometimes, something as simple as painting and moving furniture around is all you need to open your mind to new ideas, new strategies and a new way of living.

Who Are You Really?

Posted: July 28, 2011 in Faith

I had a discussion with my intern yesterday about who we really are. Our true identity as believers is as forgiven, redeemed, adopted children of God and co-heirs with Jesus. Our discussion centered on how often our lives don’t reflect that identity.

In fact, we often display many identities. We take on different characteristics when we’re with our families, when we’re alone, when we’re on stage or in a public forum, when we’re at work, etc. Many of us have different public and private beliefs. By this I mean we say one thing in public, and even believe it, but when we’re in a different situation we act out something different. We do this in areas like our beliefs about disciplining children, pornography, prayer, conflict resolution, pursuing Jesus and others.

So which is the real us? There’s a me Jesus says I am. There’s a me I think I am. There’s a me I really am. And there’s a me I want to be.

I think the journey of life, especially our faith journey is about creating wholeness in our identity. I think this is why Jesus spoke out so strongly about being luke warm. It’s not just apathy he’s talking about. It’s our ability to be hot AND cold at the same time. This makes us lukewarm. We’re not complete, integrated, whole.

It’s the pursuit of our life to define our core beliefs and live them out consistently. Our life is the picture of our core beliefs. We can’t help but live them out. At the end of the day, it’s not a real identity problem. Scripture is solid that our true identity is established through Jesus by our faith. It’s once and done. The issue is becoming our true identity. Read the rest of this entry »

This is the third and final post in a 3-part series about the traumas of living through a lens of preference. You can see Part 1 and Part 2 here.

When we live through a lens of preference, we evaluate everything we encounter by how we feel about it. Immediately, I’m trying to figure out if this is something I like or don’t like. Why do something I don’t want? Why be associated with something I don’t like?

It’s the American Dream. Ultimate success means being free (financially, emotionally & relationally) to do what you want, when you want, exactly how you like it.

The problem is this Dream is an illusion. We’re never really satisfied with what we have, so we always want something more. Because we’re always wanting more, we’re never satisfied with our life. Eventually, our dissatisfaction leads us to make unwise choices, take bigger chances until eventually something either crumbles from our inattention or we blow it up to make room for something new. In each case, our inability to tolerate dissatisfaction (also called discipline) creates voids in our life we rush to fill. Read the rest of this entry »

This is the second post in a series of three about the what happens when our preferences define the direction of our life. In Part 1, we talked about how our preferences can weaken our commitments. Here’s the second.

Trauma 2:  Preference leaves us dissatisfied and longing for more.

Marketing companies are masters at playing to our desires. Instead of presenting us with choices of whether we should have something or not, they ask us which one we would prefer. Deciding whether I should buy a new phone is a big and expensive decision. But once I know which new phone I want, whether I actually need one no longer matters. The question is why should I keep my old one?!

Once we decide what we want, not having it becomes painful. Wisdom tells us to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Read the rest of this entry »