Could boredom be a gift?

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I’m so excited to write to you today! In fact, it was hard to sleep last night when this idea for this post hit me. I was eager to finally be able to share this with you. It’s a lesson that all of us are forced to learn right now in the midst of a real pandemic. It’s perhaps one of the only good things that can come from Covid-19. I’m bored! And I’m sure you are too. Do you find yourself staring aimlessly out the windows wishing for some interaction? For some, you know this is just a season. Still for others, this is the worst thing you could imagine! And for all of us, it just plain stinks!

What if boredom can be a gift? Let me explain by first stating my own issue of avoiding boredom at ALL COSTS! I loathe being bored. Sitting still is not a spiritual practice I’m very proficient at. That’s why a spiritual growth path for Type 8’s on the Enneagram is “stillness.” Because it’s stinking hard. If you in any way relate to “always being on the move” then this pandemic and quarantine can make you miserable. What happens when you bring a caged tiger in the house? It destroys your stuff. You might feel like that caged tiger over the past few weeks. I sure do!

But, as I stated before, what if boredom is a gift? Here’s why I would say something so audacious and absolutely ludicrous for those of us who like to “move it move it.” Don’t miss this… Sometimes we may be going too fast that we end up leaving our souls behind. Read that line again. Perhaps our souls need time to catch up to our busyness and the average pace we keep our lives moving.

I work in the local church. It’s an environment where you often feel the tension of what others churches are doing successfully and how you must launch new experiences and programs. Isn’t it funny that sometimes, ministers are the one’s with a lack of self-interest and personal identity? “Who are you?” “I’m a pastor…” I can’t tell you how many times I used to answer that exact same way.

I’m the kind of person who does always search for the sweet spot in every sour experience. So with Covid-19 and the CONSTANT BOREDOM and being forced to slow my role, I’ve now embraced this truth I read this week: that boredom can be a gift that allows your soul to catch up.

Here’s what I’m doing with this boredom. While things are still chaotic trying to completely re-envision the way we do ministry, there’s still this feeling of boredom because you can’t really leave your house. But this is the time that I feel forced to actually spend time with God, turn off all devices, engage in meaningful conversation with people (on the phone because, you know, social distancing), and literally enjoying the now instead of always fixating on the future.

Anyways, those are just some thoughts that occurred to me late last night that I just had to share with you all! Feel free to comment your thoughts as well.

Remembering Stillness

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This morning I did something a little different than I normally do. Normally, I brew some coffee and read and write. Today, I still did those things but after I’m done I usually begin checking emails and “working.” Not today. Instead, I went into the living room and just sat there. Leaving my phone in a different room all I had with me was a cup of coffee. Full disclosure: it’s NOT easy for me to just sit and do nothing. I don’t feel productive, I think of all the things I could be doing, and so on…

But today was different. My family has had a lot of uncertainty and stress the past several days, as has all of you! Our world is all facing the same pandemic and it’s taking a tole on all of us. Today, I felt God urging me to just sit and be still. If you know anything about Enneagram 8’s, that’s the hardest thing but the most transformative thing for us to do. But I consented to being still.

In the midst of feeling like I could be doing anything else, I started to become hyper aware of how good God is. My mind went to how I’ve seen Him guide me throughout the years. It caused me to stop and think about our baby girl who will be here in June and how much of a miracle that will be (we were told it wasn’t going to happen). It went to how blessed I am to have married my wife. It caused me to be abundantly thankful for the simple things like the small pond outside our house or Chick-Fil-A!

For someone with my wiring and having to stay mostly indoors and away from people I can feel very unproductive. But this pandemic is actually causing me to rely more fully on God and not be anxious that I’m not “doing all that I can and normally do.” Ministry is taking a new shift right now as a result and I think many pastors are stressed thinking they’re going to lose their church or that it’s up to them to make sure things keep going. Our efforts pale in comparison to God’s working in people’s lives.

We must continue to work but remember that it’s not in our efforts that people come to know God. It’s only through His power and His grace to use our efforts. That gives me a lot of comfort as I search for ways to still be productive during this unique time. Today, I encourage you to simply practice a moment of being still and remembering how good God is and how He provides for us in the best and worst times. Maybe you can share that on your social media outlets to give others a boost of encouragement today.

Fear Not!

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All of us were taken by surprise as the rate in which Covid-19 is spreading. Before we jump in today, here’s the main reason for this blog post = This did NOT surprise God! Scary, yes. Overwhelming, yes. BUT, this in no way surprised God.

How to view the virus…

Let’s not downplay the fact that this virus is serious and spreading fast. But here’s the great news, some great ways to prevent you catching this thing is: wash your hands, sanitize, and trust our leaders’ guidance because they’re on it.

But, beyond that, “fear not!” Taking precautions is of course great but don’t live in fear. What happens when we live in constant fear? Shelves at our stores run out of supplies because we hoard as much as we can and don’t leave anything for those who need it as well. Stress builds and tensions arise in households. Compassion for our fellow man begins to crumble because we’re more concerned about them being “infected” than loving them. The list could go on. God’s people are called to not live in fear but in constant reassurance of His goodness.

God is still on the throne, He’s not shaken by a virus.

Supporting your church’s decision to cancel services…

This last bit I feel the urge to post as well. Many churches are deciding the cancel their services. While you may have mixed emotions about that, you must realize something. In our state, Indiana, our governor has put a restriction on gatherings of more than 250 people. Christians are called to support and submit to their governing authorities so that’s exactly what they’re doing. It’s not giving in to the “hype” or being cowardly and not trusting God. It’s trusting our nation’s leaders as we are commanded to do.

So, please, if your church decides to get creative and not have services but to do some other things while this virus is running its course, just be supportive! The Church is far bigger than a gathering inside a building! Let’s prove that. And remember: FEAR NOT!

Thinking Generationally

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Even though I turn 29 this week I am still considered “young” by many standards. I’ve noticed from my colleagues in ministry, that you’re considered young until about mid 30’s. And I hear from dear friends who turn 40 in ministry that they are now told they’re too old. So my question is, where’s the “golden years?” And, how do we pull the very best out of each generation?

Full disclosure: I’m not a genius and I DON’T KNOW, however I feel like we as leaders can start being a lot more strategic…

The first thing that comes to my mind is this: How are the generations represented in your planning? Do we inform the younger people of what the older planned in hopes they just trust and want to volunteer? OR, do we give them a seat at the table? This thought came to me after attending a conference where the year before it was all about “passing the baton” then this year there was nobody repressed from my generation (the millennials) anywhere on stage or in any workshop. The heart of the conference was so good but that was an oversight for sure.

Another thing that comes to mind is after you allow multiple generations in on the planning, do you also allow their voice to count? Or are they just a spectator as the “adults” do everything? We must recognize that the end goal is not just having the generations (especially younger) present but leaning on their influence, even if it’s not as long-standing as yours.

Disclaimer: We must recognize also that when we say “having a voice” we DO NOT mean “getting your way.” What we must navigate is how to allow each generation to have a voice and still be ok if we proceed without the end result looking like any single generations “preferred way.” It’s a tension for sure but one we need to navigate.

Our society would greatly benefit from thinking more generationally and not being timid to navigate the murky waters of including multiple generations in our planning, vision, and more. We truly do need each other. As you move on from this article (if you lasted this long) my prayer is that you would begin thinking more generationally in all you do. Whether it’s planning family vacation to planning where your company’s or church’s future is heading.

Submission is a competition…

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The word “submission” is one that makes us wince in today’s culture. We don’t like that word… In the realm of Christianity and faith, that word gets pretty convoluted and confusing. There’s the famous “wives submit to your husbands” that gets a lot of negative attention. Even though the command Paul then gives to the husband is the same when he says, “husbands, love your wives.” How is that the same as submitting? Because love is a submission competition!

But this doesn’t just pertain to marriages… Think about your context, whatever that may be… In that same context what would happen if you elected to try and outdo the other in submission-like love? Whether husband and wife, employee and employer, in the board room, or on the field. I’ve also hear it stated like this: love is a race to the end of the line. The sentiment speaks to placing others above yourself, always. To worry about adding value onto another human being, even if it costs you to forfeit your own “right.”

This would shake our culture. It would shake our world. But how would it even start?… With you!

Over the weekend, someone asked me this question: “If someone, 100 years from now, picked up a biography written about you; what would you want it to say?” I knew my answer immediately. I would want mine to say that I reclaimed my family name as one with integrity and selfless love. I would want it to say that I added value onto every person I knew. How about you? What would your answer be?

My challenge to all of us is to live a life that races to the end of the line. To make our key relationships a submission competition to outdo one another in selfless love. I can’t help but think the world will take notice… I think they will take notice because they did when Jesus came and challenged his followers with this new command: love one another as I have love you. By this they will know you are my disciples, if you love one another. It shook the world once, it can still do it again and will!

It was Good!

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I’m preaching a sermon this Sunday; I get to do that often at our church. I love to preach and feel like it’s what God’s really given me a passion for. The content of this message got me reflecting on WHY I decided to be a Christian.

Don’t start with truth…

I’ll be honest with you; I didn’t decide to become a Christian because I thought it was “true.” While I did (and still do) believe the claims Jesus made about himself, that’s not what informed my decision. Do you want to know what made me want to become a Christian?

Start with GOOD News…

What made me want to become a Christian was that I thought it was actually Good News. “Gospel” actually means good news. I not only believed the things Jesus said about himself were true, I believed they were good. Good for society, good for our culture, good for my life, good for the world.

I came to this conclusion by how others loved me who said they also loved God. I had not known a love like this before and it completely blew me away. I remember people who went out of their way to love those who were in front of them, me being one of them. They truly “loved one another” which I later found out was the most explicit command Jesus ever gave.

So that’s what made me become a follower of Jesus. I’m not religious, I’m a follower of Jesus who spread GOOD news. What made it good was that it elevated others, always. I finally discovered that we love God BY loving one another. I always thought those were 2 separate things: love God and also love others. But now I realize that we love God BY loving others. It’s a game changer.

Sending is Healthy

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Recently I had a conversation with a guy in our church who decided to leave. BUT, he’s leaving for reasons in which I’m so glad he’s leaving. Typically when you begin a conversation with, “My wife and I are leaving your church” it’s not always followed by positive words or encouragement. But this was very different. This guy shared that he and his wife are leaving because he felt called while attending our church to also lead in a church and to preach. God opened the door for him to do so and he left our church to do it. AWESOME!

Healthy organizations are those who focus more on sending out leaders. This doesn’t always work with every type of organization but healthy leaders are constantly developing other leaders to lead in higher capacities! I’ve read books and talked with other church leaders who say they are constantly losing the leaders they’ve built into because they are sent out to lead on their own. What a great model. It’s a model we get from Paul, a leading character in the New Testament of the Bible. He focused on sending leaders and it’s a great model even today.

The point of this short post is that we as leaders must focus on sending out. On equipping other leaders to not just survive but thrive in their own leadership roles, both now and future. So my question for you today is this: who are you equipping to one day send out as a leader? Your kids, co-workers, etc? If you’re a follower of Jesus, you’re actually commanded to be sending people out. To teach them what Jesus teaches you and then release them to do the same for others. Today, opt to be a leader who sends out!

How to Share “Good” News

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If you’re a faith person (meaning you follow Jesus), you have probably been encouraged to or you desperately want to share the hope you have found in Jesus with others. The problem is, sometimes you just come off as weird… Right? And the way many of us were taught to share our faith can seem very artificial and pre-packaged. Kind of like the old days of handing out “tracks” with detailed instructions on how to become a Christian. But, if you’re like me, you always thought that was just plain weird!

What are we to do? We want to share the Good News because it’s, well, good! The original version of what Jesus taught was and still is so good for you, me, and society. But how do we share without being creepy or getting security called on us? Here’s the great news: it’s possible to share Good News of Jesus without being a weirdo. And, you might be surprised as where you start…

1st lesson from John the Baptist

In Luke 3: 1-21 we get a very short and general overview of John the Baptist’s time in ministry. If you know the story, he was supposed to come before Jesus to prepare people’s hearts to receive what Jesus was going to do. He “prepared the way.” Within those few verses you see John preaching what the author, Luke, recorded as “good news” of what Jesus is coming to do.

Naturally, people wanted to respond so they ask in verse 10, “what then shall we do” to which John’s answer probably surprised them and might just surprise you… If you read his answer, he told them that in whatever they found themselves doing vocationally, do it with honor and integrity as to honor God. He told them to start where they’re at. Isn’t that a breath of fresh air for you? Just start where you are, work hard, do your job well, and love on people. You will notice in each of John’s responses to the people, he placed the value of others above everything else.

2nd lesson from Philip (but not me)

Another place we see a similar response is with Philip (not me lol) in Acts 8: 26-40. In similar fashion, Philip sees a guy reading some of what we would call the Old Testament of the Bible. He simply meets the guy where he’s at. The guy reading opens up the seat next to him and allows Philip to explain what he’s reading.

Have you ever been around that person who just offers advice without you asking? Annoying isn’t it. That’s what I love about Philip’s approach. He simply asks an honest question “Do you understand what you’re reading” and the guy opens up to him.

In summary…

In summary, just start where you’re at. Do what you “do” well and with honor and integrity. Even if others write your story for you, just honor God. And when the opportunity arises and you’re invited into that realm with people, share. The news about Jesus is truly good news. Keep it that way. It’s not some program or “track” that you pass out. It’s a movement that started over 2,000 years ago and changed the world. And guess what, it’s still changing it today. This movement places the value of other people above yourself, which is why it was and still is so counter cultural. And it’s SO GOOD! Start where you’re at and be good news to those around you.

New and Exciting!

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When I think about coaching and direction in life, I find there’s really 3 big things I always talk about in that regard. Faith, Fitness, and Leadership. Sometimes when I sit down to write I feel like I’m just trying to produce content about a subject instead of blogging about my passions. So, I decided it was time for a change. Instead of limiting myself to only one thing, I’m going to start blogging on the things I’m passionate about.

My hope is that you will continue to share and engage with this blog and the content. I would love for you to check out my new Home Page that outlines the 3 areas I will be writing about from now on. I believe these 3 go hand in hand and give us the best direction with achieving our ambitions, finding purpose and fulfillment in life, and enjoying life to the fullest. I love to coach others in these “big 3” areas. It’s an honor and I’m looking forward to many more fun and exciting conversations.

Hit “subscribe” and enjoy! Also, please leave comments so we can continue this conversation.