Archive for April, 2009

>I’ve often heard in conversations someone referring to a person as an “old soul”. Now I get what they are saying…..the person seems to be farther along the timeline in life then their age would suggest. This may be evident in how they interact socially, their cultural taste, maybe they’re more reflective. But it got me to thinking what if someone gave you a magic mirror to show you your “age” on the inside in the following areas: Relationship building, leadership development, your walk with God. What would that mirror show? A thriving, healthy, growing adult or a withered Benjimin Button type with stunted growth that’s dysfunctional? Bottom line: We are responsible for our own spiritual, social and emotional development. It falls on no one else.


Own It,

Nathan

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>You are not going to want to do this. I promise you. If you can stop reading now, I’d encourage you to.

Ok….you asked for it.

What is the thing in the back of your mind that’s really nagging you? The thing you don’t want to think about or deal with.

Let’s look at it on two levels: relationships and career/tasks.

For instance in that relationship….the thing you need to address, but haven’t. Maybe there is an issue you need to bring up that you’ve tried to ignore. Maybe a flaw in your character that needs to be dealt with. Or something that’s been bothering you and just hasn’t seemed right but you haven’t wanted to rock the boat.

Maybe for you it has to do with your career or ministry. The thing that isn’t going well, but you continue to turn a blind eye to it. An underperforming teammate, a failing idea, something that is just not working.

Dr. Henry Cloud, author of the book Integrity, talks about the need for people to “embrace the negative”. The worst thing we can do is bury our head in the sand and hope for a change.

We live in a world where thinking positive is in vogue, but embracing the negative is not about thinking negatively. It is about being able to look the negative in the eye and face it head on to deal with proactively.

I’ve found that when I ignore the negative issues in my life whether they are in my relationships or ministry (workplace) that it doesn’t go well. At best I eventually look like an idiot and at worst I end up hurting myself and others deeply.

You will not move forward until you learn to deal with the negative.

I’m positive,

Nathan

>Yeah I’m that guy….I’m that guy who when I know I have something tough to say to someone I’m saying the conversation out loud in the car before I get there. I actually have the conversation out loud with myself. I think about their possible responses and I think through how I’m going to communicate how I really feel. The problem is there is no way I can think of every response I might get. Recently, this happened and I was stunned…….regardless, I had to come to a place where I could say EVERYTHING that needed to be said.

Many of us when faced with a conversation that we would rather not have tend to shrink back in the moment and not say the hard statement that may need to be said. This tends to create in us an underlying frustration of not being able to say what we really want to say, whether that’s with a friend, spouse, a leader and so on. Bill Hybels (Pastor of Willow Creek) called that in a recent interview “not saying the last 10 percent”. We instead to desire to say as much as we can without having to feel awkward, hurt the other person’s feelings or put strain on the relationship. It is essentially communicating out of fear. Fear of people thinking we’re over reacting, them not liking us anymore….rocking the boat essentially. When we reserve what truly needs to be said we are doing ourselves and the other person a disservice. Now hear me with balance: Saying the last 10 % doesn’t mean ripping someone a part. It means communicating succinct truth with love, regardless of how they may or may not receive it. This will change how you communicate in your relationships, workplace and life in general.

Say it,

Nathan

>Recently I was in a conversation with a young adult that was making a run at “coming back to church”. He stated that he had been coming to church only on holidays (Easter and Christmas) but felt like God would be alot more happier with Him if he started coming back to church.

I shared with him that I thought it was great that he was here, but I also shared with him that God is really more concerned about some other priorities instead of checking off on his clip board that he had gone to church or not. Mark chapter `12 qoutes Jesus stating the two greatest commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no cmmandment greater than these. A man replied to Jesus agreeing with him saying, “To love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifces.”

Jesus is alot more concerned with our relationship with God than he is on our attendance @ church. Now I believe that going to church and being in community with other believers can be one of the things that strengthens our relationship with God, but I know A TON of people that think that alone does it for them. It’s about intimacy. A person could be in church every sunday of the year and never have an intimate moment with God. Intimacy equals vulnerablity. When was the last time you were vulnerbale before God? It’s the heart that Christ is interested in. You love God? Then you’ll want to hang out with Him and His people.

Let’s equate these “burnt offerings and sacrifices” that this man talking to Jesus brings up as doing anything of a religious nature to please God. Jesus agrees with the man’s assessment. God cares more about us loving others then us checking the box on a religous to do list. David said it this way in the Psalm 51: 16-17, “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacfrices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” NASV God wants your heart. If he has your heart he has your life. If we aren’t willing to make others a priority by loving them as Christ asks us to, then how does sacrificing to God our time, resources and energy make any sense? Love God, Love people. Let’s get busy checking those boxes.

He’s Watching,

Nathan

>25 Hours a Day……

Posted: April 25, 2009 in Time Management

>We hear these words often. “There aren’t enough hours in the day.” “I wish I could clone myself to get everything done.” “I’m a woman trapped in a man’s body.” OK, maybe not that last one but the two before it. Time Management. It is the achilles heel for many. Bottom line: If we don’t plan our time, it ends up planning us.

Here is a few principles that have helped me wrestle this to the ground:

1. Determine what you value most. This might sound trite, but much of our frustration with there not being enough time is that we feel we can’t spend time doing what we value most. Make a list of your top 5 priorites.

2. Reality Check: How are you really spending your time? Over the next 7 days keep a detailed account of how you are spending your time. Don’t record how you planned to spend your time. Write down how you actually spend your time. You can use a hand held device to accomplish that or go retro with a small pad and pencil. Be as detailed as you can. Avoid generalizations like, “3-4pm worked on stuff” you need to be able to look at your recorded days and categorize your time spent.

3. Compare reality with your priorities. Lay these side by side and categorize how you are you really spending your time compared to your priorities.

4. Plan your week a week out. First put in non-negotiables (devotional time, work hours, picking up kids, going to class, worship services) Once all of these have been put in you are left with your discretionary time (free time). Now begin to put those priorities into your discretionary time. These need to be like gold. Keep these appointments with yourself. Many times we view “optional” items as appointments we can throw away. DON’T DO IT! Barring a 911 situation or Jack Bauer himself calling and asking you to help him save the nation AGAIN. DON’T DO IT!

You might need to make adjustments as you go, but try to make your priorities the priority in your time. You just might start to feel that 25th hour in the day.

Tick Tock,

Nathan

It would be an understatement to say that from time to time I get tunnel vision. This is where I can only see that which I am seeking and nothing else matters. My life ends up being like a kid that’s only consumed with the next ring on the monkey bars. This is nothing new when it comes to men and even more so for those in leadership.

Jesus himself is recorded during His earthly ministry as traveling with a group of followers to do ministry in Jericho. Along the way a blind beggar begins to cry out to Jesus, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” Those followers that were with Jesus began to scold the beggar, telling him to shut up. But, he began to yell all the louder. Jesus stops the entire love train and tells those with him to bring the man to Him. Jesus asks the beggar, “what do you want me to do for you?” The man answered, “I want to see.” Jesus tells the man, “Your faith has made you whole.” The Bible says that, “immediately the man regained his sight and rejoiced and begin to follow Jesus.”

What might look like just another extraordinary healing in the ministry of Jesus actually is a reminder of what matters in ministry. Those that are in ministry are always on the way to “Jericho” by that I mean their God breathed dream, their next leadership destination, their God given destiny. I can’t really scold the followers of Jesus that tell the man on the side of the rode to shut it, because I’ve been just like them. Maybe not in the literal since, but I know what it’s like to be consumed with doing good work that I’m blind to the priorities of God.

A lot of things can get ignored when we become tunnel visioned on “our next big thing”. Here are a few of the victims that I’ve hurt with this disease: my wife, my kids, my family, my friends, my staff, my church family, and people along the journey that didn’t seem in my mind to fit in with my next big goal. Jesus puts the brakes on this leadership conference to remind those that are following Him what he really values: the rejected, the refuse of society, those on the fringe.

It’s not about hanging out with Jesus and being associated with him so that we can exalt our Kingdom. It is about being his disciple and being like him. Maybe being like Him means putting down the habit of feverishly reading every leadership book that comes out for a while and picking up people that matter to Christ.

My life is not about the next destination, it’s about the journey. If I stay consumed with making Christ’s priorities mine, my steps will be ordered to my God dream and that God destiny. There always we’ll be another Jericho in the distance. Let’s maybe think about the destitute.

What about you? Have you ever fallen in to the “tunnel vision” trap? I’d love to hear your story below.

>Faith on Cruise Control…..

Posted: April 22, 2009 in Faith

>Cruise Control……other than beef jerky and Journey thumping on your ipod, there is no better gift to road trips. Not only does it help those that have the tendency to have a “heavy foot”, but many drivers have been able to change clothes because of this beautiful invention. Maybe you’ve heard about the guy who purchased a giant brand new RV, who on his first road trip decided to put the traveling whale on cruise control at 70 miles per hour and headed to the back for some much needed lunch. After three bites of a turkey sandwich and 5 crushed vehicles later our gentleman found himself with a new understanding of the limits of modern technology. (I wonder if “Jesus take the Wheel” was playing in the background?) The owner was under the misguided idea that cruise control meant “auto-pilot”.

As funny as this urban legend sounds…..I found myself not laughing at all when thinking of the parallels I see in this story when it comes to my walk with God. The list is long and detailed of the times I’ve been in a great place in my relationship with Christ, but I’ve allowed that great momentum to convince me that I can compromise my time with Him in reading His word and meaningful prayer. Each time I say yes to that thing that can’t seem to wait or that which is incredibly urgent, I’m also saying no to the very thing that I cannot do without…..Jesus. Walking away from the wheel of my faith…thinking I can coast on a experiance from a worship service, camp, conference or season of life is a disaster waiting to happen. What about you? Are you at the wheel or in the back eating a turkey sandwich?