Choosing to Cheat

Through this transitional experience, I’ve discovered my biggest fear.  It wasn’t money or job security.  It wasn’t missing a great opportunity or having to do work I did not enjoy.  My biggest fear as we shifted our lives was being put in a position where I could no longer continue being the father and husband my kids and wife deserve.  I want to be able to pick my kids up, be by their side when sick, or take off when our marriage needs a weekend.  I didn’t want to cheat my family.  There are many men who can do my job at work, only one man can fulfill my role at home.  That is my first calling. 

It’s interesting how God leads your life. 

Navigating the job market the last four months and considering what our future holds has been an enlightening, growing experience.  Finalizing my transition out of the “pastor” role of the last ten years, investigating the potential of stepping back into the building design industry, conducting interviews, submitting resumes, dreaming about business ideas as well as a plethora of other distractions associated with moving your family 1000 miles from home, can only be described as a whirlwind. 

As I planned (in my limited human mind) where I would work and how I would provide, I developed many grand schemes.  Looking back, none of them would have allowed me to maintain the level of support I desired to give my family.  I needed a simple, local, flexible job.  Something that was established, relational and I get to learn something new without having to create it myself.   Sitting in Starbucks sending out resumes I realized…”I spend so much time here, why not work here.”  Not exactly how I laid out my grand schemes, but I’ve realized it’s a perfect fit for my role and my desires for this season of our lives.  This job opened my eyes to and met the need of my biggest fear.

He leads….I’ll follow.

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Feel More, Move Less

In the chaos of moving my family, changing jobs, living in a new place, making new friends, new environments, new schedules, new everything; my thoughts race.  My mind is in constant stimulation, jumping from one new experience to another.  What once involved very little thought (picking up the kids, finding food, going to the park) now involve mental work. Everyday is a collection of short mental sprints to navigate all the “new” environments.  Consequently, I find myself with very little depth of thought.  

I assumed this would not be the case.  Wrapped up in the swirl of new experiences, I should have so much to write about and so much to talk about; yet I find myself rarely blogging and talking less.  A constant barrage of shallow, survival thoughts do not feed the soul. 

I feel less and move more. 

The only time I have been able to go deeper is when I hike.  Alone in the woods, my thoughts have time to penetrate to a heart level.  They move from a sprint to a jog to a walk.  Allowing my soul to feel. 

I need to be in the woods.

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The Contentment Journey

My level of faith is directly connected to my sense of peace.  As I wrestle with uncertainty in my job hunt, challenge of relocation, anxiety of financial shortfalls; contentment is a clear indicator of where I truly am. Despite the uncertainty, do I still have peace?  In all the stress of change, is there an unshakable, unexplainable peace despite what I see with my human eyes.

When facing uncertainty, my default is to drive until I find the solution.  Push until the problem is fixed.  Work harder, work longer, sleep less, don’t stop.  I believe there is room for this reaction when facing challenging times…there are things that only get done when I push to make it happen…but how is my heart during the process?  If all of my pushing is based on my need to control in the uncontrollable, then my heart is not right.  If my drive is based on insecurities then my heart is not right. 

Proverbs talks about “guarding the heart” because it is the wellspring of life.  It’s the heart that is the most vulnerable to my uncertainty, my anxiety and my fears.    When I get caught up in the swirl of the unknown, my nature turns toward preservation and I find myself wrapped up in self absorbed discontentment.  When at peace, my focus is outward (patience with my son, sacrificial love for my wife, affirmation of my daughters emotions, desire to impact the lives of others for good).  When my heart is discontent, when I allow uncertainty to lead, I turn inward, justifying my selfish desires and allowing them to drive my words, attitudes and actions. 

  • Rest in the hands of a God that is bigger than anything you will ever feel…anything you will ever face.
  • Rest in the hands of your creator who cares about your welfare more than you do. 
  • Rest in the hands of a Father who knows all, sees all and has your best interests in mind.

As I rest in faith (which is full of unknowns), I discover peace (in all my unknowns)

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The Antithisis of Efficiency

inefficient:
a. Lacking the ability or skill to perform effectively;
b. Not producing the intended result
c. Wasteful of time, energy, or materials
 

So much of my life is spent avoiding inefficiency.  The more I can combine tasks and move smoothly, the more I accomplish and the more content I am.  I spend an enormous amount of time avoiding traffic.  There is nothing more inefficient than getting on an eight lane highway built for speed and crawling home for an hour and a half.  When I cook, I cook and clean simultaneously.  No matter how great the food and wine is, all I can think about during dinner is the massive clean up following the event.  So I clean, constantly, even getting up immediately after the last bite to clean up…to maintain efficiency.

I think most “American” thinkers struggle with this in some capacity.  This is why we have so many tools to keep us efficient.  The market for efficiency is colossal.  From Calendars to white boards and Outlook to administrative assistants, we invest a lot of money to remain efficient.  Personally, I’m obsessed with finding the perfect calendar app.  I know it’s out there!

If you travel oversees, chance are you have encountered a culture that is much less obsessed with efficiency.  From Island life to latino siesta, “accomplishing” is less of a focus. Sitting through a four-hour authentic Italian dinner complete with four courses, cafe, grappa and cigars, you’ll find on the other end a stressed out frazzled American, or an individual who has discovered the antithesis of efficiency; relationships.  Nothing hinders a neat and orderly life more than the challenge of building relationships.   relationships are similar to driving…some times we’re cruzin, other times we’re in rush hour.  Sometimes junk from their past gets in the way causing a backup, and other times we’re so distracted that we miss their brake lights and slam into their emotions causing gridlock for weeks. Relationships are extremely inefficient and the more we try to fit them into our neat and orderly schedules, the more cold and distant they become. 

Working to have dinner together as a family three to four times a week is inefficient, but critical.  Potty training my son is so inefficient, but the mess needs to happen to accomplish the goal.  A non negotiable weekly date night costs money and time, but provides opportunity for my wife and I to connect at a deep level. Being patient and affirming my daughters emotions slows me down but builds her confidence in my love. Seeking to understand others before implementing your managerial duties takes time but builds trust.  Depending on God to come through in the difficult times is stressful and inefficient, but the faith and trust that is forged in the depths of challenge will stabilize you and your family for the coming journey.

The more efficient I am at work, the more I accomplish.  The more flexible I am with my relationships, the more I experience love.  The more I allow relationships to nudge slightly ahead of schedule, the more fulfilled I am as an individual.  The challenge is, our lives drift towards accomplishing tasks.  Crossing something off of our list is much more concrete (instant gratification) than taking time to truly listen to a coworker or friend.  So much of our time investment is ROI driven, but time invested in relationships is always a long-term investment and much harder to justify as we prioritize our daily activities. But, if you really think about it, of all your agenda items, what will really matter 25…30…50 years from now? The only thing that truly matters is the lives you have impacted and the relationships you have built. 

I have to allow relationships to trump schedule. Choosing to open my eyes to those around me and allowing their lives to intertwine with my quest for efficiency leads me to a deeper place of love and personal discovery.  Ultimately, I find my life more efficient as I navigate the “traffic” within the framework of healthy relationships and a sense of fulfillment. 

Prioritize efficiency and you might miss those around you, but strive to see those around you and your day will hum like a well oiled machine.

 

Posted in Executive Leadership, Growth, Perspective, Productive/Efficient Teams | Leave a comment

“My” Plan vs. “The” Plan

I have spent many years dreaming about the future.  What could be?  What should be?  Thus, I have found myself with many, many plans for my life.  I have devised potential programs, ministries, travels,  relationships, even businesses.  The swirl of what could be wets my adventurous side as my leadership training beats the drum of “lead your life, don’t accept it!”   So I dream it, plan it and lead it.   The result is a plethora of ideas.  These ideas have led to a few discoveries and sparks of inspiration, but most fall by the wayside as simply “interesting”. 

There is a lot of excitement in a new idea, and in the creators mind, it seems almost flawless, “This will work…this is it!”  But, looking back at my life, I’ve realized that very, very few of my ideas actually come to reality.   And, the reality of those few ideas that come to fruition look completely different from my original dream.  The plan that I dream and scheme never ends up being the path that God ultimately leads my life down.  My plan never ends up being the plan. 

  • My Plan: Architect…Reality: Pastor
  • My Plan: Children’s Pastor…Realilty: Student Pastor
  • My Plan: College Ministry…God’s plan: Family Ministry
  • My Plan: Jerusalem, California, Colorado, Atlanta…Reality: Virginia?
  • My Plan: Go back to school…Reality: Lani goes back to school
  • My plan: Architecture…Reality: ??

The reality that God has taken me down is always better than anything I could come up with, but still my mind swirls, dreams and schemes.  I will continue to plan because I believe that dreaming is a gift and is essential to discovering your potential in this life; the challenge is learning to live with anticipation.I will keep a loose grip on what could be as God unfolds the reality of what will be.

 Here is my plan…
I wonder what the plan will look like.
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Success is not on the Surface

One of the most misunderstood and  misrepresented concepts in our culture is the definition of success.  I say “our culture”, but this misunderstanding has been around since the beginning of time.  We as individuals naturally drift towards self-preservation, self focus, and selfish desires, and this ingrained perspective leads us to a place where we warp the idea of “success”.  Self preservation leads us to a place where we desire dominance.  Kill or be killed.  We find ourselves quickly wrapped up in a world that defines success as one who dominates in some arena; finances, position, possessions, physical attributes, charisma, etc.  As you arrive at one of these pinnacles, you realize satisfaction is not discovered.  Satisfaction is never discovered on the surface.  We all desire to be a part of something greater, something greater than simply human accomplishment.  There is a need deep down to impact this world at a soul level, and if we are lost on the surface, the superficial, we miss what we are looking for.  We miss life.  We miss success.  Wealth, position, talents are not the goal, they are simply tools, tools for accomplishing some greater objective, tools for going beyond the surface and discovering what life is really all about.

The challenge….going beyond the surface will require sacrifice (It’s easier to stay shallow)

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Healthy Organizations Grow…

Healthy things grow; your yard, your pets, even your kids.  The same holds true for your organization.  Every time you encourage health in an individual, team or organization as a whole,  you encourage an environment where sustainable growth, healthy growth can happen.

We all desire a fulfilling work environment.  We want the teams we’re on and the ones we lead to be efficient and productive, and we want the organization we’ve created to grow and be profitable, yet many of us find yourselves in a completely different scenario.  Personally, you might be emotionally bankrupt or maybe the team you’re on seems slow and a bit dysfunctional.  If you’re a business owner, you might feel like your organization is stagnant and dragging, missing opportunities to expand and grow.   What we crave is health, on an  individual and corporate level.  As one who has wrestled with an unhealthy team and battled through years of personal and corporate work to get healthy, I know that health does not come easy or quick.  We have to work to maintain a passionate drive, a balanced lifestyle and a character of integrity. 

 Healthy individuals… Create healthy teams…Create healthy organizations

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