Archives For living with purpose

My son, who is seven, came down with some kind of “bug” this week and had to stay home from school the last two days.  On this occasion it made sense for me to be the one to take time off work to be with him and it turned into an unexpected adventure.

Earlier this year he and I started to read the Chronicles in Narnia together.  He leans heavily against my shoulder and hangs on every word.  Occasionally he will stop me and ask me to point out a word, which he then studies with rapt attention.  Or he will ask me what some creature is: say a Naiad, or a Dryad, or a Centaur.  At this point we will usually turn to the laptop to find a few exemplars and then move along.

Yesterday, when he was the sickest, we only read two chapters.  Today, he was on the mend and he was on a mission to devour the story together.  And so we read the final eight chapters of “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.”

Of course I love the opportunity to sit ever so close on the couch and share a good adventure together.  But even more, I enjoy the opportunity  it brings for me to build into his life.  To paint a picture of good and evil, right and wrong — and our place, our mission in the midst of it.  I seized the opportunity to show him the parallels between Narnia and our world, between Aslan and Jesus, between Edmund and each of us.  I even warned him that I might cry, as I often do, when Aslan gives his life for Edmund.  And I explained how I was like Edmund and Jesus was my Aslan.  I don’t think he really gets it yet, but he did keep looking to see if any tears wear running down my cheek.

After we finished the last chapter and I put him to bed I had a few moments to reflect.  At times I struggle because I have chosen to put my family ahead of my career.  At times I find myself wondering what might have been if I had made career advancement my goal.  Tonight I had no struggles, but instead gratitude.  Gratitude that I could share the adventure, share my heart, and share the love of God’s Son with my son.

The journey adventure continues.

Are You a Cheat?

Pilgrim in Progress —  July 18, 2012 — 1 Comment

I read a great blog post today by Peter Barber called “Where Do You Cheat.”

It starts with this catchy intro:

Everybody cheats. Yep…you read that right.

Everybody cheats—including you.

 When I got to this part, I new I had to put it into today’s blog post. 

For example, I’ve yet to meet a father who stated outright that their goal in life was to be an absent parent. Yet the way many fathers live their lives with the amount of time they spend working as opposed to being present with their kids seems to indicate exactly that. I think what’s happening is that these fathers are caught in a conflict between their roles as a worker and as fathers—and they’re cheating on being a father to spend more time working.

 Wow.  How often do we as men find ourselves in that situation?  In your world, which commitment wins out?  We all know its true that our actions speak a lot louder than words, but why, then, do we spend more time talking about the value of time with family than creating time with family?  Peter continues:

This temptation is so insidious and can creep up on us all too fast. Heifitz & Linksy write:
“When we hunger for recognition and reward in our professional lives, we may put on blinders that can cause us to run roughshod over our personal commitments and values.”

 I think if we are honest with ourselves, we will recognize this tendency within ourselves.  It is something that I have to be on guard against.  It is so easy to lose ourselves in the pursuit external recognition by management, peers, community,and even church leadership that we lose sight of what is really most important — making a significant difference in the lives of those closest to us:  our children, our spouse, our neighbor.  And don’t give me that line about “quality time versus quantity time.”  That’s a bunch of bull perpetuated by folks who are merely trying to justify their choice to be absent from those who need their presence most!

So — please take the time to follow the link and read all of Peter’s article, but before you do, let me throw in a few thoughts to close out the post.  This year I was notified by my employer that I was being downsized.  One of the benefits of being downsized was the opportunity to re-evaluate what I wanted life to look like.  I connected with my cousin who is an expert at this kind of thing over at Mappings International,  who challenged me to consider the following questions:  “What is the primary purpose for the next season of your life?”  What will be the primary filter that you make your decisions by?”  He also urged me to consider the following ideas:  “start with the end in mind” and “do your best to minimize regrets.”  We could riff on these for quite a while and I hope we do in the days that stretch ahead.  But for now, if you are struggling with stealing time from the things that are most important to you, please take some time to consider those questions.  Get out a sheet of legal paper and start brainstorming.  I did, and I don’t regret a second of the time I spent doing it.  And go and read Peter’s post, especially the part about “cheating on purpose.”  After that, please go and “cheat with purpose

 

This morning while skimming Powerline, one of the blogs I check in on,  I saw an article and link referring to the following New York Times article: A Runner’s Belief:  God Is His Coach.

I have followed Ryan Hall to some degree for the last few years and he is a terrific runner and a caring person.  He is not shy about sharing his Christian faith and he believes that his approach should be that he is a Christian who happens to run rather than a runner who happens to be a Christian.

Reading through the article I found a few quotes I wanted to highlight.  However, I must say that if the article is a fair representation of his belief system and methods of Biblical interpretation, he and I would find ourselves at odds on numerous occasions.  Therefore, please understand that I am not endorsing his belief system merely pointing out some great thoughts for us to ruminate upon.

“Sometimes, you have to fail your way to the top,” Hall said in his open, easy manner in March. “Thomas Edison found a thousand ways not to make a light bulb before he got it right.” 

I find that often times we are afraid of failure.  There are a multitude of reasons why this may be so, but nonetheless, we are.  However, when we think about it, often times failure is our best teacher and helps us define our direction and find what is wrong in our methodology.  Ultimately, this can lead us to success.

To this end, Hall says:

“I don’t see failure as a negative thing at all anymore, which is a huge shift for me,” he said. “I just see that as part of my training, my process, learning, experimenting, getting it wrong so that I can get it right.” 

 So how did Ryan get to this point?  The point where he can embrace failure as a necessary means of becoming a success?

His spiritual growth, he said, has freed him from caution and a dependence on results for his happiness.
“It’s going to take a special day,” Hall said of his gold medal chances. “But I feel like I went for it, regardless of how the race goes. I’ll always look back on this as a season of joy. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t. That’s part of the fun of life, taking some chances and seeing what happens.”

Here he is speaking specifically about his training leading up to the Olympics and the Olympic marathon.  But I love this go for broke, live on the edge approach.  If I understand him correctly, he is trying to tell us that he knows God has gifted him as a runner and that he is to use that gift to bring glory to God.  Further, he understands that all he is and all he has comes from God and that his ultimate satisfaction comes from God alone.  Knowing who he is in God has freed him from the burden self striving, of doing it all himself, by himself.  Of course he has to be a participant, his success will only come with great effort on his part.  But he knows that ultimately it is about God, not him. 

So what about you (and me)?  In what way has God gifted you?  Do you feel a burden to “be good enough” when you are using your God given abilities?  Does a fear of failure hold you back from really “going for it” in some area God has put on your heart?

If you are a devoted follower of Christ who really carries the burden for your success?  I am reminded of Paul’s words to the Philippians in chapter 2 verses 12-13:  

 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. 

This verse set me free when I was a new Christian struggling with old habits.  No matter how hard I tried, I still failed.  When I read this verse I realized that it would not happen by my strength and on my timetable.  Instead it would happen by God’s power according to his purpose. Now please notice, you don’t get off the hook here, and neither did I.  I was (and am) expected to continue working at it, and not just casually!  But with great effort and seriousness.

Putting this all back into the running context where we started, how freeing it is to know that we “put in the miles” and God takes care of the results!

So, my friend, are you ready to take the plunge?  Are you ready to put in the hard work and trust God with the results?   

That’s part of the fun of life, taking some chances and seeing what happens.”

I must confess up front that I am not one of those guys who has written out 1, 3, 5 and 10 year goals.  While that is good stuff and I need to strive for that, it is not an innate part of my nature.  But being prepared for the future should be an important facet of manhood, shouldn’t it?  This is a topic that I am sure we will return to often as time passes by, but let me focus on a particular instance of forward thinking/planning for this post.  This morning I started reading the book of Nehemiah and I came to this passage in the 2nd chapter:

In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before;
2 so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”
I was very much afraid,

3 but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”
4 The king said to me, “What is it you want?”
Then I prayed to the God of heaven,

5 and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.”
6 Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time. 7 I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah?8 And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the king’s forest, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests.
9 So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.
  (passage from http://www.youversion.com/bible/neh.2.niv84)

What is striking here is that Nehemiah was well prepared for this discussion.  He is not making it up on the fly, but he has an already prepared plan.  This is what makes him successful in his request.  Now I have to give credit where credit is due, this insight is not original to me, I got it from Andy Stanley.  Clearly Nehemiah was disturbed about the conditions in Jerusalem and of it’s inhabitants.  He has not had the opportunity up to this point to take any action, but that has not kept him from making a plan regarding what he would do if he could take action!  Andy Stanley would call this his vision.  And although he had not yet been able to act on the vision, his preparation enable him to be ready to jump into action when the opportunity presented itself.

Is there something stirring in your brain?  Do you have a vision?  Perhaps a concern?  Or a burden for someone or something?  A passion that has as yet gone unfulfilled?  Put together a plan!  And when the time is right, you will be ready to seize the day — not scrambling to put something together!

Carpe Diem, my friends!  Carpe Diem!

  If you are interested you can get the Andy Stanley book here:

Or you can get the Kindle version here: Visioneering: God’s Blueprint for Developing and Maintaining Personal Vision