You Never Really Go It Alone

Mentor1Ask anyone in a management role to list some of their biggest challenges, and I would almost bet that on that list you will find some semblance of the word “hiring”.  You might call it “talent acquisition”, “managing resources”, or as I have heard a manager in my grocery days refer to it, “seeing if I can find someone smart enough to fog a mirror.”  Yeah, sensitivity training was lost on that guy… (No, it wasn’t me)

It is a challenge to hire.  I am working on that particular job right now.  I enjoy getting to meet and talk to new people and see if we can find the right person to fit our team.  I have a list of questions that are used to get a feel for the candidate, and I always try to use the same questions so everyone gets a fair shake.  Some are based on technical knowledge, but most are fun questions when people answer them because they tell a story!

One of my favorite questions to ask doesn’t do that though.  This question gives me a glimpse into the mind of the applicant and lets me see something different.  I know, you’re begging to hear what it is, so here you go:

“Do you answer important questions independently, or do you tend to be the kind of person that seeks out the advice of others?”

Not so bad, right?  Pretty straightforward, and it provides a lot of room for talk with a simple follow-up question:

“Why?”

Ooooooo!  Now we are learning!  there are several reasons you can ask someone this question, but one of them is to get an idea of how well a person might take constructive criticism, or allow themselves to be mentored.  I still remember what I thought was the best answer I have heard to that question.  They thought about it for  a few seconds and then said:

“If I know the decision affects me, and me only, then I will probably make the decision on my own.  If I think that the decision could have a harmful effect on anyone, then I would ask for advice.”

Wow!  That was a good answer.  I almost forgot to ask, “Why?”  Almost.  Their response?  Well, it wasn’t that bad either:

“I don’t want to be a bother to other people.  If I have the knowledge and understanding to do something on my own, and even a wrong decision will still only disrupt me or my day, then I can go it alone.  After all, it’s only me.  I just would hate to be in a rush and be overconfident in a situation where I might hurt someone else because of my actions just because I didn’t want to take a minute and ask, or run the risk of looking foolish.  Better to take the time and the risk of looking foolish than do something that will hurt someone.”

Yeah.  Pretty cool answer.  That person came to work for me.  They had a lot of other good qualities too, but that was just the best answer to that question I had ever heard.  It sounded like a person with their head on right.

The Bible has something to say on this topic as well:

“Plans go wrong for lack of advice: many counselors bring success.” – Proverbs 15:22 (NLT)

When I think of that fantastic answer, I only see one hole in it.  The decisions I make rarely, if ever, affect only me.  I am not an island unto myself.  I am a husband, a father, a manager, a son, brother, uncle, cousin, teacher, friend, disciple, and mentor.  As I go through a day, my life touches other people directly or indirectly almost every single minute of that day.  The decisions I make will almost always impact someone else.  How  is that for an almost paralyzing thought?!

So, it behooves me to seek advice, good counsel, mentors, friends, and other resources that will help me make good choices.  Not for my benefit all the time, but for the benefit of those I may be impacting.  I have a duty to be responsible and find out what I need to know before I make a decision, because it will affect someone else.

How about you?  Are you looking for advice?  A place to get some wisdom?  I have a suggestion.  Start reading the Bible.  Get a Bible you can read and understand and dig in.  Start with the book of John and read about God’s love for us.  The Bible is the best place for truth and wisdom.  Its counsel will never lead you astray.

Then, you need to take the next step and find someone you know that loves God and wants to tell others about what He has done in their life.  Ask them to help you dig deeper into an understanding of God, and to connect you with some other people who can help you learn more and grow.  Have them help you into a church where the Bible is taught and you can build relationships with other believers.

helping-mentorA growing believer never stands alone.  He is always next to someone who is teaching him or he is teaching someone else.  I don’t want to use a phrase like, “It takes a village”, but too late now!  It takes a group though.  We need to have other people who want to see us succeed in our lives.  That is where life happens and growth occurs.

Relentless growth is most evident in the act of mentoring in the Christian walk.  We must ask advice, be teachable, accept criticism, and be willing to learn from the mistakes we make.  We must also be willing to give advice, to be loving in pointing out areas of weakness or wrong choices while lifting them up and helping them on to the next challenge.  Seek advice. Ask for counsel.  It’s the smart thing to do!

I hope this was an encouragement to you.  If there is ever anything I can do to help, please message me and I would love to talk more.  Feel free to share this with anyone!

Relentless Growth -> Grow Deep -> Grow Strong

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Reserved: Not Available For You At This Time

reserved(1)Today I had a visitor. A person stopped by to talk to me about performance in a particular area or two of my life. I knew he was coming. Frankly, I was dreading it. Not because I don’t like the guy, but more because I was pretty sure I knew a good deal of what he was going to tell me, and I didn’t really want to hear it. I already knew it.

Well, as I thought, he did go over those particular things with me, and while it is always unpleasant to be forced to go over your shortcomings, he did it I a way that was gracious and understanding. I appreciated it, and as a result of his delivery, I have a renewed resolve to improve. Most of that desire comes out of a respect that he built for himself in how he treated me with respect as well. It was a good conversation all the way around.

Near the end of our meeting, he gave me some advice on scheduling my time that I have not tried before. He asked me what amount of time I set aside in blocks for completing certain tasks that really need to be done. After we talked about where I spend my time, I realized something. I have found that a great deal of my time is taken up by starting something and then restarting it after I have been called away for something else. It is the interruptions that are killing my efficiency.

He suggested taking the important things that really need to get done and actually blocking time off to work on them. Literally making those times sacred for the purpose of accomplishing that specific task. Nothing short of an all out emergency can take me off the task at hand during that time.  This is not as easy as it sounds.

It’s going to require Discipline.  I am going to need to define these times and then stick with them.  No compromise.  I have a job to do in that time frame and allowing distractions will negate the purpose of that time and it will stay as inefficient as ever.

It’s going to require Understanding.  Whether it is people understanding that I am setting this time aside for something important, or my understanding that there might be something that comes up during these times that is more important than what I am doing.  We are all going to have to work together to come to a new understanding of schedule and priorities.

It’s going to require Change.  Yes, that word that can shake the foundations of comfort.  Mine. Theirs. The all important status quo.  Sometimes the best thing you can do is do something different.  Face it, doing things the way I have done them has not worked. Time for a shake up.

Time is one of those things that we only get so much of.  Everybody gets the same amount, and while we can make the most of it, we can never make more of it. It is easy to think that your time is worth more than another person’s time, but it really comes down to what you do with it that makes it valuable.

The Bible has a verse that speaks of this:

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven”

-Ecclesiastes 3:1

Relentless Living requires us to look at what we are doing and evaluate it.  Is it profitable?  Is it necessary?  Is it possible?  Is it something I should be doing?  Is this the right TIME for this?  Taking that look at how I use my time will make me more effective.  This is not only about work, but at home and in my other relationships as well.  It’s a discipline that is worth the effort.

Just as Christ set side time to pray, or to spend with his closest disciples, I need to set aside time to do the important things and not be distracted by the interruptions that do not really require my attention. That is going to help me accomplish the important things rather than be in a state of constant interruption by the urgent things that might not be really important.

So, I need to go.  My time for this is up, and I have something that needs to be done.  Have a great day, and feel free to share this with your friends.  Tell them to take the time!

Relentless Growth -> Grow Deep -> Grow Strong

The Chase

Why Is Everyone Chasing MoneyMy church is doing a church-wide campaign using a well-known pastor’s material as a common focus through our small groups and several classes.  This week the main topic is that of our finances.  Each day we are given a passage to read in the Word along with a small devotional; then we journal our thoughts on what we read.  A simple, but effective method of spending a quiet time each day in the Word, and it is the best one that I have ever found for myself.

A couple of days ago I read the passage below:

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

-Matthew 6:31-33 (NIV)

The thrust of these verses is simple.  Don’t be caught up in the things around you, even the important things like food.  People who do not know God are always looking out for those things, chasing after them.  Instead, look to the kingdom of God, and chase after righteousness.  If you do that, then you will have the things that you need.  Pretty simple.  I have heard it all my life.  Makes sense.

Something popped in there for me the other day though.  the phrase “run after” was not in the version of the Bible that I had used as a kid.  We had the word “seek”. So I looked at another version, the Amplified Version, and they used words that paint the picture of the word “seek” in a different light. They use the words, “wish for and crave and diligently seek“.  Now that gives a picture of a chase or a hunt.  It has an imperative sense of urgency.

So, when I read the passage again with that thought in my mind of chasing after food, shelter, clothing – basically all the things that money can buy – the Bible says that is something that the pagans do.  Pagan meaning people who do not worship God.  Hmmm.  Not a crowd I want to be associated with.

So, what are we supposed to do? “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”  The way that is phrased, I am led to believe that we are still supposed to be on a chase.  We are still supposed to “run after” something.  Still supposed to “wish for and crave and diligently seek” something.  We are supposed to have the same intensity for the chasing down and hunting the kingdom and a righteous life that a person would be expected to hunt and chase down food when hungry or clothing when naked.  I have been known to feverishly hunt for a Chik-fil-a or a Five Guys Burger and Fries, so I think I understand what Jesus is saying here.

So, if that is the intensity that we are  supposed to have for the things of God, it is pretty easy to draw a comparison in my life and see where I stand in that level of desire.  Pretty easy for all of us to do.  When we compare our desire for the things of life that we need every day to taking the time to read our Bibles, pray, encourage a friend, help someone in need, share the Gospel with someone, we come face to face with what we really want.  How much time do we spend preparing and eating meals in a week compared to the time we spend doing anything for God? *Ouch*

Christ doesn’t stop there though.  He gives us a promise.  If we do this, then all the things we need we will get.  All of it.  Huh.  So, let’s see if I am understanding this right.  Be Relentless in living a life that is in constant pursuit of God, the kingdom, and the good things He has gifted me to do, and all the things that the world tells me to chase will just be given to me?  You have my attention.

A Relentless life looks at a job not as a way to make money, but as a way to impact the kingdom through earning money to give to God’s work in the local church, through missions, or even personally impacting another person in need.  They see their job as a way that they can share what God means to them with the people they work with so they can have the same hope and strength of God at work in their lives.  They can look at the difficulties of a job as a way to let God teach them a lesson in humility or patience.  When a job is looked at in that way, the “work” of the job turns into something else.  It becomes a ministry.  God loves His people to have a ministry, and He rewards it in many different ways.  Employers see you as a person that has a purpose, a passion, a desire to succeed and help others.  They kinda like that sort of stuff in their employees and tend to reward that behavior too!

This passage has always been an encouragement to me, but I had never noticed how it is a great example of Relentless Growth in the Christian life.  It really encouraged me, and I hope it did you as well.  Let me know your thoughts.  Feel free to comment below and share it with your friends.

Relentless Growth -> Grow Deep -> Grow Strong

 

Rocked By The Waves

wpid-waves_3.jpgI recently returned from an amazing vacation to Florida. We spent 5 days in the Tampa Bay area seeing the sites and then we drove over to the Miami area to stay with some good friends for the remainder of our time. I am very happy to say that I was able to decompress fairly quickly on this trip, and by the second day I was 100% on vacation, fully relaxed and just enjoying the time with my family.

The weather was not quite as good as we had hoped it would be while we were there, but we certainly were not complaining. One morning I got up and checked my phone to see that there was a 40 degree temperature difference between our location and home. That made for a happy thought all day! We did manage to squeeze in a few sunny days where we had the opportunity to really enjoy the beaches, water, and some amusement site time as well.

We spent one day on the Gulf of Mexico on beautiful North Beach near Fort DeSoto. It is a very nice white sand beach with a gentle surf and very warm water. And seagulls. Lots and lots of seagulls. Seagulls that will actually rifle through your belongings while you are out in the water cooling off. Seagulls that like Cheetos. I like Cheetos. I hate seagulls. I digress… Anyway, it was nice to enjoy the water there, but more than anything we walked away from the gulf with cherry red skin and no Cheetos.

For me, the ocean is all about the surf. A few days later we were able to enjoy the Atlantic coast with a really nice surf breaking. When we got there, the rollers were coming in around 2 feet, but later on they started to get bigger and come in faster. At times they were 3+ feet tall, and it was a lot of fun to dive and play in the surf.

I’m kinda funny, but one thing I love to do in the surf is try to stand as the waves really crash against me. I will brace myself with one leg forward and one back and just try to see how long I can stand against the pounding. I would do pretty well for a while. I’d rock a little bit, but was always able to keep my footing and stay upright. Until… Yeah, that crazy wave that would kinda hit from an angle right after a good hit from the front. That was when I would lose my footing and tip over. Then the undertow would grab me and pull just as another wave would hit and push. I’d flop around for a little while trying to just stand back up again, but I couldn’t just stand. I would need to drop to my knees and get stability before I could stand again. I did it over and over again with the same result.

The next day, we were sitting and having a little devotional time with our friends Carl and Lois. Carl shared James 4 with us out of the Message paraphrase. I was struck by the following verses:

So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.
– James 4:7-10

I was immediately taken back to the day before. Playing my game in the ocean. Goofing around and how I had to drop to my knees before I could stand. I couldn’t miss the lesson there.

How many times have I stood up against the stuff in my life with a sense of faulty confidence? Allowing the waves of my own sin to wash over me and feeling like I could handle it? Thinking of all of the crutches that I might have been using to stay upright. Then it would happen. I would be hit by something out of left field. Something that would take my resolve, my strength, my attention from where it needed to be to “hold it all together” and I would go down.

How many times have I flailed around in my pride? How much time hand energy have I wasted in an attempt to “get myself right” before God while the waves just kept pounding me and I kept rolling in the surf? Too many. Simple answer. Too many.

Thinking back, the verses are right. It takes saying no to the things around me, but it can’t stop there. It must require a “yes” to God. A humbling of myself. Admitting I am wrong and realizing my need to put God back at the front of my mind where He belongs. Give Him the control He deserves as Lord of my life. Hit my knees and repent of pride and the sin that has been allowed to work in me.

Relentless living is not always standing in the fray and fighting. Relentless growth takes place on our knees. I can’t stand against the fray sometimes, but when I am on my knees, God will always be there to help me to my feet.

Relentless Growth -> Grow Deep -> Grow Strong