Posts Tagged ‘ change ’

Faithfulness > Passion

It’s hard to believe that I originally created this note in Evernote almost a year ago. I never wrote in it for different reasons that were probably excuses, so I figure it’s about time to finish what I started all those months ago.

And yes, I totally get the irony of the title of my blog post vis-a-vis the fact that I started this long ago and “didn’t get around to it” till now.

Something that I’m learning over the last few years of life is that while passion is a great thing to have and a great thing to see in others, I’ll take faithfulness over passion any day when choosing someone to work with. I think that many folks in this millennial generation have plenty of passion, but they certainly struggle in the area of faithfulness/commitment. I don’t mean it as a death sentence – I’m still part of this generation – but it is something that we need to recognize and work on.
Passion is great. It’s often needed. Without passion, there’s no push to get anything big started. We wouldn’t have much of what we now take for granted without someone having passion to get it started, particularly not the social enterprise products we love so much these days (e.g., TOMS, free trade coffee, etc.). We need passion to get started on something important.
The problem with passion is that it’s often associated with emotion, and it doesn’t stick as a result. It can easily fade, and it can easily get redirected to other things. Without your passion being funneled into one direction, you end up with nothing to show for it. You can end up devoting effort into different areas, and at the end of it all, you’ve accomplished nothing but pushed some stuff around.
It’s like digging for treasure. You need to have a direction you’re digging in; otherwise, you’re just pushing dirt around. It’s possible that you get to where you think you ought to go and find nothing, but the only way for you to get there is to push through the resistance and be consistent in a directed, concerted effort.
This is why I believe faithfulness/commitment is more important than passion. Passion can come and go. Hopefully it comes and stays, but without commitment and faithfulness, it will go where it wants. The Bible has all sorts of warnings about our plight when we decide to follow our passions instead of what we know to be true.
More than someone who preaches with fire, I’m impressed by the pastor who sticks it out through challenges galore at the small church without any recognition, any big favors, any fame, and stands fast for years and years.
More than someone who draws a bunch of attention by being super effusive and outpouring with eloquence, I’m impressed by those who are there in those critical moments where a friend needs them.
More than those who shut it down during worship service at church, I’m impressed by those who have served faithfully behind the scenes for years and years without much recognition, status, or benefit.
These are the people I’m impressed by – the people who stand by their freaking word. People who don’t over-promise and under-deliver. People who count the cost with wisdom before making a commitment, rather than making them on a whim and breaking them. People who I can believe when they look me in the eye and say, “I’ve got this.”
This is what I aspire to become. A man who, by the grace of God, follows through on his commitments and does what he says he will.
I would encourage other men (and women) to take up this challenge as well!
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Telling a good story.

Sometimes I try too hard to attach special meaning to things. I can tell a good story about anything, but the challenge comes in choosing which story to tell. Not in a dishonest way, but in a way that ministers grace to the hearers.

I enjoy watching How I Met Your Mother because it paints a picture of three different types of men – Marshall, the hopeless romantic and kind of awkward guy; Barney, the guy who sleeps around for sport; and Ted, the guy in the middle. Ted considers Marshall lucky to have met his match in college, and hates himself for acting like Barney in his quest for “the one.”

But without Ted, Marshall and Barney would never be friends. In fact, whenever Marshall hangs out with Barney, it doesn’t work out in anyone’s favor. Ted is continually pulled in opposite directions because he wants to find the one like Marshall has, yet wants to know what Barney’s secret power is.

The secret power of shows like this is that you only see the relational consequences of people’s actions. So they can be entertaining and sometimes even descriptive of real life, but not the whole story.

In real life, Barney would probably have a lot of STDs. As much as CBS tries to make Barney a real character (with a blog too!), he’s not. The guy who plays him is openly gay. I don’t say that in a condemning way (God judges men’s hearts, not me), but it’s what Neil Patrick Harris has chosen. I still think he’s an amazing actor. If I was his friend, I’d try to be his wingman, but I’m only a spectator.

In real life, Ted might have STDs too, but he’d probably be talking to therapists quite a bit as well. In fact, the whole premise of the show is that he’s telling his kids this whole story, and that’s what makes it work. I don’t know much about Josh Radnor’s life outside of How I Met Your Mother, though. Guess he’s not as popular yet.

But in real life, we don’t get a narrator in that moment. We don’t always know exactly what’s happening when it’s happening, though we sometimes think we do. What we do get, though, is a Father who’s always been there, watching and interfering only as necessary.

Katie Davis said at Catalyst that we sometimes only want to see God in the outcome, but that He’s God in the process too.

I don’t know all the details of the outcome I’m heading toward yet, but in this season, I’m choosing to trust God in the process. He knows better than me, and I don’t always have to try so hard.

Permission to be silly.

Last night, I checked out the middle school ministry that I’m praying about serving with at church.

I noticed that while worshiping, not only was it acceptable to act a little silly, it was encouraged. And it started at the top.

The worship leader, who’s been doing youth ministry for years, wasn’t “acting his age,” and in doing so, gave the kids permission to act theirs without having to worry about looking silly. He acted like he was their age so that they could act like they were their age in worshiping God.

Some might say that he’s making up for something, or that he hasn’t grown up. But I don’t see that. Instead, I see a man doing his part to serve his community doing what he loves – connecting with the middle school children at his church. I see a man letting his “street cred” suffer a bit so that he can bring pre-teens closer to Jesus. I see a man posing as a youth so that at the appropriate times, he can treat teenage boys like men and teenage girls like women.

It’s rare to find places where it’s okay to act a little silly. But by showing me his world, he’s given me one such place. If they’ll have me, I think I’m taking that part-time job.

Church.

One thing I haven’t talked about much here is church. I let people know that I’m a Christian, so it’s assumed that I go to church. And I do.

But to be pretty open, over the last two years, I’ve been church-hopping. Cheating on my home church (which is great, by the way – check out their beach festival!), if you will…

I hadn’t fasted for a while, and a local church was doing a Sun Stand Still-inspired fast, so I joined in. Over a thousand of us were doing a Daniel fast for about four weeks last spring.

I hadn’t been on an international missions trip, and I found out about one with another church going to Thailand to help victims of sex trafficking (at a Shane & Shane concert), so I decided to go (can’t make it this year).

I love Hillsong United and heard that they planted a church in NYC, so I made some visits (and am open to visiting again! It’s like a free concert with a nice message to go along!).

I’d heard about a lot of different pastors over the Internet but hadn’t been to their churches, so I downloaded their podcasts. Some favorites include Elevation, Mars Hill, and The Village.

Oh, and before all this, I met an amazing girl who goes to church with a friend from college. I went to some Bible studies with them and hung out with mutual friends a few times. Fell hard and fast. Screwed things up pretty royally over Memorial Weekend, though, so pray for me.

In any case, after all my gallivanting, I’m choosing the church that helped send me to Thailand. That’s where I’ve seen God show up in amazing ways, and that’s where I’m heading.

If you’re ever in the area, you can find me at Princeton Alliance Church. The music is great, the pastor is cool and together we’re on track to change the world for Jesus!

Plus, in case you haven’t been, Princeton is just a really cool town! Cute indie-ish tea place in the downtown area, sweet little garden theater in town, a pretty awesome sandwich shop and a little mini-brewery I’ve not yet been to.

For the sophisticated men reading this, there is also a cigar shop on Nassau. Not to mention the university and seminary. Professors and theologians never go out of style.

What part is the grass?

It’s been said that the grass is always greener on the other side, but what part of the experience is the grass? What’s the part that looks better but is actually the same? Maybe it differs depending on the situation.

Some things that may be grass:

  • People
  • Routines
  • Responsibilities
  • Daily tasks
  • Freedom

But there are things that can actually be better:

  • People to learn from
  • Experiences to benefit from
  • Projects to be a part of
  • Vision to move forward with
  • Risks to take

At the end of it, though, maybe the only way to tell is to  go to the other side and see. Maybe stepping into uncertainty isn’t such a bad thing.

You’re being lied to

Everything is marketing. Everything is theology. There’s no way around it. Every commercial you watch, every person you talk to, every message you hear has behind it a way of looking at the world and interpreting reality.

Many of us can at least identify with this, but realizing it doesn’t make it any easier to avoid all of it. Much as we may try to unplug, we’re still exposed to messages coming from every direction – television, news outlets, movies, social media, all of it! There’s a message behind the message. There’s a philosophy of life being preached there.

When you see a commercial about a new sports car with beautiful women, the message is that if you buy this car, you will attract beautiful women. But why would you care about that? Because of the philosophy of life it’s pushing – that a sports car should make you happy, but if not, beautiful  women will.

Unfortunately, there’s always a gap between the happiness promised (or implied) and the happiness delivered (reference to awesome business book unintended). No matter how nice the item or how great the experience, enjoyment and fulfillment always reaches a limit. Pretty soon, you find yourself pushing the limit more and more, just to get that enjoyment back again.

Is there a solution? Is satisfaction possible? Why do we always want more, and when we get it, it’s not enough? This doesn’t even only apply to things. Experiences too. It’s never quite enough. It looks great when someone else has it, but once we taste it ourselves, if we’re honest, we’ll admit that it’s not quite everything we were hoping it would be.

I know what the solution isn’t. It isn’t more. For all the technology and luxury we have in America, we have nothing approaching the joy I witnessed in a lovely group of Thai children whose only possessions in the world fit at the head of a twin-sized mattress and whose experiences have been more painful than many of us would care to imagine. More is not the answer.

As much “good” as business does and has done for us all, by and large it’s succeeded by perpetuating a message that isn’t true – that you can independently secure joy for yourself.

The truth of the matter is that any joy we can lay hold of is temporary and insufficient. Eternal joy must come from an eternal source.

The status quo is a terminal disease. True enjoyment can only come from what’s truly good.

Read this book (affiliate link) to discover just why truth matters more than you might typically think. It’ll only take you half an hour.

Focus where it counts

We usually prefer to blame others for our shortcomings than take responsibility. Those “others” can be people close to us (I’m suffocated at work) or not (the government is holding me down). “Others” can also be circumstances – the economy sucks and nobody’s hiring; I don’t know the right people; I went to the wrong school…

There are basically two main arenas we can focus on in life – what we can’t control (the macro-economy; where we come from), and what we can (our skill set; where we choose to be).

When I focus on the stuff I can’t control, the result is a mix of depression, frustration and to an extent, entitlement. I get upset that I don’t have what I want and get in my head that I’m owed those things. Only problem, I’m the only one were of that debt, because I made it up.

But when I focus on what I can control, it can be scary, but it can be life-changing. It’s scary because it means I have to admit that I’ve been the cause of most of my problems. But once I admit that, I start getting myself out of the mess instead of complaining how dirty it is.

Where’s your focus? I can’t promise you life change if you focus on what you can control, but I can promise you no change if you focus on what you can’t.