Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”- James 4:13-15 ESV
I had every intention of writing and publishing this blog on yesterday, but the Lord had something else in mind. On yesterday, I received some very disturbing news. My childhood friend, college roommate, and fellow Army reservist that attended basic training with me on the "buddy plan" passed away. After hearing this news, the rest of the day consisted of reflecting on the times that we spent together.
I also spent time thinking of how I could have done a better job of reaching out to him and staying in touch with him. With all of that history that we had together, that's the least that I could have done. Unfortunately, whenever I thought about touching base with him, I always felt that I would do it "tomorrow." My brothers, aren't we all guilty of this mindset? Think about all the things we state that we will do "tomorrow" and that day never comes.
As I am so painfully aware, tomorrow may not ever come. This was reinforced on yesterday with the news that I received. Today, I would like for all of you that are reading this to began doing 3 things on a consistent basis. They are as follows:
1) Reach out and catch up with someone - This can be an old friend or family member that you haven't spoken to in some time or someone that you need to mend a relationship with. Reach out today to that person.
2) Become a resource for one that is experiencing difficulty in their life - There are people that are going through tough times and you are the one person can be a beacon of light in their life starting today. I know personally of someone reading this blog that's a prime example of this and provided a source of comfort and was a resource for our mutual friend that just passed (I and many others appreciate you for stepping in!)
3) Begin the pursuit of your passion or purpose - Start today with pursuing that project that aligns with your God given talent and abilities. Whatever your passion or purpose is (if you haven't identified it as of yet, you're in the right place!), begin the process needed to accomplish it.
Doing these things can assist you with focusing on today and enjoying the gift that it is. This represents a better alternative to worrying about tomorrow, which is not promised.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men - Colossians 3:23 ESV
How would you feel if every morning you were able to wake up excited, energized and ready to take on the world? How would things be different if you knew that by following your passion you would be positively affecting those around you? Discovering your passion is not easy. I want to share with you 3 ways to help you discover your passion.
1. Become a Child
Do you remember when you where a child and wanted to conquer the world and nothing was going to hold you back? As a child, you weren't weighed down by the negative feedback that you experienced as an adult telling you about the things you can't and shouldn't do. Return back to those days as a child when you weren't hindered by other's opinion of you and experienced joy and freedom.
2. Don't Let Money Be The Object
Don't let money be the primary motivator when it comes to pursuing your passion. Although it is satisfying to have your passion become a primary source of income, doing something solely for the money is a recipe for disaster and can oftentimes cloud your judgment and focus.
3. Examine Your Past
Oftentimes we are discouraged from revisiting our past. However this can be a source for discovering your passion. Look at your past and examine the things that you have accomplished or enjoyed doing. This can be a revealing clue as to the things that you derive satisfaction from.
What do you feel is keeping you from finding your passion and living with purpose? Please share in the comment section below, I would to hear from you!
And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful! - Psalm 90:17 NLT
We are down in South Carolina on our annual trip for the Thanksgiving Holidays. Before partaking in the awesome meal later in the day, Abbey and I decided to go for a walk in the morning to get in our cardio workout (built in excuse for overeating later in the day!). As we were walking around the track, I noticed an elderly gentlemen walking by himself. I came up to him and started a conversation. I found out that he was 86 years old and that he came here and walked on a consistent basis. He stated that his motivation for walking at the track was the fear of what his life would be like if he didn't put in the effort to keep moving. He knew that if he didn't keep moving that there was a good chance that his quality of life would be diminished. As a result, he used that as a motivation to get out of bed and keep up his exercise regimen.
Brothers, how many of us wish that we had the mindset of this 86 year old man when it comes to providing the effort needed to accomplish our God given dreams? Here is a gentleman that is walking outside on a chilly Thanksgiving morning when he could have stayed home and no one would have blamed him. There are people that are half his age that needed to be out there exercising that choose to stay in their warm homes as opposed to doing something that would benefit them. Why? Why did this gentleman have the wherewithal to continue to get up every day to walk while others choose to not put forth the effort? The answer lies in his motivation not to experience the alternative that he would experience is he DIDN'T put forth the effort. He knew that if didn't keep up his effort to walk, that he wouldn't be able to have the physical ability to keep doing the things that he enjoyed. He knew that he wouldn't be able to maintain his level of independence that he currently experiences and is a source of joy for him. The resolve that I saw in his eyes and as we walked around the track was an inspiration for me and should be for each of you reading this.
As much as I would like to be able to provide this, only you can come to that point in your life where you will realize that not giving forth a consistent effort will be met with disastrous results. My walking partner that day came to a point in his life where he determined that he effort he was going to put forth every day was worth it and was better than the alternative. Are you at this point in your life? If not, what will it take for you to get there and start placing the effort needed to move you in a positive direction? Only you can provide the answers to these questions and I would take the time right now to begin to answer them in a truthful manner. Doing so can move us closer to experiencing the energy, effort and determination that I saw on display yesterday morning.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand - Isaiah 41:10 ESV
As a family we are committed to recycling (yes we want to help save the planet). Since we don't pay to recycle (a whole other issue that I have a problem with), we have to take our items to a central location at the high school to drop them off at the collection site. I usually will take one of my sons with me to assist in unloading the items. One particular day I took Trey, who is my oldest son, with me. After dropping off the items, I looked at him as we got back into the car and thought about how he is now a freshman in high school and an idea popped into my head. I moved the seat up on the driver's side, got out of the vehicle, and instructed him to get behind the wheel. He first looked at me in astonishment and then proceeded to get behind the wheel and drive in the parking lot (those blog readers that reside in Northern Kentucky, watch out!).
My brothers, why do we sometimes exhibit fear when presented with an opportunity and as a result, decide not to pursue it? Reflect back with me if you will, to the time when you were a teenager. Do you remember your mindset? Chances are you aggressively attacked any opportunities that were aligned with your talents and abilities. What happened to that person? As you grew older, you began to adopt the cautious mindset that is prevalent with a majority of people, myself included. What is the solution to this dilemma? Let's go back to that day with Trey when he drove the vehicle in the parking lot for the answer. First of all, Trey trusted that I would not place him in a situation that would cause him harm. Furthermore, he also looked to me for guidance as he was driving. In this same manner, we should trust that our Heavenly Father will not place us in an untenable situation and will provide us guidance along the way. Secondly, Trey had some experience with driving as result of sitting in my lap in addition to guiding the vehicle when I gave him control of the steering wheel while I drove. Likewise, there is a high degree of probability that you will have some prior experience that you can draw on when engaging the opportunity that presents itself. Doing this will ensure a greater chance of success.
So what is holding you back from attacking that opportunity that's in front of you? The process that Trey implemented to successfully drive around the high school parking lot is available to each and every one of us. The first step needed in beginning to let go of the fear that's holding us back from accomplishing great things is to adopt the mindset that my teen aged son currently possesses (and I pray that he never loses it) and just go for it. My challenge to every one reading this is to identify one thing that you would love to do and know deep down in your heart you have the ability and talent needed and resolve to begin the process of simply doing it!
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever - 1 Peter 4:10-11 NIV
When it comes to fixing things, for the most part, I am all thumbs. I have gotten better over time, but I usually look up the appropriate professional when it comes to repairing the more difficult things around our home. There use to be a time when I would be jealous of those individuals that can easily repair the routine items that break in addition to possessing the talent to plan and tackle the more complex projects that require guys like me to spend money out of our pockets. Why do they have the gift to be talented with their hands and I have to struggle with simple items such as driving a nail into a board without bending it?
Men, why are we reluctant to embrace how different we are from others? I think there are a few reasons why we don't embrace our differences and appreciate and use the gifts that we have been blessed with. The first is that we are insecure or don't really know who we are. We are either hesitant to start the journey of discovering who we are because we are afraid of the answers or don't know how to go about uncovering who we are. The second reason, which in some cases is more insidious than the first, revolves around society encouraging us to fit in. This societal norm has been a part of the majority of people since childhood. "Don't take risks", "don't cause any waves or draw any attention to yourself are some the mantras that have been preached to us. This type of societal advice runs counter to what we are as men. We are made for adventure. We are made to color outside the lines. The only way that we can do this effectively is learning to embrace our uniqueness and the differences that come with being individuals. We must learn to use whatever gifts that we have to positively impact our world and lead our families.
How do we learn to find and use our gifts? The first place that you need to start is by taking inventory of the things that you truly enjoy doing and seem to come easy for you. Let me caution you that when you engage in this exercise, you will have to do 2 things: 1) You will need to be brutally honest in this self assessment exercise as you identify your gift and 2) You need to be ready and willing to act upon utilizing your gift after you have correctly identified it. If you are not willing to do these 2 things, you may as well not even start the process. It pains me to see my fellow men that struggle with the concept of embracing their differences and not living up to the potential and settling for being like someone else. As Soren Kierkegaard (a Danish philosopher, poet and theologian) stated, "the deepest form of despair is to choose to be another than himself."
Starting today, resolve to discover your gifts and use them to serve others. Take some time to go to a quiet place where you won't be disturbed (I know that's tough for you with young ones, but this is a life changing task!) and begin the process of uncovering your talents. The discovery will not happen overnight, but with consistent effort and God's help, you will find the things that make you unique.
Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands - Deuteronomy 8:2 NIV
Because I have an aversion to flying, whenever we go on vacation or visit family and friends, we always drive to our destinations. I remember on one occasion when we were driving back from some trip, I pointed out to my sons a power plant that was located on the Ohio River (once we got there we would cross into Kentucky) and asked them how long would it take for us to get there. Their answers ranged from 2 to 5 minutes. It took us approximately 20 minutes to actually reach the power plant and cross into Kentucky. They were puzzled about the length of time that it took to reach the power plant because it appeared to be closer than it appeared. I had to explain to them that we were not able to take a straight line directly to the plant and that we have to navigate the turns in the road in order to reach the destination. As a result, it required additional time for us to make it there.
There have been times in my life that I shared the same opinion and possessed the same attitude as my 2 sons that day when it comes to reaching my goals and dreams. I was impatient and puzzled because it took a lot longer to reach my goals than what I originally thought. It has been a constant source of frustration throughout my life. Guys, am I alone in that sentiment or can you identify with the negative feelings that accompany waiting to see your goals come to fruition? As much as I would like to be able to attain my goals in a more timely manner, I have come to realization that I will not have the straight line to success and will have to learn to trust the process that is required. The process may require that you take detours and alternative routes to reach the final destination. It may require experiencing a time that like the children of Israel, wandering in the wilderness in order to reach the Promised Land. During that period of time in the wilderness, you learn the skills that are necessary to be successful in addition to relying on God to provide you with the proper mindset to get to the next level. All too often during this period of time in the wilderness, we become frustrated and disenchanted and abandon the pursuit of our God given dreams. As I write this, I think of what potential positive contributions that have fallen by the wayside because of someone's inability to endure their time in the wilderness. Imagine the change that could have been experienced in this world if more people were able to realize that there is no straight line to success and getting there may require you to take a series of turns to arrive at your final destination. Are you one of the people that have abandoned the pursuit of your goals because you have spent time in the wilderness? If so, please grab your map, get back on the road and begin the process once again with the realization that you will have to make a series of turns in order to arrive at your final destination.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others - Philippians 2:4 ESV
I met with a client on yesterday that had a cap that identified him as a veteran of the Air Force. I thanked him for his service and expressed how much I appreciated what he had done for his country. He looked at me and stated that all he was doing was serving his country when he went overseas to fight in the Vietnam War. He loved this country and felt that what he did was a small part in preserving the freedoms that we enjoy in the United States.
The humility and sense of sacrifice that was exhibited by my client was amazing. Here is an individual that was placed in harms way in a foreign country (whether or not you agree with the conflict is not the point) and he felt that it was just part of his duty as an American. As I reflect on the events of the past few days following the presidential election, I am struck by the irony of the protests that are occurring as a result of the election of Donald Trump. I juxtaposed this with the sacrifice that my client along with other veterans made so that we can be able to exercise our First Amendment rights and it causes me to shake my head. I am aware of the fact that some of our readers either served in the military or had relatives that served and made the ultimate sacrifice. On this Veteran's Day, I say thank you! I say thank you for defending our freedom that we sometimes take for granted. I think that each of us should take a step back and look at the attitude and character that were exhibited by our veterans as they served our country as we move forward in the coming days, weeks and months. As today's scripture states, let us not look to our interests, but the interest of others as well. Regardless of what side you supported in the recent presidential campaign, please keep in mind that we have others that served in our military that made incredible sacrifices for our country that subjugated their personal interests for those of others. I strongly feel that we should do the same moving forward.
HAPPY VETERANS DAY TO ALL OF OUR VETERANS AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!!
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline - 2 Timothy 1:7 NIV
When I was in the Army, I was challenged by the rigors of Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training, or AIT for short (this is where you learned your actual job that you signed up for). Toward the end of the period of AIT, we were asked if we wanted to have the opportunity to take part in a program where we could go to Jump School and learn to jump out of airplanes. This would allow us to become Airborne troopers with additional pay. Of course, I turned this opportunity down. One reason was my fear of heights. The second reason was because I was afraid to take the risks that were involved in the program. In other words, I was scared.
How many of us have been reluctant to accept an opportunity that would be beneficial for us and our family because we were afraid? How many times did we not feel that we had it within in us to accomplish the task so we declined to even make an attempt? For myself, it has happened more often that I am willing to admit. The feeling that you are left with as a man when you know that you shrank back from attempting something that could have been life changing for you and your family is something that can stay with you for a long time. This feeling can keep you from not attempting or recognizing future opportunities that may come your way. How do we overcome the reluctance to challenge ourselves and address the fear that sometimes accompany big goals and dreams? You need to realize where your power comes from and jump! Your parachute can never function properly if you are on the ground. You have to jump if you want it to operate. In order to feel the exhilaration that comes with attempting and succeeding, you have to try. There is no way around it, you are going to have to jump in order to have any opportunity at experiencing success. The choice is up to you.
The scripture above tells how our Father in heaven has given us the spirit to cast out fear. Because we are children of the Most High, there is no reason for us to operate in an environment where constant fear is present. We should not be timid when we are faced with the opportunity to accomplish something that God has called us to do. He has provided us with everything that we need in order to jump and have our parachute to open. Let us cast aside those feelings that restrain us from going out as men and doing what we have been called to do. Let's be examples to families and friends of what it's like to operate without fear.
I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren't ready for anything stronger. And you still aren't ready - 1 Corinthians 3:2 NLT
My youngest son Connor has a healthy appetite and has from birth. He is a grandmother's delight with his willingness to be spoiled by a good meal. I wish that my mother (who was a great cook) was alive to spoil him with her awesome meals. Even though Connor had a great appetite from birth, it would have been unwise to provide him with a home cooked meal as an infant. To feed him something other than the formula that he had drank as a baby would have been a recipe for disaster. Since his system was not developed enough, he would not have been able to digest it and it would have caused him harm.
Although it seems irrational to feed an infant adult food, there are times that I do the equivalent when it comes to interacting with family and friends. I have been guilty of expecting my sons to exhibit the behavior of adults even though they are still young. I will judge their behavior and actions in the same manner that I may do with my adult friends. By doing this, I have in essence been giving them adult food instead on the milk that they need at this stage of their life. By me doing so, I am harming their growth and development. My brothers, are you guilty of doing the same with others in your life?
Paul, in his letter to the Church at Corinth talked about how they should treat the new converts to Christianity. He instructed them to give them "spiritual milk", or the basics of the faith. Like an infant, their current condition required this type of nourishment. As the converts progressed in their faith, they could them provide them with meat, or more advanced teaching as they were ready to accept it. As leaders, whether within our family or the church, we should be careful to know our audience and provide them the teaching that coincides with their level of maturity. Examine whether or not our training is consistent with our students level of development. A great teacher does not necessarily teach what he himself knows, but what is suitable to his hearers. This is the foundation of establishing an environment where learning and growth can and will take place. Let's resolve to today to start monitoring the needs of the people that we are responsible for leading that are within our circle of influence and tailor our teaching and training to them. That way, we can ensure that they will receive the proper growth and development needed.
And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay - Habakkuk 2:2-3 ESV
As I have aged, my vision has gotten worse. I'm actually to the point where my optometrist suggest that I get bifocals. I am still holding out. My current prescription glasses come off when I have to read, cook or spend an extended time on the computer. The only time that I wear my glasses now is when I am looking at television or driving (if you see me driving without my glasses, you need to get off of the road!). I think back to the days when I use to laugh at folks that would peer over their glasses in an effort to see items that were closer because they weren't using bifocals. Now I am one of those folks. I am amazed at the lengths that I am going through in order to avoid getting bifocals even though they would improve my vision and stop me from having to remove my glasses constantly. The solution for better vision is literally in front of my face (pun intended).
What is your vision? Is it crystal clear, or has it been clouded by outside factors that are negative such as attitude, lack of focus or belief? Are you like me and know what needs to be done to improve your vision, but neglect to address it for one reason or another? Some of the most successful people that I know have a clear vision and can articulate it at a moment's notice. They have simplified their vision so that they can communicate it to others so that they may share it. They are cognizant of how their vision may take time to realize and understand not to rush the process.
If you are one that is in a position of leadership and tasked with setting a course of action for others to follow (men, we are ALL leaders and this applies to ALL of us whether we are leading our family or in a position in the church), the scripture above provides guidance in the way of effective vision casting. There are 3 principles that are outlined: 1) Be clear in communicating the vision to others. The Lord instructed Habakkuk to write the vision and make it plain on the tablets so that others can read it. The vision is to be so clear that one doesn't have to slow down to read it, 2) Be patient as the vision is being consummated. As the verse states, 'the vision will await it's appointed time and will not lie. 3) Have faith in the vision. The faith comes from knowing that it is from God and will come at His appointed time. It may seem slow at first, but it will come to fruition when it's ordained by God. Adopting and adhering to these 3 principles can help to ensure success for those that play a part in casting a vision for others to follow.
Ken Sadler is a leader of Men's Ministry at a megachurch and has a heart and passion for helping men become the best they can be.