Do You Have Trouble Being Still?

 

479345205Waiting. Late Gen X’ers and Millennials have never really had to do much of it. In fact, we cringe at the thought of it. Thanks to fast food retailers, express trains, HOV lanes, and supermarket “10 items or less” checkout stations (just to name a few), we’ve gradually lost any and all tolerance for waiting.

I’ll be the first to confess that I have a low tolerance for waiting. (If you want proof, just ride to work with me one morning and see how well I handle traffic jams.) Recently, as I grumbled to myself about having to sit still for a few extra minutes, I had a revelation. I realized that I get easily frustrated when someone doesn’t answer my call, text, or email promptly. I never want to wait in line at theme parks. I start to steam when that friend (whom I love) says they’ll be there at 6:00 pm but doesn’t show up until 6:10pm. I often don’t even have the patience to wait on the elevator to move two floors (ridiculous, I know).

While processing all of these instances, I realized that I have a serious problem. Is it really such an inconvenience to my schedule to have to be patient for just a few tiny moments of my day? Of course, the answer is no. But there’s a greater lesson to be found here: Waiting is a part of life. No matter how advanced technology may become or how many more choices we’re offered in this life, we’re always going to be required to wait on something or someone.

Whether it be in the work environment, relationships, or leisure, waiting is never comfortable or pleasant. But we could all testify to the fact that waiting has proven profitable at times. We must remember that the big thing God has waiting for us just beyond the horizon is only found through seasons of being still and patiently trusting a greater plan.

Scripture is full of great examples of how waiting proves valuable in the end. Psalm 46:10 provides probably the best advice ever for waiting: “Be still, and know that I am God.” In other words, breathe in, breathe out, and simply trust the one who knows us best and what’s best for us–our Creator.

Consider your own life. Do you have a low tolerance for waiting? Do you feel entitled to have everything “your way, right away”? Do you need to take time to be still, trusting in the Lord’s perfect plan and timing over your own?

Good Advice May Not Always Be Good For You

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The following is a guest post by a good friend and influential voice to the Millennial generation, Jonathan Pearson. When I got word of his new book, Next Up: 8 Shifts Great Young Leaders Make, I wanted to be a part of helping other young leaders find and soak in Jonathan’s passion and wisdom. If you’ve ever been bombarded with advice on how to do things from people, and it didn’t work for you, you’ll definitely relate to these words. ~Adam


 

My wife and I have a 2 month old. Being our first child, you can imagine the amount of advice we got as my wife was pregnant and we were getting closer to his due date. We got advice like…

“Get as much sleep as you can now! You’ll need it later!”
“Don’t feed from a bottle, it’ll mess up their routine.”
“Don’t buy newborn clothes, they’ll only be in them for a little time.”

We got all of that advice and more.

We took some of that advice and ignored some of the others. One of the things we listened to and took to heart was to not buy any newborn clothes or diapers. We figured that people would give us enough to last for the “short” time our son would be in them.

Our son was born 6 weeks premature.
He was REALLY small.

He didn’t start in newborn, he started in premature size diapers and clothing.

As we brought him home from the hospital a couple of weeks after his birth, we were scrambling to find clothes to fit his tiny body. We had to go to the store the night we brought him home to get preemie diapers.

The advice we were given, while it may have been great advice to the people giving it, didn’t work for us. Our situation was different.

You are different than the people around you. One of the things we’ve tried to do, especially as young leaders, is take what works for someone else and apply it to us. So we take on what works for other people and claim it as our own. We’re left with an identity crisis. Instead of knowing who God made us to be, we try to become everyone around us.

Just because it seems to work well for them, doesn’t mean it will work well for us.

Be you. You are you. You aren’t them!


Read more about topics like this in Jonathan’s book Next Up: 8 Shifts Great Young Leaders Make. To find out more about the book, visit nextupbook.com. To find out more about Jonathan, visit his website.

Don’t Waste Your Twenties!

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As an editor, I read so many books and articles that I don’t often find the time (or desire) to read something for sheer pleasure. But seasonally, I’ll run across an engaging read that I just can’t put down. In the spring, it was Seth Godin’s Linchpin. For the summer, it’s Paul Angone’s 101 Secrets for Your Twenties.

You may be thinking, But Adam, aren’t you in your (very early) thirties? Why would this book of secrets for your twenties even be of any value to you?

Well, I asked myself the same question. But then I started reading. And strangely, these hilarious and wise tidbits of information have proven to still be of great value to this (ahem) “young” thirty-something.

101 Secrets for Your Twenties is a refreshingly honest compilation of life truths. Paul Angone has cleverly put into words our twenty-something experience, yet with a passionate and purposeful goal of helping young adults navigate this unique stage in life without regret. If you’re like me, you’ll laugh (especially at secrets #5, #17, and #44), ponder (secrets #29 and #43), and say a lot of “Amens!” along the way (secrets #1, #21, and #53).

101 Secrets for Your Twenties (published by Moody Collective) is now available for purchase. And I highly recommend it–especially if you’re in your twenties or early thirties. It makes for an excellent graduation gift for college students as well.

To learn more about the book or its author, Paul Angone, visit allgroanup.com.

Just Say No to Status Quo!

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One thing I seem to notice more and more these days is our culture’s strange attraction to mediocrity. I see it in the entertainment world as masses seem to be drawn to the sight or sound of a lackluster performance. I see it when parents celebrate average achievement in schoolwork. I observe it in the workplace as employees allow burnout to consume the passion that once fueled their desire obtain career success. I even witness it in the ministry setting as church members and leaders get comfortable with “the way we’ve always done it.”

So what ever happened to striving for excellence?

And when did we fall victim to a “status quo” way of living?

Though we may not be able to find the root answer to these questions, we can surely work against such behaviors as Millennial leaders dedicated to excellence.

Here are three ways to “just say no”…to status quo.

1. Feed your passion constantly. Read good books. Study the competitor. Never stop dreaming. And when those moments of burnout start sneaking in, remind yourself why you do what you do (and who you do it for).

2. Practice accountability. Just like a good workout partner or mentor, accountability is important for keeping yourself encouraged, inspired, and excited to do more and be more. So keep others in check, and allow them to do the same for you.

3. Raise the bar. When you are setting high standards and striving for excellence as a leader, you’ll quickly notice how contagious it will become to those around you. Show up early. Go the extra mile. Embrace change…and support it. And ultimately, as a leader, never get too comfortable.

How do you see attitudes of mediocrity played out in your circle of influence?

As a leader, are you striving to maintain the status quo? Or are you leading others toward excellence?

Who Quit and Made You a Leader?

Leadership is a word that everybody seems to be talking about these days. I even heard someone recently make the comment, “It seems like, all of a sudden, everyone’s a leadership ‘expert.’” So while chewing on that comment, I even had to ask myself, what constitutes a leader? What makes someone qualified to talk about leadership?

In order to answer those questions, we first need to put into perspective what leadership really is. To most people, leadership is seen as a position or title (i.e. a CEO, VP, manager, supervisor, pastor, etc.). To others, leadership is human nature. It’s something that doesn’t require a title or high-ranking position in a business or church. Whichever way you look at it, leadership involves a following. A leader influences, encourages, inspires, and guides a group of followers toward a goal or destination.

As I put myself into this equation, something became very clear to me: I’ve been a leader all my life. To clarify—No, I’ve never been a corporate CEO, executive pastor, company vice-president, or even a department manager. But I’ve always been a leader. As for my qualifications, well…here’s a bit of my “leadership resume”:

Infanthood—My mom and dad can make a pretty good case that I was influencing and “inspiring” people from my first moments in the world. (I’m having to just take their word for it since my cognitive skills don’t allow me to remember that stage in life.)

Kindergarten—I was chosen often to be the class “leader.” Responsibilities included leading the pack in a straight line up and down the hallways of York Elementary (No, the school was not named after me…ha!) and getting to sit at the special “leader’s desk.”

Elementary School—I was president/vice-president of the 4-H club for a few years. I represented my class/school at community academic and talent competitions. I “competed” for the highest grades, always striving to be better. I even held the honor of 8th grade valedictorian (gotta love small schools).

High School—I kicked my leadership passion into high gear, holding several president/vice-president titles (Class of ‘98, Beta club, Christian club, student council, etc.). I had the honor of representing York Institute (yes, it’s a high school) on various speaking and performing engagements.

Youth Group/Church—I often led the pack when it came to engaging in various Bible study or church activities. I was blessed to have the type of personality that naturally meshed with all kinds of people and could easily invite others to be a part of ministry activities.

College—I once again held a class office and soon became manager of the campus ministry choir. In one of my many college jobs, I was quickly promoted to being a staff trainer (where I learned that I love leading/training/guiding people).

Career—In every job I’ve held, I’ve been blessed with multiple opportunities for advancement and great managers who have set me up for success. I haven’t quite reached that “executive” level status yet, but I continually find ways to be a silent force wherever I’m serving. As a former youth pastor, I saw the fruit of my students who trusted in me to lead them well. That was affirmation to my leadership. When I write an article or a blog, I’m always encouraged by the amount of people who encourage me to continue. Once again, affirmation to my leadership. As I continue to invest myself in my current role by going beyond my job description, I’m continually affirmed in my leadership by the support and following of others who seem to notice.

Let me stress one thing here: This is not a “brag fest,” but rather an example of how I’ve been equipped for leadership from the very beginning of my time on earth. It’s more than titles. It’s more than being “selected” or “chosen” for a role, but it’s both an attitude and a passion that keeps me constantly craving to be the best I can be for others (and ultimately, for my Creator).

In Scripture, some of the best leaders weren’t the most highly skilled. They often didn’t have any leadership experience at all. But God used them as they were. And He used them as they were willing. In modern-day life, some of the best leaders don’t have the most prestigious career resumes. In fact, if we were to really get down to the heart of things, many individuals with high-ranking titles or fancy resumes aren’t the best leaders. But ultimately, genuine leaders can be found where the followers are.

So am I qualified to give leadership advice? Maybe not from a CEO perspective, but as someone who’s been leading by nature and passion all his life…YES!

How about you? What does your lifetime leadership “resume” look like? Who follows you? Who gives you affirmation in your leadership?

Hello, God?

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If you’re like me, you’ve probably had many moments in life when you felt like God was a million miles away. You may have questioned whether God even cares about what’s happening in your life. Often, our circumstances or hardships can cause us to have these thoughts. This is especially true in the life of a young adult, as major life decisions are before you. But the reality is that God is highly involved in our lives. He cares more than any close friend or relative. He’s here—right now—and there’s nowhere we can run to escape from His presence. Ultimately, God wants to be involved in our lives.

Scripture reveals to us that God not only exists, but He’s also deeply involved and desires to be intimately present in every area of our lives. In the Psalms, David reminds us that God is personal and present. In Deuteronomy, Moses left us a reminder that God guides and provides. Just as God was present with the Israelites through their wilderness experience, He’s ever present in our moments of “wilderness.” Finally, Paul reminds us in Philippians that God stepped into history, making His presence known through Christ. He cares for us so much that He set aside the glories of deity to become a human being. Because of His humanity, we see just how much God wants to be involved in our lives. There’s nothing we could ever go through that God doesn’t understand.

In those moments when God seems so far away, how can you remind yourself that He’s completely present and personally involved?

DON’T BE A “SELL OUT”! OR DO?

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Our culture has transformed the term “sell-out” into a negative quality. When musicians or actors submit themselves to the going trend, they are often coined as “selling out” to the popular crowd…often compromising the original attributes that gave them the credibility and appeal for which they’re best known. But is “selling out” always a negative thing? Not in the game of baseball! In America’s favorite pastime, “selling out” is described as sacrificing one’s body for the good of the team.

For many leaders, “selling out” or sacrificing personal goals for the good of the team has become optional. But the truth is, some of the best leaders of all time have been “sell outs.” When it came to the success of the whole team, they put aside personal gain, compromising toward a greater purpose. And most often, when such a sacrifice is made, a leader then gains the listening ear and trust of his or her team that can give them the platform to re-introduce those original goals or plans that set them apart from the beginning.

What do your sacrifices or compromises look like in your leadership role? Are there areas in your role that might require you to “sell out”?

Here are 3 signs that might indicate it’s time to “sell out” in your leadership role:

1. When your current vision isn’t producing positive results
2. When your team isn’t passionate or “on board” with your vision
3. When your followers start to slowly disappear