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?

3 Ways to Conquer Busyness

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It’s not uncommon these days to hear the phrase, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” And not just in the comical way. It’s because people are legitimately too busy. Balancing time between what’s truly important and what’s secondary is a difficult task. Busyness can get the best of us when we least expect it.

A lack of responsible time management can destroy relationships, damage reputations, and detour plans. In the end, a few simple adjustments to your to-do list can change everything.

So how can we develop a proper and healthy balance of our tasks and activities?

Here are three healthy ways we can tailor our time:

1) Unplug. Time is precious–especially when relationships are involved. One of the greatest thieves of the clock is technology. Email, social media, TV, and so forth–they’re robbing us of real life. And guess what? They can wait. When it’s time to be face-to-face with others, pull the plug. You can do it! And the more you do it, the more you’ll crave it.

2) Reorganize. Since we’re creatures of habit, we often get caught up in regular routine patterns without changing things up on occasion. If your schedule is too full, consider reorganizing a few things to free up some time for what matters most. Maybe that involves getting up an hour earlier to plan ahead. Or it might require enlisting someone to help you develop some clear scheduling boundaries. Regardless, shake up your routine and take back some of your extra time.

3) Take Inventory. If your schedule is full, it’s necessary to take inventory from time to time. Consider what’s missing and what is in abundance. Is it time to remove something from your daily or weekly schedule? Is it time to make some substitutions? Whatever the case, a regular evaluation of your to-do list can truly be one of the most healthy tasks you can take on.

Don’t let your loved ones, your health, or your sanity suffer due to poor time management skills. A little bit of focus goes a long way.

Here are a few words of wisdom regarding time management:

“Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk–not as unwise people but as wise–making the most of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).

“The future is ‘something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.'” – C.S. Lewis

“It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it.” – A.W. Tozer

Do You Suffer From Commitaphobia?

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com•mit•ment(noun) the act of committing, pledging, or engaging oneself.

Do you struggle with this word? Does it scare you to death? Do you cringe at the very mention of it?

If so, hear this: You’re not alone.

People fear commitment–especially those in their 20’s and 30’s. Commitment includes a binding contract. It requires keeping your word. It demands selflessness. And in a world where people grow up being told they can be and do whatever they desire, well…commitment doesn’t always mesh well with that standard of living.

I was a victim of commitaphobia (fear of commitment) for several years. Growing up, I wanted to be a part of so many things–sports, arts, church, academics. I wanted to be everybody’s friend. I feared missing out on, well, anything. And, essentially, I didn’t. But in the midst of giving pieces of my time to almost anything and everything, I lacked genuine commitment. And guess what? I actually did miss out. I missed out the best parts of truly getting to know others. I missed out being a vital part of a team. And I never fully developed skills and talents that I could have if only I had stayed or played longer.

For any relationship, career, or hobby to experience vitality and joy, a genuine level of commitment is a must. Sure, you can make anything work for a period of time. But you’ll never really learn to swim until you dive into the deep end. The deep end is mysterious, uncomfortable, and requires much endurance, but it makes you stronger and better.

When I committed to jobs, I found passion and fulfillment. When I committed to friendships and relationships, I found real community. When I committed to marriage, I found harbor and hope. And when I committed myself to God, l found purpose.

Commitment is not an end; it’s a beginning. Commitment doesn’t close doors of opportunity; it opens them. Commitment is not giving up; it’s giving in.

To what or whom do you need to commit? What’s holding you back?

Go ahead–commit. Don’t let a fear of missing out keep you from truly missing out. 

A Rant About Ranting

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It’s pretty obvious: People love to rant–especially via social media. Whether it’s regarding politics, religious views, sports, or relationships, ranting seems to be America’s new favorite pastime. We all have opinions, and everyone likes to believe theirs is the right one.

But it makes me wonder, Does public ranting ever solve any problems? And is there a better way to vent frustrations, while still sharing your point of view?

The answer is YES. Here are three points to consider before firing up the social media megaphone:

1. Rarely does anyone convert someone to his or her way of thinking via angry rant. People are more apt to listen to an opposing viewpoint when approached with gentleness and respect.

2. Forcing one’s opinions or views onto others can cause division, distrust, and scarred relationships. It’s best to consider whether the rant is a hill worth dying on.

3. Nobody likes a whiner or complainer. Not only do public ranters risk losing friends fast, but his or her reputation gets lost faster than friends.

Ultimately, ranting doesn’t solve problems. Seeking wisdom and working to understand others does. Rather than ridiculously shouting frustrations through social media channels,  imagine what could happen if we all listened more and extended more grace. We could really change the world a lot faster.

Who’s in?

Making Par vs. Raising the Bar

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When I was a kid, I practically grew up on a golf course. My dad loved the game and played often. I always wanted to tag along with my dad for the hopes that I could pull along my kid-sized bag of clubs and pretend that I could hit the ball as far as he did. (And getting to illegally drive the golf cart was an extra perk.)

MAKING PAR

As I grew into my teen years, I remember wanting to get more serious about the game. I started paying attention to the rules and objectives of play. That’s when I learned about making par. For you non-golfers, par (which stands for “Professional Average Result”) is the number of strokes it should take a skilled golfer to complete each hole. Essentially, the lower your par, the better your score.

When it comes to our work and relationships, many people seem to be living just to “make par.” We know the “professional average results” required of us to make it from paycheck to paycheck. We know what’s required of us to keep others satisfied daily in relationships. In other words, we’ve mastered the skill of making par.

But what if we lived in such a way that just making par wasn’t the standard?

What if our objective was less about making par and more about “hole in one”?

RAISING THE BAR

We live in a culture that says average is enough. And we’ve embraced the idea that if we just make par–each day, each week, each year–we’ll find contentment. Essentially, the concept of “raising the bar” is a lost art. Going above and beyond has become a hassle.

I’m thankful to be surrounded by a handful of friends and coworkers who live with a “raising the bar” mentality. For them (and for me), average isn’t enough. There’s a genuine sense of accomplishment and joy that comes with a “raising the bar” mentality in life. You begin to see transformational results in your work. You see beauty and depth in your relationships. And ultimately, you find purpose in who God created you to be. When you raise the bar, you raise your self-esteem and your character. Bonus: You raise up those around you.

When you think about raising the bar, what imagery comes to mind?

How can you raise the bar in your own life right now?

So here’s my challenge: Whatever your area of responsibility may be (leadership, service, family, etc.), find ways to raise the bar–and don’t delay. Not only will you see transformation in your own life, but you’ll be inspiration to someone else who’s striving just to make par each day.

Change–Face It and Embrace It

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A lot can happen in a year.

For me, 2012 was a year that brought a lot of change–change I wasn’t quite prepared for. But in the midst of the many unexpected changes along the way, I’ve experienced some of my life’s greatest blessings. And God has made me better–for Him and others.

Facing Change
I’ve always been the type of person who thrives on change. I like trying new things, new ways, at new times, and at new places. New experiences always make me appreciate old ones. New environments always give birth to a fresh creative spirit. New relationships always prove to better define past ones.

But as good as change can be, it’s never comfortable. Change requires surrender, and surrender demands a shift in pride. All in all, these are small sacrifices when it comes to the fruits of change.

My 2012 was uncomfortable. I surrendered several comforts along the way. My pride was then shifted. And now in 2013, I’m able to look back and see the fruits.

Embracing Change
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from facing change, it’s that you must also embrace it. It’s in the moments when you open your heart and mind to the changes that lie ahead that you begin to see God do a work inside you that’s beyond your realm of understanding. And the rewards are plentiful.

In 2012, I decided to embrace the changes before me. I surrendered my small realm of thinking and allowed God to do what only He can–make me better. I decided to trust His plan instead of the ones I had crafted on my own. And I discovered a life so much more abundant than I’ve ever known.

I survived several changes within my job and work structure. The fruit was found in embracing a new position in which I truly love and am able to creatively and passionately use my skills and talents for His glory. I allowed myself to invest in the pursuit of new relationships. The fruit was revealed when God opened my eyes to the most beautiful relationship in my life for the past twelve years–and in less than three months, I’m marrying my best friend. God has the most unique and beautiful way of orchestrating His plans. Let’s not hold Him back!

In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, we learn that “for everything, there’s a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (ESV). So often, we coast through seasons of life without acknowledging God’s perfect plans. We attempt to craft our own plans–and we fail. So we try again. And again. And eventually, we finally open our eyes to God’s perfect plan and begin to experience the abundance of His love. Don’t postpone joy.

In work, relationships, or life experiences, how do you deal with change?

Are there situations of change that God may be asking you to face…and embrace?

No matter the change that lies ahead, remember to look for God in the midst of it. Allow Him to change your heart and transform your life. And then–a year later–bask in the fruits of His plan and provision. A change can do you good.