People Are More Important Than Money.

Choosing money over people will only bring you loneliness

Let’s be honest. We live in a crazy and disconnected world. It’s a world where money trumps everything. There’s something messed up about it. Something not quite right. Our need for relationships is broken! People don’t matter! Community is irrelevant! We need finances to live a certain quality of life. But when we sabotage people because of the pursuit of the bottom line, we’re sabotaging everything. So what if we took a different approach? What if we put our relationships ahead of money? What if we invested in our greatest resource, the people around us?

people

For me the investment in people took an international perspective over 6 years ago when I traveled to Ethiopia with a vision team and got connected with a young man named Alula Yohannes. We had met briefly on a previous trip, but there was something about him that drew me to him. Perhaps it was his sweet, gentle and servant heart. Or perhaps it was his desire to go for it when it came to business and his relationship with Jesus. In any case, we became deep friends. We became brothers. I (and my family) wanted to help him succeed in any way that I could. Today Alula is an ever increasingly successful entrepreneur and business man. I don’t have any credit in his success. What I am proud of is that I saw someone that I wanted to be in a lifelong friendship with. Someone in whom I was proud to call my brother and friend.

Here are 3 things that I’ve learned in my friendship with Alula.

1. People need strong friendships more than money.

When we met Alula, he wanted to help us in his city, Addis Ababa. He wanted to introduce us to people that mattered to him. He never asked for anything for himself during our 8 days in the country. And, because of his heart, when he did show me his vision for a new business idea, I was eager to help.

2. People connect people.

Without people we would be isolated and alone. Without people we wouldn’t get very far in life. In my faith journey I have come to 100% believe that we were never, ever created to be alone. Our relationships with others inspire us to try something new. To be more daring. To be more tender. Loving. Kind. Generous. Our relationships with others create other relationships. Because of Alula, I have made new friendships that will also be lifelong. People with whom I have learned many, many things that have made me a better man, husband, father and…friend.

Lastly.

3. People will push us off the island.

I lean towards being an introvert. I like being alone. I like my quiet times. But if I stayed in those times, I would never meet people like Alula. If I allowed myself to stay on my little Ken Island, I would never have traveled half way around the world and met someone as dear and close to me, like Alula. My life would not be as full or complete. If I would have listened to Simon & Garfunkel, I would never grown deeper in love with the country of Ethiopia.

So. Here’s the deal. What will you do today to make a new friendship? What will you sacrifice in order to make sure that people matter more than your bottom line? At the end of your life what do you want to be known for? How much money you had, or how many people’s lives you impacted?

Embracing The Mess Leads To A More Peaceful Life.

Messiness is how were wired, so get messy.

Sorry to say that it’s been a few weeks since my last blog post. A lot has happened. And needless to say it hasn’t been overly easy. In fact, it’s been a mess. In my desire to pursue blogging and connecting with people, I’ve also been working on getting my real estate license so that I can work with my wife. Well, that just put a wrench into things. It put a snag in my well laid out plans to be someone of influence. It really was a downright mess. I was frustrated. Annoyed. Mostly cause it was taking way too long to complete. Well, I’m done! I’ve passed the exams. I’ve got my license. Now it’s time to get moving. It’s time to move past the mess.

mess

Then I went for a run today and listened to a podcast from Andy Stanley. It was all about this idea. It was all about being messy. About moving towards the mess, rather than away from it. For most of us, life revolves around people. Our lives, day in and day out involves others. And, let’s be honest. Many of those people are not very neat and tidy (like we are). So, when they enter into our little circles. When they enter into our tidy and organized little worlds, they tend to reek havoc. And…everything in us wants to run in the other direction. Right?

Running is the desire. But is it really the correct course of action? For me, being someone who wants to encourage and inspire others to a life of living, loving and leading, this would be the wrong direction. And, I want to suggest it’s the wrong direction for you too. We are supposed to be engaged. We were meant to be engaged. It’s what we were created for. None of us were designed to be alone. We were, in fact, meant to be fully, 100% in community.

So, as I was running, some things jumped out at me from the podcast. There are 3. Let me give them to you now. You can back later and listen for yourself (here’s the link).

1. Moving Towards The Mess Isn’t Convenient

All of us are busy. Right? Too busy probably. But here’s the deal, being busy isn’t a problem in and of itself. But when we are so busy that we no longer have any margin in our lives for the mess of others, something is wrong. When we cease to have room for others, something is broken. Remember? We were not made to be alone. The mess of others isn’t convenient. It isn’t even all that much fun. But it is vital to who we are.

Here’s a gut check statment:

You’ll know you’re too busy when you see messy people
as inconveniences rather than opportunities

2. We Will Never Meet The Best Version Of Ourselves In Our Comfort Zones.

Let’s be honest. You’re totally squirming right now, right? We all have our comfort zones. And they’re really comfortable!!! Hence the name. But, when we move outside of those boundaries and towards the mess of others, it’s there when our best selves are revealed. Truly!

If we insist on comfortable, boredom is inevitable ~ John Hambrick

3. People Aren’t Projects

This comes down to control. We want what we want, when we want it. You want help? Fine? On my terms! Sound familiar? The people in our lives are NOT projects. They’re people. They’re people who have pain. Flaws. Brokenness. And it’s up to us to enter into their mess and embrace it with them.

Will you be available? Will you be open to embrace the mess around you?

Be Intentional About Who You Spend Time With

You're only as influential as those you surround yourself with.

I’m an introvert. I like quiet. I crave alone time. I get distracted and irritated by large crowds and noise. And you know what’s totally crazy?  I’m a musician and have been a pastor in some form or fashion for my entire adult life. Both of those categories revolve around crowds, people and noise! Want to know something. I’m kind of exhausted. I’m fried. I feel like I’ve been running into the wind and uphill for a long time. I want more. I want to feel like I’m being intentional. I want to feel like the time I’m spending with people other than my family is important. Ever feel like that?

choosing friends

Even though I function as an introvert, I’ve always felt a strong pull towards making people feel important and special (which is noble in general), but in the midst of those feelings and “good intentions” I tend to lose myself to the business of people pleasing. Sound familiar?

So, here I am. 48+ and wanting something different. Wanting something…more. Intentional. Adventurous. Unconditional.

Thankfully these feelings haven’t sent me looking for a younger, hotter woman (I married the younger, hotter woman!).

What the feelings and thoughts have pushed me to is towards processing what is important and who is important in my life.

Here’s what I think. Here’s what I know. Who you surround youself with is more important than how many! Did you hear that? For all of you who think that quantity of friendships out way quality you need to stop. Now! I know that you don’t want to hurt feelings. I know that you want to be nice. Friendly. But that’s not the same thing as being intentional.

I’m a follower and disciple of Jesus. Want to know something about him? He really only had a tight group of 12 people that he spent time with. And even then, there were only 3 really, really tight friends. No matter what you think about Christianity, Jesus knew what he was doing. He knew that to be truly intentional. To be truly influential, you needed to narrow the amount of influence those around you had. Because when you did that, your influence would grow.

Here’s what I’m doing in this season.

  1. I’m pausing – from expending unnecessary energy in relationships that aren’t reciprocal.
  2. I’m processing – what I want/need from the relationships/friendships that I believe are important
  3. I’m pursuing – those relationships that have come through the process

I know that many of you right now are squirming. You’re squirming because you think that this is being mean and harsh and selfish. You know what? It probably is…just a little. But again. Here’s the deal. Jesus. The great historical teacher and philosopher was intentional about who he surrounded himself with (and I believe He was more than those things). When we are thoughtful about our relationships. When we are truly, truly intentional about who we allow in to our lives, life will honestly be better. Grander. More full of purpose. So? Are you in? Let’s be about intentionality. Let’s be about purpose.

 

 

Stop The Voices, Change Your Story

5 Steps to changing your story.

Do you hear voices? It’s ok if you do. I do too. All the time. Are your voices positive or negative? Honestly? Mine tend to be mostly negative. “You’re not good enough.” “You’re not a good husband or father.” “You’re fat.” “You can’t do that job.” Sound familiar? I’m going to suggest that 100% of humanity struggles with IVS or Internal Voice Syndrome (my own label). It sucks. Really. But it’s part of our reality and either we fight the voices or give in to them.

Voices

My thoughts? Fight the voices.

As I was running on the treadmill today I watched a podcast with Michael Hyatt around this subject and it connected with me in a serious way. So, let me flesh out some of what Michael talked about (I’ll also put a link to Michael’s podcast at the end of this post).

So let’s go. What do we do about the voices? What do we do about the negative internal monologue that we all wrestle with? Let me give you 5 steps.

  1. Acknowledge the voice(s) – the sooner we recognize that there are competing voices speaking/shouting at us regarding who we are, the sooner we will be able to fight back. What are the voices saying? See if any of these sound familiar. “I’m a terrible parent.” “I can’t be a single parent.” “Who will ever marry me?” “I’m not smart enough for the this job or promotion.” “I’m fat.” “I’m not pretty.” “I’m not good at tests.” “I’m stupid.” Anything sound familiar?
  2. Journal what the voice(s) are saying. Keeping a record of what’s being said can help us in fighting the negative narration. When we write them down and then acknowledge them, we can then reject them. Reject them for the lies that they truly are. Did you read that? Whatever is negative. Whatever is against who you truly are are simply lies. So reject them with every fiber of your being.
  3. Evaluate the stories. Is it life-giving or not. Is is empowering or not? Bottom line? If the narration isn’t FOR you, don’t listen to it. DON’T. LISTEN. TO. IT.
  4. Write down a different story. What do you want your story to be? What are your dreams and aspirations? What do you want to be different? What do you want for your family? Grab a journal. Write those things down. Flesh them out. Share them with someone closest to you. This is key. You need a new story. I need a new story. One that makes sense. One that breathes life. And honestly,  you deserve a new, great story. You were created to have one. So go for it!
  5. Listen to the new story. Believe the new narrative. Repeat it to yourself. When the “bad” narration starts, speak the new one. Use the new narrative as a defense against the bad one.

Your life matters! You were made to be extraordinary! You were made to have a purpose. Today is the day to take a step toward that life.

Here’s the link to the Michael Hyatt podcast. Michael Hyatt

Question: What voices have you been listening to? Are you tired of the lies yet?

Saw this video on FB the other day and it really impacted me. Thought I would share it on my site too. No matter what you’re going through right now, know that you’re loved deeply.

Authenticity Is About Being Who You Really Are.

Tell the truth by how you live.

There’s a word that I kind of hate. Want to know what it is? Well, you don’t have a choice. Here it is. Authenticity. There you go. I’ve confessed. With my confession let’s talk about the first one. Authenticity. I hate it. Really. It’s so over rated. It’s so misconstrued. And yet it’s part of our culture. “I like them, they’re SO authentic.” Give me a break. I want to hurl.

mirrors

What’s the deal with authenticity? Tons of people want it. Most don’t have a clue of what it means. An in all honesty and transparency — I don’t either. But I do have some thoughts. Let’s start with some Shakespeare

Your friends and family all struggle with this one. Being authentic. Being real is kind of tough. Cause when you show your weaknesses. When you show that your feelings can get hurt, people don’t know how to handle it. Maybe they’ll respond by mocking you.

Here’s a little secret. Everyone struggles. Everyone has hurts and pain. We all struggle with being scared. We all struggle with having negative or bad thoughts. When we don’t allow people into our hurt and fear this happens. How you respond in those times will help you know what kind of leader you will be.

There was a really popular song on itunes and the radio. My kids sing it like crazy. There’s even a Minecraft version of it. It’s called Demons by Imagine Dragons. Now, this song isn’t about devils that are red and have horns and a pitchfork. It is about how we all struggle and how we need to be real with the people around us. Here are some of the lyrics:

“When the days are cold
And the cards all fold
And the saints we see
Are all made of gold
I wanna hide the truth
I wanna shelter you
But with the beast inside
There’s nowhere we can hide
When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide
Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide”
Being authentic. Being real means that we let people see us just as we are. Big scary warts and all!
Here’s the deal around this. There’s no middle ground with authenticity. Either you are authentic or you’re not. And, what I know about authenticity is that people prefer it over being fake. They may not initially agree, but eventually they will.
So, what kind of leader do you want to be? My guess is that you’re telling yourself that you want to be authentic. You want to be real. Don’t we all? But our inner desire and reality are very, very different.

Question: What is it about you that’s keeping you from being from authentic and real? What are you willing to do to get there?

 

 

Every Great Story Starts With The First Step…100% of the Time.

Stuff that I've been reading and listening to since January.

Everyone likes a good story. Whether it’s a comedy, romance, action or horror. They’re all there. The question is, what will yours be? Also, is the question even something you’re asking? I know I have been. It keeps coming up in a ton of different ways. From what I’m reading, listening to, or from the conversations I’m having. The question keeps being asked, “What do you want your story to be?”

What will your story be?

Over the first weekend of 2016, Kristen and I were blessed with a weekend away into the mountains around Vail, Colorado from our oldest daughter. It was much needed. The stresses of the past year had been building up and up and up. The closing of a church and the subsequent spiraling on my part had affected our marriage and my heart.

On one morning as we were talking, Kristen asked me how she could help me. I didn’t have an answer. So she asked a follow up question. “Who can help you?” Thankfully, I had some thoughts. And equally as thankful, we both knew that we had friends in our lives that could and would help. Long story short. 3 weeks later I was driving to South Dakota to spend a few days with our pastor, marriage mentors, groomsman and dear friends. It was life giving. Cup filling. Bank depositing! Use whatever metaphor you want, I needed the time away.

What came out of my time in SD? An increased desire to pursue my story. An increase in desire to have a story. So I started to journal around something that I hate. Setting goals! I’ve come realize that I’ve lived under the shadow of a misguided belief that setting goals is a recipe for failure. So, I’ve always fought against setting goals.

Thankfully, my thoughts are changing (hopefully for the long term) and I’m setting goals. Goals for a story. A story that has meaning and purpose. A story that will inspire.

Regardless of where you are sitting, or standing; if you want a better story, you have to take the first step. It’s always been that way. It will always be that way.

Let me share some of the resources that have been helping.

Books:

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

The Dip by Seth Godin

The Deeper Path – Kary Oberbrunner

How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Living Forward by Michael Hyatt & Daniel Harkavy

The 4 Hour Work Week – Timothy Ferris

The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell

Podcasts:

This Is Your Life – Michael Hyatt

The Tim Ferris Show – Tim Ferris

Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast – Andy Stanley

Elevation Church – Steven Furtick

Question: What are you willing to do to pursue your story? 

 

Lessons From My Daughters Birthday Slumber Party

Silliness Matters.

I wrestle with being silly. I’m not entirely sure why. When I worked with students, I was always the center of the silliness, or coming up with the crazy ideas (like bobbing for Oh Henry bars in a toilet full of Mountain Dew). But then I got married! Then, I got “serious”. Sound familiar? In all reality, it wasn’t getting married that did it or having kids. There’s something about “adulthood” that sucks the silliness out of us. And you know what? It’s just plain wrong. Being silly and goofy is amazing. It’s life giving, it’s needed.

Being silly for 4 girls

That’s why I’m writing about my daughters 11th birthday slumber party. Avery had some of her friends over for a night of fun, sugar, laser tag and no sleeping. Somewhere in the midst of the piñata and a 3 layered, sparkler-candle covered cake there was a mention of makeovers, and my name was first on the list! All the girls started freaking out, including our 22 year old. What was a dad to do? I went along with it. It was awesome (sometimes a bit painful), it was crazy and it was a huge memory, for everyone. One of Avery’s friends said (multiple times) that it was the best part of the party (her dad is not 100% in the picture).

I’m so glad that I was able to get past my “adulthood” and simply be crazy for the girls. I’m so glad that memories were made for the girls (and our boys). I love this quote from baseball great Lou Brock. 

Let me suggest a few things to find your silliness.

  1. Get over yourself!
  2. Ask yourself, “What/Who is most important right now?”
  3. Get over yourself!
  4. Ask yourself, “Are memories more important than my pride?”
  5. Get over yourself!
  6. Have some fun!
  7. Get over yourself!

See a pattern? Sometimes, we are our own worst enemy at having fun. If you’re a parent, you need to be all about your kids. If you’re dating someone? Stop trying to pose as someone you’re not. Let loose and have fun. If you’re married w/o kids, enjoy the heck out of your spouse. Laugh until you’re crying and your belly hurts. Why? Cause when the pain and hurt comes you’ll have some joy to cling to. Bottom line, being silly is life giving. Laughing is contagious. And Joy, is so, so much better than sadness.

Question: Why are you so serious? List out the reasons. What are some ways you can laugh today? Write out some ideas. Then, ask a good friend to participate in a silliness intervention.