Personal Leadership

Uncommitting To The Right Things

Uncommitting To The Right Things

It’s the start of a new season here in Minnesota. The leaves are changing. The Vikings are back (and playing great!). And the annual barrage of neighborhood garage sales is in full swing, because I’m sure it feels good to get rid of some of the things we no longer need or use.

On the flip side, we all know some people who have a very difficult time letting go of some things. We call them hoarders. 

I’m going to guess most of us aren’t hoarders when it comes to possessions; but, many of us might be hoarders when it comes to our commitments

Busyness is worn like a badge of honor these days. The requests for your time and energy seem to be never-ending. It’s so easy to accumulate commitments and say “yes” to every thing. Before long, we become paralyzed by our own schedules, locked into tasks and commitments that probably are not as important as we make them to be. 

Bob Goff, author, speaker, and all-around inspirational guy, has a very interesting take on saying “No” to things that aren’t as vital. 

Every Thursday, he quits something. 

Sometimes, that may be something small like ending his job on time so he can be home with his family. Sometimes, it’s big, like quitting his job entirely.

Whatever it may be, It can be difficult to identify what parts of your schedule need to go because everything probably looks really important in the moment. So here’s a few ways to determine what commitments you might need to let go: 

  • Some commitments don’t follow the rest of the path for your life. Sometimes we make commitments because they’re fun or interesting. Maybe we make commitments in a lapse of judgement. We all find ourselves locked into things that don’t match up with the direction we are headed. Commitments like this can potentially hinder you from your greater purpose in life.
  • Some commitments have simply run their course. For a long time, I offered guitar lessons after I graduated college. I needed the extra cash, and it was pretty enjoyable for me. Fast forward six months, and I was working a full-time job and had accumulated many more parts of my weekly schedule. Lessons weren’t really making me that much, and it was a huge time commitment. Sometimes things we commit to are good for a season, but we need to move when new things come into play. 
  • Some commitments are ready to go to someone else. A mark of great leadership is passing on tasks or responsibilities to someone else. As we move forward as a leader, we run the risk of becoming bogged down with all duties we collect. Rather than be bogged down, we can empower others to do the work. 

All things being said, let me be clear–don't quit just because something is hard. Quit things so that you can give your time, your energy, and your resources to what really matters. 

What commitment do you need to release today? What’s in your life that doesn’t need to be? If you’re feeling overwhelmed and held down by your commitments, maybe it’s time to let a few things go with a garage sale of your own.

Finding A Mentor In Your Life

Finding A Mentor In Your Life

Alan Pastian is the Woodbury Campus Pastor at River Valley Church. He's also a blogger, a podcaster, and a speaker! This post was originally published on his personal site. Check out more of his great thoughts right here.

 

In many ways, this is awesome. This generation is one of the most entrepreneurial in a long time.

But, as great as it is to strike out on your own, sometimes people skip the crucial step of learning from someone who has gone before them. If you don't have a mentor yet, consider finding one.  

How do you find a mentor?

1.  Find someone who has gone before you.

Millions of young men and women are confident, smart and talented. Most of them try to “make it” alone. They spend many years trying to figure out a craft, and then start excelling in their late 30s or 40s. But if you can attach yourself to a master (of any profession), you can speed up your mastery and accelerate the process by a decade.

2.  Find mentors who believe in you.

Who you allow to speak into your life is a sacred choice. I see many young leaders damaged by submitting themselves to the next strong personality. The strong personality may be impressive and self-confident, but with no personal concern for you. Worse, they may simply flatter and use you to build their own platform.

The same way a good mentor imparts wisdom, character and craft, a bad mentor will impart their habits, reactions and particular worldviews, as well. A bad mentor can be like visiting a bad chiropractor: You leave worse than you start and your back be like, "why did you go there?".

When a mentor believes in you, it does not feel like a possessive or controlling thing. He does not insist you do this or that. She feels more like a patient, listening friend. These mentors often become great guides and friends. They are not just advice-dispensing machines, they are people who are genuinely interested in you.

3.  Find a mentor that helps you discover your voice.

Many young voices are echoes, striving to sound like others. But echoes have a diminishing nature, they get weaker with each reverberation.  They find their voice for reason.  

Who is your mentor in your life?

Making Your Bible Reading Stick

Making Your Bible Reading Stick

Having a consistent, daily Bible study is the highest priority for a victorious walk with Christ.  God’s Word is life, and it helps us to change the way we think about God, our world, and our circumstances by aligning with the truth. Knowing the word of God is essential to our faith, as well. Without faith, it is impossible to please God.  “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God”, Romans 10:17.  

Although we want to study our Bibles daily, it is often a struggle to make it a priority in our life. Just like exercise, we know it is good for us, but we lack the will power or drive to do it every day. Any time a person desires to establish a new routine or daily habit, it takes a lot of intentional planning and strategy. 

If you desire to make daily Bible study a new or renewed habit in your life, there are many ways to start.  

 

The most effective way to establish this habit is to figure out what will trigger you to keep that daily Bible study appointment:  

  • If you are visual, perhaps a post it note on your mirror, a calendar reminder in your phone, or just having your Bible out on top of the coffee maker every morning.  
  • If you are kinetic, determine a new routine for your bible study time.  I find that coffee is the perfect accompaniment to bible study, so taking your coffee drinking time and repurposing it with planned bible study can be a great way to start.  
  • If you are a planner, allowing for more time in your day by waking 15 minutes earlier than normal will also help to establish a routine that is manageable in your morning schedule. 

 

The greatest way to establish a new bible study habit is to realize what types of benefits or rewards you realize from this new discipline in your life.  Some of the most recognized and significant rewards of regular bible study are:

  • Defeating the flesh (And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17)
  • Growing in your walk (Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you grow in respect to salvation. 1 Peter 2:2) 
  • Wisdom (Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105)

 

According to a study by Philippa Lally (a health psychology researcher at University College London), it takes an average of 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic.  It could take anywhere from 2 months to eight months to establish a new habit in your life. The challenge is to discover how

So, let’s say you do get a new rhythm and routine down for daily Bible study, what then?  Effective Bible study is something that not only requires your time and commitment, but also requires the know-how. I also like a very cool journal to help me track my progress and write down the amazing things God shows me daily in His Word.  

The goal of Bible study is to hear from God.  This means prayer.  Prayer is a two way street where you both ask of God and listen to God.  Ask God to give you wisdom, and He will give it to you liberally (James 1:5).  We know we have this promise, and we can count on it; “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” -James 4:8

The Greatest Words Never Said

The Greatest Words Never Said

The beginning of our universe was dark and formless. There was no time or space or color. Just the cold, infinite black.

Then, according to the Biblical account, God said “Let there be light”, and there was light and life and warmth.

He spoke creation into existence.

Whether you believe there’s a god or not, I hope you’re able to see how interesting this story is. God could have simply thought the world into motion. He could have waived his hand like a Jedi wielding the force and sent it spinning.

Instead, He spoke, and there was light. As if it had to be said before it could be realized.

And that’s kind of how it is in our own lives.

 

We have ideas and plans in our head, and kept there, they mean nothing. They have no shape or form. They are not known. They carry no weight.

It’s not until they’re spoken, once we put them out there for the world to hear, that they become real. Then, they have power and presence.

I think we forget that.

 

We undervalue the potential of the thoughts we have, and so, we keep them in the shapeless void of our minds.

A few years back, I was talking to a friend when I made an off-handed compliment. They pause, showing surprise.

“What?” I asked.

“That’s the first time you’ve ever complimented me,” they said.

I laughed nervously. “That’s not true.”

“No,” they said, “it is.”

I thought about it, all of our past interactions, and I realize they were telling the truth. I had known this person for years. I cared for them. Respected them. They were honestly one of my favorite people.

And I had never told them one encouraging thing.

It’s never been easier for us as a society to express ourselves, to give life to the thoughts and reactions inside of our heads. Yet, we seem worse than ever at telling each other how we feel.

This is going to sound melodramatic, but….

Your words could be the light that brings life to someone’s world.

You witness someone do something great, and you assume that they know how special they are, how much they mean to you and other people. You keep your thoughts to yourself. The greatest words never said.

Never known.

There’s good news.

This is a problem you can solve. Just say the words. Speak the truth into those around you, whether it’s in person or through a text or a snapchat or whatever. We think our responses have to be big and fancy and planned out, scripted perfectly like the closing moments of a dramatic movie.

Positive truth doesn’t need to be glamorized. It just needs to be said.

Keeping A Healthy Spirit In Conflict

Keeping A Healthy Spirit In Conflict

This post started as a thought, inspired by  a really inspiring teaching by Chris Harrell. You can check that out right here.

My wife and I recently moved into an apartment near downtown Minneapolis. We live in a very diverse neighborhood with people from all different backgrounds. Across the street from our place, there is a park. It’s constantly filled with the laughter and screams from our neighborhood’s children. And as kids usually are, sometimes play time can turn a little uncivil. 

Someone refuses to share a toy, someone pushes someone down. It only takes a moment for all-out war to erupt between two (or more) parties. It’s easy to look at these tears and fighting and label it as childish. 

But there’s an important lesson here about how we disagree with one another. There’s a way to handle disagreement and get negative emotions out of our own hearts. It’s healthy. It’s Biblical.

You may know the words of Jesus in Matthew 18 where he urged his disciples to forgive— over, and over, and over again. But Jesus didn’t just teach us how many times to forgive one another, he also taught us how to live with one another and work through disagreements before they ever get nasty— before they lead to cynicism and bitterness and resentment. 

“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.

-Matthew 18:15-17 (The Message)

I think deep down, we know this is the right way to handle our frustrations with one another. At some point, we seem to forget the first step in this whole process: a one-on-one conversation between two people—an open, honest, healthy conversation. 

When we are wronged by someone else, it is so easy to immediately talk about it to others, rather that confront the person directly. Handling conflict this way is poisonous to relationships. Not only that, it’s poisonous to your own heart as well. It sure feels good to get those things off your chest, to vent to others. 

The only problem is— that never solves anything. 

Rather than creating room to grow together and to heal alongside each other, talking to others before you handle your problems directly will fill your heart with resentment, bitterness and cynicism. 

We have to protect our hearts from being filled with such things. The heart is where all our love and all our ministry pours out. God fills us up, and it is through our hearts that His love comes through and pours out on a world that so desperately in need of it.

God fills us up, and it is through our hearts that His love comes through and pours out on a world that so desperately in need of it.

 

God has a plan to use each of us to reconcile the world to Him. We can’t afford to try and do it with a heart full of bitterness and cynicism. We need healthy, pure, hearts to live and lead like God intended us to. 

I think God wants us to handle conflict somewhat like little kids do. When we have a problem, we go right to the source. When someone takes our toy, we need to go to them, and tell them. When we are hurt by others, we need to bear our hearts to them. We need to be open and honest with it, in a respectable and honest way. 

It takes real character and integrity to do this. Handling conflict this way not only benefits us, it benefits everyone around us. Addressing conflict directly does have the potential to create more conflict. But it also establishes a culture, where people don’t have to be afraid anymore. When we are open and honest about our hearts, it creates freedom for people to be the leaders, the fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, children, employees, bosses, that they were made to be. 

So next time someone wrongs you, disappoints you, hurts you even— go to them first. Be open, honest, and gracious in your confrontation. It might be hard, and it might be stressful, but it will be for the better— for both parties, and for your heart as well.