Featured

Men Pursue Hard Things

Advertisements

I was not a particularly big guy in high school. Playing football at 5 foot 8 inches and 180 pounds, I had to use my quickness to be successful instead of my strength. When I played offensive guard for the JV football team, I relished the opportunity to block the defensive linemen who were bigger than me. I was on a warpath and no opponent who lined up across from me was going to prevent me from completing my assignment. Even I was amazed at my own determination at times. If a big man was lined up across from me so that I couldn’t move him to the place I was assigned to, I just decided to take him in the other direction. No matter what, I was going to open the hole for my running back. As a grown man, I could learn a lot from my younger self. Masculinity calls us not to shy away from challenges, but to press in and go after them regardless of how daunting the task may seem.

Throughout Holy Scripture, we see the Lord calling men to impossible tasks-David slaying Goliath; Moses leading Israel out of Egypt; Elijah and the prophets of Baal- just to name a few. In all of these instances the Lord clearly expected the man to walk forward in obedience and faith in His provision. The Lord does not put a task in front of man and then withhold from him the ability and resources to complete it. So why do I so often find myself afraid to move forward when the Lord has placed in front of me a task that seems impossible or unachievable?

If you are like me, you might be acutely aware of all your weaknesses, past failures, and deficiencies. If I am not careful, this awareness paralyzes me. And to make matters worse, I often don’t realize that I am falling victim to this way of thinking unless someone else points it out to me. I love to dialogue with others about biblical masculinity and how being a Christian man should empower us to be willing to dream big and raise our aspirations. After all, we are co-heirs with Christ. We are sons of the Most High God. Our God owns and rules the universe, and we are His. We are His kings of whom He is King. And yet, when my feet hit the ground and I am confronted with real life challenges and tasks, this biblical perspective about my identity in Christ often fails to reach my brain. There is at least one reason for this that I have learned, and it goes back to my awareness of my weaknesses to begin with.

I have always been an introspective person. In high school I would sit in class and write poetry when I was supposed to be working on the lesson for the day. I would often skip school so that I could get away and pray. My first attempt at college only lasted 1 semester before I failed most of my classes and dropped out because instead of going to class, I wanted to escape to the woods and pray and reflect. One time as a young man, a young lady told me that I had a complex. I didn’t know what that meant and was worried it meant something bad. I proceeded to spend the next couple of days trying to figure out what she meant by it (this was before the days of google), only to find out that it means I care too much about what others think of me and am too aware of myself- or something like that (egg on my face). While it is good to be self-aware, I have begun to learn that it can also be unhealthy when taken too far.

Think of a man who has accomplished a seemingly impossible feat. Maybe someone whose achievements are recorded in Holy Scripture. Maybe someone in modern history. Now ask yourself, did this man have any weaknesses? Of course he did. Now ask yourself, would this man have accomplished such great things if he spent a lot of time thinking about how inadequate he was or how insufficient he was for the task confronting him?

Something I am learning about biblical masculinity (and I am far from having mastered this) is that strong, respectable men of God do not waste time worrying about whether they are able to accomplish the task God has given them. They walk forward in obedience with their faith on the Lord, not themselves. They are only able to think this way because they are not particularly introspective. I have learned that introspection, while potentially useful to an extent, can be one of the greatest enemies of godly masculinity. Instead of introspection, strong men go after challenges with their faith placed in God. If they fail, they fail trying with all their efforts spent achieving it. It is ultimately up the Lord to give them success, not themselves. There is something beautifully freeing about grasping this truth.

When we understand this, it frees us to live life to the fullest and pursue hard things. It strengthens our resolve to commit to the task, and reinforces our commitment, enabling us to persevere when the task feels too hard. It is only when we stop looking at ourselves and our weakness, which ALL humans have, and furrow our brow in faith towards the mountain in front of us that we then are able to leave a history of accomplishments for our posterity to enjoy and be proud of. When I lined up across guys bigger than me during a game, I did not pause and fret over the fact that I was smaller than the defensive lineman I was facing. I looked across at them before the play started with an inner smile because I knew I was about to drive them out of the way and there was nothing they could do about it. May we learn to live this way because the resurrected and risen Christ is our King.

Featured

The Benefits of Struggle

Advertisements

It has been said that if you really want something you will find a way to get it. As I have been reading Booker T. Washington’s autobiography entitled Up From Slavery, I have been struck by the amount of struggle he had to endure in order to acquire an education. He tells stories about sleeping under a wooden walkway because he had no money and being black, he was not allowed to stay in a hotel. He talks about working as a janitor while also taking classes at the prestigious school for freed slaves. He had to do his schoolwork late into the night because the only way he could pay for his schooling was to work as the school’s janitor during the day. He would have to get up at 4am and start the fires that would warm the building. He interacted with people with money while he had nothing, but never felt envy or entitlement to what they had. He eventually rose to prominence as a teacher himself, but it never would have happened without the struggles he endured. We live in a country where too much is handed to us. Lack of struggle is destroying us.

I have used the analogy many times as a teacher myself. Without breaking down the muscles during weightlifting, the muscles will never grow in strength and size. It requires struggle and pain and difficulty for muscles to recover even stronger than they were before. The same is true with growth as a person in life. Those who are left to struggle and strive are the ones who progress in life. Rarely will you see a person who was given everything they needed in life living well at the end of their life. And yet as we look around we see a culture of entitled people expecting that they are owed something without ever having to earn it. If you want to grow as a person, be hard on yourself. Don’t accept handouts. Push yourself. It will both lead you to develop strengths and skills that will get you ahead, and also develop strong character within you.

Featured

What Are Your Dams?

Advertisements

We have a beaver that lives in the pond on our property. I was a little surprised at first because I thought beavers always build dams and therefore, always lived along a river or creek. Turns out I was wrong because our beaver lives on our pond and has built no dams. Beaver dams are interesting things. They inhibit the natural flow of water. A beaver dam can affect a lot of what happens downstream. What once was a free flowing stream or creek can be dried up, or have far less water flow. This could be the difference between robust healthy soil for growing and soil deprived of good nutrients. While Dams can be good when used constructively, dams cause a disruption in the flow of life-giving water. Similar to dams, we all have things in our lives which stop up our flow of productivity. If we can accurately identify our productivity dams, the things which gum up our productivity, then we will be able to remove them and increase productivity.

Removing your productivity dams could be more simple than you think . One of the most important ways to identify the things in your life which inhibit your ability to be productive is to engage in self-reflection. While too much self-reflection can be unhealthy, no self-reflection is also unhealthy. One of the most common mistakes we make in our lives is to do things for no other reason beyond that it is the way we have always done it. We assume that because things are a certain way, they should be that way. Consider your goals. What things in your life get in the way from you achieving your goals? Are they things that are unhealthy and need to be removed from your life? These could be things such as overusing social media, watching too much media or sporting events on tv, or staying up too late on a daily basis.

Some things are very good and healthy and it would be wrong for us to remove them from our lives, but maybe we need to better manage how we relate to them. For example, if you work from home, maybe you need to designate an isolated work area during the day and set schedule boundaries for your children so that you can work productively undistracted during work hours. Whether you identify things around which you need to set stronger boundaries, or things that are simply unhelpful and need to be removed, engaging in a little self-reflection will help you be able to identify the things in your life which are damming up your productivity.

Once your have identified the dams through self-reflection, you should spend some time writing down what you are going to do about them. Write down what your dams are and how you plan to remove them or work around them to increase your productivity. Tell a loved one what your plan is and ask them to regularly check on you to see how you are doing at keeping the dam cleared in your life. Recommit yourself to keeping these dams cleared in your life on a weekly basis. Spend time on Saturday or Sunday revising your goals for the week, and plan out how you are going to achieve them, anticipating the dams that could arise this week and planning how you will prevent them from doing so.

The main point I want to encourage you in (and myself) is that you can increase your productivity simply by identifying the things in your life which are operating like productivity dams, and find ways to strategically remove them, thus increasing the flow of productivity. When we remove our dams, it causes much productivity to flow downstream for years to come. Most of us are able to accomplish far more than we ever thought we could. But we need set ourselves up for success. Accomplishing great things for the God’s Kingdom does not come automatically. It happens through hard work, struggle, and commitment. It takes inspiration and resolve. It takes inspired resolve.

Featured

The Fear of Failure

Advertisements

In my previous post, “Obeying Fear is True Failure“, I wrote about how many of us don’t use our God-given gifts because we are afraid. There are many things to fear. One of the most common fears we face is being afraid of failure. If you were asked to answer the question, “What is something you would do in your life if you could do anything at all?” what would you answer? This could be a job you have always dreamed of doing, or maybe it is owning something that you have always felt was unattainable, or maybe it was pursuing a hobby or talent that you long ago decided you “could never” do. Whatever that thing is, why have you not done it. Are you planning to do it one day? If so, what steps are you taking to accomplish it? If you can’t specifically point to any real action steps you are taking, then I would argue that you are not really planning to accomplish it. Why do we so often neglect to pursue the things we long to accomplish? One of the biggest reasons we choose not to pursue our dreams is because deep down, we are afraid to fail.

You may have never realized you are harboring this fear. Many of us spend a lot of time thinking about how great it would be to do the thing we dream of doing but deep down we fear that if we set out to accomplish the dream and fail at it, then we would have no more dreams to hold onto. We would rather have a dream that we hold onto like Schmiegel’s “precious” than to actually try to turn that dream into action and find that the dream has conquered us and we can’t accomplish it. This is a common way of thinking within those who have grown up with a poverty mindset.

The Poverty Mindset

The poverty mindset is a deeply ingrained way of thinking within those who have grown up in a culture of poverty which keeps that person constantly suppressing themselves. For most who have been raised with a poverty mindset, it is so deeply ingrained into their worldview that they can’t even see ways it is impacting them. Those who grow up in poverty typically do not have examples of success around them. They are so underexposed to examples of successful people who take risks that they grow up to be adults who never allow themselves to believe they can accomplish anything great. So they don’t even try. This is one of the saddest and most common ways we see fear of failure play out. Someone stricken with this mindset have learned to settle for low life standards because they harbor fear that they could never be successful at the things which they would ever want to do. So they suppress their dreams and neglect their giftings instead of develop them.

A Change in Mindset

If you are someone who thinks you may be paralyzed by fear of failure, you need to consider the brevity of life. Salman Rushdie once said, “We all owe death a life.” One day you will die. That reality should inform the way you live. One day you will face your last day living this life. On that day, you will take with you the sum total of all you accomplished here. You will have to give an account to Lord for what you did with the gifts He has given you. At that point you will wish you had lived your life to the fullest now. So instead of harboring unfounded, imagined fears of failure, ask yourself the question, “What if I succeed?” Instead of spending your time worrying that you might fail at something that you have never tried, worry that you will die never using the gifts God has given you.

You only have one chance to live this life. You have been given certain personality traits, gifts, and abilities that are unique to you. No one else has been made to be the person God has made you to be. And one day you will stand before the Creator to give an account about how you well you used your gifts. He has called you and redeemed you to do good works that he has prepared beforehand for you to do. You can either fail by inaction or fail by action, or be successful. Be the kind of person who looks the risk of failure head on and seeks to conquer it. And if you fail in the end, then you failed while striving to succeed instead of by being paralyzed by fear.

Featured

Obeying Fear is True Failure

Advertisements

“What have you failed at recently?”

~Dave Ramsey

When I first saw the above question posed on social media, it caught me off guard. As if failing was a good thing! But why would failure be a good thing? The answer is simple: If we are not sometimes failing then we are not taking risks. A risk-free life is a life of unrealized potential. A failed life. Fear is one of our main barriers preventing us from taking risks in life.

Many of us harbor desires and dreams in our own minds and hearts about the kind of work we would do if we could do anything. But few actually take any meaningful steps to accomplish those dreams. The vast majority, even while wishing to be doing something they enjoy, spend their years in merely tolerable jobs, never moving closer to realizing their fullest potential. Most people choose the slow torture of a job they hate, or at best tolerate, continuing to age along in their life.

Why do people choose to suffer in this way? Yes they may gain a sizable retirement account, and there is certainly great value in the daily plodding of faithfulness in one place over many years and decades if that is what the Lord has called you to. But so many of us are hiding behind a mundane job at the costly expense of suppressing the gifting and calling The Lord placed within us. Is there any reason for us to believe that we should enjoy our work? Do the deeply suppressed dreams within ourselves bear any legitimacy? If you love your work then keep crushing! But many of us have given up on the idea that we could do work we enjoy.

Let me be clear. As a Post-millenialist Christian, I believe all work is God-glorifying. I am not saying that working a job you hate is inherently wrong or sinful. In fact, I have spent much of my life struggling through jobs that I did not enjoy but taught me valuable skills. There is a place for that in life, especially when you are a young man. But God has planted within each man a mission, a calling, a set of skills and giftings. And it is our job to work hard to figure out what good works He has planned for us, and boldly step out in faith to accomplish them.

In Ephesians 2:10, when discussing the salvation and work that God has done in us in Christ Jesus, Paul writes, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Before I discovered the biblical eschatology of Post-Millenialism- something about which I am still learning- I interpreted Paul’s words to be primarily referring to invisible, spiritual things. But now I believe that the good works which God has prepared for us to walk in should be applied to all of life, including the kind of work we pursue.

Maybe you don’t need to be convinced that the desires, strengths, and giftings within you are from the Lord. But you are still not pursuing them. Why not? What excuses have you prepared to explain why you are neglecting the good works which God has prepared beforehand for you to walk in? I would argue that if we really drilled down deep, most of your reasons could be boiled down to one thing: fear. You are afraid of something. There are a lot of things to be afraid of when considering stepping out and trying to find a way to be productive and glorify God with your gifts. In future posts I will write about each of the possible things we are prone to fear and give some tips about how to overcome those fears. The remainder of this post will address the fear of failing financially.

The Fear of Failing Financially

If you are like most men, you may feel hindered by your fear of financial ruin if you were to leave your current job to pursue a job that better fits your strengths and passions. You may fear that it will require all your hard-earned savings or maybe that the endeavor you pursue will take so long to monetize that it will cause financial ruin while you are pursuing success. All of these are wise things to consider. But they are not without solutions.

Incremental Steps

I often tell my children that when we are afraid of something what is often going on is that we are believing a lie instead of truth. As Christians we truly have nothing to fear because we serve the Living God and King of Kings. He is the sovereign and omnipotent One. Our worse fears pale in comparison to the eternal hope secured for us who are in Christ. However, sometimes we still need practical steps to help guard us against our fears. One approach to guarding against such fear as we move toward pursuing our dreams is to take incremental steps. Instead of leaving your job outright, it can be wise to begin pursuing your dreams as a side hustle, gradually developing it into a growing income that can sustain your family over time. This could take 6 months or it might take 3 years. It all depends on what type of work it is, your vision for it, and how much of your resources you are able to give to the project. This approach will test the genuineness of your interest in such an endeavor without costing you your current career. In his book, Durable Trades (see https://thegrovestead.com), Rory Groves suggests that while we may not be able to drop everything and leave our current job to pursue other interests, we certainly can begin the process of picking one or two interests with our wife and children at our side and begin the process of learning some new skills over time. While this approach may be necessary for many, some people need to consider making a hard break from their current job.

Build Multiple Income Streams

While gradually building your dream job as a side hustle may be a good approach for some, others may feel the need for various reasons to make a hard break away from their current job. If this is you, one way to guard against financial struggles is to set up multiple income streams. By doing this, you are insulating yourself from major problems if one income stream does not work out. There all kinds of ways you can do this. I am doing this right now while I grow my Inspired Resolve motivational business. I teach part time for an online Christian school; I work as a Realtor helping people buy and sell homes (something I have done for the past 8 years); I drive for the Lyft ride-sharing app; and my family and I are working on growing our property into a productive working small farm. We recently purchased 18 chicks that will be laying eggs soon. We hope to sell the eggs for a small profit to our household. Other things I have heard of people doing are running an e-commerce store, tutoring, teaching music lessons, buying and selling things on social media or eBay, editing/proofreading, or building websites for people. If you have multiple income streams flowing into your household that are not too time-consuming, you will be able to be freed up to pursue your dream job around those other projects as well. One word of caution for this approach is to not commit yourself so much to side income streams that you have no time to work on your dream job.

Network

One of the best ways to put yourself in a position of success with your career goals is to talk to people. Find people who have figured things out already and are doing well in the type of work you want to be doing and ask to talk to them. Offer to buy them lunch or a coffee and prepare them that you will be asking them a lot of questions about how they got to where they are today. Bring a notebook and take notes about your conversation. Ask if you can meet them to shadow them or watch them work. I know a man who left a career as a corporate trainer. He had a passion for making useful and beautiful things out of reclaimed wood. He opened a small store front in a growing small town, stocked his store with wood material and things that others and he and his staff have made out of reclaimed wood, installed a wood shop in the store, and hired staff. His business is doing very well. If you have a passion for wood working, you could walk into his store, introduce yourself, and ask to meet for lunch to learn how he got to where he is today. He has paved the way for you. He learned mistakes along the way that often times guys like him are ready and willing to share with others. You will find that most people love sharing their story and the lessons they have learned along the way.

The Key: Move Forward

While there are many reasons one can give to stay where you are and never move to pursue your dreams, we are called to something greater. The Lord created you with a purpose in mind. He carefully and lovingly made you with certain skills, strengths, desires, and passions. We have a responsibility to cultivate those into long term meaningful work that brings glory to God. Take time to pray about and consider how you should move forward to honor God with the gifts He has given you to bring Him honor and glory.

Featured

Being Like a Spider: Living Out Our Fullest Potential

Advertisements

When I stop to enjoy the wonder and beauty of God’s creation around me, I am in awe. I recently discovered a documentary narrated by Gordon Wilson entitled The Riot and the Dance. It is a beautiful and awe-inspiring look into the wonders of God’s creation. When you consider any animal that God created, they are very good at being themselves. He has made snakes that can fly through the air; spiders that can spin intricate and beautiful webs, spinning dolphins that can jump out of the water and spin through the air; beautiful birds that soar; ants that can create astounding and complex colonies underground; and the list is endless of all the variety of beautiful creatures. But as I consider these creatures, one thing stands out to me about all of them–All of these beautiful creatures that God has made are all very good at being themselves. None of them seems to be bad at being what God has made them. He designed them with instincts and knowledge about how to do the things they each are good at doing. And yet, with humans it is not that simple. Or is it? We humans so often fail at being who God designed us to be due to our own self-inflicted limitations we place on ourselves. Of course some animals fail at being themselves. We all can remember seeing a dead baby bird that tried to fly and couldn’t. But even in that failure they failed while fully being who God designed them to be. Much of our struggle as humans is in our inability or subconscious unwillingness to even try due to our internal belief that we “can’t”.

Can you imagine a spider that needs to spin a web, but spends all of its time thinking about how it can’t spin a web because it is so hard and she is not sure if she can do it? Can you imagine a beaver who doesn’t even try to build a dam because he had parents who didn’t teach him how, and so he spends all of his time thinking about his difficult upbringing and doesn’t believe he has the skills to build a dam? God’s creatures bring to glory to Him because they live fully in the essence of what God made them to be? So why do we humans so often struggle? We make the mistake of believing we could never accomplish our dreams, or could never land that job, or could never build a successful business, or could never lose that much weight, or could never, could never, could never…….

Much of our failure to even try can be attributed to our own self-limiting self talk. We have a voice within our own mind that we often don’t even notice. This voice can be a force for good. But I find so often in my life that it ends up being a voice for bad. And the worst part about it is how incredibly subtle and sneaky this voice can be. I can go years without realizing I have been listening to the voice inside me that tells me I can’t do something and that I shouldn’t even try.

Don’t get me wrong; we do have limits that are reasonable. I am almost 40 years old with severe arthritis. I would be a fool to dream about playing football in the NFL. But much of what I have not accomplished in life is due more to subconsciously believing that I can’t and so never trying, more than it is about my inability to do it.

So as you stop and take a moment to appreciate God’s kind and beautiful creation around you, remember that He has also, along with the rest of His created beings, made you to accomplish great things. He has given you so much. So much potential. So much ability. So much intellect. Your lack of using it could be much less due to an inability and much more due to your errant belief that you don’t possess it. Take some time today to pray and thank your Creator for what He has given you within yourself and ask Him to help you to live to your fullest potential for His glory.

What Are Your Dams?

Advertisements

We have a beaver that lives in the pond on our property. I was a little surprised at first because I thought beavers always build dams and therefore, always lived along a river or creek. Turns out I was wrong because our beaver lives on our pond and has built no dams. Beaver dams are interesting things. They inhibit the natural flow of water. A beaver dam can affect a lot of what happens downstream. What once was a free flowing stream or creek can be dried up, or have far less water flow. This could be the difference between robust healthy soil for growing and soil deprived of good nutrients. While Dams can be good when used constructively, dams cause a disruption in the flow of life-giving water. Similar to dams, we all have things in our lives which stop up our flow of productivity. If we can accurately identify our productivity dams, the things which gum up our productivity, then we will be able to remove them and increase productivity.

Removing your productivity dams could be more simple than you think . One of the most important ways to identify the things in your life which inhibit your ability to be productive is to engage in self-reflection. While too much self-reflection can be unhealthy, no self-reflection is also unhealthy. One of the most common mistakes we make in our lives is to do things for no other reason beyond that it is the way we have always done it. We assume that because things are a certain way, they should be that way. Consider your goals. What things in your life get in the way from you achieving your goals? Are they things that are unhealthy and need to be removed from your life? These could be things such as overusing social media, watching too much media or sporting events on tv, or staying up too late on a daily basis.

Some things are very good and healthy and it would be wrong for us to remove them from our lives, but maybe we need to better manage how we relate to them. For example, if you work from home, maybe you need to designate an isolated work area during the day and set schedule boundaries for your children so that you can work productively undistracted during work hours. Whether you identify things around which you need to set stronger boundaries, or things that are simply unhelpful and need to be removed, engaging in a little self-reflection will help you be able to identify the things in your life which are damming up your productivity.

Once your have identified the dams through self-reflection, you should spend some time writing down what you are going to do about them. Write down what your dams are and how you plan to remove them or work around them to increase your productivity. Tell a loved one what your plan is and ask them to regularly check on you to see how you are doing at keeping the dam cleared in your life. Recommit yourself to keeping these dams cleared in your life on a weekly basis. Spend time on Saturday or Sunday revising your goals for the week, and plan out how you are going to achieve them, anticipating the dams that could arise this week and planning how you will prevent them from doing so.

The main point I want to encourage you in (and myself) is that you can increase your productivity simply by identifying the things in your life which are operating like productivity dams, and find ways to strategically remove them, thus increasing the flow of productivity. When we remove our dams, it causes much productivity to flow downstream for years to come. Most of us are able to accomplish far more than we ever thought we could. But we need set ourselves up for success. Accomplishing great things for the God’s Kingdom does not come automatically. It happens through hard work, struggle, and commitment. It takes inspiration and resolve. It takes inspired resolve.

The Fire that Makes Great Men

Advertisements

We shall be thankful for our hard times. For it is in the fire of the daily grind of life in which our characters and our mettle are formed. If we are to have fortitude, it will come through fire. If we are to have strength, it will come through the tearing of our muscles. If we are to have substance, backbone, a constitution, it will be through refining and fire, getting rid of the excess, which is painful.

Trials can destroy us. But they can also strengthen us. When they strengthen us, this happens through living life side by side with other men who are heading in the same direction, through the front lines of daily life, through the battle, fighting together to be good men in the face of evil. Our victory was purchased for us through Christ who went before us in this battle, who endured the struggle and the fire and came out victorious.

In this fire we need one another. We need to be sharpened by one another. We need to be encouraged by one another. We need to be challenged by one another. When we flee to an island of comfort, it won’t be long before we soften, being surrounded by the comforts of modern life. We will begin to compromise, first in little ways, and then in big ones. We will eventually become a different person altogether. We will forget the man we once aspired to be and adopt the world’s value systems and mentalities. But Christian men were saved to be kings. To rule the world for Christ, the King of kings. He purchased us out of the world’s values and idolatry. He purchases us to make us noblemen.

So when you are faced with difficulty, be thankful. Remember your identity in Christ, your Victorious King. Then be near fellow kinsmen, your Christian brothers, who can help strengthen you until you are through the fire. As a practical application, set up your life in the easy times to have the structures in place to strengthen you when the hard times come.

  1. Be committed to an uncompromising, biblical local church full of godly men who encourage you and support you, and who you can encourage and support.
  2. Set up regular times of fellowship with these men and their families.
  3. Be hospitable and build relationships with your church family.
  4. Start (and finish) lofty projects with your brothers in Christ. Build together. Believe together. Aspire together.

Psalm 112

112 Praise[a] the Lord!

Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
Who delights greatly in His commandments.

His descendants will be mighty on earth;
The generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches will be in his house,
And his righteousness [b]endures forever.
Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness;
He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
A good man deals graciously and lends;
He will guide his affairs with discretion.
Surely he will never be shaken;
The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance.
He will not be afraid of evil tidings;
His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is established;
He will not be afraid,
Until he sees his desire upon his enemies.

He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever;
His [c]horn will be exalted with honor.
10 The wicked will see it and be grieved;
He will gnash his teeth and melt away;
The desire of the wicked shall perish.”

The Law of “Throwing Them Open”: How to Lead a Person into Maturity

Advertisements

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My 9 year old son just told me he is excited because he just completed his next piano lesson book. My wife, a gifted pianist, teaches all of our children piano. In our home, our children have no choice but to learn piano. There is no discussion about it. It is an automatic assumption that as each of our 4 children turn 5 or 6 years old, they begin taking lessons from their mother. Our youngest is about to turn 5, so 3 of our kids are already well on their way to being gifted musicians. As my son briefly discussed with me about the work that he and I both have to accomplish today, he said something that astounded me, and led me to discover a law of human interaction that has driven our parenting for the past 11 years: I will call the law “The Law of Throwing Them Open”.

My son turned to me and said, “Its so weird. When we are busy it seems like 30 minutes goes by so fast. But when we have nothing to do it seems like time goes by so slowly.” What he said next is what made the lightbulb turn on for me, “It’s like relativity.” He said it nonchalantly. I couldn’t believe my ears. Did my 9 year old son just correctly make a connection between life and a complex scientific idea that most 9 year olds would not even know about. I couldn’t remember who came up with the idea of relativity, so I asked him to clarify. He said, “It’s like Einstein and the law of relativity.” Wow. How does my 9 year old think so deeply. He turned and went back upstairs, leaving me pondering.

In the NFL, the best quarterbacks are ones who are able to complete a high percentage of their passes. If you ever watch the NFL, you will occasionally hear the broadcasters talk about how the great quarterbacks will throw their receivers open. It sounds strange at first, but it actually makes a lot of sense. The idea of throwing a receiver open refers to when a quarterback will see that a receiver is being very well covered by a defender, and so the quarterback will throw the ball to a spot where he sees the defender could not get to but his receiver could. When done correctly, by throwing the receiver open, the quarterback is leading the receiver into being successful, instead of waiting for the receiver to be successful. We can learn much about leadership when we apply this concept.

Whether you are parenting, managing a team, or any kind of leading of others, you can either wait for those you are leading to demonstrate they are ready and mature enough for increased responsibility and recognition, or you can give them increased responsibility as a tool to help them to mature. Like the great quarterbacks, it is the difference between waiting for someone to mature on his own, and leading someone to mature by leading him to where he needs to go.

The more I pondered my 9 year old son’s unusually mature relation of real world experiences to the theory of relativity, the more I realized this has been a consistent law of leadership at work in my own life over the years- both how I successfully led others, and how others have led me.

You can also see this concept at work with great teachers. I have a degree in education and a lot of experience teaching people. I have consistently observed over the years that the best teachers are the ones who keep their students engaged during a lesson or lecture by moving at a fast pace. When I have struggled to keep my students engaged and interested, it is often when I am moving too slowly through the content, and boring them to death. That is when behavior problems and students’ immaturity is most likely to rise to the surface. However, when I move at a fast pace, setting high expectations for their development and growth while still making the content understandable, that is when my students are interested and engaged, and when they mature in their learning.

I can see how this law of leadership has worked itself out in my parenting as well. We expect a lot out of our children. Don’t get me wrong, we also want them to have a full and fun child’s life. But we also don’t want them to grow up with standards that reflect the lowest common denominator of maturity and development. So we expect and demand obedience from a very young age. It has been our goal that by the age of 5 or 6, our children have mastered the idea that they have been born into a world of order and authority, and they are expected to submit to that good order and authority in their lives. Around the age of 7, we begin giving our kids a household job to do, careful to use the word job and not chore. Chore has a negative connotation. We want to teach them from an early age that a job is a good thing that reaps benefits when done faithfully. We are certainly imperfect in our execution of this law. But as a whole, I have seen our kids mature as we strive to lead them into more mature roles and responsibilities.

When I have excelled in life in different roles and capacities as a leader, it is when someone above me in leadership has decided to not wait for me to demonstrate that I am a strong leader already, mature in every way necessary to lead. Instead it is when they have seen some leadership or maturity qualities necessary for the job at hand, while not yet developed fully, and then they decided to hand over increased responsibility to me and assist me in growing and maturing into the role or responsibility they have given me. Like the great quarterbacks who don’t wait for an open receiver, but lead their receivers into success, great leaders will set high expectations for those whom they lead, causing them to mature and develop, instead of holding them back.

My son was able to make a real world connection with Einstein’s law of relativity because we expect much out of him as a learner. When he slows down in his schoolwork, we push him more. We work hard at teaching him that he can do far more than he thinks he can do. In a sense every day we are striving to throw our kids open, instead of waiting for them mature on their own.

Breaking the Poverty Mindset: Budget versus Increasing Income

Advertisements

The poverty mindset is a phrase I use to discuss a way of thinking many who grow up in poverty have learned. It is very deceptive. Relatively speaking, I grew up in poverty. Of course there are varying degrees of poverty, and poverty for some may be wealth for others. Part of the poverty mindset is believing that all your financial problems will go away if you could just make a little more money. This is a critical error that is incredibly simple, but is so deeply ingrained in the poverty mindset that it is very hard to undo.

The other day I was driving with my kids in the car. I was talking to them about the importance of salting the sidewalk in front of our home so that no one slips and gets hurt. If someone slipped, not only would it cause injury, but we could get sued. Responding to my son who asked what it meant to get sued, I told them a story about how my father one time got injured on the job and collected a settlement of a large lump sum of money. My son astutely responded with, “If grandpa got all that money, then you weren’t poor your whole life then right?” What a profound question.

My boys know the history of our family and how we struggled a lot financially growing up. We would sometimes be without electricity, or hot water, or a working home phone (this was before the mobile phone era).

This question my son asked was so incredibly insightful and perfectly captures the poverty mindset. Although my father received a lump sum of money at one point, we still never stopped living our lives to some extent in poverty. I still remember my mother rationing out the cereal even after that lump sum of money. Sure, we enjoyed a temporary time of relief for a year or two in which we were not lacking as much as we did earlier in my life. However, my father also had the home foreclosed on not more than 6 years after purchasing it. So why the poverty lifestyle even after a large sum of money was infused into the finances?

The answer lies in something that I am still learning to correct. Daily lifestyle, especially budgeting. If someone wants to break the poverty cycle, possibly the most important thing they need to do is learn to live within their means no matter how much they make, learn to write a budget and live under the authority of that budget. If we cannot learn to do that then we will never truly break the poverty cycle because no matter how much money we have, we will always feel like we need a little bit more because our spending will always be more than we bring in.

Below are a list of resources which may help you if you are trying to learn to break free from the poverty mindset and poverty cycle in your life. I hope you will join me in striving hard after learning how to discipline ourselves to live within our means and live according a budget.

https://www.crown.org

https://www.everydollar.com

 

Exit mobile version