Archives For Life

Over the years I’ve spent a fair amount of time consulting with various leaders, helping them think through their personal story and the story of their organization. I’m a big believer in the idea that we’re born into a very particular family, at a very particular time, in a very particular place for a very particular purpose. Our stories aren’t done being written and they grow as we live each day, but they are part of a larger story. I love hearing these stories and helping people think through, and make meaning of the circumstances they find themselves in. The very hard to understand truth is that our lives are full of more joy when we realize it’s not all about us.

Life is bigger than you or me.

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I’ve been traveling a lot for my work with Storyville Coffee lately. They’ve all been good and important trips, but nonetheless a lot of time away from home. I don’t mind traveling, except for it always puts me behind. A little while ago I spent a week in Orlando working on a video project (can’t wait to tell you about it). We were on set all day, and prepping for the next day during the evenings. The emails and phone calls stacked up, the text messages from back home surged. I guess that’s how it usually happens: busy in meetings while the rest of life relentlessly stacks up.

I was recently asked by a friend, “How do you manage a career, writing, a family, a zillion soccer and baseball games, involvement at church, sleep, eating, and everything else?” As I pondered the question, two different answers came to mind. The right answer is what everyone will tell you these days, a perfectly painted picture of crisis-free productivity. The real answer is the answer that trumps everything, and I’m afraid that, without it, we’re lying to ourselves.

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Martin Luther famously stated “Sin is the self bending in on the self.” A fruitless cycle we find ourselves in, much like a dog chasing its own tail. When “self” is the motivation and goal, we run and run and only ever end up with something less than what we’re after. 

This is exactly the problem. We chase so many things for our own personal gain, and if/when we finally get them, it doesn’t actually fulfill us. Even if we think we’ve arrived and reached that long pursued goal, it doesn’t last long as something newer and shinier lies along the horizon.

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Boasting in Jesus

March 30, 2013

The whole world is talking about Jesus this weekend, so I figured I would too.

For those who don’t believe in God: I’d encourage you to take some time over the next few days to consider Jesus. Take this opportunity to think deeply about who he is and who he said he was. Answering this question is the most important thing you’ll do your whole life.

For the Christian: stop and sit for a moment, and think about who you were before you met Jesus.  Where were you living?  What were you doing with your life?  What did you believe about life and God?  What motivated you?  How did you spend your time?  Who were your friends?

For me it’s a scary thought. I grew up in Montana with a pretty messy life that was far from God. I lived for the approval of others and for pleasure. I was my own god. I probably would’ve called myself a Christian, but my life would’ve said otherwise.

When I moved to Seattle, I started attending church with my older sister and her family. I came for all the wrong reasons: to feel morally upright, to meet a girl, and frankly because I didn’t have any friends yet and didn’t know what else to do.

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It’s almost tax day, have you finished yours yet? I don’t like dealing with taxes so I tend to put it off until the last minute. We just submitted ours to the accountant today, narrowly hitting his deadline for getting them done by April 15th.

My wife Crystal and I have long sought after the best way to manage our personal finances together. It wasn’t automatic and is an area that we’re continually striving to do better with. Loaded or broke, money is one of those things that kills marriages. I’ve read some places that money problems are one of the most cited reasons that couples get divorced. Maybe you’re not headed for divorce, but are you stressed out, anxious, and constantly arguing about money in your marriage?

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It’s too easy to wake up in the morning and start your day in the midst of noise.

Maybe you clamor out of bed and immediately plow through the dozens of emails that came during the night. I’ve done that – and woken up many times to that little round red number staring at me from my iPhone. How about flicking on the TV to catch the news before you leave the house? Maybe you check Facebook on your phone while you brew some coffee. Even your family could be part of this: maybe you launch into your day by corralling your family and the many needs they have. All of those are fine things and I’m not here to create a new list of rules to follow. But…

It’s easy to start your days without ever allowing yourself to think your own thoughts.

“Thinking your own thoughts first” sounds selfish, but hear me out.

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I love my Moleskine. It’s the paper version of my Mac. You can get them in any size you need, any color you like; you can get them blank, lined, or with grid-lines. Perhaps this is the idealist in me, but I love a brand new Moleskine journal. It’s a blank canvas to build, to write, to dream a new plan and forge a new future.

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A few people have asked me if they could use the “Gratitude or Greed” chart from my book Money: God or Gift. Because it seems the chart itself is a valuable resource for people teaching on the subject of financial stewardship, I pulled it out of the book and made a separate PDF of the chart.

You can download it for free here, and you are welcome to share it.

 

I have a designer friend whose iPhone has a sticker on the back of it. It’s a simple sticker with a simple message.

It says, “Design Every Day.”

When I first saw this I was blown away. The message was so concise, so crisp and so compelling.

At first glance, you might respond, “Well, yeah, he’s a designer. Of course he designs every day. What do you expect from the guy?” That’s just it. Without a reminder would he truly design every day? Or could he lose sight of the priorities and get preoccupied with the mundane details of the to-do list and admin work?

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If you’re like me, you find that on a typical day, your to-do list grows longer, rather than shorter. It seems that you start a day with a set of tasks you want to accomplish, but the day ends with only one or two items checked off the list, and another three or four items added to your list. It’s easy to end the day with a net deficit of two or more tasks.

I am by no means the time-management expert, but I’ve found I need to build a system that allows me the ability to reset my priorities and workload each and every day. In order to work for me it must be low-tech and only take a few minutes. I’ve got it down to about five minutes (on the good days), and it’s been super helpful.

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