Posts tagged ‘purpose’
I have a dear friend I see once a year. Every time we get together, she talks excitedly about how she and her husband believe God is “calling” them. Year after year, however, I discover that they haven’t taken any action because they aren’t clear on “exactly” what they should do in the area where they feel their call. Years have gone by now, and they are right where they started.
Advice around the idea of calling often sounds like this: “Discover you!” While this seems simple, its lack of clarity paralyzes some people. They are afraid of taking a wrong step because they have to do everything perfectly. Seriously, it can be downright stressful to believe that we are on this earth for a specific purpose.
If you can identify with my friend, the following two operating principles might help. Read more over at The High Calling of Our Daily Work.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share this online, but what the heck, I have never held back before. I had an opportunity to give a talk at the quarterly staff chapel at Point Loma Nazarene University (where I work). It was a personal talk about what I learned about having a dream for your life after my dad passed away.
I hope you will get to know me even better by hearing some personal stories about my dad and me. The powerpoint I used was mainly photos. You can’t see them in the video, so I’m linking to them here.
Go to the 20-minute video: http://vimeo.com/11745819
I have not kept my new year’s resolution to blog weekly. I’m trying! But I am keeping another resolution to do more public speaking (for which preparing has pulled me away briefly from writing). So instead of a blog post tonight, I wanted to share a recent talk I did at an inaugural faith and work event at Emmanuel Faith Community Church.
This talk gets at the heart of my faith and work connection obsession. We need a few zealots, right? Enjoy!
Also, here is the powerpoint if you want to follow along. Powerpoint presentation
I’d love your feedback on other ideas you would want to hear about as I start to do more talks.
Our Faith and Work Ministry just held a big event on work/life balance (I cringe at the idea of “work/life balance” because it implies that work is not part of life, but it’s a phrase with which people resonate. My sinister plan was to get people in the door and then hopefully debunk the divide).
There was so much good stuff that I wanted to share some key take-aways with my online community.
Our lives are full of good and honorable activities. From cheering at your kid’s soccer game, to running the meeting at the office, to going for a jog, to volunteering down at the rescue mission, to attending a church community group, to dining out with friends, it’s easy to fill our calendars to the brim. I’m always wishing I had the physical capacity to match the endless possibilities in front of me. But alas, there is only so much time in a day. So how do we manage all of the competing demands? Again, all good and honorable.
Know Your Purpose. What is the main, overarching theme of your life? Go up to that 30,000-foot view and consider your life as a whole – don’t have a separate work mission and life mission as they will always compete. Instead, think big picture. Your purpose should unify all aspects of your life. The issue with time management is often rooted in misaligned priorities. Once you get your purpose straight, priorities will begin to align.
A side note on this, people often ask me how to know their purpose. To derive a sense of purpose that drives my decisions, I took time to think about my life over a period of time – and then it just hit me like a ton of bricks when I wasn’t even thinking about anything in particular (honestly, I was in the shower!). I had gone to many seminars, including an exclusive, all-day workshop with the author of The Path, Laurie Beth Jones. All of the worksheets and word tricks fell flat. I encourage you to start by considering the needs in the world that touch your heart, the activities that bring you great joy, and the special gifts and talents that God placed in you. But there is really no magic formula. If you ask God for answers and seek to follow him, you will begin a journey of uncovering answers that may take an entire lifetime to refine. Don’t worry about landing on some perfect mission statement – just start somewhere and go from there.
Challenge Traditions. We can’t do the same things over and over again and expect a different result. Take some risks. Allow for failure. What are the patterns in your life that are so ingrained that you don’t feel like you can do it any other way? Even something as simple as sitting at a different end of the boardroom table can help us begin to change our perspective. So go and get out of your comfort zone, and start developing new ways of thinking and doing. You might just find a more effective way to approach all the demands on your life.
Find Others Who Support Your Passion. By building a network of support, you have structure and accountability. Otherwise, it’s easy to flounder – flittering from one activity to the next without much thought. I have found that meeting people at highcallingblogs.com has really given me the structure I need to keep blogging. I would not have kept going had I not found this community, especially people like Bradley and Sam who have provided words of encouragement along the way.
Recognize That We Are Biological Beings. We need sleep and food. Go back to good ole’ Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. At our most basic level, we must meet our physiological needs. It’s so easy to let go of sleep, exercise, and healthy food when we start getting busy. This is the worst thing we can do. We have to be honest about our limitations and be ok with the cracks.
Say No at Least Twice as Much as You Say Yes. I love this one! When people start to hear about your awesome-ness, you are going to get more and more requests. Can you join our board of directors? Can you coach the soccer team? Can you speak at our event? Can you lead a Bible study? Again, all good and honorable. But if you can make it a habit to say no whenever something does not align with your strategy for living your purpose, you will be a lot less resentful of everything that sucks you dry. This doesn’t mean that you don’t help a friend in need or serve in some capacity that doesn’t bring you deep joy. But watch out that you don’t get pulled so far down a path in life that you can’t understand how you got there. Be intentional.
Recognize Your Season in Life. It’s a myth to think that we can achieve some sort of perfect balance. When you slice your life up like a pie (emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, family, relationships, vocation, etc.), the pieces are not going to be equal. If you are a single mom who works full time and goes to grad school in order to pursue a dream like my friend Leslie, you can’t possibly be pouring yourself into friends as much as you’d like. If you are single like me, maybe the occupation piece of the pie is gigantic. We all have seasons in our lives.
The challenge is to recognize when a temporary season becomes a permanent lifestyle. If you are going full throttle in some areas of your life while other areas whither for too long, you might want to reassess priorities. Or maybe you are completely at peace spending more energy in one area over another. That’s great. Don’t let people bully you into thinking there is something wrong with you. The key is to recognize that you are making a choice and to take responsibility for your decisions.
Focus On What is in Your Control. Most things in our lives we can predict and control. I know that if I stay up late watching TV, I will be exhausted in the morning. The problem is that we spend a disproportionate amount of time fretting about the things we can’t predict or control. For example, I can’t control other people’s actions, but I can control my response to their actions. I can control the level of interaction I have with a difficult person. I can control my emotional response and develop boundaries. What I can’t control is the other person. It’s easy to pour ourselves into trying to fix things we can’t fix. It’s a heck of a lot more effective to focus on things within our control and to rely on God in all things in and out of our control.
Keep Your Tank Full. Every summer, my girlfriends from college get together for girls’ weekend. I can go for weeks with the energy I gain from spending time with the people who know me best. Know the activities that give you energy and the ones that drain you, and make sure you keep filling your tank before all of your reserves are depleted. Do you need solitude? Are you energized by reading a good book or having a stimulating conversation with friends? It seems like the only solution sometimes is to run on empty. We can’t live this way forever. Remember, we are at our core biological beings.
Be Realistic. One statement during the event really stood out to me: “We tend to overestimate what we can do in a day and underestimate what we can do in a year.” That was a convicting observation. I overload each of my days, but to what end? When I look back on a year, what did I really accomplish? It’s comes back to being strategic about our tactics – not having tactics for the sake of having tactics.
As for creating more margin in my life, I ultimately want to fall back on the words of Jesus in Matthew 11: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Ah, there is comfort in those words.
If you are in San Diego, consider joining our upcoming small group on this topic. We will be going through the workbook “Restoring Margin to Overloaded Lives.” The 6-week study begins March 2 at 7 p.m. in Kensington. I personally can’t wait! R.S.V.P. online.
Also, speaker Joon Han has generously provided additional lessons that go beyond what we learned in the seminar. Visit www.magicbizbox.com/fw.
Watch the video of the event for the full experience. Go to:
John Wheeler, Executive Consultant to CEO’s and business owners and San Diego Convene Chair, John’s extensive experience includes organizational and key leader development.
Caye Barton Smith, Psy.D., Vice President for Student Development, Point Loma Nazarene University. Caye has an impressive background leading health and wellness initiatives as well as personal insights as a busy working mom.
Joon Han, Founder Better San Diego, Joon has been challenging and inspiring groups for over 20 years seeing leaders grow from very busy to very effective.
My life has felt fairly out of control lately. I’m really good at running in circles and jumping through hoops. And if I were a golden retriever, that might be all well and good. On my Facebook status on New Year’s day, I asked if 35 New Year’s resolutions were too many. I was joking. But my friends who know me well did not even blink at the possibility that I might actually have 35 resolutions. One friend commented later that she figured I really did have that many resolutions because she knows I’m such an overachiever. The problem is (deep breath here)… that I get a lot done, but nothing feels very purposeful. And that’s a hard pill to swallow for someone like me who really is passionate about living a “Life on Purpose.”
So as we have turned over a new decade, I’ve been asking myself, “What does it look like to live an intentional life?” A life that has the potential to transform the world around us and have a profound impact for the Kingdom. A life that is not so easily distracted.
I have lots of different possible answers in my head that I will blog about down the road. The one that is striking me today stems from the upcoming event our Faith and Work Ministry is planning on life balance. I’ve been doing a lot of research on balance to prepare, and my life is being transformed in the process.
I’m reading a book right now called Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives.
In it, author Richard Swenson writes, “Margin is like oxygen—everybody needs some. If we have too little, we suffer from shortage. If we have too much the excess will not benefit us additionally. But having the right amount permits us to breathe freely. Margin is a space, specifically the space between our load and our limits. It is this space that enhances vitality and resilience. It is this space where healing occurs, where our batteries are recharged, where our relationships are nourished, and where wisdom is found. Without margin, both rest and contemplation are but theoretical concepts, unaffordable and unrealistic.”
In the book, Swenson suggests that the “spontaneous flow of progress is toward increasing stress, change, complexity, speed, intensity, and overload.” Swenson is not anti-progress, but he does point out that humans have limits that are relatively fixed. I love the bing.com commercials that show one person saying a phrase that leads to a completely disconnected phrase, and so on. It’s like we have exceeded our limits as humans and our brains have short circuited.
We need margins in our lives – room to heal, to love, to play, to process, to rest.
We know this instinctually if we just look at many of our New Year’s resolutions. Here’s mine (not the 35 I could have had):
1. cook for friends
2. dance, dance, dance (see my past post on this for a good laugh at me doing an office jig)
3. less TV, more books
4. more public speaking
5. blog 1x per week (hold my feet to the fire, please!)
6. eat 1 vegetable per day (I know, it’s sad that this has to be a resolution)
7. worship daily (again, sad!)
The truth is that I sleep with my iPhone next to me and check my e-mail as I lay my head on my pillow and open my eyes in the morning. I turn on the TV news the minute I get out of the shower. I listen to mindless radio as I drive to work. I run around like a chicken with my head cut off half the time at work. I try to get in ministry work as much as possible nights and weekends. I schedule time for friends when I have a spare moment. And I tell myself that the TV I watch way too often helps me relax.
My friend over at GuyNamedDave planned to take 100 hours to process his vision for the next part of his big 100 Thing Challenge. I barely process a thought for two seconds. Even my blog posts are usually off the top of my head. Imagine how much more of an impact I could have if I actually thought things through. I’d be dangerous!
I’m actually home sick today, and it’s been wonderful. The TV has not gone on yet. I have been sitting here drinking tea with lemon and honey. I’ve been spending time thinking and reading some other blogs. Even though my throat is on fire, it’s nice to break the routine.
So I guess what I’m concluding is that if we want to live meaningful lives, it’s not about who wins the rat race. I know people quote that verse from Paul about running the race to get people to work harder and be competitive in business, but I don’t think that verse was about our physical accomplishments as much as our spiritual journey. We actually need to SLOW DOWN. To take time to restore the margins in our lives. To develop boundaries. To not take on so much responsibility that every minute is scheduled and we have no room to just be still. It was never God’s plan for us to be exhausted. Effective – yes. Overwhelmed - no.
So what are you going to do to restore some margins in your life over the next year? Or have you already been through this process? If so, please share your secrets to success!!
Gotta jet – the tea pot is whistling.
I sucked my thumb until third grade. And no, not just in private like some lucky kids. I was shy as a little girl. And I’ve been relatively shy ever since. But get me up in front of a crowd talking about something that excites me, and you would never imagine that there is a shy little girl inside.
Even as a kid, I would get up in church to read the Christmas story or lead the liturgy, and the little old people would come up to me afterwards and tell me how much they appreciated how nice and clear I had spoken (I’m sure it helps that I inherited grandpa’s loud voice). Even today, anytime I have to do an announcement or give a presentation, people almost always come up and tell me something that makes me think I’m a pretty darn good speaker. This blog post is actually inspired by the encouragement I received after a talk I gave last Sunday to an Entrepreneuring for Christ Sunday school class at Skyline Church. It’s so affirming that our strengths can often be seen early on in life and that God brings people into our lives to help name them.
Unexpected gifts are so cool. God knit us together so creatively in the womb (Psalm 139). When there is an anomaly in how the world would expect us to turn out, I think it’s an extra special reminder that we are God’s creation and that the gifts are from Him alone. I love that my friends who know me well point out how odd it is that a crowd avoider like me loves to be in front of a crowd.
The gifts are from God, and so are the desires to use these gifts for a purpose.
My own life is evidence that the core of who we are and who we are meant to be will keep tugging at us even though we may take a strange path to get to where we are going. Every time I do one of those exercises that asks what I would be if money were no object, I inevitably land on motivational speaker. Years ago, I even went as far as to do an informational interview with a successful motivational speaker; I lost momentum when she told me I really need to write a book. And I lose momentum every time I think about how much energy it would take this introvert to actually be a speaker. And then there’s the fact that I don’t see a logical path to actually becoming a legitimate speaker.
But deep down I feel a sense of responsibility to be the person God created me to be. I want to be faithful with the gifts He has bestowed. God gives us the desires of our hearts – desires to serve the world with the best of who we are. We know from the parable of the talents that we are to do the most with what we have been given.
How on Earth I will end up living out my love for public speaking is a bit of a mystery. It will be interesting to see how God directs my path. I’m sure it will be an adventure. I know that God wants to use me for His glory, and so I will put my faith in His grace and power - and I will do my part to put myself out there and follow my heart.
Oliver Wendall Holmes is often quoted as saying, “The biggest tragedy in America is not the great waste of natural resources, though this is tragic. The greatest tragedy is the waste of human resources. The average person goes to his grave with the music still in him.”
What dream do you have in your heart that just will not go away? What music still needs to be shared with the world?
Side note: I hope no one reading this post ever sees me speak and thinks, “Really, she thinks she’s a good speaker.”
Side note number 2: Since I suspect a handful of parents will find this post googling strategies to get their kids to stop sucking their thumbs, I’ll tell you my secret. It was Mrs. Neeley, my third grade teacher, who made a deal with me that if I would stop sucking my thumb, she would stop biting her nails. I think she finally succumbed to acrylic.