Seeing Things Differently
My job, that I have frequently complained about sent me to Baltimore for a conference then to Virginia for training. I am here for a week. I am not a fan of being away from my family and my church. However, this trip has already had a reward. I spent yesterday chasing down history. I visited the grave of Edgar Allan Poe and saw his Baltimore home, from the outside. This was a big deal for me because Poe inspired me at a young age to write. I had already been writing, but something about the dark, twisty, tragedy of Poe’s work gave me the freedom to write what I felt, saw and experienced in a very different, often raw manner. Mr. Poe, thank you for your contribution to my writing development. The other intriguing stop was Mount Vernon, home to George Washington. I highly recommend the National Treasure Tour…so worth the extra $7. The visit to Mount Vernon made me miss my parents, husband and children terribly. Our best trips have included historical elements…it is not the same without them.
As I spent the day hearing and reading the history of others it occurred to me that I have changed…a lot. During my visit I pondered two of the presentations from the conference and much of what I have been reading both in books and in my Bible of late.
Time Management and Stress Reduction Presentation
In the past, I have heard motivational speeches or discussion about time or stress management that have drawn me in and engaged me. This presentation left me comparing the secular worlds approach versus the approach of the believer.
The one thing that really agitated my spirit today was during a presentation talking about taking care of your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. As per usual, the presenter discussed what each of these areas were. I was all on board till she reached spiritual. This is a huge corporate event for a subsidiary of a Fortune 100 company, I understand the hesitation to connect spiritual to faith from a business perspective in the presentation. However, hearing spiritual health being described as your morals and values being reconciled with your actions, really unnerved me. My actions being reconciled with my faith is my spiritual health and that influences my values and morals…but what is the point of morality if you don’t have faith and believe in God? (Don’t argue with me, those are my thoughts.)
So, let’s look at this from a different perspective. We do have to tend to our personal care in each of these four areas. For a person of faith, all four of those areas are reconciled in our relationship with the Heavenly Father. We still have to tend to these areas. God is not going to jump on the treadmill for you to improve your physical health. You have a responsibility. Having faith in God does not relinquish you from the responsibility to DO SOMETHING. Ever heard that phrase faith without works is dead. Well, get to work.
I recognize that in certain aspects of my life I fail miserably at taking care of myself. I don’t exercise enough (physical). I eat too much (physical). I do not get enough sleep. (physical) I do not stop. I am thinking of solutions, ideas and such even in my sleep sometimes. (mental) I often give so much in areas of my life that I fail to draw in the sustenance I need, evidentially in the physical and mental. Did I mention I rarely ask for help outside my house? I feel like asking for help is admitting I’m in over my head. (My husband and children are obligated by relation…lol) Honestly, I do not feel like I am in over my head…I just do not have enough hours in the day to do what I must along with everything I feel drawn to do. (OK so emotional is in there too – I have some work ahead of me.) So, what do I sacrifice?
When Your Strength is Actually a Weakness
I mentioned before that my Pastor shared a story of a starving Baker. The baker was the best at what he did, feeding others and working so diligently he failed to feed himself. I am very good at the things I do. That is not me being arrogant. There are people who could do it far better, but I am competent and good at the things I engage with at church, work and home. Because I know I do a good job, it is hard for me to let go…of like anything. I find myself in a position trying to determine what to prioritize.
There is an opportunity looming in front of me. Something I have pursued and that honestly could benefit my desire to be fulltime in the ministry. This next step in project management could provide me with practical experience that I can use in my church, to support missionaries or dozens of other practical applications in ministry. It means a season of having to pull back from some of the things I love to do most. It means entrusting…no that is not the word, I trust the people I am teamed with at my church. Delegate…that’s the word. I don’t like letting go of things I am passionate about. Delegation is my greatest weakness in leadership. I now face a requirement to delegate. In addition, I will have to ask for help. Yet another thing I have issue with. I can ask for help when I don’t know how to do things or when I don’t “get it”. Asking for help because I am only one person and need more to accomplish the task is hard for me. If I accept the task I should be able to deliver.
Then I start thinking about the leadership articles and books I am pulling information from. I have started reading “Amplified Leadership” by John C. Maxwell, which focuses on building new leaders. When I develop a new employee at work, I am effectively creating a mini-me. Someone that can do what I can do just as effectively. (Maybe differently, but effectively) Now, I have only begun in this book but one thing that is very clear…in order to be a good leader, you must develop those who come behind you. I can’t develop a new leader if I am unwilling to release the reins on a project. (Honestly, I have been micro-managing my husband since Thursday evening about Growth Track today. He is more than capable. He is dependable. I just want to make sure.)
This struggle with delegation and asking for help leaves me feeling like a candle burning at both ends. Relaxation is something that begins to stress me out because I have things I should be doing. This is not a healthy mindset. I mean it is Biblical to rest. God rested on the 7th day. He directed the Sabbath to be a day of rest. Rest is important…so why does it stress me out?
Random Act of Kindness Can Change My World
We live in a world where everything is about instant gratification? The trickles over into wanting instant gratification of a completed task or immediate responses to inquiries, emails or texts. One of the kindest, most thoughtful expressions of love I received was a postcard from an unknown person. It took time to get the postcard, to put a stamp on it, to mail it and to write the encouraging words on the back. What struck me is how moving this simple gesture was for me. This person could have sent an email or instant message. They could have pulled me aside at church and spoke this life into me. Instead, they took TIME. They made a deliberate and conscious effort to impact my spirit and encourage me. It occurred to me…I need to be more deliberate with my time.
This moves us to another presentation at the conference…
The presenter asked us to think about a person who had impacted us greatly, our personal great influencer. We were then instructed to select words from a pre-defined list to describe this person and from that list select the dominate core value they represent. (Honestly, this made me think of Marilyn Hickey and the foundational gifts, but that is another story.) After selecting this person’s dominant core value, we had to select from another list of words what we felt around this person. Once again, we had to filter this down to the most positive feeling they caused us to feel. I have done this exercise on several of my influencers and I find a handful of traits that seem to resonate positive feelings in me. Humble, loving, wise, focused, inspirational, and authentic. These traits in others make me feel safe, valued, empowered, loved and believed in.
That was the easy part of the exercise, mainly because I have a great family, amazing friends and a church like no other. Top all that off with a world class husband that makes me believe I can do anything. However, the next task was to find one word to describe you at your worst. (Crickets) I immediately started running through seasons of my life. I’ve been cruel and uncaring. I’ve been relentless, a perfectionist and frankly a nag. For many years, I presented with RWF (resting witch face – no that is not the actual vernacular but it is my blog and I choose not to use the ugly word.) There was nothing warm or welcoming about the woman I once was. As all these nasty traits flooded my mind a smile came from somewhere deep inside. That is who I once was, not who I am. I am passionate, happy, honest (maybe too honest some days) and serving to others. It struck me in this seminar break-out session just how new a creation I have become. Yes, God makes all things new – but in that moment, it dawned on me.
Last, we had to choose a word and make it our goal for that word to permeate every aspect of our lives. (This comes from a book he suggested called “One Word”) I pondered several of the words on the list, not yet deciding on one to embrace. This exchange regarding selecting a word made me recall a discussion in the book (or movie) “Eat, Pray, Love”. The group of characters are discussing the word first for their city of origin (New York, Rome, Stockholm) then for themselves. The primary character says “writer” is her word. Another individual corrects her saying, “That what you do, it’s not you.”
Once again, I find myself relating to Elizabeth Gilbert (Author and subject of Eat, Pray, Love). I am a woman in search of a word. I am trying to figure out where I am now, what word describes me best right now. Any suggestions? (No really, send me suggestions…I have no clue what word best describes me now.)
As for the word I want to embrace, there are three that I considered: joyful, courageous and transformative. I landed on transformative. The definition of transformative is as follows: adjective; causing a marked change in someone or something. The root word, transform as a verb means, to undergo a change in form, appearance or character, to become transformed. The origin of transform is from the middle English and means to change in shape.
That is a whole lot of change. I want to be a change agent in my life and the lives of others. I want to create, improve and convert. I want to see lives changed, for the better, because I have shared my testimony, given comfort or served in some capacity. Those things bring me great joy. I want to see marked or great change in myself and the world around me. God made all things new, my faith has been transformative in my life. I want to share that with others.
Notes from the Sermon
Being out of town did not mean being out of church. I was able to “attend” service via Livestream. The series is entitled “The Foot Beautification Project”. It has been focused on going out and reaching others, sharing the message. Here are a few takeaways from today:
- Working on Limited Time – you will eventually lose the opportunity to share your faith with someone you know right now. You will change jobs, move or some other event will occur where you no longer have contact. Tomorrow is not promised. Get off your butt and share today.
- Asleep at the Wheel – Isaiah 52:1 Wake Up, put on your strength. Some of us are not fully asleep at the wheel, but we are not wide awake either. You are not strong when you are sleeping. In the book “Lioness Arising” Lisa Bevere talks about the sleeping lioness as a correlation of the sleeping women of the church. Asleep we stir nothing, we scare nothing. However, a lioness – fully awake is fierce, strong and able to take on the enemy. We cannot afford to be groggy Christians. We can’t afford to sleep our way to heaven either. Wake up and do something. Share your testimony, no one said you had to drag people to church and beat the Word into them. Make sure your life is a reflection of God’s goodness and a credit to your testimony.
- Seasons/Stages – Pastor shared that he invited a family to church that had been previously invited by others in our church. The first invitation was a seed being planted. Pastor’s invitation was watering the seed. The seed will grow and someone will be there to harvest. (Probably Pete or Tom welcoming them on Sunday morning.) It took almost twenty years of planting, watering and prayer before I finally surrendered and reconciled with God. Many, many people planted and watered over the years. It will take root in the most unpredictable times and places. Now I continue to grow, produce fruit and my roots move deeper daily. Again, make sure the message you share is seen in the life that you live.
A final quote from this morning’s sermon. “Becoming in the Kingdom of God, is always preceded by believing.” Pastor Luke Brugger. Before anything can happen to you or for you, you have to believe. If I did not believe in healing, my migraines would still be around. If I did not believe I was forgiven, I certainly would not be in church or writing about my faith. Believing is the first and most important step. Believe God loves you. Believe He loves others. In accepting His love, you and I are obligated to wake up and share the good news…in word and in deed.