God’s Plan

In prepping for several upcoming talks, unexpectedly Acts 1:1-8 is one of the focuses. Credit for this focus is due to our Thursday morning growth group discussion recently. Thought I’d share this simple outline since the majority of you missed that discussion.

  1. God is always at work. And it may be something I don’t understand…yet. (verses 1-3)
  2. God sees the big picture. And I don’t have to. (verses 4-5)
  3. God knows more than I do. And that’s why I can rest. (verses 6-7)
  4. God’s plan involves everybody. And so should mine. (verse 8)
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Sabbath Webinar

Over the years, the subject of Sabbath has created some interesting conversations. This year, it’s gotten more intentional as I’ve led two groups through a coaching program about it and watched the participants walk away with a new perspective and personal plan about Sabbath.

For readers in the U.S. and around the world, it would be even more interesting to hear from one another about your Sabbath practices, or lack of it. Earlier today, I teamed up with fellow coach Tonya Waechter to share a webinar, part one of three, regarding Sabbath. You can watch it here: Webinar.

Tonya and I would love to hear your insights and then have you join us for webinar parts 2&3.

3 Adjustments to Complete an Overcommitment

I did it again. About halfway through I realized a familiar feeling and thought, “Good grief. Here I go again.”

It was this morning around 7:10AM. Mile 7.5 of a committed 15-mile run. The feeling was more physical than mental. Well, I guess it was equally both. And it was the feeling brought on by overcommitment.

The commitment to 15 miles, at least in my world, is not a bad thing. But what I failed to acknowledge was that my body was questioning the commitment before I made it lace up my Brooks. My quads were saying, “Hey! I told you yesterday I needed a break. You might regret this.”

Between mile 7.5 and 11 it became apparent running all 15 was going to be unnecessary, self-inflicted torture (overcommitment defined). Sound familiar? Maybe your torture isn’t from running, but if you’re prone to overcommitment you know exactly what mile 11 feels like. 

Your mile 11 may be hosting Thanksgiving dinner, holding a drink at a reception wondering why you’re there, or looking up from your laptop and seeing it’s an hour past quitting time. You’re in. Too late. It’s got to be done. You’d rather call uber to pick you up, but then…

At this point it’s adjustment time. At mile 11.24, I took step one of adjusting, because I had no choice if I didn’t want to be found sprawled out on Manatee Avenue. Here were my three adjustments to my overcommitment this morning.

REGROUP

I started walking. I said, “I’m not looking forward to walking 3.76 miles back home, but neither do I want to be drained for the rest of the day. Been there done that.” My regrouping was to keep moving but at a sustainable pace, not torturous. Why do that? What would I be proving to these unknowing drivers passing me? 

Our regrouping could have various looks. It could be completely hitting the pause button. When we’ve not listened closely enough and we’ve fully drained ourselves, this is unavoidable. It could be simply slowing down and managing ourselves better. This will require honesty and maybe eating some humble pie. “Boss, I overcommitted.” “Honey, I did it again.” Maybe even, “I need help to get this done.” The basic principle of regrouping is acknowledging a better plan is needed now and putting it in place.

RECOVER

My recovery lasted for two miles, roughly 35 minutes. I finished the snack I had, then stopped to refill my water bottle and immediately drank half of it. It was pretty astonishing what that little attention did for my body and my mind. I kept moving and unknowingly prepared myself to resume-not what I was thinking two miles earlier.

So recovery could mean just taking a break to refuel. Leave the office for a half hour to take a walk or get some coffee. Make a phone call to just chat. Do something, anything that will refresh you so you can come back ready to complete the task. The basic principle of recovery is to get ready to finish. Think of it as a pitstop.

RESUME

Surprisingly with less than two miles to the front door, my legs spoke up again. “Ok. Let’s start back up. Smartly.” The first ten steps were rough, but soon I was back in the groove. A slower pace, of course, but moving forward. I made it all the way back home without collapsing. Successful Resumption.

Resuming will have different looks, again, based on how drained you are. It may have to wait 24 hours. It may have to be shelved until you can give it proper focus. But a commitment should not be completely abandoned. Figure out how to complete it rather than letting the overcommitment result in failure or regret.

When it’s completed, you might look back and see something worthwhile. I looked back and realized that my body was trying to tell me that I’ve ran more miles in the last eight days than I ever recall doing. That was a nice realization. I was grateful for following these steps. Now to work on listening to my quads.

3 Self-Talking Points to Temper IOS

What is IOS? No, it doesn’t have anything to do with Apple. However, you can see people battling it as often as you see Apple products. IOS is a syndrome you have dealt with sometime in your life. People suffer with it on social media, tv shows, in the board room, and at the family reunion. It would be nice if there were a pill or shot for it, but so far, no.

We’ve all dealt with it, particularly in our formative years. When you gave that first book report in 3rd grade, when you got your first job, when you picked your date up for prom-it was heavy. Some people overcome it quickly; others struggle with it all their lives. Overcoming IOS may be a process or could be a defining moment. I had a defining moment my junior year in college and another a few years later that seemed to loosen the grip of IOS. Regardless of its hold on someone, the reality of it being loosened is real and is possible. 

This syndrome is Impressing Others Syndrome. Recognize it? Have you overcome it? If not, your self talk could be a solution. Most likely, your self talk is fear-based, maybe even lies you’ve been deceived to believe. 

So how do we counter those lies, that fear? Overcoming IOS will take addressing it at its roots. Those roots of lies and fears should be countered by our identity and truth as God sees us. The challenge is very personal, testing what we believe and just how true our convictions are. Our self talk should be based on truths that strengthen us to defeat IOS. These three are a great start.

  1. “God loves Me.” He created me and made me who I am. Who I am includes my looks, my abilities, my personality. He knows my history. No one else knows me like he does. His love is unconditional, and my performance and choices do not change it.
  2. “The best motives are eternity-focused.” Checking our motives should be a constant priority. Satan loves to tempt us to be temporally motivated and thereby tell ourselves to focus on things that have little or no eternal worth. When you check this root of IOS, you may discover the main self talk to change.
  3. “I’m a work in progress.” This reality can be personally humbling and also critically diffusing. This also creates in us a teachable spirit which allows us to not live for approval as much as growth. That’s a big difference.

What are you telling yourself? Lies or truths? Fears or convictions? IOS’s grip can be loosened. Ask God for your best self-talking points and be free.

Comparing Local Preserves

For those who live in Manatee County, this is for you.

Many people know about the wonderful Robinson Preserve. Lots of space, something for everybody, including your four-legged friends. But I’m going to guess that fewer people know about two other preserves very close to Robinson that are pretty wonderful in their own way. They are both located on Manatee Avenue before you get to the bridge crossing over to Anna Marie.

Perico Preserve is first, on your right immediately passed Perico Bay. Here’s what I like about this preserve:

  • It feels the most natural of all three preserves. There are fewer signs of development such as pavement and wooden walkways.
  • The entire pathway can be walked in about 30 minutes, depending on your leisure.
  • There is a walkway leading you to a lookout across the bay to Robinson.
  • Much of the path circles around a rookery island.
  • Bikes are not allowed on portions of the pathways, and dogs are not allowed.


Neal Preserve is about a half mile west of Perico on the left. It is the smallest of the three with probably less than a mile of walkways. Here’s what I like about Neal:

  • I’ve been there twice and both times I’ve been the only person there. You may have the place to yourself.
  • There’s a tower overlooking the bay with the bridge to your right. It is a great place for sunset viewing.
  • There’s a nice mixture of natural and wooden walkways.
  • I believe it has the best photography and video opportunities of the three preserves.
  • Bikes not present either time I’ve been there; pets aren’t allowed.


If Robinson doesn’t quite suit you, these two just may. The weekend isn’t over..give them a look.

Are We All Brothers or Not?

Finished this book today. (Is there an unworthy read by Gladwell?)

If nothing else, I like the orderliness of his books. In this one, the nine chapters are divided into three parts driving home this theory: The powerful are not as powerful as they seem-nor the weak as weak.  Each chapter is entitled by the person’s name, the “David,” whose story Gladwell unfolds supporting his theory. These people include students, doctors, activists, coaches, educators, lawyers, pastors, Irish Catholics, and parents of murdered daughters. (Saw some glimpses of myself in Wyatt Walker, chapter 6. You’ll have to read to decide if you agree or to see in which person you see your own glimpse.)

The final chapter tells the story of Andre Trocme, a Huguenot pastor that lived in the French town Le Chambon-sur-Lignon during World War II.  He led the town to become a haven for Jews, despite being imprisoned for it.  Gladwell argues that one reason why Trocme and his town could stand up for the Jews was because of their own history of persecution.  They didn’t view protecting Jews as a dangerous thing like the rest of France.  Trocme’s wife Magda said this about her thoughts when the first refugee appeared at their door:  “I did not know that it would be dangerous. Nobody thought of that….There was no decision to make. The issue was, Do you think we are all brothers or not?  Do you think it is unjust to turn in Jews or not?  Then let us try to help!”

Magda did what few of us do.  She dug beneath the surface question to answer the deeper question.  And the question she answered is critical to all our foundations.  After reading these nine stories, I’d say one of the most clear differences between Davids and Goliaths is their foundations.  Most likely, we’d all like to think our foundations are David-ish.  If you’d like to test yours, you should read this book.

Realignment Day

Five weeks ago I self diagnosed a need. I had a need for a day unlike any day I’ve experienced before. This need was driven by various things. Did I need rest? Yes and no. Did I need time with God? More yes than no. What did I most need was my question. I took this to my coach and what I came up with was this: I needed realignment.

I’ve never heard of a realignment day, but it resonated with me. Since it was self diagnosed, that meant I had to come up with the “treatment plan.” I went into the day with some structure, but very loosely held. I knew prayer and reading would play a major role, but how long and with what content I wanted to be fluid and hopefully spirit led. I’ll share some of how the day went and give you something to consider for your own realignment day.

  • To establish why the title of realignment, I considered these definitions: 1. To place back in line, to bring back into line. 2. To rejoin as an ally. In the consideration, I looked at biblical examples of folks who needed and received realignment such as Adam and Eve, Samson, David, Jacob and Esau, Hosea and Gomer, Moses, Jonah, the prodigal son, and Peter.  This led me to a personal conclusion: I need to realign with how God sees people, with his grace, and with who I am in his eyes. This foundation led the rest of the day’s activities. These activities including reading, praying, and worshipping through music.
  • Reading: four scripture passages and portions of two books about these passages. Some of this was planned and some not. I knew that I was drawn to reading prayers and conversation between Moses and God. But in the moment I was led to other passages from Daniel, Job, and I John. These passages illustrated what is needed for realignment and how to pray for it.
  • Praying: confessional and covenantal. The truth about realigning with God is that he isn’t the one that got out of line. So realignment should include confessing where you got out of line and covenanting about staying in line. But before I wrote out those two prayers I started the conversation with God by asking him this: “What messages do you want to share with me?” To my surprise, he had a lot to say-a full page, a total of 13 clear and specific messages. Those alone were worth the effort and intentionality of the day.
  • Music: listening and creating. Again, to my surprise I was led to listen to one particular song throughout the day. Then as a result of reading and praying, a new song was birthed in my spirit. By the end of the day, where I ended up at a bayside park, not only was I realigned but I also had a song of offering to give back to God and to others what my realignment day had given to me.

Not everyone requires the same type of realignment, but I’m convinced we all need it occasionally. 

  • Are you due? 
  • What could assist you in realigning? 
  • How vital should a realignment day be in order for you to make it happen? 
  • What surprises could God have in store for you on your realignment day?

Onward (book review)

A few weeks ago I saw Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ CEO, interviewed about his book Onward. He and his book’s message intrigued me, so I downloaded a copy. Plus, I needed to check off a book on leadership in my 2018 reading self-made requirements.


Onward did not disappoint. It was even more than I expected. A bottom line summary is the book tells the story of the transformation of the company in 2008-2009. This transformation involved many things which required excellent leadership by Schultz and the partners he empowered to lead at various levels in the company.

The writing is strongly narrative without too much direct leadership application. However, here are a few leadership principle highlights:

  1. Communication is always important, but it is even more essential when things are not working. Ensuring that communication is narrow, clear, and repetitive to set expectations wins people’s trust.
  2. A core capacity of leadership is the ability to make right decisions while flying blind, basing them on knowledge, wisdom, and the ability to stay wedded to an overriding goal.
  3. People have to stay true to their guiding principles. To their cores. Whatever they may be. Pursuing short-term rewards is always shortsighted.
  4. How leaders embody the values they espouse sets a tone, an expectation, that guides their employees’ behaviors.
  5. Growth for growth’s sake is a losing proposition.
  6. Every enterprise and organization has a memory. And those memories create a path for people to follow.

Besides the narrative of the New Orleans conference, worth the purchase of the book alone, this is the quote I most liked:

Wherever the location, the best beans – the ones with enchantingly complex flavors and compelling characters, known as arabica – grow under some degree of stress, like high altitudes, intense heat, or long dry periods.

This truth exemplifies the story of Onward. We can all learn from these beans. We can all be on the mission of moving onward.