Five Traits of The Daily Warrior

Warriors. They’ve been on my mind today.

Put aside imagery of soldiers, battlefields, or tanks. Sure, those fit the bill. But I’m thinking about other images.

Before I share more, here’s a question: Who in your daily life belongs in your dictionary as the best model of your definition of a warrior?

One of your parents? Another family member?

Maybe a boss, or even a janitor?

Whoever they are, my guess is the list that follows describes them.

  1. They are loyal when others wouldn’t be.
  2. They would rather not receive recognition.
  3. They not only understand trust, they demand it.
  4. They don’t shy from “hard.”
  5. They masterfully connect timing and discerning.

We recognize someone’s “warriorhood” at various times, sooner with one than another, more obvious in one than another. I’m thinking of two warriors that I had the pleasure to engage today. One of them I’ve known for twelve years; it took me a while to see it. The other one I just met last year; it was pretty clear immediately.

Here are three challenges for you:

First Challenge: whoever your daily warrior is, Tell Them.

If it helps, rip the page out of the dictionary and staple their picture to it. They actually may like that even better.

Second Challenge: Thank God for them.

If it helps, use this blog post as a model and write your own in a journal. God may like that even better.

Third Challenge: Declare your “Warriorhood.”

If it helps, find a spot of dirt or sand. Draw a circle and scribe the word “warrior” inside. Step inside the circle. Ask God to affirm your declaration. You might like that even better.

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

Limping and Flying

“What does it mean to trust God?”

That was the opening question in our staff meeting recently. Then a devotion was shared which compared trusting God to the work between trapeze artists. In their work, there are two roles: flyers and catchers. The job of the flyer is to do what it sounds like-release from the bar and fly in the air to be caught by their teammate. And by fly they mean do nothing. Don’t try to help the catcher. Don’t reach for the catcher. Just be in the air and trust that you will be caught.

As I listened to the devotion and the following discussion, my mind went to the previous day and my personal experience of trying to help when I wasn’t supposed to. Since my second neck surgery in 2014, I keep regular appointments with my massage therapist, Mike. And we have some interesting conversations while I’m on the table. There are rarely any lulls.

My neck was particularly tight that day, so Mike was having to spend more time on it. He always starts on my neck while I’m on my back. And he always finishes working on my neck with the same move. I know it’s coming; after 8 years I pretty much know exactly what he’s going to do next. His final move is to put both hands under my head, lift, and slowly bend my neck toward my chest. Most visits, he’ll do this several times.

On that day, I immediately knew I had done something Mike told me not to do the first time he worked on me. Rather than let him do the work, I helped. I mean, do I really need someone to lift my head toward my neck? I wasn’t born yesterday. Mike is from New York; he’s got no problem calling you out. So on that first visit when I helped him lift my head he said, “Don’t do that. While you’re on my table, you need to let me do all the work. Just pretend you’ve lost all control of your body. Go limp. Trust me and don’t get in the way of my work.”

In my talking while Mike lifted my head on this visit, I knew instantly that I had helped and wasn’t limp. So before he scolded me I said, “I helped you, didn’t I?” He said, “Yes, you did. Stop it.”

Too many times I try to help God. I get in the way. He doesn’t scold me, but he certainly lets me know things could be done more in his way, in his time, and in his perfection if I’d just go limp. Sure, I can do all the work I should while off the table. But when I’m on the table, he’s most going to have his way when I’m trusting him to do what only he can do.

Fly! God will catch you.

Go limp. God doesn’t need your help.

You can trust him.

Photo by Joseph Frank on Unsplash

Planting Seeds

It’s mid-morning and already a theme has emerged for the day.

The first reference came during our 7AM men’s coffee conversation. Two of the guys shared thoughts about how they have tried to follow nudges to help people in random or “not my job” situations. One expressed his perception of failure. We redirected him to consider that you don’t know if others have your same perception. Perhaps you did more good than you think, and it will reveal itself down the road. Consider your actions as a seed planted. You started the future of that seed.

The second reference came during our weekly staff meeting. Two staff members shared a musical performance of the hymn “Just As I Am.” Before they played, they handed out an article describing the story behind the lyrics. I just read it and had this thought. Ms. Elliott had no idea how many people would come to know her story and sing her song when she wrote it in 1834. Almost two hundred years later, people still are learning and growing because she planted a seed.

Planting seeds in other’s lives is pretty much a matter of following your heart, letting what’s in out. I believe it’s that simple. Trusting God can handle the future of seeds we’re given enables us to open our hearts and let the goodness flow.

May God bless your seed planting today.

Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

A Time for Preaching and Listening

I came across Amy Cuddy‘s book while browsing in Barnes & Noble. The cover intrigued me.

I ho-hummed through the first two chapters. Then came #3, “Stop Preaching, Start Listening.” Highlighter activated. And mostly because of the illustrative work she retold of Boston minister Reverend Jeffrey Brown. Follow this link to his Ted Talk.

His story of turning around gang violence in Boston in the 1990’s definitely brings light to the definition of presence. You could say that he defines presence as simply showing up. But how you show up is what Cuddy emphasizes with this statement:

When we meet someone new, we quickly answer two questions: “Can I trust this person?” and “Can I respect this person?” In our research, my colleagues and I have referred to these dimensions as warmth and competence respectively.

She ties warmth and trust together, competence and respect together. And whether we realize it or not, we first check a new acquaintance’s trustworthiness before their competence. Yet, when people are asked which they’d rather be seen as, most choose competent. Cuddy believes that desire can lead to costly mistakes.

To avoid that mistake, she encourages us to focus on the value of listening. Here are five reasons why:

  1. People can trust you.
  2. You acquire useful information.
  3. You begin to see other people as individuals-and maybe even allies.
  4. You develop solutions that other people are willing to accept and even adopt.
  5. When people feel heard, they are more willing to listen.

In order to get somewhere with the gang members, Reverend Brown had this attitude: The youth have to be looked at not as the problem but as partners. How much farther might we get in all life’s arenas if we adopted this mindset? In our families, in our offices, in our courtrooms, in our churches, in our schools, in our legislative bodies, in our town halls, in our social media posts, in our spotlight moments, in our journalism, in our prayers?

There is a time for preaching and a time for listening. How much further might we get if we honored those times?

Stewarding Well

In the last week I’ve been struck by a theme. It started with a conversation, then continued unexpectedly in the book I was reading.

In the conversation I realized a summary of how I was answering questions about my current life outlook had to do with being a good steward. My summary was this: “I’m trying to steward well my past, present, and future.” In a journal entry the next morning, I wrote four action words by those tenses that could describe that stewarding.

  • Past: Learn, Forgive, Release, Praise
  • Present: Abide, Listen, Observe, Praise
  • Future: Anticipate, Release, Trust, Praise


As I chewed on these words and my summary, as God does, he showed out by having the next chapter in the book I was reading be on this very subject. Chapter 5 of A Life God Rewards is entitled “The Question of Your Life.” Using Jesus’ teachings, Bruce Wilkinson suggests that the important daily question for our lives should be this: “How will I steward what my Master has placed in my care?”
That’s what a steward does-manages his master’s assets. And in the case of a Christian’s life, those assets include talents, strengths, personality, and interests. Stewarding well requires faithfulness. Faithfulness to the action words in my journal entry may be a good place to start.

This week may be a God-given opportunity for all of us to chew on these thoughts. How do we steward the last year? How do we steward this week? How do we steward 2021? 

May we all be good stewards for the Master!

Thanks for the Exposure, COVID!

This past weekend over dinner and Rook, someone replied to a statement with a half-joke/half-serious, “Thanks, COVID!” If you have friends like mine, you’ve probably heard those two words also.

We decided we should actually make a list of things we are thankful for due to the pandemic. Before I go further, this post is not meant to make light of the trauma and loss of life many have and are experiencing. Rather, it’s an effort to “give thanks in all things.” Not always easy but can be beneficial. And if you’re reading this from outside the United States, this list may not be relatable.

The not-so, yet-somewhat serious list had these eight items:

  1. Less bad breath (masks)
  2. More solved jigsaw puzzles
  3. Less traffic
  4. More quality family time
  5. Less handshaking/hugging
  6. Greater appreciation for things we take for granted
  7. Spending less money
  8. Disney less crowded

On a run this week, I thought about this more seriously. And my thoughts landed on one word: Exposure. Let me expound on that with four statements of what has been exposed-and I find it good.

1) What we fear more than we should-Not long into the shutdown I heard a coach classify our fears being exposed into three categories: fear of the unknown, fear of death, and fear of not having control. These natural fears left unchecked can lead to dark personal times. When they are exposed, they can be addressed, better managed, possibly eliminated.

2) What we trust more than we should-We understand nothing’s perfect. That makes it hard to know what to trust. And left alone, we are challenged whether we can trust ourselves. This exposure is an excellent test for discerning where I’m leaning for my understanding and how much am I trusting God above all other trust options.

3) What we love more than we should-We Americans may have needed this exposure more than any other people group. We love excess, options, extra, more. That love leads us into loving whatever it takes to have it. We are in love with being busy. Extra and busyness are American idols. These idols also kill and needed to be exposed.

4) What we hate more than we should-Two hates that have been exposed are change and inconvenience. These hates have led to hate for one another. Why is this something to be thankful for? Because selfishness, superiority, and pride stay hidden in our normal superficiality. Now that it’s no longer hidden, we can look to God to forgive and heal it.

The pandemic has brought us more than physical exposure. May we work equally hard to address every exposure.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Courtney Anderson

Embrace the Pace

2020 has, if nothing else, provided many lessons. One of those has to do with pace. Sometimes life’s pace feels extreme; other times it crawls. The lessons are many, but here’s one on my radar: Whatever the pace, embrace it.

That’s not a call to laziness or workaholism. It’s more a call to submission. If God says run, run; when he says rest, rest. Whatever pace he’s setting, embrace it.

Embracing a pace requires awareness and commitment. The pace of a 5k is much different than a marathon. Why? For starters, there’s a difference of 23.1 miles. That pretty much sums it up. That awareness determines the mindset needed. Training is built on it. Racing is built on training. The entire process requires embracing.

Solomon seemed to understand this. Check out these verses from his books:

  • “My love calls to me: Arise, my darling. Come away, my beautiful one. For now the winter is past; the rain has ended and gone away. The blossoms appear in the countryside. The time of singing has come, and the turtledove’s cooing is heard in our land. The fig tree ripens its figs; the blossoming vines give off their fragrance. Arise, my darling. Come away, my beautiful one.”‭‭ Song of Songs‬ ‭2:10-13‬ ‭CSB‬‬
  • “There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven:” ‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭CSB‬‬

There is a pace of hibernation which shifts to wondering.

There is a pace for listening and reflecting which shifts to singing and celebrating.

Whatever pace God is leading you at today, you can trust that it’s correct. Embrace it.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/David Brooke Martin

God’s…Not Mine…Mine (Part 2)

Exercising leads to discoveries. And when it comes to this exercise about responsibility, the discoveries may not feel good at first. Like discovering you really shouldn’t eat the entire quart of ice cream just because you worked out today.

Chances are through this exercise you discovered that you are taking responsibility, trying to own something, that isn’t yours. It’s a common battle for humans to wrestle with God, stealing responsibility. Paul David Tripp says it’s because we are at war between being in awe of ourselves and being in awe of God. When we are losing that battle, we think everything is ours: money, possessions, relationships, career. Contrary to our wants, we win when we let God own what really is his.

That second heading, Not Mine, can be as big a battle as the God heading. When we haven’t won in that heading, forget about winning in this one. Why? Because if I’ve kicked God off the throne taking all the responsibility, it’s going to inevitably spill over into every area of my life. I have all the answers and control. In fact, I believe I want them. Reality is, I’m burdened and miserable. Like Pilgrim trudging uphill bearing his burden.

I have found three things to address when I’ve discovered I’m taking on someone else’s responsibilities. You might say, these are my responsibilities to stay out of “not mine” responsibilities.

  • Trust-Sure, you’ve job searched before; so what’s keeping you from staying out of your spouse’s or child’s searching efforts? You’ve also scheduled employees before; so what’s keeping you from allowing your manager to do it? You’ve been doing this task much longer than your new volunteer; so why are you micromanaging them? Discovery #1: Sometimes we do what’s not ours because we have trust issues. (Proverbs 3:5; Isaiah 55:8)
  • Humility-If I’m having responsibility issues, chances are I’m also having pride issues. Humility is required to allow good failure (yes, that’s a thing). Humility is required for personal and team growth. Ball hogs, dictators, authoritarians, glory-stealers, all losers in general taint outcomes because of pride. Discovery #2: Often we do what’s “not mine” because of our pride. (Matthew 23:12; Ephesians 4:2; Philippians 2:3)
  • Being For-Many of us are recovering tellers; by nature we take “not mine” responsibility by telling what needs to be done. My recovery started a few years ago. One mindset for a recovering teller is to be for others. Parents/bosses/leaders, you can avoid the “not mine” heading by being for your child/employee/volunteer. Not being over, behind, ahead-be for them. Encourage. Celebrate. Cheer. Discovery #3: Everyone benefits when we are all for each other. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

Those are my three. They may be yours also. What else may yours be?

We’ll address that more in Part 3.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Elizabeth French

3 Things That Matter

In this read of Ravi Zacharias’s The Grand Weaver, three things stood out to me. They, like all eight chapters in the book, discuss what matters.


Your disappointments matter

In chapter two, he wrote this about the end of life:

One of three things will happen to your heart: it will grow hard, it will be broken, or it will be tender.

He looks at the lives of David, Job, and Habakkuk to illustrate the importance of communion with God to carry us through pain, to make us “tender by that which makes the heart of God tender.” God’s presence is more essential than answers.

Your calling matters

In chapter three, these three statements can breathe life into any searcher:

When your will becomes aligned with God’s will, his calling upon you has found its home.

God often reinforces our faith after we trust him, not before.

No follower of Christ does secular work.  We all have a sacred calling.

Your worship matters

Chapter eight may be the best chapter you’ll ever read about worship. In it, he discusses the five main components of worship taken from the book of Acts: the Lord’s Supper, teaching, prayer, praise, and giving. This line speaks deeply to why worship matters:

When worship and praise lose their focus and purpose, the finite finds the Infinite boring and the creature finds the Creator insufficient.

Tenderness matters.  Trust matters.  Worship matters.

Waiting for Presto!

Parlor magicians hired to entertain children at birthday parties frequently begin tricks with a display of an empty hand, offering clear proof that there is nothing up their sleeve, nothing in the shiny top hat they are about to sit on the table in full view of the fascinated children. Then suddenly-presto!-a rabbit is pulled up by the ears, a dove with fluttering wings emerges, a shiny silver dollar flips into view. Something created out of nothing! We adults know that these are just parlor tricks, sleights of hand, practiced technique.

This quote comes from chapter seven of Andy Davis’s book, The Power of Christian Contentment. Davis is describing the best worship that comes from contented believers, and he shares this thought under the heading Most Comforted by Things Not Seen.

Some people want to know how the trick works. Not me. I’d rather not know. Were I to know, the awe and wonder would be gone. To keep the awe, I don’t want to know.

Often I’m tempted to know how God is going to do something, what He’s up to, or even to tell Him what to do. I’m learning that giving in to those temptations ruins contentment. Giving in also displays my lack of trust or my need for control. What I’m realizing is I’m also ruining my awe and wonder. 

I need to stay off the stage and wait for presto!


Photo Credit: Unsplash/Omid Armin