By all accounts, February is finally here! For some reason, it seems as if January took forever, but I don't think that's a bad thing after all. I mean, yesterday was the first time I've ever lived to January the 92nd. Seriously, January took forever...
When did we spend our time waiting for time to pass? I think we're in bad shape when we can remember how long a month was and not how much we've done in said month. I have a quick question for you, what did you do in January? Seriously, did you do anything in January besides count the days?
That used to be me until I had a serious wake up call. It was brought to my attention that I was actually wasting time...days of my life were wasting away while I was watching the calendar.
January was a month of time...time to get things right!
That's a sobering thought. But I need you to hear me, the month of January was a month of grace. Time to get things right, time to make things right, time to make final decisions...time to begin, time to end. Your year will flow out of how you handled January! If you left business undone last month, don't let it hang over you the rest of the year. If you heard God but allowed indecision to rob you of obedience, don't ruin your future by continuing to disobey God the rest of this year! For some of you reading this, you'll know what that means.
Do you have a goal you want to accomplish this year? If you didn't start in January, don't think that the rest of the year will drag on like January. Whatever you left undone in January deserves your attention this month and going forward. I'll start with myself, I went to the gym only once this month. The workout was exhilarating, I just never made it back. That changes this month! Life has a way of hindering our progress and challenging even the best of our intentions, don't let February suffer the same fate as January!
The government shutdown spilled over into the new year, and once the shutdown ended there was still time in January!!! Did your shutdown end in January? Even if it did, shake it off and get into the game! February is here, January is (finally) gone and we are moving ahead! Got it? We won't sit on the sidelines watching the calendar flip, we're going to get up, get busy and get to it!
This wasn't supposed to be my first post of the new year and that book wasn't supposed to be my first of the new year, but it happened! Yesterday as I was moving about my work space, my eyes caught a book that had become a decoration on my desk. In fact, a cluster of books has become a conglomeration that has served as a base for a printer, book ends for junk mail and remain an aspiration in my quest to read more book or one day even write one of my own.
This morning it happened, I cracked open O.S. Hawkins' "VIP". I'm only into the first section of the book, but with it I made a realization. December 2018 was a month where I let it all hang out! The good, bad and ugly! I closed emotional chapters unapologetically and sought out what was best for me. I also made the decision to become my best self, also unapologetically. I decided that I will do a better job staying in touch but will also let some connections end, as they must.
In December for possibly the first time in my life, I asked: "what about what I think?" What about what I bring to the table?" And, "what about what I want?"
For years, living the life of a believer I tried to do my best at not pleasing everyone but accommodating everyone. I haven't done it successfully, just ask my wife. She's the marker by which I judge the aspiration to be accommodating. I have failed miserably in that area and can finally see myself doing better.
Still, I've gone years making room for everyone else-as most of us do. It felt selfish to finally ask myself what I wanted and put it first for a change. My latest rant was one where I communicated like a grown man was a bit uncomfortable because of the situation. It was a hard conversation but I had to speak up and own what I felt. It felt good, though not reassuring.
The Lord has quite a way of keeping us in check, though! Putting yourself first can be healthy, but as most of us know through history, it is almost always destructive. So here I find myself on the third day of a new year...reading about not my own importance, but my influence!
Did you see the piano falling over on me, like I did?!? God also has a sense of humor! To me, this read is not about how to assert my importance, but how instead leverage my influence! Oh yes, that mirror on the wall isn't telling me how beautiful I am, it's appraising my true obedience to God!
You will never be as important as you think you are if you're never able to influence anyone! I've perused Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" in search of various leadership methods and to enrich everyday engagement. Hawkins' book however has stung me in the worst way! As a writer, influence is my currency. Much of what I write is from the perspective of influencing people to do what I wrote about (watch a show, listen to a song, purchase a product), or to shape an opinion based on my influence on the reader.
Many of us seek to become influencers. Whether it's achieved is up to you and God! Hawkins shares in his book that God has given all of us something by which we'll achieve or increase our influence (2 Corinthians 10:13.15), it's our job to see to it that we do it! Guess what else I found out...that's what's important to God!
FRUIT! If you want people to eat from your table, you have to extend the invitation. What is the invitation? Is it you proclaiming your importance? NO! I've noticed that people want to see an unseen invitation before they ever acknowledge any level of "importance", perceived or otherwise. Our life speaks, our work speaks and so do our results! Many times, if people have to ask what you do, you're not as important as you think you are! Also, if you're the most "important" person in the room, you need to get out more! If you are regularly in "the room" and are seldom taking notes (written or recorded), you need some new rooms! For most of us, our importance will be derived from our our presence in the room- the fact that we're in the room and influence on those on the outside. The other side of the coin is: SERVICE. Fruit and service...we all want to feel wanted and even needed. I get that. But here's the deal: Your service to the world, should be just that, but it should also be appealing, appetizing even. The fruit of your service will ultimately yield not the importance you desire, but the influence you have been entrusted.
Well, it was fun feeling important! It was fun watching the phone ring and send the calls to voicemail...but back to work I go! Not back to doing what I was doing, but to work doing no, proving the "good and acceptable, and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2) in my life. In this way, through my newfound influence, I can provoke others to good works (Hebrews 10:24)!
If you would like to join me in this very short read, grab a copy of your own. The book is available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Lifeway and other major bookstores.
The excruciating pain of creating in open spaces...
Spare me your grammatical judgment! I’m not angry. I’m not even frustrated or confused. I am…busy at work! During an interview earlier this year, an artist told me that they went away to work on their now released new album. Pretty cool, huh? It’s quite common in the creative community for artists to become a recluse and ‘disappear’ as they create. It’s the cool thing to do, to emerge with a masterpiece after noticeable time away.
Even if the masterpiece is only viewed as such by the artist, the process of creating in that space is second to none. So, what about creatives with no creative space? What about those without the benefit of silence amidst life’s noise? They, we…me seem a little mixed up!
Deadlines are missed, projects are unfinished and well…people don’t know what to think! In fact, it looks as bad as what people’s imagination can muster up! Mystery becomes the main ingredient for a creative creating with creative space. This goes beyond having a quiet writing space or studio to play or record vocals.
That proverbial cabin in the woods is a respite. You get to be messy there, unkempt…vulnerable without judgment. In the cabin in the woods, you’re there alone mainly because house guests are disruptive to the creative process. But what about the creative without the privilege of clandestine conception?
We have to hold it together and keep working. Of all the things in our hands, our work-life balance can never succumb to our creativity. Can you imagine trying to create a cabin on main street?
Most people can’t, but there are creatives out there who can testify to just how moronic such a thing could be. With that in mind, I can confess that I have been creating with no cabin in the woods!
Yep, I’ve been distant. I’ve been checked out so to speak. Assignments are piling up on my desk…well, they’re already piled up on my desk. And, I have to go back as far as almost two months to try and catch up with phone calls and emails.
It’s not frustrating, infuriating, or overwhelming. It’s actually exciting! One day, I’ll have that cabin in the woods experience, but this go-round has been without it. What I love is the process. The late nights, early mornings, the metamorphosis…I’m changing!
Normally, the person that emerges from the cabin is completely different. They’re rejuvenated, refueled and ready to share in the new season following a hibernation of sorts. But this has been more like a cocoon. You can see the shape of the caterpillar in the chrysalis but only once the transformation is complete can you behold the beauty of the ornate creation that emerges.
So yeah, you see me but you don’t! I know this has been hard on my colleagues and even readers and listeners, but I have an assignment that must be completed in time!
In order to be able to become a butterfly, the caterpillar has to fall apart completely, decompose
Yep, I Said It!
When I have something to say, I often say it. Many times, I try to find the best way to say it. Other times, there's just no easy way to say a hard thing. My journey in life has made me a person with much to say and the person people least want to hear it from.