Category: Incoherent Ramblings

Moving Past the Shadow of Should

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I’m going to depart from my usual tone today. I wrote this a couple months back as I talked with a student who felt the weight of the things she should be doing. I think the concept is universally true, both in our relationship with God and in our leadership.

Have you ever thought about the oppressiveness of the word should?

I know I should have a quiet time, I just don’t.

I know I should be sharing my faith, I just don’t.

I know I should memorize scripture, I just don’t.

I know I should read the Bible, I just don’t.

Should has an uncanny ability to hang over us like a dark cloud. We should keep our room clean. We should do the dishes. We should put our laundry in the hamper. We should do a lot of things. 

In reality, the word “should” only reveals something we feel guilty for not doing. No one says they should play more video games. They play enough. No one says they should eat more junk food.

Should is a trigger for guilt. When we feel like we should do something, what we are saying is we think our lives would be better, but do we really believe it?

Should reveals a misplaced priority. It allows us to feel good about not doing something. We don’t do it, but we know we should. It’s the thought that counts, right? Even if the thought never moves to action?

After my third helping of cobbler and ice cream, I know I shouldn’t have eaten that much, so it’s okay.

Should is actually guilt wearing a mask. We only say we should do things for which we feel guilty for not doing. Some things are meant for our good, but we still run away. Some things will actually make our life better, yet we still don’t put forth the effort or energy.

The problem with should is it leads to regret. And regret leads to more guilt. And more guilt hides itself as should, and the cycle repeats.

But we are meant to have victory from the Shadow of Should. 

I should have a quiet time. Wrong. I’m free from the guilt of having or not having a quiet time. I’m free from the shackles of my faith being tied to what ritual I have. 

But I want to have a quiet time. I want to have time with God each day that connects me to Him. I want my life to be changed by setting my mind on things above at the beginning of my day. I want God to open my eyes, to soften my heart, to remind me of His presence before I do anything else. 

Should is crushed by desire. When my desire outweighs my should, the supernatural is unleashed.

When we desire to read God’s word more than we feel we should, His word comes alive.

Spirituality based on obligations eventually gets choked out by the oppressive strength of should. But when our desire to know God and to know Him more grows, our passion for Him crushes the should in our lives.

Relationships based on should are short term. Relationships built on desire endure. Ask God to give you a desire for Him today.

Authenticity Wins

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I stink at social media. I have often said that Instagram is my favorite social media platform, but I very rarely ever post on it.

Why Instagram? I love the idea of a well taken photo. I’m not a photographer, and I rarely remember to take one when I need to do so, but it’s still such a fascinating premise.

Why do I rarely post on the ‘Gram? Because I worry that my posts won’t live up to the hype. I mean, really, who cares what I’m cooking for supper? Or who really wants to know what I did today? And if they want to know, do I trust them? And if I post myself cooking something on my Weber Kettle, will I get metaphorically roasted for doing something wrong? Worse still, if I post a picture of those ribs, what happens if they’re not good?

One thing I’ve learned through our recent cultural shift is this: authenticity wins.

On Instagram, that means this: people will “like” something authentic in my life. It doesn’t have to be polished and perfectly staged. And generic certainly doesn’t move the needle.

In leadership it means this: share your struggles. There are things you wrestle with. People want to see that. They want to know you’re trying your best, and that doesn’t always mean fully polished.

Full transparency: I almost erased this entire post to start over. Even when writing about authenticity and pulling the curtain back, I struggle with authenticity.

I wrestle with decisions. I wrestle with direction. I wrestle with vision, purpose, and direction. I debate things in my head all the time. I’m not advocating being wishy washy or flaky, but sometimes the best things we can do as leaders is open up to those around us-to show vulnerability.

Jesus showed vulnerability when he washed the feet of his disciples. His act of service didn’t make him less of a leader.

The same is true for us. Don’t turn into an Eye-ore, but don’t feel like you have to have everything together. You can do this. Just be real about it along the way.

Relational Investments

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Early yesterday morning my junior high daughter realized her band audition video was due by midnight last night instead of Friday, as she thought. So she spent the day practicing her pieces. And I mean the day.

Every time I came home, she was playing, trying to figure it out. When I came home for the final time, she was almost in tears. So I sat down with her and helped her figure out how to practice.

At first, because #teenager, when I would suggest something, she would push back. But eventually, we were able to start making some progress on the trouble parts. She would play through, and channeling my best Herb Brooks from Miracle, I would say, “Now, do it again.”

Finally, around 9:45pm last night, my sweet procrastinating angel, submitted her three part video. It was not perfect, but she wasn’t in tears either.

Our interaction embodies a thought I’ve been wrestling for the past few weeks. How many times do we expect someone to accomplish something, but don’t help them figure it out.

In other words, when assigning a task or setting a goal, where is the balance between completely hands off and micro-managing? I didn’t play her instrument for her (I wouldn’t know where to start if it doesn’t have 6 strings, which it doesn’t). I simply helped her break down the challenge into smaller pieces, using principles like: practice slow, then speed up, then repeat; visualize playing the piece before playing; and power through the mistakes.

As you lead, you are going to ask people to do something they’ve never done before. Sometimes you need to throw them in the deep end and let them sink or swim. But sometimes, you need to sit down with them and give them principles to help make progress.

Who around you needs you to come alongside them this week and say, “here, why don’t you try it this way?” Spend some time investing in someone. You never know what the payoff may be in the long run.

It’s Okay to Mourn

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One of the things we’ve started doing at my church is sending out a daily devotional written by a variety of staff and members. Earlier this week, I wrote the following and thought I would share it here as well.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” – Matthew 5:4

I was a bit of a rambunctious child. As I grew up, I grew out of it, but one lady would always remind me of the trouble I would get into. She watched me when I was little (before starting school), and I affectionately have referred to her as Nanny ever since. Her health slowly started fading over the past few years, and a few weeks ago she passed away.

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time pondering her loss. I know she’s excited to be in God’s presence, but that certainly doesn’t soften the sadness on my end. And I think my sadness is okay.

In this verse, Jesus calls those who mourn “blessed”. I think learning to mourn is part of what makes us who we are. But our focus is not on the mourning, but on the comfort we find.

What are you mourning in this season? Maybe you have lost a loved one. Maybe you’re mourning missed opportunities. Maybe you’re mourning a loss of stability. Maybe you’re mourning something secret. My prayer for you, and for me, is we continue to find comfort and rest in Christ. We, as your church family, mourn with you, but we also hold to the promise of comfort. We are looking forward to taking steps to come back together where we can mourn and experience comfort together! 

Redundancy, Again

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There are a few topics here at 3QL that keep rising to the surface. The Redundancy of Leadership is one of those.

I love a good set of questions. The namesake of this blog, for example, are three questions we can ask ourselves over and over. As situations change around us, then our answers will change. But the questions stay the same.

I have another set of questions I use rather frequently: One Word, Jump, and Stick. I started using these questions to help students on our leadership trip evaluate and process what they had heard, then started using it at camp as a way for them to process the message each night. Now, they are a regular part of my personal Bible reading.

For me, good questions aren’t good because they make you think the first time. Good questions still make you think the 100th time.

And that’s the redundancy of leadership. Find those things that may be solid the first time, but withstand the long haul.

As leaders, we have to continually cast vision so people are on the same page. Sure, the initial cast is important, but just because I remember the vision doesn’t mean the people I lead will remember.

What calls for repeating in your sphere of influence today? What drum have you stopped beating in the midst of our current societal shift? What do you need to re-emphasize to those who hear your voice?

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