Category: Incoherent Ramblings

Routines vs Ruts, pt 2

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Last week, I blogged about Routines vs Ruts. Today, I have a bit of a confession for you.

I feel like I have several ruts in my life right now, one of them being this blog. So, naturally, the best way for me to process this rut is to blog about it. That makes sense, right?

Here’s my blog rut as I see it: Up until the end of May, I was incredibly consistent. Every Tuesday and Thursday, I would get up and crank out a post of some sort. Sometimes, I would even be really diligent and hammer out the post the night before.

My topics were generally thoughts that came to me as I sat down, but the best ones were ones where I had written them down before as a topic to attack, thus letting my mind chew the proverbial cud of content potential.

That routine worked for a season. Granted, for a significant season. I love writing these posts, even if only for a handful of people.

But over time, recently, my routine became my rut. I knew I would write better if I did not write and immediately publish, but my rut was (is) to write and publish.

As a result, my consistency has dropped over the past five weeks. What used to be clockwork has become cork-work. The routine has become a rut.

So, how do you get out of a rut? In real life, sometimes you have to ride it out, knowing that the rut will change when the terrain changes. Sometimes, you have to steer hard to one side or the other.

Honestly, I am still pondering what breaking out of a rut looks like. But I think a key element is understanding you’re in a rut.

That’s why last week I asked you to write down three routines you have and one rut you’re in. I want you to identify what holds you back or holds you down.

Now, answer this: what are you going to do to break out of that rut? How are you going to overcome it? Write out one thing you’re going to try.

For the record, this is not me saying I am going to take a break from blogging. I enjoy it too much. But I do have to admit that I find myself in a rut that I want to break out of. Maybe you can learn something from my struggle.

Thanks for sticking with me.

Routines vs Ruts

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I have a dirt driveway. Well, part of it is dirt, and part is caliche. When it rains, the dirt turns to mud (obviously), and I avoid driving through the mud. Sounds simple right?

I avoid the mud for two reasons: I hate getting my suburban muddy and I hate having to drive through dried ruts (created from driving through mud in the first place).

Ruts can be annoying. The make the ride rougher, because I can never seem to find the right spot to drive through the rut.

But, ruts can be beneficial. When I’m driving down the dirt road leading to our house, I can tell which part of the run is the muddiest by looking at the ruts.

We all have ruts in our lives. I bet you didn’t see this one coming, right?

Not just ruts, though. We also have routines.

I have a specific routine when I park my suburban. I always back in. I have no solid reason or justification for it, I just prefer to avoid the ruts in my driveway when I’m starting my day. Not swerve around them, but bypass them altogether.

You have routines, too. It may be exercise, food choices, weekly schedules, the order you get ready in the morning. Routines give structure to what can often become a chaotic world.

Routines are good. They help us prepare for what comes next, because we know our routine. After completing Task A, our routine says it’s time to move to Task B. It’s simple.

Until a routine becomes a rut. What used to be simple and natural, now feels forced and rough.

Honestly, I think routines and ruts are both very natural, but I do not think they are both beneficial. Ruts mean the time to change has already passed; change now becomes necessary.

I have no secret weapon today, but let me challenge you to do something: take a sheet of paper (or open a note on your phone) and write down 4 things: first write down three routines you have; then write down one rut you find yourself trying to navigate.

Now, you’ve identified a rut. What do you need to do to get out of it? Who can help? What do you need to give up?

Navigating Pace

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Bronte ISD (in the community where I serve), held commencement services on May 18, 2018. As usual, that marked the end of school and beginning of summer.

Pending unknown and unforeseen circumstances, this will be the first week since graduation I have not packed a suitcase. Not every trip has been a church trip, however.

When I planned my summer I knew it was going to be busy with church activities. One thing I did not plan, however, was the way our family trips would fill in the other weeks.

Thinking back over the past few months, our family schedule has been a little crazier than normal. So, knowing that, as we went into summer, we wanted to be able to have some intense quality time with our girls (who have had a busy summer as well!).

Navigating pace is a challenge, and something I do not have figured out fully. One thing I do know, however, is we have had to be intentional with our family time this summer.

Here’s our leadership principle for today: when the pace speeds up, find ways to slow down.

For some people, that means saying no at the front. Other people can find the times to slow down in the midst of the chaos. The days we are home this summer, we get done what needs to get done and hit the brakes hard, enjoying a different speed for a moment.

Slowing down for you may mean unplugging from your phone. Or maybe finding time to pursue a hobby (I built a stool last Friday). Maybe it’s getting caught up in a good book, or journaling. It may mean some great family time watching a movie or taking a mini-trip of some sort.

If you want to survive in leadership, and in life, do not let yourself become a victim of the pace you set. Find ways to slow down when you need to slow down, and see what rest can do.

Motivation and Leadership

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Let’s talk about Student Leadership today. More specifically, let’s talk about developing Students with leadership potential.

Over the past 5 years I have had a student leadership team of some sort. The intensity has increased each year as I try to find the right balance between commitment and over commitment.

A few years back, I thought differently about how to bring student leaders into the fold. There were a couple of girls who I thought showed incredible leadership potential, so I went to them and invited them to apply for the leadership team. They did, and what unfolded over the next year was unexpected.

“You cannot motivate people to do something they don’t want to do.” This statement was the focus of a conversation I had last week, and something that has been bouncing around my head ever since.

I think the temptation we have as leaders is to believe we CAN motivate people. We are good with words, maybe even charming. But the truth of the statement above shows us motivation does not last. Instead, we need to find people who are motivated and equip them.

This is the struggle I found in student leadership years ago. I saw potential in a few, but they were not motivated to be part of our leadership team, so things went south over time.

Now I focus my energy on the kids who show some level of motivation. I may not have as many, and I still see potential in others, but the fruit comes from the motivated ones.

So, as you look around your leadership realm, who are you pouring effort into but they simply lack the motivation? Who around you shows a level of motivation? How can you pour into and strengthen them?

One last thought: everyone is motivated to do something. The challenge for us as leaders, and as church leaders especially, is to get to know people well enough to discover what motivates them. Build relationships. Love the individual. Help them grow.

Landmarks and Memories

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Sometimes I wonder if everyone operates the same way I do. Today, let’s find out.

When I drive by certain landmarks and have a memory come to mind, it is generally something I was listening to at the time. As a result, I can drive by a windmill and remember the song that was playing, or under a bridge and remember a conversation I was having. Or, on a tractor, drive by a fence post and remember the point of the story I was at in an audiobook. Crazy, right?

But one place in particular is different. There is one spot between where I live and where I grew up that every time I drive by it, I feel like a 7th grader again.

Honestly, I do not know if the memory comes from that long ago or not, but it’s a spot where over time I have assigned a specific feeling: the feeling of awe at finally having arrived–being an athlete. It was undoubtedly one of my first early bus rides, but the emotion remains. Every time I drive by that spot, I feel optimistic, energetic, and old.

I may not know you well, but I’m going to guess you have something like that. It may be a spot where you fell in love. Maybe it is a note you keep in a safe space. It might be bigger, like your old car from high school, or your very first instrument. Or, maybe, it comes with a person. You think about the first person to encourage you to push for something more, or the first person to point something out to you.

Whatever it may be, I want you to think about this: you are not the same person you were in that moment, in that memory.

I am not a 7th grader anymore, though my wife may accuse me of acting like one from time to time. More than that, I had no clue I could ever become the person I am today.

Again, I would venture to say the same is true of you.

We change over time. We mature. We grow. We make mistakes. We get things right, and we grow some more.

Take a moment today and celebrate that you are not who you were in that memory. You are something more, something better, something different. And, if you’re not better than you were then, take a step today to correct that.

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