Christian Living

Being the Right Tool for the Job

The past few weeks have been unusual schedule-wise for us. My kids were complaining this morning that they just want a week where we have a normal schedule where we do school in the normal order 🙂 You know it’s bad when the kids are whining because they want to do more school!

I have to admit it’s been stressful for me as well. I love our normal schedule–mostly because we have structured our normal schedule in such a way that it pushes us forward in our goals just by following it. Normally, I get time to work on my writing six days a week. Normally, we work on our podcast. Normally, the house gets cleaner from week to week rather than deteriorating.

Anyway! Talking about being centered on our podcast, Epic Every Day, this week has had me mulling over how I’m doing in that area. Being centered is about living out of the essence of who God has made you (and me) to be. It’s about making sure you know yourself well and the things you do are the things you were designed to do. For instance, if you’re a screwdriver, you shouldn’t be pounding nails into a wall. If you’re an introvert, you’re probably not called to do a job with lots of people.

This idea was such a revelation to me. I was so used to doing what needed to be done regardless of whether it was the best use of my time. God has designed each of us with certain natural talents–for example, not everyone is energized by writing so not everyone takes the time to learn the necessary skills. Writing is something I’m passionate about and, hopefully, getting better at. It would be a waste of time for me (and for the person who received my work) to draw for a living. It’s not something I’m naturally talented at–nor am I willing to put in the time to increase my skills. It would be better for me to do the writing and for someone else to do the illustrations.

Proverbs 17:24 says, “Sensible people keep their eyes glued on wisdom, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth” (NLT). It’s wisdom to do the things God’s made us to do. We know that when we look at a tool. When my computer’s graphics card died (again!) this week, I didn’t go looking for pliers because I needed a mini screwdriver. Tools are not interchangeable, and neither are people. In the Church, we need our eyes to see and our ears to hear–we need everyone to do the job they’re designed for (1 Cor. 12) so we can all thrive. My life is better when you do what you’re called to do, and your life is better when I’m faithful too–whether we see the immediate effects or not.

So what are you called to do? What are you naturally talented at? Or what are you passionate about? I’m naturally talented at gathering information and I’m passionate about natural health, therefore, I know a lot about natural health stuff.

One way we can keep our eyes glued on wisdom is to write down what we’re supposed to be doing and then look at it regularly. I find I do much better when I have a sticky note of goals on my calendar and read through it out loud every day. It’s amazing how keeping my eyes on the finish line can motivate me 🙂 Besides, as my tai chi instructor likes to say, you can’t hit a bullseye if you’re looking at the wall the target is on–you have to focus on the bullseye.

Another way is to look at your schedule: is your normal schedule structured so that it will push you forward towards your goals? Do you have habits that create progress in the areas where you doing what you’re designed to do? If this is a struggle for you, I highly recommend reading JB Glossinger’s book, Sacred 6. It’s definitely helped bring this into focus for me!

Bottom line: Be the right tool for the job, and if you’re not, let someone else do it.

Blog_ Being the Right Tool for the Job

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What is Accountability?

Traditional accountability is one of my pet peeves in the Church. Here’s why: in my experiences it’s most often a simple reporting of one’s sin with the emphasis on vanquishing the sin itself.

Why does the reporting bother me? If authenticity is letting someone walk around in your house, this kind of accountability is like telling your accountability partner, “There’s no need for you to go inside. I’ll just give you a manifest of the number of cockroaches in my living room.” I think this is one of the big reasons folks can be in “accountability groups” for years without experiencing much in the way of freedom or growth. This kind of accountability is antithetical to true relationship.

My other beef with it is the emphasis on fighting a certain sin. In a twisted way that sin can become an idol–you spend all your time and energy on it. I am NOT trying to say that extra emphasis on an area isn’t beneficial. I think it’s often (if not always) necessary to spend extra time and energy on any area where you’re trying to change. However, when we view the sin as the problem, we miss out on the stuff underneath and around it.

For instance, if I’m “being accountable” to someone for the number of times I yell at my kids in a week, that’s all we’re talking about. When I yell at them, I feel guilty and/or shamed because I can’t seem to stop. On the other hand, if I’m letting my accountability partner walk around in my house and she says, “Now wait a minute, what was going on at the time. Why did you yell?,” suddenly I start seeing that I yell when I feel like my kids aren’t listening to me. I realize I have deep wounds involving people ignoring me and feeling unimportant. I haven’t ever let God heal me, so anytime someone triggers those wounds, I lash out. Or maybe I find out that I’m terrified of things flying out of control so I try to control my kids instead of shepherding them. I lash out when I feel out of control because I don’t comprehend the reality of my lack of control or the depth of God’s sovereignty.

Does this sound more like therapy than accountability? Probably. But as my therapist friends have said, if the Church was doing our job as a hospital for the broken, they would be out of a job. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have someone help me grow than have someone simply monitor my lack of growth.

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Authenticity and Growth

Lately, my husband and I have found ourselves talking a lot about relationships and openness. Sometimes I feel like that kind of relationships God calls us to in the Church are far more difficult and more rewarding than I want to engage in. God tells us that part of being one in the Church means we put off all falsehood and be truthful with one another (Eph 4:22-25). At a church function last week we were talking about authenticity in our church–how being authentic with one another involves being transparent and vulnerable. This authenticity then drives us into conflict with one another, like rocks being tumbled, which spurs us on toward Christlikeness.

Frankly, I just don’t want to do it. It feels too hard! I don’t like conflict. But over the years I have realized (and re-realized) that I will only grow as much as I let people in. Here’s what I mean by that: if I’m a house and I only let people and God into certain rooms, the rest of those locked up rooms will stay the way they are. It’s really easy for me to convince myself that it’s better to not share my junk… it’s messy, sometimes it feels selfish because it takes time and energy from other people to listen and engage, it hurts my pride to admit the depth of my depravity and brokenness, and my experience tells me it is the height of foolishness to intentionally tell someone where my weaknesses are. Yet God has commanded us to love one another and love, by definition, necessitates honesty and vulnerability, despite what anyone may say.

I have been so blessed to have people in my life–my husband, friends–who have sat with me in the dark places of my soul and have helped me face what’s there and deal with the reality. In a sermon I heard several years ago, the pastor quoted a statistic that each of us needs 8 close friends in order to feel loved and to grow. I have to admit when I heard that statistic, I was floored. At that point in my life, I had about 1 1/2 people who really knew me that I interacted with regularly. In a culture starving for relationship, entropying toward depravity, it’s worth asking yourself if you have people who can bear your burdens, who can listen. Henri Nouwen said that listening is the art of creating space for someone to be fully themselves. Are you allowing yourself to be known and loved? Do you have people to encourage you on toward love and good deeds, people who know you? Are you that person for someone else?