Comparison prevents us from fully stepping into the calling God has on our lives.
By Special Guest Blogger Michael Blue
I often wrestle with the question of gifting and calling. So much so, that I periodically try to copy someone else’s gifting or calling in my own life.
A few years ago, I heard a pastor tell a story about carrying $100 bills around and giving them out to people as he felt led. These random acts of generosity had led to some remarkable stories. After hearing some stories, I decided I wanted to be a part of some of these types of stories. So, I went to the bank and got four $50 bills. I carried these bills around for about a week, struggling to give them away. (For some reason, I felt weird walking up to strangers and handing them money — okay, maybe that’s not so strange.) After chickening out for the better part of a week, I pulled into a gas station determined to walk in and give the cashier $50. Gathering my courage, I walked up to the cash register, paid for a drink, and handed a $50 bill to the attendant, saying something like, “Here’s a little gift for you to let you know how much God loves you.” Impressive, right? I had done it! Yeah, me. Unfortunately, this is when it became awkward. This sweet young girl looked at me and said, “I’m sorry, but I am not allowed to take tips.” She then handed the money back to me. I tried to protest and convince her it wasn’t a tip, but at this point it was weird. So, I took the money back and walked out the door, deflated.
While this makes a pretty amusing story, it taught me something very important. God gifts us all uniquely, and trying to be someone else simply doesn’t work. I want to have stories like this pastor has, but trying to be him (or be like him) is not honoring to God. God has made me with certain gifts and abilities and those are the things that I need to cultivate in following Him.
This point was driven further home when I was studying Romans 12. Paul, in this chapter, is talking about spiritual gifts and the uniqueness of each person’s gift. He writes in verse 11, “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” Reading this verse in the context of the chapter, I believe Paul is exhorting us to not hesitate or be lazy in pursuing our gifting, but rather pursue it with a passionate intensity in service to God.
I think we can learn three important lessons about calling and gifting from this verse:
First, your calling and gifting are unique. It is not the same as mine and it is not the same as your pastor’s. God has uniquely equipped you for service where you are right now. Your job is to pursue that gifting in service to the Lord.
Second, when you pursue your gifting, pursue it with unabashed passion. If God has given you a heart for the poor, find as many ways as you can to engage with the poor. If God has given you a passion for generosity, find creative and new ways to give and draw other people into that giving. If God has given you skill in preaching, preach.
Finally, if you are confused as to what your calling or gifting is, quit looking and spend time with God. Trying to figure out what God’s will is for your life, is a fool’s quest. You are either walking with Him or you aren’t. Oswald Chambers once said that the only time someone would ever search for a path in the woods is when they aren’t on it. This is the same with God’s will. If you are walking with God, reading His Word, and obeying it, then you are in God’s will. God’s will for your life is not some big mystery that you are to spend your life uncovering, it is simply that you know Him and follow Him. If you want to know what God’s will is, start obeying His Word. Exercise your gifting in this obedience and don’t try to be someone else.
We are all uniquely gifted by God for His service. Our job is to not be slothful (lazy, hesitant, shrinking) in exercising these gifts. When we aren’t slothful and are passionately intense in service to God, we get to experience the joy of walking with God. Let us not be slothful in our zeal in serving God!!
The story of Paul keeps messing with my mind, heart and soul. Paul was able to step out from being the Christian-hating persecutor Saul and into the role of the Apostle Paul. There are things from my past that are preventing me from stepping into the life that God has for me. Yet for Paul, it did not appear this happened.
Can you relate to this?
Fear, shame, jealousy, anxiousness, lust, impatience, entitlement, self doubt—you name the emotion or sin, I feel it or have felt it strongly in my life. Some of these I feel often; others just once in a while, and some have subsided. But they are all too familiar to me and are in my heart and mind, or have been, hindering my soul from experiencing our good, good Father.
I know Paul struggled with sin as well, yet it appears he was able to live the life God created him to live. “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate” (Romans 7:15).
I see three important behaviors in Paul that allowed him to overcome his struggles and live out his calling to his last breath. These choices propelled him powerfully in the beginning and then sustained him as he continued serving.
Surrender: On the road to Damascus, Saul encountered the living Jesus, yet he still had a choice. Follow Jesus or not. Although blinded, he could have ordered the men to take him back but he didn’t. I believe this is the initial stage of Saul’s surrender of his life to the Lord Jesus. Saul allowed the men to lead him by the hand into Damascus and he stayed with Judas (Acts 9:8, Acts 9:11) until Ananias came to heal him. Through his surrender, he was filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17), and later went on to write, “Do not quench the spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Why? Maybe because he knew, first hand, that we were all going to need the Holy Spirit to live the life we were created to live.
Obedience: Acts 9:20 tells us that upon regaining his sight and being baptized, Saul immediately proclaimed Jesus in the synagogue saying, “He is the Son of God.” We can imagine Paul’s eagerness to begin preaching the truth he now understood. But he later writes in Galatians 1:18, “after 3 years, I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him 15 days.” It appears Paul spent three years in Arabia before starting his ministry, despite the fact that he was probably anxious to begin right away. Paul had a choice and I believe he was obedient to the wooing of the Father that led him away for a time. I picture Paul being led by the Holy Spirit, much like Jesus was led into His wilderness experience by the Spirit (Matthew 4:1). I imagine Paul spending this time learning, praying and drawing closer to God, and falling deep in love with Him. This is most likely where Paul learned how utterly horrific his old life was, and the power of Jesus’ grace, thus continuing this radical transformation (old life—new life—Ephesians 4:22-23) that first occurred on the road to Damascus. Have you sensed the father wooing you to Him, to spend more and more time with Him like Paul did? Could He be drawing you to Him now for a specific purpose like He did with Paul?
Dependence: I believe Paul became increasingly dependent upon God our Father while in Arabia. He basked in God’s goodness, love, mercy and grace and never wanted to leave this connection, this dependence. No doubt Paul was never loved liked this before. It became Paul’s lifeline drug, nurturing him through his greatest of trials, tribulations, sufferings, agonies, bleeding and wounds (2 Corinthians 11:24-27). The amazing act of grace by our Lord Jesus and His love penetrated the depths of Paul’s heart, soul and mind and this once hard heart was molded into something that never returned to where it once was. Although he wasn’t able to fully grasp it, Paul took hold of that which he could with all his might and was never the same. The Holy Spirit changed Paul from his old life to his new life, using the power of grace to shape Paul more and more into who the Trinity originally created him to be.
Paul didn’t allow his past to define him or prevent him from stepping into the life God had for him. Do you think shame was a part of Paul’s story?
Billions of lives have changed because of Paul’s life and writing. Paul did not know his destiny on the road to Damascus but Jesus did. Possibly for the first time ever in his life Saul had truth enter into his heart and he was never the same for it.
What if Paul had never gotten over his sin and shame? Think of the countless people who would not have been deeply impacted.
What if you and I do not step into our callings? Think of all of the people that will not be deeply impacted.
How do you think Paul overcame shame to fully live out the life he was created to live?
“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:41-42).
I often want to get my way so badly. Being an only child, getting my way came easily. My mother totally spoiled me.
The shock to my system after I got married and all of a sudden I couldn’t get my way all the time was epic. My desperation during that time was what started my prayer life. (Isn’t it interesting the things God uses to draw us to Himself?) Slowly, very slowly, I began praying sporadically, usually when I needed something, or when I was convinced I was right about something and Nicole was wrong. I was still pushing my way through life, more than praying my way through it. I was probably trying to push God to let me get my way!
In 2011, on my 39th birthday, prayer took on a different meaning when I was convinced to make Jesus the CEO of my life and seek him every day in every area of my life. I had so much to learn, and I still do, but this was a powerful step in the right direction. Praise God.
The energy I expend praying vs. pushing is finally shifting more towards praying. Pushing is hard. Pushing my agenda, beliefs, ideas, and thoughts onto someone is not only bad for relationships, it’s pointless. I’m learning more and more to turn to God in prayer, the true power. Turning to God in prayer makes pushing look like a weak alternative. I ask more questions of my friends, family, clients, and those with whom I interact – instead of telling them what I think.
Nowadays I try to only share my agenda or opinion in specific circumstances:
- After much prayer.
- When asked directly. Even then, I usually ask questions first. Jeff, my friend and mentor, modeled this for me.
- With those closest to me like Nicole, Luke, and close friends or family.
Thinking about this more, when I look at how Jesus interacted with those around him, I see him praying and questioning and gently teaching, never pushing at all. If I am to be like Him, I need to totally let go of the need to push, and instead pray, ask more questions, and gently teach when it’s appropriate.
I have so much work to do here. Pushing comes naturally; prayer does not.
Where are you in this journey of praying vs. pushing?
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6)
I got more serious about my faith after I met a girl named Nicole. Not because she was Christian, but because I knew, deep down, that my faith was not where it needed to be. For us to have a great life together Christ was going to have to be at the center of it.
While my faith was stronger, I was still deceived ten years later after my son Luke was born. I was working long hours and gaining new business, but this short term success was causing fights between my wife and me. My most important relationships grew weaker—with God, with Nicole and with Luke.
I was doing my part and more, not trusting God to do His part, and going against His word. (Matthew 6:25-34)
I was worried about providing for Nicole and Luke. It was 2010/2011 and I was running a small, young financial planning company. I would leave at 5am to workout with the boys at the country club who did not know Jesus but who I thought might be good potential clients or connectors. I’d return home around 6-7pm, never thinking that my primary focus should be to seek first the Kingdom of God, to have Him transform my life. I certainly wasn’t thinking about being around to live it out in front of Nicole and Luke so I could be a Godly example for my family.
I was headed for disaster and did not even know it.
I continued to buy the lie that my life was awesome, that I was working towards the abundant life. I was confusing mediocrity for awesomeness. The enemy is the greatest of confusers.
I began to read the Bible and pray more, to fast, to talk to mentors who truly loved me and wanted nothing from me—only something for me—and then I began to see time and life differently.
I looked down into my son’s dark chocolate eyes and I saw someone who really needed my help. He would look up to me, arms outstretched, and in my soul I heard him say, “Daddy, help me, I need you. You are the one God created to teach me what I need to know. Don’t blow it. You have one chance to pour into me, because I am empty now. Soon I will be full, and it will be too late for you to do your job of training me properly. Don’t buy into the lies that so many other Dads have bought into. Trust that God will take care of you, me, and mom—you just need to do your part, not His. Know that the only inheritance I need and want is right here and right now with you, and the money will hurt me if I don’t have wisdom. Don’t focus on the Joneses—focus on the Savior who was brutally murdered so you and I could live.”
God has to properly train me before I can properly train Luke. This training takes time and it takes saying no to some very good things, but as we know from Jim Collins, “good is the enemy of great.”
It is going to take God transforming my life into that which I want Luke’s to become. How can I do this if I am climbing the corporate ladder and too busy chasing the things of this world? My legacy sleeps in the same house I do, and what I pour into him he will pour into his kids, and so on.
How can we encourage one another to be trained by God until the day we die?
Saul persecuted people of the Way. He witnessed Steven being stoned to death. He was marching his way to Damascus to inflict more persecutions when Jesus Christ met him and confronted him about his activities.
Saul was blinded, filled with the Holy Spirit, regained his sight, became a Christ-follower and was baptized, then started proclaiming the name of Jesus in the synagogues.
After a little time he went to Arabia. For three years! This hard-charging man was in the desert for three years. His job was taken away as he no longer had a heart for it. He lost all of his friends, his co-workers, and those who were part of the mission to persecute people of the Way. His life completely changed.
What happened during these three years?
Could God have spent this time rebuilding the foundation of his life and faith? Saul had been going very hard for a very long time, possibly never stopping. (This sounds oddly familiar to me.) How cool it would have been to eavesdrop on the conversations between Saul and God.
Maybe during this time he learned to be content?
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11).
Maybe he learned about Jesus’ grace and what Jesus had given up for him and everyone?
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Maybe he learned how to live and what to die for?
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
Maybe he learned to count others more significant than himself?
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).
Maybe he learned to rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4) even when you have been beaten and thrown in jail?
“And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:23-25).
Maybe he learned that it is far better to give than to receive? (Acts 20:35) Undoubtedly Saul became Paul—a completely new man. It was that time away from everything and everyone except God that caused this change.
When was the last time you were away from everyone and everything except God? Are we missing the life we were created to live because we have not had our time away with God?
In order for me to say yes to Jesus being my CEO, I had to pray about what He wanted me to keep in the life He had entrusted to me.
These are the things I laid at the altar:
- The house we lived in.
- The car I drove.
- My career.
- The private golf membership.
- Hospital foundation board spot.
- Committee at the YMCA.
- Working out M-F at 5:30am.
- Large office space.
- Working ‘till 6pm most days.
- The MBA in Financial Planning I was pursuing.
- Where to live.
Surprise—God got rid of almost the entire list except for my career, and moved us to the Bay Area from LA.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
All of these activities were outside of God’s will for my life. I learned that if we are not asking God what He wants us to do, we can get off track—even if we are going to church, reading the Bible, and going to Bible study class.
As you can see, I had to shed a lot!
I now had space to seek Him every day. My relationships improved. God also slowly got rid of the façade I had in LA, so that I’m more fully the person He wants me to be.
I am now running my race better—not perfectly—but much better and more efficiently than before. I learned God’s way is so much better than my way.
How about you? Did you have to shed anything in order to seek Him every day?
I had a major realization recently. While thinking about a symbol I believe God had given me, I heard these words: “God our provider.” The Holy Spirit then directed me to the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22.
As we know in this story, God called Abraham to sacrifice His only son, Isaac. When Isaac asked Abraham where the sacrifice was (they had probably sacrificed many animals before), Abraham said, “God will provide” (Genesis 22:8a).
As we know, God did provide a sacrifice. But we most likely would have never seen this provision if Abraham had not acted in faith like he did.
Maybe this is what is missing in our lives. Maybe we have failed to step into what God has called us to do because we do not believe He will provide.
But this is just not true. We have to stop believing the lies from the enemy.
God has provided.
God is providing.
God will provide.
These are the truths I need to sew into my heart and soul, and act accordingly.
When Abraham heard the words “stay your hand” and then looked and saw a ram caught “in a thicket,” his greatest calling had been tested and his greatest challenge completed. Abraham acted in faith that God would provide, and provide He did.
The ram is a reminder that God will provide. Maybe this reminder of His provision can help us get unstuck in the areas of calendar, cash and calling.
Perhaps God is calling you to do something absolutely radical in one of these areas and you are believing the lie that God will not provide. I used to believe this lie—and I still have to fight it—but now I understand that God promises He will provide.
From the depths of my heart, please know today that God has an absolutely amazing plan for each of our lives, and all we need to live it out is to believe that He will provide.
I am a stubborn person, and God didn’t have an easy time with me. For years my progress as a Christian was three-steps-forward, two steps back. Finally after many years, I allowed Jesus to be CEO over my whole life—but believe me, I am still always tempted to wrestle control back from him!
Looking back over the last several years, I identified the five major components of my surrender. They were:
- I prayed for God to send strong Christians into my life to help me with my marriage. As you can imagine, my stubbornness was affecting my marriage as well as my spiritual life, and I knew nothing would change until I addressed it.
- God answered this prayer in the form of recreating my community to be what He wanted, and I forced myself not to fight it.
- By becoming involved in this new community, I learned about humility, grace, love, what the Bible says and how it applies to my life. Without the right community, I don’t believe I would have surrendered. I am far from perfect, but I’ve had a definite change of heart and mindset.
- The next step for me was moving from “believing” to “doing” which took faith and the continued reliance on the community. They stayed by my side, praying for me and encouraging me on the path God has set for me.
- This all led to me slowing down, to stop quenching the Spirit of God by striving so hard all the time. I’m learning to let Him lead me.
Even though I have less net worth and income than I once had, I have freedom, fascination and a lot more fun than I have ever had. It appears God wanted to make significant changes in my heart, and this took adjusting my net worth and income. This has been scary at times, but God is my provider and He will never leave me nor forsake me.
Getting the calendar portion of my life more in line with what God wanted allowed me to get the cash category more in line with what God wanted. When these two were more in line with what God wanted, this allowed the Holy Spirit to speak deeply to me, and whisper things I could have never have dreamed about. I believe now I am stepping into the calling God has on my life.
What is your surrender story? How has it led to more fun and stepping into what you were called to do?
Discipleship is important. It seems like more and more churches are taking this topic seriously and I’m hearing about it from a lot of people I trust.
But are we missing something when we discuss discipleship? There are 2,350 verses about money and possessions in the Bible. Jesus gave thirty-eight parables and sixteen of them were about money and possessions. Should we be including money and possessions when we are making disciples?
When Jesus gave the Great Commission, He stated:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…..teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19 & 28:20a).
The Great Commission is so Great, as we know, because it was one of the last things Jesus said.
Can a person be a true disciple of Christ if the money and possessions with which they are entrusted are handled in a way that is outside of what the Bible teaches?
I believe we are missing something, something GREAT, if we handle money in a manner that is more in line with what we want than what King Jesus wants.
In the past, I never considered what God would have me do with my money. I can correlate, almost to the day, when Nicole and I started tithing to experiencing more joy in our lives. Then more joy came when we gave over and above the tithe. We started to be financially discipled by a fellow Certified Kingdom Advisor, Kalvin Sid, and budget coached by Brenda Haley. We started holding loosely what God had entrusted to us.
We were made into financial disciples and our lives have never been the same. How we view and handle the cash God has entrusted to us was turned right side up.
What do you think about the idea of making financial disciples?
“If a person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area of his life.”
Money has always played an important part in my life. As you can see from this picture, when I was younger I loved a lot of stuff—two TV’s on my desk (come on!) and if you take a closer look you can see a popular sticker from the 80’s: I love money.
Yep, that was me, and still is to a certain extent. I was raised with the idea that if I gained more money and “stuff,” my problems would be solved. I battle this mindset almost every day, but I have God’s word to help me, financial buddies with whom to talk to about money, and great resources to help further my education around the subject.
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:10).
When I achieved some financial success in my twenties, it created new problems and made the old problems much worse. Some of the new problems were that I felt a sense of entitlement because I had “made it,” in my mind, which combined with the pride I had, made for a miserable life. I thought the world revolved around me, and that all things that I was involved with should be to help further my own agenda in my life.
My love of money was preventing me from living the life God created me for. If I had continued on this “love of money” trajectory, I shiver to think what my life would consist of now.
I went very hard after money, and when I achieved financial goals, I was left with a deep emptiness which eventually led to a great anger that I had been duped. At times I felt it was just me and my money because I had no real relationships.
Thanks to God’s hand on my life and the partnership of my wife Nicole, I no longer love money the way I used to. It’s been a long road and I’ll continue to work toward Godliness in this area, but together Nicole and I have been learning to submit our financial lives to the Lord, and funny enough, we rarely argue about money like we used to. Maybe we’re on to something! We don’t have it all figured out, but we’re not where were before.
How about you? What is your money story and what part is currently being written?
Surrender is the channel through which God’s biggest and best blessings flow.
Chip Ingram, “The Real God”
Right after Nicole and I got married, we started fighting a lot. Mostly about money, but also related to what we should be doing (calendar and calling) and how we were going to do it. Little did Nicole know that she had married a big jerk!
During this rough time in our marriage, I came up with one statement that I would repeat when we began to argue. I was having trouble winning these arguments (many men might be familiar with this), so I gave up and said:
“I don’t care where we live, what we do for a living, or how much money we make. I just want you, me and any children we have to be Christ-followers.”
That was in 2006.
That is still the theme of my life today. Although I struggle with this, it’s what I want—with one addition.
Not only is it my fervent wish that my family follow Christ, my desire has expanded to everyone else as well. Everyone! It’s my prayer that we all would live as God intended.
That’s a big, audacious prayer. But I think God loves those kinds the best; especially when they are in line with His desires too.
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
How about you? What do you want?
When you look at Paul’s life, was He confused as to what He wanted? “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
How about Jesus—confused? No, of course not, He was never confused. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
“For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
My prayer is that we would seek God in order to know what we want; and that we would ask God for those things, no matter how outrageous, with full faith that he will answer.
You will never be bored doing what God wants you to do.
I’ve always liked numbers. Growing up I played the card game Cribbage and memorized dozens baseball statistics of professional baseball players.
I’ve never been much of a reader or a writer. It was all about the numbers.
My Dad and I decided that I would major in accounting in college and work for a Big 6 firm, but after taking accounting in college, I decided it was not for me. I was still focused on “numbers” so I got a job at a local bank. This turned into a career in giving financial advice and this is where I have been since. My entire career has been about money.
In 2006, a pivot occurred as I began reading the Bible consistently. With this, many things began to change as I got to know God more and more. I became more familiar with His ways. I am still a work in progress, but one thing is absolutely true:
“When I’m with You (God), I feel the real me breaking through.”
You may recognize this song lyric by the band Citizen’s Way.
All my life, I’ve had so many strong influencers—bosses, family, friends—that have prevented the real me from coming out. My own bad decisions haven’t helped! The decision to focus on numbers and ignore the importance of reading and writing kept me from discovering something I was created to do: share thoughts and ideas with words.
For years I thought I wrote poorly, and I was scared to speak in public. This is frightening! A big part of my life could have gone undiscovered if I hadn’t spent the time to get to know God. I could have just kept going my own way and missing a part of who I was created to be.
How about you? What have you discovered about yourself by spending more time with God?
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand” Isaiah 41:10.
*Lyric from “When I’m With You” by the band Citizen Way. See their website here
We each have 100 usable hours, give or take, every week after we take out sleep and commuting.
Does that seem like a lot to you? Or not very much?
With most of us working around 50 hours each week, that leaves another 50 hours for the other priorities in our lives.
I struggle with this. Constantly.
It’s hard to give enough time to my relationship with Nicole, my son Luke, my stepmom and my mother and father in law, friends, church community, and taking care of myself physically. I also need a little down time so I don’t go crazy. I wrestle with how to fit everything in, and no matter what I’m doing, I feel like I should be doing something else. I’m constantly feeling guilt, shame and fear.
How do you do it? What do you do in order to maximize these 100 hours every week, preserving and growing your important relationships, without losing clients, getting fired, ruining your marriage, or burning out?
I use the lineup in order to keep me focused on what is most critical. It’s not perfect, but for me, although it has been a struggle, it has improved my most critical relationships.
But I know how easy it is to slip back into old habits. I worry I’ll go back to being crazed and confused, especially now that I am launching this blog. I just don’t know where the time is going to come from.
More coffee? Less sleep? Help!
My most important relationship, with Jesus, is at risk of slipping due to my busyness and my addiction to social media. I am not where I once was spiritually. I am getting too busy and having more and more trouble saying “no thank you.”
Decisions are hard, but I know you can help me. So, come on, give me your best advice, I want to learn from you.
Thank you for helping me out!
God gave me life.
God gave me my Mom.
God took my Mom two years ago today.
Today I begin this blog in memory of my best friend who is now spending eternity with Jesus.
But life is very short. I want my life to count. I want your life to count!
I want to make a huge impact in people’s lives—in your life. I want YOU to make a huge impact in people’s lives—in my life.
One way I want to do that is through this blog.
I intend for it to be a community, based in the Bay Area, that is radically abandoned to Christ, connecting people who are living life the way He intended for us.
In my own life, I’ve identified the three key areas of focus as calendar, cash, and calling.
Calendar = how we use the time God has entrusted to us.
Cash = our relationship with the money and material possessions we are entrusted with.
Calling = our purpose.
I’ll be focusing most of my blog posts around these important areas of our lives, and opening up discussions about how we can all do our best to live in God’s will. I hope we can all help each other to continue to grow in the Lord by sharing our thoughts and ideas here on the blog.
Please join me…. the best is yet to come!
Everyone dreams, right?
My dream was this:
Bottom of the ninth, game 7 of the World Series and the bases are loaded, 3 balls, 2 strikes. We’re down 4 to 1. The pitch, the swing, it’s a high fly ball to center field, going back at the wall… its gone! GRAND SLAM! Everyone stands and cheers.
Greg Hurley has won the game and given the Los Angeles Dodgers their first World Series in many years.
Obviously, I grew up in LA.
Saint Stephen never played baseball but he was drafted to be on a very special team. Selected by the original disciples to be a deacon in the early church in Jerusalem, you could say he went to bat on one of the greatest teams that ever played, in the greatest game ever played: that of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.
The power of the Holy Spirit drove him to be selected by the 12 disciples. He was a man “full of faith and the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5). He was full of “grace and power” (Acts 6:8).
He was a waiter—I love it! It did not matter that he had this simple job, God used him to do great things. God uses the weak and powerless to do great things so He can get all of the glory. This gives me hope.
Accused of blasphemy, Stephen got up to defend himself in front of the high priests, not knowing what the outcome was going to be. All he knew was that he was supposed to do it. This is faith! I struggle with doing what the Holy Spirit leads me to do when I can’t predict the outcome.
Those who were listening to Stephen’s speech didn’t like what he was saying. “They were enraged and they ground their teeth at him” (Acts 7:54).
At the height of his speech, with the crowd whipped into a frenzy of anger, Stephen sees that Jesus is giving him a standing ovation. “But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55).
The book of Acts keeps saying Stephen was “full of the Holy Spirit” over and over again. It must be important, right?
Stephen was the first martyr of the Christian Church as they stoned him that day after he saw Jesus standing in Heaven. His last act before dying was to fall to his knees and cry out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60). This whole scene was supernatural, because Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit. This is the realm in which I want to live—but consistently fall short. I pray I would be like Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit.
Stephen hit his grand slam and did not get stranded at third because he was available and allowed the Holy Spirit to fill him and drive his actions.
I deeply desire a standing ovation from Jesus. How do we get full of the Holy Spirit in order to be in a position to do our most radical act for Christ?
Be who God meant you to be & you will set the world on fire.
–Catherine of Sienna
In 2010 I began doing research for a white paper to grow my business and create a niche for it. I interviewed executives and entrepreneurs, asking questions about how they balanced their career, family, and life’s challenges in order to finish well in life and not blow up all of their critical relationships. I also read books and dove deep into this topic in order to further my knowledge.
This white paper took me over 200 hours a great deal of money to complete.
I gained no new business from this white paper although I interviewed some of the most successful executives and entrepreneurs in Southern California. (I am really good at spending a lot of time, money and energy on a project and gaining no new business. Must be a gift.)
What I discovered is that we all have about 100 useable hours every week and how we use those hours will determine our destiny. Destiny is important to me and I imagine it is important to you. I tend to be all over the place with my time unless I have a path to follow and some lanes to stay in. So I’ve created nine categories that help me prioritize my time and energy.
If you’re into baseball metaphors, I like to I look at these nine categories as my baseball lineup—they’re my players. I want to score home runs—and I don’t want to get stranded at third base. So here’s my starting lineup:
Christ is the owner of the team I manage. I own nothing; I am His manager. The game I am playing is the game He wants me to play, at least this is the way it is supposed to go. No owner, no team, no team, no game, so Christ must be far and away the most important part of this team. At least this is what I think sometimes, if I played that way more often I would be winning more and hitting more home runs.
For the first 6 years of our marriage, Nicole never felt like she was a priority to me. Our marriage suffered because of my insecurities and arrogance. This persisted even after I started reading the Bible in our second year of marriage and actively attending a Bible study. I am still working through a lot of stuff and will share with you in the next post just how bad it got. At least now I realize our marriage must be one of my priorities, and I continue to work on it.
While I am alive, no one else is better to be a Dad to my son Luke than I am. This continues to be a struggle while I work at home and attempt to balance my commitments to work, home, community, and spiritual life.
#3. Care for Self
Much like oxygen on the airplane, I have to first take in the oxygen so then I can give it to those sitting beside me, like my son and others about whom I care deeply. This means I must prioritize my own physical, mental and spiritual health.
For me what this looks like is how I spend the first part of my day. I start out, though not perfectly, reading the Bible and then praying. This is my Christ time. I then, most every day, balance my checkbook (cash) and review my monthly spending plan, and look at my calendar of appointments coming up today and in the coming weeks. Some of this I do on my own, and some with my wife. This is currently working for us as a couple, though it takes a lot of time—we’d love to know what is working for you that might help us be better stewards of all that we’re given.
This is all about making the best choices in how to spend my time. Nicole and I have struggled so much with this. We argue and waste a lot of time over the calendar. (Ironic, right?) We are open to what you are doing, we will share what we have done. We’ve had some successes and we will share those with you in this series, as well as our fights, and hopefully we can encourage one another in this challenging place.
Just like #2-Children, the category of Calling will take on various levels of importance during different seasons of life. But even now while I’m in an active, growing, child-rearing season of life, I’m constantly trying to pay attention to God’s calling on my life and attempting to stay right where He wants me.
I think of community as many groups: People we help who will never repay us, friends at church, those we share passions with, neighbors, people who are close friends (think Peter, James and John for Jesus), those who will carry our casket if we were to die today. The list can be quite expansive, the idea, of course, is to live in community, as we cannot live the life we were designed to live without community.
#8. Care for Parents
Parents are important—God commands us to honor them and gives us the promise that when we do, things will go well. I was impatient, demanding and downright mean to my parents while I was growing up and they were alive. During this time, things were not going well for me. Hmm…..I had many major issues with this over the years, and I will share some of them with you. I messed it up and don’t have another chance with my own parents, but I can expand the meaning of this to include care for my Step Mom and Step Dad as well as Nicole’s parents and our Great Aunt and Great Uncle as well as other elderly people in our neighborhood.
#9. Designated Hitter
What other priorities would you like to include on your top ten list? For me, it is being in a Coffeehouse—this is my happy place. For you it could be cars, canines, cats, camping, college football or any other hobby/activity that you love that would help you not get stranded at third base. (Doesn’t even have to start with a C!)
How have you intentionally used your time to determine your destiny?
What do you think about this lineup?
Over the upcoming weeks, I will share struggles, arguments, failures, and successes, and I hope to hear some of yours. Let’s help each other better use these 100 hours we continue to receive every week.