Do Meaningful

I recently beat the Playstation 4 game, “Uncharted 4.” The scenery? Breathtaking. The action? Invigorating. The story? Compelling. And the feeling when you see final credits roll? Empowering. Until I saw that I had completed a measly 31% of the challenges for the game.

31%? Not good enough! Every bit of perfectionism inside of me screamed, “Go big or go home, player!” It would take a lot of hard work, tens of hours, and a lot of grinding to complete them, but I could do it. There’s only one question that I needed to answer first:

So what?

Seriously, so what?

Is any of this meaningful in any way at all?

For example, you can get an insane achievement in the game if you, “Destroy 10 vehicles while being dragged from a rope.” But honestly, what does that do for anyone or anything? It doesn’t teach my children anything valuable. It doesn’t shore up my marriage. It doesn’t build up God’s church. It doesn’t help the poor, the least, the powerless or forsaken. I can’t even say that beating it would be relaxing. Unlocking those achievements are wildly stressful!

This is a ridiculous (but absolutely true) example of how you and I can make ourselves busy with things that ultimately do not matter. Leadership coach John Maxwell says it like this, “You can’t maintain your priorities if you fill your life with busyness.”

Hear this: I know you’re busy, because I’m always busy, too. And you and I can always be busy. We can fill every single moment of our days with activities. We are unquestionably busy.

But, busyness is not meaningfulness.

Way too often, we are busy with things that are meaningless. Busy with the binge-worthy show. Busy with all of the new stories your friends posted. Busy with the podcasts you stream.

Stop being busy for busy’s sake. Start doing what is meaningful.  Or as Paul would say, “God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing” (Eph. 2:10).

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The Three People You Need At All Times

“Technology proposes itself as the architect of our intimacies.” – Shelly Turkle

Technology has drastically changed how we define friendship. Author and speaker Shelly Turkle argues that technology even tries to define what friendship intimacy is. Yet, technology has not (and cannot) change what we need from friendships.  In fact, instead of redefining relationships for us, technology has been slowly revealing what we need out of human interaction: genuineness and intimacy.

There are three types of people we always need in our lives: a mentor, a friend, and a follower.

A mentor is someone ahead of you. The past few months I have been interested in different ways to invest my money. But, if I’m honest, not only am I cluelessly without answers when it comes to finance, but I don’t even know the right questions to ask! So, I reached out to friend from college with a degree in finance. He was able to answer my questions which was great. But, he was also able to ask questions that I didn’t even know to ask.

It was 1492 when Europeans first widely accepted that the Earth wasn’t flat and “discovered” the Americas. For the most part, no one believed that there was anything more to discover. Without a mentor, you will never get where you could be because you don’t even know that you can.

You need someone in your life that is outside of your bubble enough to pop it. A mentor should correct, coach and encourage in ways that no one else can. Do you have someone that you consistently ask to review your life? If not, find a mentor.

You also need a friend. Friends are people that are with you. We need people that are in the same boat or in the boat right next to us. When you’re down, they prod you to the top. And then, you do the same for them. I met a youth pastor in Atlanta last year. Interestingly, we had enough in common that we’ve stayed in touch. Some of my most honest conversations happen with this friend who’s in the same spot that I am in many ways.

The Bible gives us an incredible example of friendship in Proverbs 18:24, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” It’s too easy to have a thousand friends and yet not one person who knows what is happening in your soul. Years ago I watched a leader with great potential, push away anyone that wanted to go deep with them. When he allowed sin to get in his life, no one was close enough to notice. When it grew into a monster, it was too late. You need a friend, closer than your own skin.

Lastly, you need a follower. A follower is someone that you invite to live like you do. Church planter and leader, Billy Hornsby, said something incredible in his last week on earth.

“My greatest accomplishments are other people’s.”

The great Christian leader spent his life building people to do more than he could have ever done by himself. I think one of the saddest recurring themes of history is when people forgot to leave behind greater people than them.

That’s not just a lovely sentiment either: you and I are supposed to make followers of Jesus by having people follow us. Jesus really told us to spend our lives teaching people to live like us the way we live like Jesus. Who are you giving yourself to, who are those benefiting from what you’ve learned?

You need three types of people: a mentor, a friend, and a follower.

 

 

 

Know Yourself

Know yourself.

No, I’m not referring to the Drake song. I’m referring to the line written by Greek philosopher Socrates:

“Know thyself.”

And, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Too often our weaknesses are… our greatest weakness. It’s easy to blame other people for all our woes (my teacher doesn’t teach, my parents don’t listen, my friends are stupid). It’s easy to blame external circumstances too (it’s not fair, bad things always happen to me, or if only I had ____ ).  Jesus reminded us that often when we see problems around us, it’s actually because of a sin issue in our own lives that we’re ignoring (Matthew 7:3-5).    Dealing with those, though, requires that you know what they are.

Sometimes we have strengths that we’re not using well.  This past weekend I learned how to ride a RipStik. Let me come clean: I learned how to hop on and not die. But, it’s a skillset I didn’t know I had. As we learn about ourselves, we discover new gifts and talents. And God tells us that he gave us every gift we have to use on His mission for you to serve others (1 Peter 4:10).

Every day you and I make decisions with consequences. I ride my bike home from work occasionally. I do this because I know that if I don’t, obesity is not far away (seriously, I love dessert).

But I also know this, if I don’t go to sleep when my wife does or set an alarm at night that tells me when to go to sleep, I can easily stay up until 3 AM reading books, researching or playing games. Why? I don’t know. What I do know, is that I, Josh, without the external accountability (my wife or my alarm), have little inclination to sleep. If I didn’t know this, I’d be in a lot of trouble.

The biblical king David had a much more important moment like this. One time returning from battle, he and his men came home to find that their families and belongings had been kidnapped and stolen. In that moment, which did David do:

a. Led his men right back to fight

b. Gave a rousing speech to his men to stay motivated

c. Gone away to care for himself

He did C (1 Samuel 30:6). David knew that he needed to get their families back. To do that, he knew he needed his men. To get his men, he knew they needed a leader. To give them a leader, David knew he couldn’t lead until he spent time with God. He knew himself.

You have to know yourself.

  1. Writing/journalling helps you voice your inner opinions. Seeing them visually helps you know what you really believe.
  2. Evaluating your behavior is a huge way to learn. What annoys you?  What excites you? When are you motivated or unmotivated? Why do you do what you do when you do it?
  3. Personality/ strengths tests are helpful too. I’d like to point out that the “which character on this tv show are you” quizzes don’t count. I’ve taken all of these over the years:
    1. DISC
    2. Meyers Briggs
    3. Enneagram
    4. Strengths Finder
  4. Have honest believers in your life. There’s nothing scarier than having no one in your life to point out your imperfections. You need people that care about your spirit, too.

Know yourself.