Archives For Daily Insights

I like to worry.

In fact, when I have nothing to worry about, I get worried. And like clockwork my fruitful imagination conjures up a awesomely terrifying possibility to fill the void.

Worry comes naturally to some more than others. I seem to have a gift for it. I may be a worry prodigy.

There are some genuinely scary things in this world (some of them are running for office right now), and I’ve had some good friends remind me that there are serious disorders out there – PTSD, clinical depression, those that have been devastated by horrific trauma – that are above simple platitudes and Facebook meme solutions. But for the rest of us who just like to keep a good fear or two in our back pocket for immediate access, here are 3 simple steps that just might help you shed the worry-bug.

3 Steps forDefeating Worry

When you start to worry:

  1. Pause. Fear and worry multiply faster than rabbits. When your mind starts to race with fearful future possibilities, the first step is to press the pause button. The longer the fear-story plays, the scarier it gets. Fear is a master storyteller, but we don’t have to help write the script. First step: press pause.
  2. Remember. Part of worship is remembering. In fact, much of our sin is rooted in forgetting who God is and what He has done (ask the Israelites who roamed the desert for 40 years after they forgot God’s presence and provision in rescuing them from Egypt). We obsess over our “unknown future,” because we don’t know if God will do things the way we want them done. It’s self-obsession and control. We may not know what He WILL DO, but we can see what he HAS DONE – in our individual lives, but also in the ultimate finished work of Jesus.

    “But then I recall all you have done, O LORD; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.”
    –Psalm 77:11-12

    Remembering is a powerful practice.

  3. Worship. Let these memories fuel your worship. Take time to elevate God to His rightful place. As Pastor Jack Miller says, “Praise is a form of sanity where you suspend thoughts of the future and dwell in the eternal now, lifting up God as the center.” And when we do, His presence draws near! Here’s a little secret, we don’t fight fear and worry, we DROWN them in God’s presence. God never promised us a life free of difficulty (in fact, he promised quite the opposite), but He did promise to never leave or forsake us. He promised to be with us, even in the valley of the shadow of death.

Sure, the future may be scary. The unknowns might be ugly. What is yet to be written might not unfold according to our script. But God is good, and He promised to always be with me if I’ll only let Him. He promised that ALL THINGS would work together for the good of those who love HIm. That’s a pretty good bet if you ask me.

Pause. Remember. Worship.

Drown it, don’t fight it. This is a powerful strategy for worry-warts like me to embrace the unknown future.

Are Things As Bad AsThey Seem?

A few months ago we started opening every staff meeting at our company by sharing “wins.” Big wins, small wins, it doesn’t really matter. Just something positive and encouraging to set the tone for our time together.

Surprisingly, this proved to be much more difficult than I expected. Even when prompted for the positive, our conversations just seemed to instinctively divert back toward something that was not working properly and needed to be fixed.

Identifying a problem was natural. Celebrating a win was hard work.

But we determined to contend for the good things first. Once we’ve properly celebrated, then we can focus on the difficulties with a sense of healthy perspective. The world isn’t actually collapsing in around us. There are good things happening. We are making progress. We just proved it!

It’s subtly changed my outlook on things and (I think) the overall tone of our times together. Which got me thinking…

What if we made that same pact with each other when it came to sharing our thoughts on social media?

If our newscasts replaced “it bleeds it leads” with opening storylines of beauty, hope, and restoration.

If dinner conversations with the family always kicked off with the day’s successes?

Life’s tough, and the world is a scary place. There are endless challenges to meet and gut-wrenching problems to solve. But I wonder how much worse things seem simply because we’ve forgotten how to celebrate?

“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”

‭‭—Philippians‬ ‭4:8-9‬ ‭MSG‬‬

prayer

I’ve been praying this prayer every day for awhile now.

Not these exact words in a rote, memorized fashion. But this general heart cry, aimed at recalibrating my spirit in a vital way each day.

And it’s changing everything. Take a look:

“Lord, today I put You back on the throne. I put You back at the center. I so readily replace you Jesus. It’s not even conscious most days. I instinctively cling to other saviors that I fully know are powerless, yet in the moment they seem so natural and necessary.

Money.

Power.

Pleasure.

Control.

But it’s not just the “ugly” imposters, Jesus, there are some seemingly beautiful ones that take over, too.

Family.

Morality.

My job.

Sports.

My kids’ happiness.

Good things, even gifts from you, that slowly become my ultimate treasures. Things I can’t imagine living without. Things that I so easily allow to define who I am. Things that replace you, Jesus.

My heart manufactures these false saviors on its 24-hour fraudulent assembly line. And so today, Lord, I make a conscious effort to stop my insane manufacturing process. I repent and return to you. Forgive me and help me. Get me on your page today, Jesus. Lead me to your solutions, Jesus. Introduce me to your people, Jesus. Give me your heart, Jesus.

Everything beautiful cascades from my life through my connection to You. So today, I return again. To my only Savior. My only hope.

Jesus on the throne. Jesus at the center.

Amen.”

As I look back over the last year of posturing myself before God in this way, some subtly developed, yet definitive patterns have emerged:

• New Ideas: Exciting concepts and possibilities have suddenly been unearthed, ideas that are far above my creative pay grade.

• Unexpected Relationships: Dots have begun to miraculously connect, creating the opportunity for trajectory-changing partnerships.

• Surprising Opportunities: Out-of-the-blue phone calls have uncovered stunning new possibilities.

• Gut-Wrenching Heartache: Yeah, this is the part no one likes to talk about. But when I ask Jesus to help me destroy my false gods, I must be ready for a massive onslaught of anxiety, pain, discouragement, sadness, questioning, sleepless nights, failure, disappointment, grief, betrayal, and suffering. Putting Jesus at the center takes my life on a different journey than the one I saw in my mind. Sometimes in a major fashion, but always in a thousand little ways that destabilize the trust I had placed in anything other than Christ Himself. If you pray this prayer, brace yourself. Jesus doesn’t share His throne with others.

• Unexplained Courage: A boldness has emerged in the face of fear and suffering, a courage that can only be explained by Something Greater.

Jesus on the throne.

Jesus at the center.

Pray this prayer every day. I dare you.

Last week, I sat in my car outside our neighborhood Walmart and wrote myself an email. Some people just talk to themselves, but I prefer to put my neurotic episodes in writing.

While I was obviously proving every stereotype about the crazy people who shop at Walmart, I was also sending myself a sane reminder. A much needed butt-kicking I needed to remember clearly when I got to the office the next morning.

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 5.04.33 PM

Here’s what I wrote to myself:

You don’t have to start the next big movement to make a difference. Sometimes, I think you get paralyzed because you want everything to scale or become so big that it’s mass-marketable and gets people talking. You don’t have to start something that becomes “known.” Just do something that makes a difference.

From your seat. With your experience. With your assets. It doesn’t have to be any bigger than that.

Anonymity is not lack of impact. In fact it might mean more impact (and less distraction). Remember, most people don’t want to change the world, they just want to be known for changing the world (Lencioni).

Don’t fall victim to that.

Do what you are called to do. Period. Seek to make a difference, not to build a reputation. That will take care of itself.

Now let’s get to it.

Sincerely,

Your Sane and Sober Self

There’s nothing wrong with accolades, book deals, speaking at conferences, or sharing and scaling your ideas. I’m all for it. But being known doesn’t mean that you matter. Being known doesn’t mean you’re making a difference. Being known isn’t the point.

Here’s a question worth pondering:

If you could make a major impact on the world but nobody ever knew it was you, would you still be satisfied?

What if your success is anonymous?

Last night I was helping my 4th grade son study for a big science test. There were moments I became frustrated with him, partially because he just wasn’t grasping some of the concepts, and partially because I was afraid of what his teacher would think of my parenting skills if he struggled on another test.

Yesterday morning, I sat across the table from two bankers our company has done business with in the past. I found myself striving to engage them in intelligent conversation, partially because I’m genuinely curious about the commercial real estate market here in Indianapolis, and partially because I wanted to prove to them I wasn’t ignorant in my new position here at CRF.

Today, I sit at my computer screen writing this post, partially because I believe I have something of value to share with you, and partially because I long for clicks, likes, and shares to validate my perspectives and fragile ego as a writer.

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 10.31.04 AM

The message of the Gospel is clear: everything I truly need in Jesus I already have. Yet every single day, multiple times and in multiple ways, I revert back to my old identity-shaping faux pas. I try to earn my way. I try to prove my worth. I strive to do, instead of resting in what’s already been done.

I try to be my own savior.

And instead of doing things from love, I do things for love.

This is our constant battle, and the greatest challenge of the Christian life. Our identity and value are not goals out there yet to be achieved. They’re a gift that is given. Do you want to live a more powerful, meaningful, loving, selfless, fulfilling life? Take the gift.

As believers, “It is finished” is our starting line.