Tag: relationship

7 ways to hold on to hope

Some of you are in a difficult season right now. Maybe it’s in your finances. Maybe your marriage. Maybe your health. Or maybe your job.

Hold on to hope. Or chips. Chips are good, too.

Hold on to hope. Or chips. Chips are good, too.

I’ve heard it said that you’re every person on the planet is in one of three places:

  • In the middle of a difficult season
  • Coming out of a difficult season
  • Getting ready to enter a difficult season

Hopefully you haven’t yet taken your shoes off.

What you need right now isn’t an immediate change. That may be what you want, but it’s not what is going to happen. You know that. God doesn’t just remove all things difficult when we ask Him to.

I don’t always do that for my kids. “Dad, I’m tired of cleaning my room!” doesn’t find me giving in to my kids’ request to stop. It’s good to push through what you think your capacity is. It builds character when frustration isn’t immediately resolved, and we’re required to dig deeper, hang on longer, and trust with more certainty. Paul the apostle says it like this:

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. – Romans 5:4-6

Suffering –> Endurance –> Character –> Hope

So how do you hold on to hope?

  1. Go with friends.

    • Don’t try to navigate on your own. There are no healthy followers of Jesus that are lone rangers. Going alone, you will be broken. Going with others, you can grow and prosper. The wisest man to ever live, Solomon, said this:

      And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. – Ecclesiastes 4:12

      Hope isn’t found simply through relief. It’s found when others walk through hopelessness with you. It’s found in community. Paul urges us:

      Bear one another’s burdens.” – Galatians 6:2

  2. Actively trust in the Lord.

    • This means we don’t simply wait lazily on our couches until God opens up the heavens. There’s this concept in Crossfit that we talk about called “active recovery.” It means that on your “off” days, do something that’s still active. You don’t get better by sitting on the couch. Actively trust in the Lord by doing and going, not just sitting and waiting. Be careful with your “open door theology.Hope is an action verb.
  3. Be honest.

  4. Know it’ll get better. Relief is coming!

    • It may not come when you want it to. It sure didn’t for the Israelites. They had to wait 40 years at one point. Then 70 years at another point! But relief is coming. Hold on to hope because God’s got a plan to pull you through.

      For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LordFor as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9

  5. Know it won’t get better.

    • “Wait, wait, wait,” you say. “You just told me that relief is coming!” And I did. But the larger reality is that we live in a fallen world where sin abounds. There is a thief that comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Which means we should come to expect that this life will be fraught with pain and frustration. So instead of making an idol of an easy life, grow in the reality that things will never be fully “right” on this earth, but they will be in heaven. (this isn’t an invitation to fatalism, though: Jesus prayed that God’s perfect will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10))
  6. Know this will make you more like Jesus.

    • God’s not taking you through this pain because he’s sadistic. His plan is that through all things, you’d begin to look more like Jesus. We love Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” But it’s verse 29 where we find what the answer is for our situation:For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” The “good” that God wants for you is that you’d grow to look more and more like Jesus! Hold on to that hope!
  7. This can be your ministry.

    • Check this out:

      For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.” – 2 Corinthians 1:5-6

      So God comforts us in our days of hopelessness so that we could extend that same love, mercy, grace and hope to others who have no idea where to turn. In other words, God creates most impactful ministry for you out of your deepest pain. Don’t hope simply for relief. Hope for a more lasting, eternal impact.

 

An open letter to the social media junkie

image credit: Creation Swap user David Lindner

Social media junkie,

It’s okay that I didn’t read your latest status. Really, it is. I’m not offended that you’ve written it…but don’t assume that I read it.

There’s so much information available today, I’m a bit overwhelmed. I’d love to say I have time to read everyone’s updates, but I don’t. And I think that’s okay. Even though you’re my friend. My good friend. Most of what you write I genuinely care about.

But it’s okay that I didn’t read your latest status update.

Because I didn’t read your latest status:

  • I can be genuinely surprised about the news in your life next time I see you.
  • We can have a conversation about the little things, and the big things, in your life.
  • We can laugh together, until we cry, over something hilarious your kid just did.
  • I can look you in the eye and tell you I appreciate you, rather than clicking “like” or ReTweeting your update.
  • Not reading your update allowed me to be engaged in playing Legos with my son.
  • Unless you’re going to offer me a bite of that burger, I don’t want to hear about it.

Keep posting on Facebook and Twitter. This is no indictment. Just don’t assume I, or anyone for that matter, read it all.

Signed,

 

 

Ben

 

 

A world where content is not king

Photo: Creative Commons User: Polježičanin

Information isn’t the most important thing anymore. We live in a world where content isn’t king.

Right content is king.

Today, you can turn anywhere and find any answer to any question you can come up with.

Message ChaCha and within 60 seconds, you’ll have your answer. From a real person!

“Google” is a verb used in common language.

Information is abundant and around every corner. You can have nearly every major newspaper delivered wirelessly to your Kindle.

Our culture is on information overload. The answer is not found in more information.

The answer is in curating the right information.

Which explains the success of sites like Take Your Vitamin Z, Monday Morning Insight, and Between Two Worlds. This generation is not just looking for more information. We’re looking for the right information.

  • I don’t just care to go to a movie because it’s a big-budget blockbuster. I’ll go because someone I trust has recommended it.
  • I won’t read your book because a big-name publisher has printed it. I’ll read it because someone I trust has reviewed, or recommended, it.
  • I won’t watch a TV show because a television network pubs it. I’ll watch it because someone I trust encourages me to do so.
  • I won’t buy a product because an advertisement sells me, but because you, whom I trust, “sells” me on it.

Trust is rooted in relationship

And there are a few things you can work on to build trust in others. You can build the same trust you’re looking for in others.
  • Social media interaction helps engender trust.
  • Real, offline relationships help engender trust.
  • Consistently helpful information engenders trust.
  • Honesty engenders trust.
  • Vulnerability engenders trust.

If the next generation of writers, communicators, and leaders wants to be effective, they’ll learn to develop trust, not just rely on content. And trust is rooted in a relationship.

In a culture of information saturation, we’re looking for a reason to follow someone’s lead.

Pastors:

Are you finding this to be true in your church?

 *Photo Credit: Creative Commons user Polježičanin’s

 

Good leaders are good listeners

My son is piecing lots of words and thoughts and phrases together.  It’s quite hilarious, actually.  Here are a few he’s said recently.

Right there!  Daddy…Poppy…eat…hot!

Translation: “I ate dinner there with Poppy one night, and his plate was so hot it burned me.”

Oh no! Wait…Daddy…church…right there!

Translation: “We just drove by the road that we turn down to go to church…turn around!”

Me…Daddy…play…school

Translation: “Daddy and I played on the playground at that school and it was fun!”

Daddy…outside…work…help…me

Translation: ‘I helped Daddy work outside.’ (see picture below for when he said that)

Daddy…back…hat?

Translation: “Daddy, would you turn your hat around backwards?”

Daddy…yucky

Translation: “Daddy, you smell bad.”  (I get that one a lot…)

But this is the one that takes the cake:

Daddy die!

Out of context, this statement from my son seems oddly dark and twisted.  In context it makes perfect sense.  I promise you my son is not a weirdo.

See, if you’d been there in the moment, you wouldn’t have thought anything was out of place.  He was riding his four-wheeler, and right in the middle of the yard, the battery died.  All he was doing was letting me know that, so that I’d go plug it back in and charge it up.  Not weird at all.

And that’s what building a relationship does.  It helps put things into context.  It helps make sense of a person.  Learning their story, understanding their struggles, their heartaches, their missed opportunities, their hopes and dreams takes them from being an “outsider” to being someone you relate with and that you can serve with.  All of a sudden, they’re not so un-relatable…you begin to see how your stories at some level mesh, and how you can speak truth into that person’s life.

Relationships are difficult, no doubt.  And they’re messy and frustrating and will test your patience and your life’s calling.  But taking the time to hear someone’s story, helping them pull out the bright spots, shining light in the dark places, will make you a better leader.  Because through truly getting to know people, not just brushing them off and casting them to the side, you’ll grow to love them more.

People aren’t a means to an end.  They’re your calling.  It doesn’t matter what “business” you’re in.

Good leaders are good listeners.

 

 

Social media monologue

I had coffee the other day with a guy.  He shared his thoughts, his ideas, his insights, his stories, and his history over the course of an hour.  As we ended our meeting, he said

Sorry I talked so much…next time, I want to hear from you!

So two weeks later, we had coffee again.  And you know what he said as we finished the meeting?

Sorry I talked so much…next time, I want to hear from you!

Meetings that are driven by monologue are not so much fun.

Meetings that are driven by listening and dialog are much more productive.

The social media monologue

And when we look at social media as bite-sized, micro meetings, the same principle holds true.

When social media is used as a monologue, it’s seen by others as a waste of time.  Boring.  Self-serving.

But when social media is seen as a dialog, it can be engaging, meaningful, productive, and generous (I wrote about social media and generosity HERE).

I’m not aiming to simply broadcast my thoughts and ideas out so that others can hear.  I’m ready to dialog about this stuff.  I’m ready to open up a dynamic conversation within different communities around the globe.

There are some people who want you to hear their message, but don’t care about hearing yours.  Those are the conversations I don’t care to have.

Those who are using social media most effectively are starting conversations and building relationships.

Have you built authentic relationships with others online?

Have you seen dynamic, robust communities share ideas collaboratively online?

 

 

An Open Letter to Church Visitors

Church visitor,

We’re so glad you’re here!  We’re absolutely honored you’d worship with us.  You need to know that we love Jesus.  We’re not perfect, but we’re taking steps of faith regularly.  So it’s okay that you’re not perfect either.  You’re welcomed just as you are, and we want to serve you in any way that we can.

But instead of just waiting for us to make the move to get you more involved, find you a small group, ask you to serve, and tell you about who we are…I give you permission to approach us.  Don’t hang back and expect that we have to make the first move.

Maybe we didn’t see you.  Maybe you just slipped out too quickly.  Maybe we were working to serve someone else.  Maybe we thought someone else had already connected with you.  Maybe we wanted to give you space we thought you needed.

Trust me when I say that we want to serve you.  We want to connect you.  We want you to feel warm and welcomed.  We want to help introduce you to Grace.  And Hope.  And Mercy.  And Forgiveness.

But nowhere else in life do you expect someone to make a friend for you.  You expect that you’ve got a role to play in building a relationship and reach out.  There’s got to be a give-and-take in every relationship.  Right?

We won’t bite.  We’ll actually be happy.  We’re delighted to plug you in.  You make the move.  Don’t wait on us.  Move.

Sincerely,

–Church leaders everywhere

to view the flip side of this, the Church’s response to visitors, see my thoughts HERE.


 

Building a loyal audience

Building trust takes a long time.  And it takes consistency.  And perseverance.

It’s not developed overnight.  And though working on a path cleared for you by others helps, you’ve still got to do the hard work of building trust.

The same thing is true whether you’re building a relationship with someone you’re trying to help grow in their faith, trying to build a new company, planting a church, launching a blog, starting a movement, or trying to change the culture of an age-old tradition.

Share information that’s valuable and you’ll slowly but surely build a loyal audience.  You may not see the results today.  And you probably won’t see the ROI tomorrow.

But in the long run, you’ll find that consistently sharing valuable information builds trust, and leaves you with a tribe of followers.

 

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