Things that make you grow up…

I’ve often heard it said some people “never grow up”. It is said in a humorous way. My wife may say that about me at times. But, many times it is said in a not so funny way, usually speaking of a person’s continued immaturity.

I have another thought. Maybe for some people it is that they have never had an experience that instills maturity in them. It’s possible.

I’ve personally experienced and observed that there are some circumstances in life that bring more automatic maturity…a sort of forced growing up mentality.

Here are 7 things I’ve seen force someone to grow up quickly:

Failure

A first child

Sudden authority

Tragedy

Losing a parent

Having to make it on your own

Betrayal

You can mature naturally. You can grow up over time. But, in my experience, you grow up faster when life experience grows you up. You don’t have to grow in these experiences. Some don’t. You either own up to the challenge, or you don’t. But, when you do, you grow up faster. At least, that’s been my observation.

(By the way, that’s why I believe in giving young leaders experience where they can grow. You can read a post about that HERE.)

Have you ever been forced into a new season of maturity? What caused you to suddenly “grow up”?

What would you add to my list?

10 Obstacles to Getting Things Done

Most people have a dream. Most people have goals they want to accomplish. It could be to run a marathon. Lose 10 pounds. Write a book. Start a blog. Open a new business. Fill in your dream here.

Most people fail to get there.

Be honest. It’s true. It may even be true for you. It has been for me many times. I’ve wanted to accomplish something but years pass and it is still simply a dream.

Why is that? I’m sure there are many reasons. I’m just sharing some of them.

Here are 10 obstacles I’ve seen to getting things done:

No specific plan

No first step

Cowering to public opinion or popularity

Giving up too soon

No accountability or measurable steps

Burnout

Not including others

Inefficiency, poor time management or laziness

Lack of follow through

Success not clearly defined

Which one is yours?

What other reasons have you seen for why people don’t accomplish what they hope to do?

The secret to worrying less…

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable-if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise-dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:6-8 HCSB)

What are you dwelling on these days?

(By the way, that’s the secret.)

You Can Be a Mentor

Of someone.

Cheryl and I were discussing the need for mentoring recently. She was talking about getting older women to mentor younger women. I like the concept. I think it’s a great example of Biblical discipleship.

Then Cheryl said something that caught my attention. She said, “Everyone thinks they need a mentor, so they don’t think they can be one.”

I think she’s right. She’s right on both accounts. It seems to be true for men too.

Everyone probably does need a mentor. Mentors help shape our life. I’ve written extensively about the subject. (Find some of those posts HERE.)

Yet, the fact that they do makes people think they can’t be one.

But, everyone can also be a mentor.

You too can be a mentor.

Of someone.

You’ve learned some things in life. You’ve gained some experience. You have some things to share with others. There are others who can learn from you.

In my experience, its often when I start investing in others that I stumble into the help I need from others.

Try it. Find someone to mentor today.

Have you ever been a mentor? Tell me about your experience.

One Way to Discern a Change

Lately I’ve been going through a season of helping people discern change. It’s been change of churches, change in jobs, and change in ministry assignment. It could be because I’ve wrestled through changes in my own life recently. I’ve learned God uses experience to help others going through similar experiences, so I’ve been more able to help people with change.

Anyway, recently I was listening to National Public Radio and heard an interview with a Canadian born, European artist Chilly Gonzales. Chilly is a piano player. I don’t know a lot about him, but I’m excited to check out his music. I’m impressed with what I’ve seen so far.

The interviewer asked him a question that spoke volumes to me. I thought his answer was a great test to discern a change.

The interviewer said (and I paraphrase), “Chilly, you write lots of songs. How do you know which ones to record?

Chilly’s classic answer:

“I wait for the one that won’t leave me alone.”

Wow! Classic. Genius. Helpful.

I instantly realized that was my experience with my recent change. I resisted coming to Immanuel, thinking I wasn’t a good fit for them, nor them for me. Yet, God wouldn’t leave me alone. The position wouldn’t leave my thoughts. I couldn’t get over the idea of being here.

What’s the thing that won’t leave you alone?

Could God be using the repetition of thought to draw you to His will?

How do you discern a pending change in your life?

Be sure to read the “related posts” on discerning change.

5 Questions to Discern a Life Change

This is a guest post by Bill Blankschaen. Bill is a writer, thinker, speaker and non-profit leader passionate about connecting real life with real faith. You can follow him on his blog, Twitter, Facebook, and at Patheos.

Changing your direction in life is never easy. Especially if what you’re presently doing is truly helping a lot of people. Yet we all know change is unavoidable. So how do you know when it’s time to go?

I’ve wrestled intently with this question for the last nine months. As a non-profit leader for a dozen years in a successful Christian school, I knew I was doing a lot of good. People shared their sincere appreciation often.

Yet I sensed a restlessness within. I felt a call, subtle at first, to better steward my God-given gifts of writing, thinking, speaking, and – yes – leading change along the way. My passions, above all, pulled me toward connecting those gifts with my faith.

And yet my faith was what motivated me to serve where I was. Hence, the tension.

Maybe you’ve been at that conflicted fork in the road before. Maybe you’re there now. I decided it was time to step out by faith after getting a lot of wise counsel and asking some critical questions.

Here are five questions you should ask to find out if it’s time for you to go in a new direction?

  • Are you centered on what matters most? For me, my faith in God grounds all I do. Your foundation may be different but still vital. If something is interfering with that core relationship, it’s tough to trust any other inputs, including your own. Make sure you have good spiritual habits in place to keep the main thing the main thing.
  • Are you clear on your calling? Most people settle for simply drifting into oblivion. Our restlessness is simply our subconscious self telling us to get intentional about our life direction. It was when I took a retreat to prayerfully consider my own calling that my choices became clear – as did my self-centered excuses.
  • Are you growing where you are? I heard John Maxwell say recently that if you’re at the head of your class, it’s time to find another class. It took a casual comment by my friend Doug Carter to realize that I needed to raise my own leadership lid to keep growing.  If you stop growing, you start dying. Soon no one will want to be around you, no matter how sincere you may be.
  • Are you running from ______________? The odds are good that your subconscious just filled in that blank with whatever you presently fear most. If you want to leave to avoid a challenge, it’s not going to work. Ask Jonah. Better to confront it now. The fear will only follow you.
  • Are you willing to moving forward?  Seth Godin shared a neat trick to call your own bluff. Write down the one barrier that keeps you from acting on your dream. Now set it aside and ask yourself, “If that barrier were removed, would I move forward?” If no, you’ve uncovered another wall closer to the foundation of your fears.  If yes, focus your creative efforts on how to remove the barrier – or get around it

Have you ever faced a significant change in your life direction?

What questions do you suggest to help get clarity during seasons of change?

Leave a comment to share your story or suggestions for growth.

A life principle my daddy taught me…

It is what it is…

My father was probably the most bottom line guy I know. One of his most quotable lines was “The main thing is don’t get excited.” If anyone was ever tempted to stress about an issue he would interject that often repeated line.

Occasionally, I remember him adding another sentence into stressful moments. He would say, “It is what it is…”.

In other words, you can’t change it now. That’s a fact, Jack.

Admitting that “it is what it is” allows you to quit complaining and actually do something about it.

Do you need to admit:

Your marriage is in trouble…

You have a spending problem…

You’ve let your weight get out of control…

You’ve been a lousy friend…

Your relationship with God is struggling…

You are surrounding yourself with bad influencers…

You are in over your head…

(Insert yours here)

It is what it is…

Now that you’ve admitted IT

What are you going to do about it?

2 Keys to Moving Beyond the Danger of Comparison

This is a guest post by Tyler Braun. Tyler is a pastor from Portland, Oregon whose first book, Why Holiness Matters, just released. Learn more about a special offer for purchasing the book. You can find Tyler on Twitter, Facebook, or his blog.

2 Keys to Moving Beyond the Danger of Comparison

“I’ll never be able to write like that.”

“If my church had the resources that church had then we’d be set.”

“I sure wish God had given me the musical talent he has.”

“What I would give to have as many church members as him.”

Admit it, you’ve had thoughts just like this. Probably more than once.
Maybe even today.

We’re all prone to compare ourselves to those around us. As a writer,
pastor, and musician I’m constantly wondering how I stack up next to others
out there doing similar things. Do people like me as much or more than
others?

Comparison is dangerous. Give yourself enough time comparing your meager
efforts in life and you’ll begin to realize just how awful you really are.

Comparison is dangerous for what is does to you, underneath the surface. It
wages a war against your morale and puts you into a submission that forces
stagnation.

But comparison also tarnishes the Creator God who created you His image.
Consider Brennan Manning’s tough words:

Any attempt to measure the value of our lives by comparison and contrast
to others belittles our gifts and dishonors God by our ungratefulness
” (pg.
144, Ruthless Trust).

None of us want to dishonor the God who created us. None of us want to
remain stagnant by comparing ourselves to others. Yet we do it. Over and
over again.

Having struggled mightily with this over the past year, I’ve yet to rid my
life of comparison, but I have been able to overcome it much more often.

Rather than being stuck in the prison of comparison that damages my
self-worth and dishonors God I’ve allowed 2 principles to move me past the
danger of comparison.

1. Speak Truth to Yourself

If it sounds simple, that’s because it is. In comparison to others, what is
lost is the truth about how God sees you and how He has gifted you.

Every morning I spend the first 15 to 45 minutes in prayer, meditation, and
reading. I always end the time by reciting this short and simple prayer of
truth:

*You are not defined by what you do. You are defined by who you are. You
are a son of the King.”

Comparison sums up our lives by what we’ve done in the past rather than
looking to the future, and it certainly doesn’t take stock of where our
identity should be placed.

Mere words or the recitation of a short prayer won’t have a short term
effect but they could very well by the launching point for you.

It’s often the smallest, incremental shift that leads to the most
significant change in our lives.

2. Discover and Develop Your Gifts

Comparison brings us down because we’re trying to impute someone else’s
gifts into our lives. God didn’t create us that way.

We weren’t created in order to try to become like someone else. We were
created to discover how God uniquely made us and to live out this creation.
But discovering is not the end game. We all know someone who has incredible
gifts and talents but squanders it all away by not developing what they’ve
discovered.

This is where the help and influence of others come in. I’ve yet to
discover a gift of mine without the influence of another person who helped
me see what I could not.

You cannot simply know your gifts, you must understand them.

We can know our gifts through textbooks but we must develop them by living
them out to truly understand them. Through our engagement of relationship
with God and others we can continue living out the creation within us.

God asks one thing of you: Be who you are created to be.

As the old saying goes, “Be who you is, cause if you ain’t who you is, you
is who you ain’t.”

Those of you who have struggled to move beyond the danger of comparison,
please share some of your comparison story in the comments.

Go ahead…Give up!

Go ahead…Give up.

Seriously. Quit trying. It’s easier. You’re probably tired. It might not work anyway.

Sure. It was a God-given dream. Of course, it was His idea. But you gave it a good shot. You hung in there longer than most. Find your justification…create the right excuses. Make yourself feel better about quitting now so you can move on with your life.

Sure, you may be quitting just before a victory begins. You will never know what could have been. But, you can process your regrets later. For now, live for the moment. Get some immediate relief.

There. Is that the “encouragement” you wanted, or do you not do sarcasm very well?

For how I really feel, click HERE.