Category Archives: Maturity
It was Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn (1918-1956)who wrote The Gulag Archipelago, chronicling the evil of another kind of moral ‘pandemic’ suffering in a Russian prison camp.
So many are asking during this pandemic of our own if we will be better people when it’s over if ever….I love Solzhenitsyn’s view on ‘setbacks’
Bless you prison, bless you for being in my life. For there, lying upon the rotting prison straw, I came to realize that the object of life is not prosperity as we are made to believe, but the maturity of the human soul.
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956
Will you and I be able to say when it’s over, if ever, ‘bless you coronavirus, bless you for being in my life.’🙏🔥
These days we must work harder than ever to do good, instead of adding to the growing divisiveness in our world.
And we must resolve to own our lives fully rather than be owned by what happens around us, and yes even to us.
I found two thoughts so encouraging and empowering to live a better life than my world is currently offering.
The late Father Henri Nouwen encourages us to ask a series of life altering questions:
Did I offer peace today?
Did I bring a smile to someone’s face?
Did I say words of healing?
Did I let go of my anger and resentment?
Did I forgive?
Did I love?
These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.
And then Dr Bessel van der Kolk says to traumatized people….
The big issue for traumatized people is that they don’t own themselves anymore. Any loud sound, anybody insulting them, hurting them,saying bad things,can hijack them away from themselves. And so what we have learned is that what makes you resilient to trauma is to own yourself fully.
There you go–go out and do good, and own yourself fully.
Fact is we all live within ‘walls’ we wake up within ‘walls’, we work within ‘walls’ , we go to school within ‘walls’, we go to bed within ‘walls.’. Anything else we do? Oh ya, we are protected by walls.
Another more politically correct word for walls is BOUNDARIES.
In my coaching I encourage people to have healthy boundaries, or you could say ‘walls’. To protect them from people or situations they see as dangerous and toxic. Anyone disagree with that?
Let’s redeem the word in spite of Trump’s harsh view of it and the media’s twisting of the concept.
And because I don’t march to the orders of Donald Trump or Justin Trudea but to King Jesus, the king and true benevolent Lord of my life, I did a quick survey of holy scriptures mention of walls.
This is not exhaustive but it helped me see that we need to give ‘Walls’ a high five and stop damning right kind of wall building.
Then I said to them, “You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach.”
Like a city that is broken into and without walls Is a man who has no control over his spirit.
“I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.
It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.
Next time I will address bridge building. We need walls and bridges.
Christmas is a time to remember Christmases past, and Christmases when loved ones were still with us.
I have been without my brother who passed away tragically at age 42 in 2000. Six months later my codependent Italian mamma died of lung cancer. I actually think she died of a broken heart at the tragic loss of her youngest.
Then in 2009, my dad passed away of natural causes, often reminding me that even though life had been hard, that ‘la vita e bella’–life is beautiful.
I never fully imunderstood my brother and the direction he chose to follow that inevitably led to an untimely death, nor my mamma who felt that she could never let my brother face consequences of his choices.
In all our lives we have people we can love completely although we may not have fully understood them.
In the movie, A River Run’s Through It, a dad, also preacher, is speaking at his son’s funeral, who suffered an untimely death due to a reckless life. In this end the father gives us all hope.
Each one of us here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing to help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don’t know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it is those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them – we can love completely without complete understanding.
For any community to function there must be rules. Yes. Rules. We like to think we can function without them but unfortunately it seems to me the ‘rule of respecting one another’ is no longer, if it ever was, humans’ default in challenging relationship situations.
While at the Venice, Florida YMCA today I saw this photo.
As I read these I thought these would have been good for recent presidential election.
In a sermon a few weeks ago pastor Bill Hybels highlighted 10 rules he wanted to see restored in his community and our world.
In their community 1000s of people are engaging over these ’10 rules’ for treating each other with respect.
1. See People As Image-Bearers.
Every person who crosses your path bears the image of God. We have never locked eyes with someone for whom this is not true. All people matter to God. Furthermore, there is no person on earth for whom Christ didn’t die.
2. Differ without Demonizing.
Respectful people learn how to hold differences well. We must train ourselves to respect others while disagreeing rather than devaluing, diminishing, or demonizing them.
3. Believe the Best.
It is simple to judge people before ever meeting them. However, we are taught in 1 Corinthians 13:7, among other things, to believe the best of everyone. This requires an open mind and one without cynicism.
4. Don’t Interrupt or Dominate.
Respectful people genuinely want to hear the opinions and feelings of others and demonstrate this by listening rather than controlling the conversation. They are curious to know how others think so they might be sharpened themselves.
5. No Incendiary Words.
Those who show respect are very careful in choosing their words. Proverbs 15:1 states: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words make tempers flare.” It is the wise and respectful person who takes stock and decides to use words that will adequately reflect who they want to be. Ephesians 4:29 reminds us: “Let no unwholesome words come out of your mouth but only words that build up others.” Respectful people only use words that build up others, even when writing in the context of social media where it may be easy to be careless with words.
6. Courteous to Everyone.
Respectful people are kind and inordinately courteous to others. They demonstrate kindness in seemingly little ways like opening doors for others and noticing people that might otherwise be overlooked.
7. No Stereotyping.
A stereotype diminishes the value of a person by categorizing them, rather than valuing their God-given uniqueness. Learning to respect others means to absolutely refuse to stereotype a person or people group.
When we have wronged another person, the right thing to do is to apologize. Respect is demonstrated when we apologize quickly because we recognize the other person, as a fellow image-bearer that we have slighted or harmed.
9. Form Opinions Carefully.
Respectful people practice the discipline of considering many viewpoints as they form opinions. They also prayerfully revisit an issue and consider changing their mind when new information becomes available.
10.Prompt and Faithful.
Those who respect others show up on time and do what they say they’re going to do. If someone is late, the message given to others is: I am more important than you. Honoring others’ time and following through with what you promised to do is a tangible way of respecting others.
The day after Valentine’s I got reflecting on nearly 40 years of marriage, sitting in our local Starbuck’s. I was reminded that marriage goes through many stages, but three stand out to me. I have been through the first two, and on occasion slip back, but strive for stage 3.
Thanks to some old sermon notes from Rick Warren, these were the ‘high points’.
The happy honeymoon stage–characterized by intensity, idealism, indulgence, infatuation, and yes, ignorance😁
The party’s over stage is characterized by dullness, disagreements, defensiveness, disapproval, and alas disappointment
The maturing love stage is beautifully characterized by tenderness, respect and responsibility, understanding, security, trust and raw honesty, and of course lots of fun.
Oh for more of 3 and less of 1 and 2 stages.
I woke up this morning thinking about one of my favourite romantic love stories called Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001), starring Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz. Although Cage plays a lousy Italian, the story is still well told. And the scenery is breathtaking and the people so winsome.
There’s a beautiful scene in the movie when Pelagia’s (Cruz) is being ‘coached’ by her physician father Iannis about what love really is. She is torn between two loves, a local greek fellow who has gone off to war, and now this mandolin playing and singing Italian soldier, Corelli.
Here’s the dialogue that I think so well sums up the potency of real love by her father.
Iannis: When you fall in love, it is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake, and then it subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots are become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the desire to mate every second of the day. It is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every part of your body. No… don’t blush. I am telling you some truths. For that is just being in love; which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over, when being in love has burned away. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? But it is!
After I posted this a friend of mine, Josette Pappadakis, who is actually married to a Greek fellow, wrote the following about ‘what love really is’.
So between Corelli and Josette’s hubby, we have a great example of practical love.
Over to Josette, who a couple of weeks ago broke a bone and disabled her for a few weeks.
Being married 50 years I can attest to all of the above. True test of love come when you fall and break a bone and you have your husband helping uncomplainingly to shower and dress you. Even putting your socks on and serving me breakfast, lunch and dinner. Tucking me in bed at night with a smile and a kiss. That is true love! I am so blessed. Thank God this is a temporary situation and I am beginning to do more little things for myself each day.
Just over one month into the New Year….with all the energy and hype well past us, I want to ask you, with some help from Steve Carter of Willow Creek, a big question–
“Are you moving or have you settled in to the familiar rut that has plagued you for months, maybe even years”?
“Many people are in a rut and a rut is nothing but a grave – with both ends kicked out.” Vance Havner
We’ve all had moments where we have ‘settled’……and not because we feel we are in God’s sweet spot for us…. but more because we have become comfortable. We know we are not living inspired lives, or living up to our God given potential.
If you are feeling that way, you are not alone.
The Old Testament recounts the story of the Israelites going on an 11 day journey that lasted 40 years after having left the enslavement of Egypt. By year 40 they arrive at a mountain called Horeb. They are camped out there for a year. It became a place that was safe and comfortable for them. They knew where to find water. They knew where to trade and get food. They knew how to deal with their issues. They created a “comfortable” lifestyle while camped out at the mountain. Life was good at Horeb.
Or was it?
In Deuteronomy 1:6 the Israelites got a ‘word from God’ via their ‘Coach’ Moses.
“ The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain.”
In many ways we are so very similar. If not careful we will find ourselves “managing life” in such a way that keeps us comfortable. We “camp out” on our own “mountains”, and stay too long.
Consider these questions:
Can you name your mountain where you sense you have stayed too long?
Can you name where you have found yourself stuck? There is no growth. It’s just more of the same.
Your mountain feels familiar. It feels comfortable. Even though it may be spiralling you into bad habits or patterns, you try to manage it and control it. It’s not working and it is definitely not exciting.
I refer to this as the “Mountain To Get Over”. These are places and or attitudes where you have stayed too long.
I am indebted to Steve Carter of Willow Creek Church for this list of “mountains’ you and I may need to move on from in 2016–
9 Mountains To Consider:
Mountain of Overstaying. Have you have stayed in your role too long. Is it time to move?
Mountain of Overtime. Are you are working too much? Are you always accessible to your phone?
Mountain of Over-spending.
Are you consistently living outside of your means? Are you over stressed because you have little to no margin? How do you spell relief for your time and money – B U D G E T!
Mountain of Over-commitment. Are you unable to say “NO”? Do you have so many plates spinning that you are unable to offer your very best?
Mountain of Over-eating. Perhaps you have an unhealthy relationship to food and eating. And perhaps in moments of stress and feeling alone and sadness, you turn to food.
Mountain of being Over-revved. Perhaps your RPM’s are out of control and you are amped up and on high alert all the time. Are you driving yourself and the people around you a bit “crazy”? What it’s like being ‘on the other side of your ‘reved-upness’?
Mountain of Over-reacting. Do you have irrational responses to things that don’t meet your expectations? Are people tip toeing around the chaos you create, walking on egg shells, afraid that you might lash out at them?
Mountain of Overwhelm. Are you a person who constantly feels overwhelmed? To be overwhelmed can look like this: Stressed + Lack of Resources (perceived or otherwise) + Feeling pressure+ Not enough time.
Mountain of Left Overs. Are you living off of what God has done in years past but there’s nothing new. You haven’t been connected to Jesus in years. Has your connection to Him gone stale, almost non-existent? Does it feel like you are just going through the motions? Is your most boring hour of the week at church.
If you want to make 2016 something remarkable, it begins with naming your mountain where you have stayed too long.
Here are some helpful words that God tells the people through Coach Moses.
“Break camp and advance into the hill country…. See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land….” Deuteronomy 1:7-8
Football coach Jim Harbaugh offers this advice for ‘breaking camp and advancing’,
‘Attack each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind!”
One of my mountains for 2016 is my compulsion to Over Commit. I am discovering that this mountain, is in part, driven by my need to be ‘liked’, to receive the approval of others. I am currently working on this.
So let’s get off the mountain and move out!! Are you with me?
A Maverick Application:
Take a few minutes to go through the list of ‘overs’. Which ones can you name for yourself? Are there any ‘overs’ missing here that you still feel you are stuck at?
What mountain needs your attention right now? What ideas are coming to mind about how you can step into this ‘over’ in your life?
Moses had Aaron and Joshua and a few others to support him. Who are the ‘Aarons and Joshuas’ that you can enlist to support you, as you look to tackle those mountains in 2016?
I find these few days just before and after New Year’s Eve slightly stressful. So much internal self imposed pressure to get my goals nailed down. I actually dread the process.
Don’t get me wrong. Setting goals you want to pursue and attain is a great exercise, but, ‘should’ing’ on yourself to do goals because you SHOULD is killing to one’s psyche. I do enjoy getting a cup of tea, sitting on my couch with my friend called Moleskin and writing away as I did today.
The feeling of ‘should’ing’ was alleviated by enlisting Brian Tracy’s “identify your #1 thing exercise’ exercise. This is something I enjoy. For me it’s always about the journey not just the result. I need to ‘enjoy’ goal setting, or ‘start and stop’ process. I can’t dread it or my creativity shuts down.
So here goes…..
- What’s the #1 thing I could start doing today, that if I did it consistently, would have the most positive impact in my life? (Then do it.)
- What’s the #1 thing I could stop doing right now, that, if I stopped doing would have the greatest positive impact on my life? (Then quit doing it.)
My # 1’s to start doing:
- Minimum 15 minute ‘chair time’ alone with God, reflecting, meditating, journaling, praying.
- Daily check in time with my best friend Rosetta, my wife.
- Be a positive influence on my adult kids and their kids on their terms.
- Keep sharpening my coaching capacity and competence with my mentor coach and joining CAM.
- Coach men to be life givers in their relational and work world’s.
- Keep focused on being an above average encourager and people builder.
- Keep growing margin financially, emotionally, and physically.
- Be ruthless with managing my weight and getting to 192Ibs
My # 1’s to stop doing include:
- Stop complaining and stop speaking critically of others when they aren’t around.
- Stop eating ‘fatty, crappy’ food and avoid starch like the plaque.
- Stop focusing on what I can’t do and focus on what I CAN do in regards to advancing my coaching practice.
And that’s it for now.
I plan to take football coach Jim Harbaugh to heart–to attack each day with enthusiasm unknown to mankind.
God helping me, I will!!
When I wrote this, I was on the eve of leaving for our annual family vacation.
While getting ready my wife asked me, “So, are you going to be working while we’re in Southampton or are you going to be able to rest?” She went on to add, “You won’t have any coach appointments next week, will you? I hope not.”
Actually, I did have a couple of things I had planned to respond to while away. Yet, after reflecting on her question, I called those people and rescheduled.
I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to totally disconnect from work-mode. Mind you, when I do finally disconnect, I love it. However, it takes me awhile.
The ancient Greeks had a saying that I remember when I am resisting rest…
“You will break the bow if you keep it always bent.”
We all need time away from work to relax and recover.
The late Tim Hansel wrote in his classic “When I Relax I Feel Guilty,”
“When work becomes a person’s all consuming interest, even if the work is good and necessary, it is idolatry.”
Strong words, but words worth taking to heart.
How can we keep our work from becoming a form of idolatry in our lives?
I suspect that as part of our Mavericks’ community, you are not a slouch! I also suspect that while you work hard, you also know that you are to “rest” – really rest. You know that honouring the Sabbath is to be part of who you are as a leader. You desire that to be the case, and yet, if you are like many I know, this may feel far from reality.
Here are a few thoughts to help inspire you to give yourself permission to do some deliberate leisure – to find some rest!.
The word ‘leisure’, from its Latin roots is ‘licere’ – which means ‘to be permitted’. If we are ever going to install leisure into the hard drives of our lives, we must give ourselves permission to do so.
For me, it includes taking care of myself in what I call my RPMS…
I have 3 practices that help me ensure my RPMS is in a solid place:
- Divert daily
- Withdraw weekly
- Abandon annually
Everyone achieves relaxation and leisure in different ways. What relaxes me might give you a tension headache and visa versa!
For me it involves regular downtimes—releasing the bent bow – putting limits on my work schedule and getting away for regular weekends.
Whether you consider yourself a spiritual person or not, it’s informative to look at the Hebrew idea of Sabbath. The way the Hebrews understood the concept of ‘Sabbath’ was that the Creator had built into our physical makeup a need—even a requirement—for a day each week for rest, play, reflection, worship, and change of pace.
Taking care of your body is as much a spiritual discipline as is prayer, singing and Bible study. God wants you to rest. Rest your body and, in the process, recharge your mind, spirit and relationships.
The Apostle Paul says:
“God helping you, take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering” Romans 12:1 (MSG).
When you take care of your body, you worship God. It’s never too late to begin this important journey in your life.
If you need permission, look to our Saviour Jesus. He knew about the rhythms of rest and work. He invites us, as He did His disciples, to come away with Him and rest. In essence He was saying,
“If you don’t come apart, you will come apart”.
“The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat. Mark 6:30-31 (MSG)