Wisdom, Revelation and Understanding

The Church that Jesus is building is built upon the ability to receive revelation. In Matthew 16 Jesus tells Peter that he, Peter, had received a direct revelation from the heart of our heavenly Father about who Jesus is. And, upon the ability to receive revelation that Jesus would build His Church. In other words, to build according to His plan and fulfill His purpose we must hear directly from the heart of God regarding each step that we take.

Matthew 16:17-18 “And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

I have been reading the book of Proverbs recently. It is speaking volumes to me as I am reading it in The Passion Translation. New ways to express familiar and established truths. And, it is hitting home. The writer of Proverbs states, “Wisdom is a gift from a generous God, and every word he speaks is full of revelation and becomes a fountain of understanding within you.” (Probers 2:6 The Passion Translation).

Revelation – hearing the voice of God, the Holy Spirit, for today – gives us godly wisdom on how to live life. But, more than that He gives us wisdom regarding what steps to take to build the Church that Jesus is actively involved in, moving powerfully transforming lives on a daily basis. The revelations we receive that bring us wisdom will lead us further into understanding what He is wanting us to do next and even why He is wanting it done. 

Paul, the apostle who wrote a substantial portion of the New Testament, continues this theme in his letter to the church in Ephesus. Here he writes, “I pray that the Father of glory, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, would impart to you the riches of the Spirit of wisdom and the Spirit of revelation to know him through your deepening intimacy with him (Ephesians 1:17 The Passion Translation).

Paul is saying here that the deeper our intimate relationship with Jesus is the more revelation we will receive and the greater godly wisdom we will walk in. So, the key is to focus on and deepen our personal and intimate relationship with Jesus which all truly born again Christians have. And, as a result we will receive revelation which brings wisdom and understanding.

Ephesians 1:17 “…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him…” (English Standard Version)

This is how the Church is to be built. The Church Jesus is building is not built by programming, worship teams, charismatic leaders, terrific preachers, or the best youth group on the planet. The Church Jesus is building is built step-by-step upon the revelation we receive as we walk closely and intimately with Jesus.

And, He only reveals the next step. There are no five year plans to build the Church. We are not a business and cannot build as the business world does. We simply listen, hear from Him what the next step is that we are to take, and then step out in faith and see what happens. No long  term plan built on good business practices. Location, location, location is not the key as some would have us believe. And, adequate parking is irrelevant. These are all worldly, business approaches to growth and success. These are not for the Church.

If we build as directed through revelation then God’s presence and the peace that passes all understanding will be present, available, and experienced. The power of God will be very evident as lives are changed and transformed. This is what we need. And, this is what we can have if we simply build an intimate relationship with the Head of the Church, Jesus. And, listening for His voice follow everything He says to us. Then we will be involved in the Church that He is building and no longer wasting our time and even our lives on building man’s ways – ending up with dead religion and even deader tradition. 

Something Is Happening

In my local church the other night I thanked them for their commitment to pray for people during the week. During our fellowship time each week before worship we ask for needs that we can pray about. The list is getting longer. The needs are getting greater. However, one really wonderful change is the number of requests for prayer for people who are not saved or born again. Six months ago we were praying for one or two who needed to encounter God. Now we are praying for a dozen or more each week and the list is growing.

This is a major change in focus. A change from what we need and where we hurt to those who are outside the Church but not outside the reach of the love of God as found only in Jesus. Of course, praying is not enough and we know that. Along with praying for these people we are also speaking with them and looking for opportunities to touch their lives in practical ways so that they see the love of God in action. 

The Church, as we know, exists to “seek and save the lost” just as Jesus did (Luke 19:10). Jesus gave us only one focus and one command – “Go into all the world and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). This is why the Church exists. And, I am seeing changes happening in many of the areas where I am privileged to minister that are leading to the fulfilling of that command and task.  

Overseas, in the city of Kostanay, Kazakhstan there is a young man called Ivan. I met him recently when ministering in Nur-Sultan – the capital city of Kazakhstan. He is on fire for Jesus as are many of the youth in his local church. Recently they were out praying for a specific area of their city and witnessing to people about Jesus. Which, by the way, is not legal in their nation. On another day they went and cleaned up a local beach picking up garbage and then having a cook out as a youth group during which they prayed for the area. They are determined to change their country. So much so that they have also headed out to surrounding towns and cities to minister on the streets and speak to young people about Jesus.

In the city of Almaty, one of the young men I work with has opened a number of coffee shops in the university area as well as downtown. He is declaring Jesus in both the way the people are served as well as the decorations in each coffee shop. Many young people are coming in, enjoying the coffee and the atmosphere, and having an opportunity to hear about Jesus.

It is happening in many areas – I could give many examples from Russia, Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Vietnam… Something is happening! The Holy Spirit is moving and the Church is working with Him to expand the influence of the King and His Kingdom.

Continued prayer is required. 

Leaders, Who Should We Mentor? – Part Four

We are looking at the qualities in a person you would like to see before agreeing to enter into a mentoring relationship with them. We have looked briefly at…

1> They make things happen

2> They see and seize opportunities

3> They influence others

4> They add value to those around them

5> They attract others (potential) leaders

6> They equip others

7> They provide inspiring ideas

8> They possess uncommonly positive attitudes

A good attitude is important to see in those you are going to mentor. It often determines how far you will be able to go in bringing them to maturity in the mentoring relationship. Never underestimate the importance of a positive attitude in those you are mentoring. When you travel in life with others, you can only go as fast as the slowest person and as far as the weakest one can travel. Having people around you with negative attitudes is like running a race with a ball and chain on your ankle. You may be able to run for a while, but you are going to get tired fast, and you certainly won’t be able to run as far as you would like.

I have learned this recently with a person that I have mentored for a number of years. Deep inside he is a very negative person. When he is really tired or frustrated this negativity comes out in a strong manner. But, it is there every day if you jus take the time to listen closely.  I thought and believed that through mentoring this tendency to being generally negative and at times strongly negative could be trained out of him. Maybe it can, but I have failed to do so. As a result, I have needed to terminate the mentoring relationship as it is not moving forward. He is not growing and developing and I am being drained emotionally and mentally.

9> They live up to their commitments

Commitment is giving the mentoring relationship everything the person has got. Commitment takes a person to a whole new level when it comes to being mentored and becoming a success in life and in ministry. 

Joe Griffith, a motivational speaker, is quoted as saying: “You cannot keep a committed person from success. Place stumbling blocks in his way, and he takes them for stepping-stones, and on them he will climb to greatness. Take away his money, and he makes spurs of his poverty to urge him on. The person who succeeds has a program; he fixes his course and adheres to it; he lays his plans and executes them; he goes straight to his goal. He is not pushed this side and that every time a difficulty is thrust in his way. If he can’t go over it, he goes through it.”

When the people you are mentoring share your level of commitment, the mentoring relationship will be a success. Commitment helps you overcome obstacles and continue moving forward on the journey no matter how tough the going gets. It is the key to success and progress in every aspect of life: marriage, business, personal development, hobbies, sports – you name it. Commitment can and does carry you a very long way when in a mentoring relationship. 

10> The last quality you should look for in people to mentor is loyalty. Although this alone does not ensure a great mentoring experience, a lack of loyalty is sure to ruin your mentoring relationship with them. Think of it this way: When you are looking for potential leaders to mentor, if someone you are considering lacks loyalty, he is disqualified. Don’t even consider trying to develop him, because in the end, he will hurt you more than help you. 

So, what does it mean for others to be loyal to you?

  • They love you unconditionally. They accept you with your strengths and weaknesses intact. They genuinely care for you, not just for what you can do for them. And they are neither trying to make you into someone you are not not putting you on a pedestal.
  • The represent you well to others. Loyal people always paint a positive picture of you with others. They may take you to task privately or hold you accountable, but they never criticize you to others.
  • They are able to laugh and cry with you as you travel together. Loyal people are willing and able to share your joys and sorrows. They make the trip less lonely.
  • They make your dream their dream. Some people will undoubtedly share the journey with you only briefly. You help one another for a while and then go your separate ways. But a few – a special few – will want to come alongside you and help you for the rest of the journey. These people make your dream their dream. They will be loyal unto death, and when they combine that loyalty with other talents and abilities, they can be some of your most valuable team members. If you find people like that, take good care of them.

The funny thing about loyalty is that the more successful you are, the more of an issue it becomes.

As you pick people to mentor, focus on people who will not only make the most of what you give in the mentoring relationship and, at the same time, help you. Pick people who will past it on. Mentoring is meant to be shared. 

Leaders, Who Should We Mentor? – Part Three

As I learned the hard way about who to mentor and who not to, I began to create a list of qualities I was looking for in those I am now willing to mentor and invest time in. So far we have looked at five in the last two days.

The five we saw and spoke about were…

1> They make things happen

2> They see and seize opportunities

3> They influence others

4> They add value to those around them

5> They attract others (potential) leaders

Let’s continue…

6> They equip others

It is one thing to attract other people to you and have them join you as you journey together in life and in ministry. It is another to equip them with a road map for the trip. The best people always give others more than an invitation – they provide the means to get them there. They equip people with the skills and knowledge, information and vision that they need to move forward and become all that they can be. 

Think about this as you search for potential people to mentor – especially if you are a leader who should be mentoring younger leaders. A person with charisma alone can draw others to themselves, yet they may not be able to persuade them to join in the ministry that the Lord has given to them. However, a leader who is an equipper can empower and equip with skills and knowledge those they are mentoring so that together they can fulfill God’s call on the ministry and the Church. 

Ephesians 4:11-12 states: “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…”

7> They provide inspiring ideas

Nineteenth-century author-playwright Victor Hugo observed, “There’s nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” Ideas are the greatest resource a person could ever have. And, when looking for someone to invest in and mentor, it is good to look for someone who is a creative person. 

A creative person is someone who can add to your church or ministry as they are being mentored by you. So, they are contributing to and not just drawing from you and your ministry. And, a team that generates creative ideas has a better opportunity to reach the vision and mission of your organization and ministry.

When working with and mentoring creative people, it is good to remember:

  • The only truly bad ideas are those that die without giving rise to other ideas
  • If you want good ideas, you need a lot of ideas
  • It doesn’t matter if “it ain’t broke.” It probably still can use fixing
  • Great ideas are nothing more then the restructuring of what you already know
  • When all your ideas are added together, the sum should represent your breakthrough

You are capable of generating good ideas – probably better able than you think. But you can never have too many good ideas, so invite those you are mentoring to think out loud with you and join you in the creative process. And, when you find someone to mentor with whom you have natural chemistry, the kind that inspires each of you to greatness, you will find that you always have more ideas than time to carry them out. 

More next time…

Leaders, Who Should We Mentor? – Part Two

Over the many years that I have mentored I have certainly made a lot of mistakes. One of the main ones was in my choices of who to enter into a mentoring relationship with. As a result, I believe I have wasted a lot of my time working with young men who simply did not want to pay the price to grow and develop. And, some who spent more time trying to impress me with all that they knew (as little as it really was) instead of listening, receiving and learning. As a result, I have developed a list of what I now look for in a person before I invite them into a mentoring relationship or before saying yes if they have asked me to mentor them.

1> They make things happen

2> They see and seize opportunities

3> They influence others

We covered these yesterday in the daily blog. Let’s move on from there…

4> They add value to those around them

Every person around you has an effect on you and your ability to fulfill your vision. You have probably noticed this before. Some people seem to hinder you, always taking more from you than they give in return. Others add value to you, improving everything you do. When they come along side you, synergy develops that takes both of you to a new level. 

There are probably people in your life with whom you experience synergy. You inspire and take each other to higher levels. Can you think of anyone better to take on as someone to mentor. They need you to move forward and move higher and, as you work with and mentor them, they will also add value to you as their mentor. You will be on the journey of life together.

5> They attract others (potential) leaders

As you look for potential leaders to mentor and develop, you need to realize that there are really two kinds of leaders: those who attract followers and those who attract other leaders. People who attract and team up only with followers will never be able to do anything beyond what they can personally touch or supervise. For each person they interact with, they are influencing only one person – a follower. But people who attract leaders influence many other people through their interaction. Their team can be incredible, especially if the leaders they recruit also attract other leaders.

Besides the obvious factor of influence, there are other significant differences between people who attract followers and people who attract leaders, Here are a few:

LEADERS WHO ATTRACT FOLLOWERS…                    LEADERS WHO ATTRACT LEADERS…

Need to be needed                                                                   What to be succeeded

Want recognition                                                                     Want to reproduce themselves

Focus on others’ weaknesses                                                  Focus on others’ strengths

Want to hold on to power                                                        Want to share power

Spend their time with others                                                   Invest their time in others

Are good leaders                                                                         Are great leaders

Experience some success                                                          Experience incredible success

As you look for people to join you on your journey so you can mentor them, look for leaders who attract other leaders. That will enable you to multiply your influence. But also know this – in the long run, you can only lead and mentor people whose leadership ability is less than or equal to your own. To keep attracting better and better leaders to mentor, you will have to keep developing your own leadership abilities. In that way, you and your mentorees will continue growing not only in potential, but also in effectiveness. 

More tomorrow….

Leaders, Who Should We Mentor? – Part One

Over the years I have mentored a good number of young men who have successfully moved into leadership positions and become influential in the Kingdom. It is always rewarding to see young men grow, develop, mature, and begin to make a difference in the world. 

Many young people ask if I would mentor them. Recently I have even had several older men who already have a profession (lawyers) ask me to mentor them in spiritual things. In the past I would simply give a blanket and immediate yes. Why? Because I love to invest in people and see the Kingdom receive a return on the time and effort I have invested. 

However, many of the young people I agreed to mentor in the past simply never put the effort into learning, growing, and maturing. They want to be connected to me and the ministry; they want to travel with me; they want me to be available to them if and when they should have a question. But, they are not entering into the available mentoring relationship. The key word is ‘relationship.” 

We mentor within an established relationship. And we are to mentor those who have proved themselves and thus have the obvious potential to give the mentor and the Kingdom a return on their investment. Mentoring is more than simply having me ‘available’ when they need me, hanging around and being with me when I am in their area, and being part of the ministry team. It is intentional, relational, and requires regular personal contact and involvement. 

So, I recently have narrowed down what I look for in a person whom I might consider as someone to mentor and thus entering into a mentoring relationship with. This has certainly narrowed down the number of people I would say I was mentoring. And, eliminated a lot of coffees which were, in many ways, a nice social entity but really a waste of my time at this season in my life.

When deciding to mentor someone I am looking for:

1> Someone who makes things happen

I pay less attention to what people are saying and more attention to what they do. As I watch what people do I quickly note those who are making things happen in their life and focus on them. These people don’t wait for someone to give them resources – they go out and find them. They don’t wait for someone to give them an opportunity – they create opportunities even when none existed. They never make excuses – they simply work hard and find a way to make things happen.

2> They see and seize opportunities

Many people are able to recognize an opportunity after it has already passed them by. But seeing opportunities coming, that’s a different matter. Opportunities are seldom labeled. So, someone worth mentoring is someone who has learned what an opportunity looks like and how to seize them. The best people to mentor are those who make it their personal responsibility to go out and find new opportunities.

I travel a lot. And, when I arrive at my destination someone is suppose to be there to pick me up. Most times I have never met the person and they don’t know me. There are two ways you can go about picking up someone you don’t know from the airport. 

One way is to make a sign with the name of the person you’re expecting, stand near the baggage claim area, hold up the sign, and wait for the person to find you. If he sees you, great. If he doesn’t, you keep waiting. 

The other way is to find out what the person looks like, position yourself strategically near the right gate, and search for him until you find him. 

There is a world of difference between the two approaches. And, the person you should mentor is the one who goes looking – not the one who stands and waits. 

3> They influence others

Everything rises and falls on leadership. That’s true because a person’s ability to make things happen in and through others depends entirely on his or her ability to lead them. Without leadership there is no teamwork and people go their own way. A leader needs to know where they are going and has the ability to influence others to come with them on the journey.

So, when thinking about influencers (leaders) – those you would do well to mentor – you need to look at:

A> Who is currently influencing them? You can tell a lot about who they will influence and how they will go about doing it by knowing who their heroes and mentors are.

B> Who they currently influence? You’ll be able to judge their current level of leadership effectiveness by who they are currently influencing.

C> Is their influence increasing or decreasing? You can tell whether a person is a past leader or a potential leader by examining which direction the level of influence is going.

To be a good judge of potential leaders, don’t just see the person – see all the people that person currently influences. The greater the influence, the greater the leadership potential and the ability to get others to work together. That’s the person you want to mentor. 

More next time…

Who Are You?

St. Catherine of Siena once said, “When we are who we are called to be, we will set the world ablaze.”

As Christians we are called by Jesus to be like Him letting Him live His life through us (2 Timothy 3:12). We are called to follow Him and do what He did and then even greater things (John 14:12). We are called to be “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19) as we move out from the Kingdom into the places of spiritual darkness as ambassadors of the Kingdom and ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are literally “new creatures in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17).  And on and on the list of Bible verses could go. We all have a great calling in life – every one of us. Every believer.

Then, on the foundation of this generic call that is upon every believer we can add the specifics of your own call. Because each of us has been created unique and different from all others we have a specific call upon our life that is uniquely yours. It lines up with your motivations (Romans 12:408) and the gifts that you flow in (1 Corinthians 12:4-11) as well as your unique set of skills and talents you were born with. Add into this mix your personal experiences (2 Corinthians 1:4) and you have the call upon YOUR life. 

So, we need to work hard and receive God’s grace to remove those things that prevent us from being uniquely ourself and thus be who we are called to be. Fear, shame, overwhelming expectations, unrealistic demands, the world’s lifestyle tempting us to buy into it (Romans 12:2), and on and on this list could go as well. There is always one or two key things that hold us back and hinder our becoming who we really are. Your main issues are well known to you and often unique to you as well. So, don’t let (fill in the blank) hold you back from being who God created you be.

Thomas Merton (a favourite author of mine from 50+ years ago) wrote: “You find peace not by rearranging circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.”

This is the life task of all who call themselves believers. Find the real you at the deepest level. It takes work because the real you is often buried beneath layers of pain, neglect, rejection, criticism, wrong judgments, wrong choices, tough and painful experiences, and busyness. 

Then learn how to express that real you to those around you and to the wider world as you move out to fulfill the call of God on your life. Then we will set the world ablaze with the good news of the Gospel of the Kingdom and the life changing love of God. 

Everywhere You Go

So, the other day I headed out to the bank and then to the drug store and post office to do some messages and catch up a bit on some office work. It is summer here and so I attempt to spend more time outdoors gardening and reading. But, the weather was a bit on the cool side so I decided to do some necessary running around. I did, later in the day, have time to just sit and read in front of the fire pit in the side yard. But I digress.

As I entered the bank I was faced with – it was rather loud and obvious so confronted by – a huge presentation celebrating the diversity we have in Canada and focused on Pride month. June has been designated the month where we recognize this segment of our national population. June has been designated Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride month. Then, entering the drug store there were large posters pointing to this month’s special focus and special sales, of course. And, again, at the post office. 

I am not against having a month to draw attention to all the issues within society regarding this segment of the population. And, I think it is good to come to know the history behind the movement and discover all the less-than-humane treatment that this group has suffered at the hands of general society. I believe, as well, that we need to take a look at how the Church in general has treated those who are part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community. We don’t have a very good track record either historically nor in the recent past. In some cases, even today they are not understood or treated in a loving manner by the Church.

Some segments of the Church have elevated this lifestyle – and the Bible does consider it behaviour that is not in line with God’s plan – to the category of major sin. It is the sin that the Church is targeting, emphasizing, and condemning. However, I believe that it is simply one of many sins and that in God’s eyes all sins are equal (James 2:10). So, homosexuality is no worse nor better than drunkenness, divorce, gossiping, abortion, or dishonouring your parents. Yet, we have elevated this one specific sin to a special place and taken aim at it while ignoring many of the other sins very evident and rampant in the Church and in society.

I believe that Jesus loves sinners. And so should we. I believe that Jesus accepts sinners just as they are because He knows that if they begin to walk with Him that He will change them. We should accept them as well – unconditionally. I believe that Jesus forgives all sins (except blaspheming the Holy Spirit) regardless of the gravity of the sin or what the sinner is involved in. He loves unconditionally, He accepts us just as we are, and He forgives us totally.

That is what I call The LAF Principle. And, we would do well to remember that this is how God treated each one of us who call ourselves believers. And, that Jesus expects us to do unto others what He has done unto us. We are to treat others in the same manner that He has treated us. If we were to actually do this we would embrace all sinners and simply love, accept, and forgive them. We would not separate one sin and make it the BIG ONE for today. We would, as God obviously does, simply see sin as sin and love the sinner regardless of the sin.

This means we do not judge those who are in sin – recognizing the sin in our own life helps us not to judge others. We must not be critical of others and the lifestyles they choose to live. And, we must not reject them because Jesus died for them just as He died for us. We, the Church, must welcome all sinners and not fall into the traditional denominational tendency of having big and little sins – mortal and venial sins. Sin is sin and Jesus died for the forgiveness of all sin no matter how big or small, significant or insignificant we may consider them.

I am tired of the way we segregate people into “us and them.” We are all sinners and no matter what the sin is we are all saved by grace and faith. We must welcome all sinners without categorizing the sin and declaring one worse than another. Let’s learn how to love, accept, and forgive. And, in doing so, learn how to no longer judge, criticize, and reject. 

Another Lesson Learned

On my recent journey in life I have learned that what people think about you means nothing in comparison to what you believe about yourself. Essentially, my identity then depended on outward approval, which changes on a dime. So you dance and you please and you placate and you prove. You become a three-ring circus and in each ring you are an entirely different performing animal, anything anyone wants you to be.

The crucial journey, then, for me, has been from dependence on external expectations, down into my own self, deeper still into God’s view of me, His love for me that doesn’t change, that will not change, that defines and grounds everything. 

When you are running your life on what others expect and demand, you are running on the fuel of anxiety, desire to prove, fear or rejection, shame, and deep inadequacy. When you decide to walk away from that fuel of every-day life for a while, there is, at first, nothing but confusion and silence. You are on the side of the road, empty tank, no idea what will propel you forward. It is disorienting, freeing, terrifying. For a while you just sit, contently, and contentment is the most foreign concept you know. But you learn it, shocking as it is, day by day, hour by hour. You sit in your own skin, being just your plain self. And, it’s okay. And it will change everything. 

After a while, though, you realize you were not made only for contentment; that’s only half the puzzle. The other part is meaning, calling, love. And this is, for most people, a new conversation, almost like speaking a second language – faltering, tongue-twisting, exhilarating. 

As I change the pace and live life instead of speed through life I am living in a slower way. It is simpler than the way I use to live. It is sweeter than I can ever remember life being. It feels more like a glass of water and less like taking a drink from a fire hydrant. Pride tells us we are strong enough to drink from the hydrant, and gluttony tells us it is needed and so so delicious.

But those old voices are liars. The glass of cold water is more lovely and sustaining then the fire hydrant will ever be. I’m now trusting the voices of peace and simplicity more than pride and gluttony. They are leading me in a new direction, and it is a direction that I am enjoying.

The more I listen to myself, my body, my feelings, and the less I listen to the “should” and “must” and “to-do” voices, the more I realize what my body and spirit have been whispering all along, but I couldn’t hear them over the chaos and noise of the life I had created. I was addicted to this chaos, but like any addiction, it was damaging to me.

If you are not like me – prone to frantic levels of activity, swirling chaos, fast-moving cycles of over-commitment and then resentment – then you might look at my life with something like wonder and a little confusion. “Why don’t you,” you might suggest, “just slow down?” I understand the question, but it is a little like asking people who are ruining their lives and health with an addiction to alcohol or drugs or both why they don’t just stop.

When I did stop and sat still and silent for a long while – I have to admit that the stillness felt sort of like walking on the ceiling – totally and utterly foreign. What makes sense to me: pushing. Lists. Responsibilities. Action, action, and more action. What’s changing my life: silence. Rest. Reflection. Taking time to enjoy life instead of just live life. 

Why did I wait so long to reach this part of my journey in life. That’s a good question that I have often asked myself. I was highly invested in maintaining my reputation as a very capable and reliable person. I thought that how other people felt about me or thought about me could determine my happiness and contentment. I now know how deeply flawed that idea really is – even how silly it now seems. So, I have left the three-ring circus and am enjoying my glass of cool water as I sit staring at my flower garden and enjoy an evening by the fire in my back yard. 

Heart or Hustle?

I am learning a lot about myself these days. I am changing, growing, and trying new things at a fairly fast rate. Maybe it is because I have been so cautious for so long and needing to be strong, responsible, and very much the adult that now I want to spend some time learning to play (read that again, it is not a typo). 

Playing is when you spend time lavishly, staring into space, wandering around the block, sitting in the yard staring at a slow burning fire in the fire pit, riding your bike – the one that has sat in the shed for half a decade or more. My goal is to become and then remain flexible, silly, ready-to-play, ever-so-slightly irresponsible. 

What I have been delighted to find is that it is not that our real, every day life is all wrong, by any means – and it is not that what I do for a living (called work by some) is something I hate because I love what I do. It is just that once-in-a-while I think we need to let go of the fast paced life we usually lead and slow things down a bit. I call it learning to play.

It is a time to leave hustle mode and return to feeling my heart. For all sorts of reasons it seems I tend to default to hustle mode all too often. Because I enjoy what I do for a living and think it is important, I can slide back into hustle mode without even thinking about it. And, hustle mode is the opposite to heart mode.

I was reading on one of my recent plane rides and the author stated: “…one of the tiny little things I’m learning to do is to play – essentially, to purposely waste time. Strategically avoid strategy, for five minutes at a time. Intentionally not be intentional about every second. Have no purpose – on purpose.” 

I related to that and have adopted this approach to life for the summer we are now in. I am spending more time in my garden just smelling and admiring the flowers. More time sitting on the porch drinking coffee and talking to my dog. More time riding the bike I finally brought out of the shed and fixed up. 

There are a lot of conversations right now about how to do everything better/faster/smarter, how to streamline, multitask, layer, balance, flow, juggle. How to monetize, strategize, and on and on. This is good stuff. Necessary stuff.

But, this summer I am planning on wasting time, playing, becoming aware of the internal engine that always wants to go faster, faster, faster. And, do more, say yes to more, write more, preach more…That engine is not the best part of me. My heart is the best part of me.

And, I am finding that my heart loves to play and relax. To rest and reconnect with the other me who is also part of the real me. So, more heart and less hustle.

What would our lives be like is our days were studded by tiny, completely unproductive, silly, nonstrategic, wild and beautiful five-minute breaks, reminders that our days are for loving and learning and laughing, not for pushing and planning, reminders that it’s all about the heart, not about the hustle?