Calling

3 things you can focus on in a calling crises

Having a calling is a special thing. For some reason the western lifestyle pushes us to ignore a calling and trade it in to be comfortable. We go from big dreams in our youth to focusing on retirement in our adult life.

As kids we think questions like: * What can I do to change the world? * Where can I go to make an impact? * What profession do I feel like I was made for?

As adults we begin to ask questions like: * Do I make enough money to be comfortable? * Do I enjoy going to work every day? * Do I have a place to live with enough space? * How soon can I retire?

In college I thought a calling was the place my talents collided with a professional work life. I’m not sure I would describe it the same 14 years into my profession. I’m starting to think a calling is the place I don’t have what it takes combined with an opportunity way harder than I imagined. In this place I find myself more dependent on external solutions than internal ones. Maybe this is what makes a calling beautiful? A calling causes me to focus more on others than myself.

This brings us to the question, “How do you focus on a calling over a long period of time?” Or, “How do I keep myself becoming focused on just my life?” I read this book called Flashbang by Mark Steele where Mark describes how his life was turning into a flashbang - something that makes a lot of noise but leaves no permanent indentation. Which is exactly how our calling can become as well. So what can you do to protect your calling?

Practice Solitude - The times that I have surrendered my calling for self preservation have been the seasons I avoided practicing solitude. A daily devotional was absolutely void from my daily routine. Typically, there was some sort of crises I was trying to solve because of external pressure. There wasn’t time to stop, read my bible, reflect, pray, etc… THINGS HAD TO GET DONE. Things that I can’t remember anymore, things that didn’t change anything.

Choose your crowd wisely - When a calling is in crisis don’t give your time and attention to people who are seeking a life focused on themselves, people living without a calling. Are you supposed to live in isolation then? Maybe. I think of these people as “more” people or “next” people. Everything in their life is either focused on more of something or the next phase in life. If they can just get to “this” place then life will be perfect. Investing relationally with “more” or “next” people when you’re trying to hold to a calling is like giving your calling cancer. And like cancer, an aggressive removal of these relationships will give life back to your soul.

Diagnose the right things - One specific time I fought every wrong battle to keep my calling. The war was a financial one, I simply couldn’t afford to continue the calling. There was a devastating revenue issue…or so I thought. Through this challenge I learned a completely new attitude towards finances with less focus on revenue and a very clear strategy on expenses. And this is what happens to us in times of a calling crises, we can focus on the threat instead of focusing on what we can actually control, which is ourselves. As much as it pains me to say this self discipline is often the best solution to a calling crises. (As an extrovert who loves to go with the wind, typing that is like sticking needles in my arms)

Which life do you really want to live though? Sure, there is always the sport of collecting stuff and being comfortable. But on the other side is a life filled with moments that testify to another type of life, a life filled with moments of purpose. This is the power of a calling: The thought you get to have is, “I was made to be here, right at this time, to do this.”

What have you done to protect your calling? Or what have you seen others do that you admire about how they have protected their calling? Please leave a comment below and help others!

I choose me, do you choose you?

I'm not wanting to contribute today.  I'm just not in the mood to offer anything to anyone else.  I really want to turn inward and ignore everyone else. This might be the ugliest start to a post but it's honest.

What about you?  How are you ending your week?

It's easy to be motivated when things are going well.  But what about when things are difficult?  What about the days when there is no affirmation or maybe a lack of good feelings in general?  It's those days I have to choose me.  I can't wait for someone to pick me up.  Neither can you.

But my choosing myself is not an elevation of self, instead it's a call to serve.  Regardless of the result or how other people respond, I have to choose me because I know that most everyone else will choose to wait.  They wait for someone else to take the lead.  They wait for someone else to care enough.  They wait for someone else to do the hard work.  The wait for someone else to serve.

Will you choose you today?  Will you take up the difficult calling?

 

 

Why you don't want volunteers

Volunteers are nothing more than warm bodies.  They typically show up, do what they're told, and then leave.  Did they file the papers?  Probably.  Did they put food on a plate?  Yep.  Did they fold the clothes and sort them?  Absolutely.  Volunteers are the work force to do the job faster than you could do alone or to do the job you yourself don't want to do.

But we have absolutely glorified the volunteer.  "Dear volunteer: thank you for stopping your self consumed life long enough to give an hour or so once a year.  Without you, we would be lost and ineffective."

Are you picking up my sarcasm?

The world needs less volunteers and far more callings.  Callings are what makes a significant difference in the lives of others.  Callings move us from showing up for self gratification to fighting for space to make a difference in others.  Callings creates sustainability and endurance.  A calling moves us from outsider to insider.  A calling forces us to do things better instead of volunteering in order to makes things bigger.  Ultimately, those who are called end up telling volunteers which grill to man or where to put a nail.

So why build a team of volunteers when you really want to build a team of people who feel called?  Being called is the "X" factor in volunteering that is often unmeasuarable.  But four "called" volunteers will have a far greater impact than 12 people looking to "give back."

Have you experienced the difference between called volunteers versus someone wanting to feel like they've given back?

 

I Become Like Eminem

When is the appropriate time to raise your voice? [youtube _5dTdEb7XGk]

For the past two years I've had the opportunity to coach high school football.  I had to adjust to the climate a bit when I moved from leading in a non-for-profit ministry to leading in a competitive environment.  I quickly discovered that in a competitive environment a raised voice was pretty normal and that sometimes even screaming was required.  No, I don't mean belittling some poor kid. What I do mean is that when you're trying to coach a kid from the sideline and they're on the field, the distance requires some screaming.

By nature, I am not a screamer.  As an athlete, a coach screaming at me was rarely motivating.  Now, however, I can't seem to separate the coach on the field and the coach in ministry.  If I am put in a situation to call a group of people to something greater, my voice elevates and I even start pointing (I'm like an Eminem song, the tone just gets louder and louder!)

When was the last time you were passionate enough about something to raise your voice a little bit?  Do the people you lead, work with, or volunteer with feel your passion?  Do they hear it in your words?  Do they see it in your body language?

My insecurities said, "Brad, why did you have to raise your voice?"  But the feedback I got was, "That was AWESOME."

So here are some guidelines to decipher when to raise your voice:

WHEN NOT TO RAISE YOUR VOICE:

  1. When your ego has been hurt
  2. When you think you're right but no one is listening
  3. When you think "rattling someone's cage" will cause movement
  4. When someone has made an honest mistake

WHEN TO RAISE YOUR VOICE:

  1. When you see injustice
  2. When you see the powerful potential in someone but they refuse to let it out
  3. When you are speaking encouragement (Be loud as hell with this one)
  4. When you are defending the "least of these."

Here is the litmus test to find out whether you are being passionate or just being a jerk: Do you speak encouragement as loudly as you speak criticism?

What do you think?  When is the right time to raise your voice and when is it not the right time?