What if they do it better than I did?

Recently, I handed over a project that was, for lack of a better term, my baby.I poured months and months of my heart and soul into this project.

So when it came time to hand it off to someone else, I had the normal questions in my mind: “What if they mess it up? What if all that work was for nothing?” I think those questions are fairly normal.

Then came the ugly question that I wish I didn’t ask. The question that shows that I, in fact, have a prideful heart:

“What if they do it better than I did?”

This question shows that I was still holding on to something I had no right to hold on to. I had it let it go.

Great leaders aren’t afraid of people who might be better than they are. Great leaders aren’t afraid of younger versions of themselves who might work them out of a job. Great leaders aren’t afraid of letting go.

I’ll let you in on a secret: it was never yours to begin with.

Every single project, person, or thing under your influence is ultimately not yours. If you’re a Christian, than you understand that God owns it all, and we are just stewards of what He’s given us for the short period of time we had with it.

Let me pose a couple of questions:

Is it possible that your pride is getting in the way of your growth? Is it possible that you’re facing obstacles ahead of you, but you’re really the obstacle?

Great leaders don’t hoard and hold on. Great leaders let go.

What’s bothering you?

This morning I went in for my semi-annual dental cleaning. As the dentist was talking over my dental history, he asked me a question that had much further implications than simply my oral hygiene:

“What’s bothering you?”

Of course, he could have asked me, “Does anything hurt?” or “Do you floss daily?” but my dentist is a smart man. He knew that to get an accurate answer he had to ask the right type of question. In our culture, we’ve become complacent about asking questions that elicit safe answers.

“How’s it going?” “How’s work been?” “How are you today?”

None of these are bad questions — unless you’re looking for an honest answer. Here’s the thing: no healthy relationship survives with these questions alone. How many successful friendships do you have where the only thing you ask each other is, “Hey, how’s it going?” Or what about the healthy marriages that solely rely on, “How was your day?”

Successful relationships, both personal and professional, require asking difficult questions.

Personally, I love the question that my dentist asked, because it doesn’t allow room for safe answers like “good” or “fine.” It makes us take a deep breath, look around, and face the tough reality around us.

So, let me pose a question for you …

What’s bothering you?

Goodbye 2014

This past year has been the most unexpectedly awesome, crazy, difficult, amazing year of my life. 

The funniest thing about that statement is I feel I’m probably going to say the same thing this time next year as well. 

This year I got a new job, moved across the country, made better health decisions, bought a new car (with cash), made new friends, and took more risks than I ever have before. 

In every single one of those things, God has been immensely faithful. 

If I had to look back on this year and pick out one particular lesson God was trying to teaching me, I would say He was trying to remind me that I can trust Him, because I’m going to need to trust Him even more in the future. 

Sometimes life feels like a bunch of puzzle pieces floating around, and you have two options: you can frantically try and make them fit together yourself, or you can trust that God will fit them together when He wants and how He wants. 

I can’t wait to see what will happen next year. Here’s to you, 2015. 

400 Years

During this Advent season, we are all waiting in anticipation of something. Often it can feel like that something will never come.

Healing. A relationship restored. Hope. 

These are just some of the things we long for, pray for, yearn for — yet it feels sometimes like they will never, ever come. 

Sometimes I think the most beautiful things in Scripture are the things unsaid. There are 400 years of silence between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament.

I’m sure in those 400 years there were stories passed down generation to generation about the God who used to speak. Parents telling their children of the God who used to be there, but disappeared. I imagine during those 400 years things felt pretty … hopeless

Advent teaches us that when all hope seems lost, hope is just around the corner. 

Whatever it is that you are waiting for, take hope in the fact that God is never late on His promises — even if you never get to see the fulfillment of His promise. We can trust in His promises, because even after 400 years of silence, He came to be one of us.

Gloria, halleu
Christ the Lord
We’ve longed for You
— John Mark McMillan, “Baby Son”

Jesus, Flu Shots, and Healing

I am a bow on your hands, Lord.
Draw me, lest I rot.
Do not overdraw me, Lord. I shall break.
Overdraw me, Lord, and who cares if I break?
— Nikos Kazantzakis

It’s flu season. Which means, technically, I should be a responsible citizen and go get a flu shot. I hate shots. I’m not sure where this irrational fear and hatred of a tiny needle came from, but nonetheless, it’s there. 

What I’ve learned, is that sometimes the things that can cause us pain are absolutely necessary for our good. If I’m honest, for a while I think that I avoided this idea out of my own selfish theology — thinking that when God said He does everything for His glory and our good, that it meant life would be perfect as long as I did everything the “right” way.

There’s a lot of pain we experience because we have a real spiritual enemy, who wants to take us out and to steal, kill, and destroy. But I am slowly but surely growing more okay with the idea there is some pain, the good kind of pain, the growing kind of pain, that comes from our Heavenly Father. It’s not pain to hurt us, but to heal us — like a flu shot. 

I don’t ever want to downplay the significance of emotional and physical struggles, but sometimes I wonder if the anxiety, depression, and loneliness we sometimes come in contact with are pathways in which we can grow closer to our Heavenly Father. Sometimes I wonder if He will allow us to go through something painful to hear His voice even clearer, and to learn to depend on Christ alone. 

I say all of this to encourage you, dear friend. If today you’re facing some sort of opposition, or maybe feeling uneasy of where you are, I pray you will lean in and discover that potentially, the reason might be that you are in fact right in the middle of where God wants you.  

I want to leave you with a quote from Jennie Allen’s book Anything:

“Somewhere in my life I picked up the idea that if things did not feel right or fall perfectly into place, God was not in them. I thought obeying God should feel pretty easy and convenient. For instance, if God was calling you to Africa, then he would have a buyer for your house in two weeks; and if not, then he likely isn’t in it….All my life I thought I had God’s stamp of approval because my life wasn’t going badly. Now I was faced with the fear that it might actually be the opposite. What if my life was going so beautifully because I wasn’t chasing after God?”

God Isn’t Far From You

Photo from Unsplash
Photo from Unsplash

Have you ever heard someone say, or maybe said yourself, that someone was “far from God”?

Maybe, you’ve said that about yourself.  “I’ve felt so far from God lately.”

I’m not really sure where this theology slipped into our thinking, but it certainly isn’t biblical. 

When we read the Gospels, we see that Jesus was never far from anyone, let alone those who were out of society’s socially acceptable bounds. We see him hanging out with notorious sinners, prostitutes, and tax collectors. 

In fact, Jesus is called Immanuel, which means “God with is us.”  (see Isaiah 7:14)

When you wander away from the path God has for you, He doesn’t stand back and wait for you to somehow hopefully make your way back. He relentlessly pursues you.

I have no idea where you are, but I don’t have to know to confidentially tell you that God is near you.

Whatever you’ve done.

Whatever you should have done.

God is not far from you.

 

August, Seasons, and Me

August is a strange month. For starters, it has no major holidays. Do you even have the right to be on the calendar if you don’t have anything to shoot off fireworks or eat a bunch of turkey for? Get it together, August.

But I digress. 

August is a transitional month. Summer begins to slowly slip into fall, kids go back to school, adults get into new routines. 

I, personally, have felt like my life has been an “August” for the past year. It can be a little fun for a while, but at some point you really hope life turns into a more stable month, like December. Ain’t nobody messing with December. 

Have you noticed that we are rarely content to be where we are?

When you quit your job, you can’t wait for the next one. 

When you take the new job, you can’t wait until you get some sort of promotion.

When you’re single you want to be married.

When you get married, you want to have kids.

When you start school you want to finish school.

When you finish school you want to start school again.

When it’s summer, we really wish it was fall.

When winter hits, we can’t wait for spring. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind about seasons:

1) Every season has its meaning. You will never go through a season without learning something or changing something. 

2) Seasons are often preceded by the opposite season. If you’re in a transitional season, there’s a good chance the next season will be a time of stability. If your season has been incredibly stable, well, buckle your seatbelt. Embrace each one for what it is, and learn something from it.

3) Every season will end. You know those days in late February, where you’re convinced that summer will never come, and God has cursed the land to suffer winter forever? Summer came, of course. That season ended. As such, the season you are currently in, whether beautiful or painful, tragic or exciting, will in fact come to an end.

Seasons are often hard to embrace. But once you do, the ebb and flow of your life might make a little more sense.

“Dear brothers and sisters, a when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:2-6 NLT

In Quietness & Trust

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15 (NIV)

If someone asked you to do them a favor, but they called you every five minutes to remind you to do it, could you say that person trusts you? Of course not. 

And yet, most of time, I convince myself that I “trust” God even though I remind Him of what I need every single time I get a chance. 

When you need strength, it’s natural to complain and be loud and whine and beg. 

But your strength comes in quietness and trust. 

Slow down. Breathe a little. Allow yourself to be still, to be quiet — and trust.

“Be still, and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10

 

Cutting + Pruning

Over the past six months, almost every facet of my life has changed. Change is really fun at times, like when you take a new job and move across the country. Other times, like when God is trying to mold you and change you into the person He wants you to be, it can be painfully necessary.

I feel like that’s been a huge part of my story for the past few weeks — God shaping, changing, molding, cutting away, piecing back together, healing, mending.

Jesus said it Himself:

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.” John 15:1-2 NLT

While you’re in that season of cutting and pruning, it kind of sucks. Especially on the days when there is definitely more cutting than pruning.

Thankfully, God always has a purpose in seasons. The purpose? “…so they will produce even more.”

On the other side, you will produce even more. Lasting, God-honoring, Kingdom fruit. But you have to see it through. If you do, God will never let you down.

What if I would have said no?

Have you ever had an experience that you look back on, and freak out at the thought of what you could have done? 

I’ve been living in Oklahoma for about three months now, which feels both very weird and normal to say. Today, I opened up my Day One journal app and read some of the things I had written in the past. I realized that a good chunk of my total entries, especially for most of 2013, chronicled the journey of where I am now. The funny thing is seeing things I wrote that seemed random at the time were, in fact, intertwined beautifully. 

On December 14, 2013, I wrote this: 

Fear is what will crumble you if you let it. Fear will rob you of so many opportunities if you let it.

Looking back, I had so much fear and doubt before moving here to Oklahoma. But now that I’m here, I can’t help but ask myself, What if I would have said no? I hate to think about the opportunities I would have missed out on and the regret I would have. And I’m so glad I said yes.

So that begs the question: What is it that you may be about to say no to that you should being say yes to?