Friday, April 24, 2015

All Groan Up: 7 Truths For Every Twentysomething

Figuring out life in our twenties can feel like searching for a specific marble while floundering in a swimming pool filled with marbles -- in the dark.

Is this the career path I want to run down for the next 30-something years? Is this the person I want to spend the rest of my life with? Are these friends the kind of people I want to be more like or less like? Is this it?

In his new book All Groan Up, my friend Paul Angone shares his twenty-something journey in a way that is hilarious, honest and inspiring all at once. I laughed a lot and it even made me cry a little (Like, maybe a tear or two). It’s immediately become one of my favorite books and if you are a twentysomething, you should pick up a copy for yourself

It’s a book filled with boulders of wisdom and truths that will help you navigate through this awesome, and sometimes intimidating, decade of life. Here are seven of my favorite truths (out of the approximately 1,723 I found) from the book: 

Monday, April 13, 2015

4 Ways To Fail Well

There’s no way around it: Failure stinks.

No one likes to fail or sets out to fail. The fear of it is constantly whispering in our ears, begging us to settle for easy, safe and comfortable.

But here’s the thing: failing is part of living, and we’ll never have impactful lives if we let the fear of failing keep us frozen where we stand.

The only way to avoid failure is to go all Cast Away and maroon yourself on an island, build a shelter out of coconuts and tree branches, find a volleyball to make friends with and call it a life. And even Tom Hanks got tired of that and took his chances at sea, where failing would have meant a watery grave.

If we’re going to dream big, pray hard and then take steps of faith, we have to be willing to fail. The willingness to fail is a prerequisite to experiencing the life God desires for each and every one of us.

We will fail. We will fall flat on our faces from time to time. But how we respond to failure will either propel us forward or hold us back. The key is to fail well.

Here are some ways I’m learning how to do that: 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

If It Matters To You

Psalm 55:22 - Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; The Lord will never allow the righteous to be shaken. 

* * * * * * *

The grief of losing a family member. The plans you’re making for the weekend. The heartbreak of a breakup. Struggling to stay on a budget so you can get out of debt. The sting of a betrayal. The shame of that mistake you made years ago that you can’t seem to let go of. The doubts you have about your faith.

Whether it’s a huge crisis or a small dilemma, it all matters. 

Sometimes we wonder if God really does care about whatever that “it” might be in our lives when there are so many things happening everywhere else. Sometimes our problems might seem small when we place them next to the problems facing people around us. And they might be small.

But small still matters. Sometimes it’s the little things that expose big issues in us that God wants to deal with. It’s the little things that stay with us, make us worry and cast shadows in our lives longer than the Empire State Building. 

Philippians 4:6-7 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. Paul compels us “not worry about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all human understanding, will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.” (emphasis mine)

The only way to fight worry is to bring God in on everything that’s going in our hearts, in our minds and in our souls. God wants us to be warriors, not worriers! 

Don’t act like “it” doesn’t matter when it does to you. It matters to you for a reason, and you have to work it out with God in order to figure out why. Don’t minimize your pain, your hurt, your cares. Don’t shrug “it” off and say it’s no big deal. Bring God into your situation. 

Whatever “it” is in your life, it matters. It matters to God. He doesn’t have us on some priority list, asking us to wait for Him to solve all the other problems in the world before He listens to ours. He hears your cry for help right where you are because He wants to restore you, sustain you and strengthen you.

Yes, it matters to God because it matters to you and because you matter to Him.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Power Of Pizza & Honesty: 4 Lessons From The Revival Of Domino's

Of all the pizza delivery chains out there, Domino’s is my absolute favorite of the bunch. It wasn’t always that way, though.

A few years ago I would have told you that Domino’s pizza was actually pretty gross. Their cheese was dull, their sauce was bland and their crust had the charm of a cardboard box.

Case in point: In a 2009 survey that rated the taste preferences of consumers, Domino’s finished last -- tied with Chuck E. Cheese’s. Ouch.

But when Patrick Doyle took over as the new CEO of the company in 2010, he did something not many leaders and companies do -- they owned up to the fact that their pizza was not very good.

Since then, Domino’s has completely reinvented themselves and it has paid off in a big way. In the five years since Doyle took over as CEO, annual sales have risen to $9 billion (they were at $2 billion when he first took over). That is a lot of pizza and cheesy bread!

So what happened? What led to Domino’s big turnaround? Here are four lessons I’ve gathered from the revival of Domino’s:

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Don't Dig Up In Doubt What You Planted In Faith

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven… A time to plant and a time to harvest.” 
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

* * * * * * * 

Remember those science projects we all used to do every year in elementary school for the Science Fair?

You know, the ones where you would have to conduct an experiment of some sort and then buy those foldable cardboard display board with the wavy borders to show your hypothesis, procedures, results, data and all the other portions of the scientific process? 

I don’t remember much, but I do remember my favorite projects revolved around plants -- not because I had any sort of affinity for plants, but mostly because they were the easiest projects to do. Don’t judge! I was never the crafty type and building a scale model of the solar system or a volcano just didn’t seem worth the effort. Plus, plants don’t run away or explode.

Anyways, one year I decided to plant different types of seeds to see which ones would grow faster. These projects required time and patience. I'd plant them in the same type of soil, give them all the same amount of water and exposure to light and let them do their thing. Some of the seeds grew quickly, others wouldn't -- at least not right away. 

If I decided then and there to dig up the seeds to try and see what the problem was, I’d disrupt the process. I would undo all the progress being made underneath the surface and have to start over. All because I didn't have faith in the process of plant growth. 

The same often applies with the things we plant in faith in our lives.

I may not be a overalls-wearing, pitchfork-wielding farmer, but in a way we’re all spiritual farmers, planting seeds of faith in prayer and hoping for a harvest somewhere down the line.

We have dreams for different areas of our lives and we sow seeds in our relationships, in our finances, in our churches, in our careers… and then we hope that those tiny seeds of faith turn into a crop of healthy marriages, strong families, successful businesses, enriching friendships and fruitful ministries.

Usually, the problems occur in between the sowing and the reaping. It’s making sure our seeds are getting the right amount of water and sunlight and protecting our seeds from the weeds, birds and insects that threaten to sabotage growth.

Most importantly, though, it’s figuring out when to just stay out of the way and let God do the work. It’s practicing patience and not compromising everything we’ve planted by uprooting the seeds we plant before they bloom. When we want everything to happen on our own timetable, we end up digging instead of reaping.

I’ve been staring at a couple of empty fields lately that I hoped would have been yielding some kind of results by now and I’m wondering if I’ll ever see a crop show up. I’m tempted to dig up in doubt what I planted in faith. Maybe you are, too.

Don’t do it. Don’t bail out before the breakthrough. Don’t let doubt uproot your faith. Don’t let impatience override your trust in God and in the process.

Stay the course. Stay committed. Stand firm. Keep sowing. Keep tending your fields.

Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.