Work: The Original 4-letter word (pt. 4)

Over the past couple years, I’ve heard a few sermons with the words “can you dig it” somewhere in the midst. Some were from pastors trying to be cool but the first time I heard it was from Steven Furtick and it was unbelievable. And I’ve heard it many times since in the same light. And I’m not bringing this up to say that pastors steal from each other or culture or are a few years late to reference this. I guess you could say they’re 2000 and late. (Sorry I had to).

I’m simply passing it on because it says something to my soul. It hits me. It usually comes from 2 Kings, at least in reference to where God tells Elijah to dig ditches in order for water to come. What the pastors point out is that God has them pick up a shovel and get to work before expecting Him to just move. There are not many times that God creates something out of nothing. And usually He doesn’t expect us to do so but expects us to do something with what little we may have. So dig ditches.

But each time I’ve heard it, its gone deeper in my chest than before. And this past Sunday, I went to my sister-in-law’s church and it connected greatly with my present situation.

So many times, I’ve said I have great faith but I’m not willing to back it up and put down the remote or put down the Mt. Dew to go pursue the path I feel called and compelled to go down. Basically, my words aren’t backed by my actions. And this sermon is the time that I realized I do not deserve any of the things I want unless I work for them.

It’s only in the pursuing that you earn the right to get what you want to get. And without pursuing, you don’t deserve it and honestly, shouldn’t be given it. There are exceptions to this that God graces us with because grace ultimately is getting what we want but sometimes God just wants to show our faith by doing all we can to see something come about. Sometimes instead of just being given something, we just need the endurance until we obtain it. We’ll be better for it.

That’s why I would never do gastric surgery unless forced to because I wouldn’t earn the weight loss and will likely gain it all back sometime later. Its also why many people go broke within 5 years after winning the lottery. They didn’t earn it so they don’t deserve and likely will just waste it soon enough because they have no idea how to maintain it. That’s also why athletes waste their lives after playing sports because they achieved stardom so easily and don’t know what to do with.

I like the crockpot way of cooking more than the microwave because you get time to savor the journey more. Our culture is all about now when sometimes it is best to let things simmer for awhile.

Then what really all this hit home was when I read 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15. Verse 10 really got me: “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” Paul also goes on to say, “Take not of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy but warn him as a brother.” (2 Thess. 3:14-15)

If we want the things we want, we must prove it by working toward them. Not just prove it to others but to God and really to ourselves.

I have a dream to be in worship ministry full time and to devote my life to teaching this generation how to worship. I want to do this through writing songs and books as well as having a platform to influence many throughout the world.

But I won’t deserve it, and I’ll likely lose it fast, if I don’t work my tail off to obtain it.

So here’s my persepective on WORK to sum up my thoughts this week:

1) Don’t settle and be just a child star. Continue to improve.
2) Let this year be greater than the last but save the best for last while continuing to improve and go out on top.
3) Let LAZY be the new 4-letter and avoid it at all costs.
4) Go get what you want with everything you have.
5) Earn the influence you have by working as hard as you can for as long as you can.

What helps you to work harder and smarter? Please share any resources you have that would benefit others. See you next week.

Work: The Original 4-letter word (pt. 3)

If you could take a pill that would change your life, would you?

It could be a pill that causes you to lose weight. Or to be debt-free. Or to have a better walk with God. Or a better relationship. Or to grant and receive forgiveness. Or to have that career job you love. Or to have a ton in savings. Or to feel happiness, peace, and joy all the time. Or that date with that girl/guy you’ve been staring at every day at work when they walk by or when you go out of your way just to see them. Or that book you’ve been meaning to write. Or that place you’ve been meaning to visit. Or that set of six-pack abs you’ve felt should be yours that brings smiles your way from all the girls admiring your physique which brings jealousy from all the guys who want to know your secret. Or that wife that does all she can to support you in every way possible that is the best mother to your little son who is the spitting image of her and whom you hope to become the greatest man of his generation.

If you could take something or do something to make any of those a reality, would you? And if not, why not?

That question has been on my mind recently because it leads to my latest excuse that could be wrecking havoc in your life as well. “It is just too hard.” Honestly, that is just a statement that I’ve turned into an excuse and I’ve let it hold me back. But when you say that something is hard, you at least acknowledge that it is and that you just haven’t got the courage to step up.

And the first step in the journey is always acknowledgement for where you are. So let’s not take that for granted because it is huge. And all the steps afterward get a little bit easier because you gain more and more courage along the way.

So let me ask you again, if you could do something to change your life, would you?

Because honestly, we can have all of the above by simply, catch this, putting forth the effort. By doing the original 4-letter word, W-O-R-K.

I’m not saying this is true for any of you, but I tend to yearn for a lot of things and hope for them rather than work towards them. And it is so freeing to realize that those who work are those who accomplish what they want. And those who don’t work, don’t get anything they want. So go find out what you want go get it. Let L-A-Z-Y be your new 4-letter word and avoid it at all costs.

Work: The original 4-letter word (pt. 2)

I’ve determined that that year is gonna be greater than last.

But its not my greatest year. Because I’m hoping and working to have my greatest year be my last.

You see, I’ve always wanted to go out on top. Because I don’t want to spend my life yearning for the glory days (Cue Springsteen who just released another album many years after others have called it quits). The days of hoping to relive the times before where we were once better than what we’re going through now. I do not want to spend time reminiscing because I haven’t gone through anything good since.

I know many people who have felt that no performance ever lived up to what they once did. So I’m preparing to go out on top.

And by going out on top, I meant to go out like Jordan did with the Bulls after that shot (push?) over Byron Russell. Or like John Elway did with his 2 Super Bowl wins in his final 2 years. Or more recently like Ray Lewis. Or like Johnny Carson ending his Tonight Show run.

I don’t want to go out like Jordan on the Wizards or like Favre with his 3 retirements and ultimate shattered ankle thta made him quit playing with the Vikings (who is a huge rival to his long time team). Or in a huge controversial way like Paterno or Richard Nixon in the shadow of a scandal. Or like Conan getting wrongly booted from his short-lived Tonight Show run.

So this year will be greater than last year for sure but as I’ve been saying, I’m laying a foundation that I can build a huge pile of greatness upon. And it is only a pile of greatness because I’m determined to have God do it through me because I’m working towards it as hard as I can. I thiink this is what Paul refers to as “pressing on towards the goal of the upward calling” in Philippians.

And I mean, through ME. Not through just my friends or my church but through a part that I’ve taken on to bring His kingdom to this earth. So here’s to this year being greater than all previous ones but also to remember that the best is yet to come.

Work: the original 4-letter word (pt. 1)

Child stars have always fascinated me. Not just because I’ve always wanted to be one. Not just because they have a lot of potential for the future but sadly because most do not live up to their potential. Most live lives of great promise. Yet unfulfilled.

Great hope that never shines through.

Sadly, I think of Lindsay Lohan, Miley Cyrus, and Amanda Bynes when I see the phrase child stars and not child stars who become greater as the years go on. In fact, it is hard to name child actors who were successful later in life. The only one who comes to my mind right now is Leonardo Dicaprio and I’m sure they’re more but that’s all that comes to mind.

I do think my own hopes of others not succeeding leads to this but I’m also aware of my culture yearning to see train wrecks. We truly are a generation of rubbernecks, staring at the accident behind us more than the road ahead.

But child stars do fascinate me because they achieve great success early on and they seem to settle there. Always hoping for the same success but not with the same passion, heart, and drive. Yearning but not willing to work for it. Relying on talent and potential more than getting down and dirty. You see, child stars fascinate me because in many ways, they’re just a reflection of me. A sad glimpse into what I’ve become.

In my teens and 20’s, I had huge potential as a musician and even as a communicator, and I’ve realized I haven’t put in the long hours and hard work that will lead me to greatness. And I’m better now for realizing it because I’ve got a long road ahead and finally, I’ve hit a point where I know I must dig in and get my hands dirty.

Greatness is not defined by high hopes but by hard work. Remember, it’s not what you have that counts. Its what you do with what you have that matters.

Worst word in existence

This week I want to write about the worst word in existence. The word that I’ve always feared more than any other. It is a word that I believe if I were set free to explore and pursue, my life would be drastically changed.
It is a word that sadly has been absent a lot of my life. A word that never fully grabbed ahold of me.
A little backstory and then I’ll let you know this cursed (emphatically pronounced “cur-sid”) word.

Last year, I read a book called One Word that will change your life and it wrecked me. Not at the moment I devoured it, but over the days and months after reading it. In the book, the authors want to help us switch our mindsets from thinking specific goals and focus on characteristics. Goals go away after they’re met. Characteristics change everything about a person and help define them from then on out. So they recommend picking a word you have always wanted to be described as and tackle it head on for that year. And for 2014, I picked the word Discipline.

It is not something anyone has described me as, to my recollection, but I’ve yearned to be better organized and disciplined in all areas of my life. In fact, I’ve made huge strides over the past few years and decided this year is the year I go into the promised land of discipline (whatever that means).

Back to what we were discussing. Discipline is not the word that scares me and not the word I mentioned above. The word that terrifies me is WORK. And its cursed nature goes all the way back to Genesis 3:17-19. Let’s read it now.

“And to Adam he said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, You shall not eat of it, cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field, by the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (ESV)

This was at the fall where Adam and Eve at the forbidden fruit. The snake was cursed to be an enemy of man and to wander aimlessly on the face of the earth. Eve was cursed with painful childbirth and to be submissive to her husband who rules over her. Adam was cursed to work with much trial to eat. He had to work to get what he wanted. Literally sweating to get his food.

Before we get all theological, let me just say that I have always hated work. Hard work scares me. I’m not exactly sure why. It could be fear of failure or laziness. I honestly don’t know why but I yearn to enjoy work and I’ve made great strides toward getting joy out of it.

However, if you look at the first 7 days of all creation, you will see that God created the heavens and the earth and all therein and rejoiced over it. This is what we must get back to because sadly we are the ones who now see it as a curse but God saw it as a blessing. He’s all about changing mindsets which lead to faith and actions.

And this week, I want to explore it in my own unique way in a blog post series I’d like to call WORK: The original 4-letter word.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did writing it.

It is not over yet

Yesterday, I wrote about how the Packers and Tarheels lost on Sunday night. I also wrote that it inspired me to not lose heart, passion, and drive.

But I was struck by something astounding. Because sometimes we do lose.

Sometimes despite team’s best efforts, they will lose. There will be no way to get a win. Sometimes the other team is just better all around. Which I’m hoping my Panthers can now prove and destroy that wretched team that stole a victory from Lambeau just a few days ago.

But that’s not the case in real life. Even though we may lose this situation or this battle, we can gain something valid.
Experience.
Hope.
Hindsight for what not to do or what to do in the future.

So don’t let a failure or set back or a loss dictate how you go forward. Let it encourage you because you still have some innings left to play before it is game over.

I know that a lot of this is cliche but I was encouraged by it. And I hope you are too.

Because it is not over just yet.

I want to be better

I had a very sad day a couple days ago. My Packers lost to the 49ers in what I can only conclude was a simple act of giving up. I couldn’t even watch the end of the game. I wanted to throw something so I just went upstairs and finished out that time watching some standup comedy.
They played in a way that reminds me of me sometimes. No heart. No passion. No drive. And ultimately, no focus.

What made Sunday worse was that my Tarheels lost to Wake Forest? Wake Forest has a good history of being a competitive basketball powerhouse but not the past few years. They are scrubs. I don’t mind saying so. And my Tarheels played terribly. Once again, no heart. No passion. No drive.

And it hurts to see happen. And honestly, it convicts me for how I am sometimes. I want to be better.

I wish I could encourage myself constantly and never drop the ball (pun intended) but sometimes I do. And sometimes I’m just counting the time until whatever-I’m-going-through is just over. I’m waiting out the clock. Yearning for the next thing to come along.

Sometimes that’s the way it goes down but I yearn to have that drive, passion, and heart in all moments. So sadly, I write this: I don’t want this year to be played out like my Packers and Tarheels played out their games two days ago.