What I’d Rather Be Way More Than Famous

being-famousThere are lots of well-known Christians in today’s media, internet and popularity – driven culture who are now household names. I’m not one of them and quite thankful about that.

Now to be fair, many of them didn’t ask for their fame, status or iconic status and like me, might prefer they didn’t have it. Some of it came with the territory (or perhaps after reading The Prayer of Jabez.)

Nonetheless, it’s seems important to first realize the inherent perils of even religious notoriety and if possible give serious consideration to avoiding more popularity. Why? What’s the problem with being a big name?

First, you start becoming an expert on certain topics or even THE voice for much of Christianity. People start saying ____________  (you) said instead of Jesus said. Some start believing your way, your church, your ministry, your latest I just discovered concept, your video is the answer that Christians have been missing all these years. Do you attend conferences? Do you keep seeing many of the same experts speaking at them? I do.

Second, your followers keep asking for more. They want the next book, blog post, conference message, brilliant outline, word or concept that will keep them excited about their faith until you or someone comes up with the next one. They want to hear your stats – how many books you sold, people came to Christ, churches were started or concerts you had this year. It’s a black hole that your groupies started and which may never end.

Third, you can’t mess up. Now I’m not condoning that we in ministry should be able to stray and have it overlooked or come without consequence. But when you’re famous, every action is evaluated, compared and examined by those who think you should be comparable to Billy Graham and Mother Teresa. And even the smallest chink in your armor may show up in People or Christianity Today.

You know what I’d rather be and do with my life? I want to merely be someone who influences others to be more like Christ. But there are no numbers associated with my wish. Could I become famous? I suppose so though my wife prays against that most of the time.

But if I’m content with influencing and impacting smaller numbers, one at a time or maybe a few hundred through my speaking, blogs or small books on family, then I won’t be so driven to try to find out how there can be more.

Granted, some will say that if I have more potential I should seek it. But perhaps we’ve forgotten that potential is often beyond our understanding or view. Could it be that touching and influencing just one person could have the same potential as someone who speaks to or writes for thousands has? I think so.

So rather than seeking fame go after influence and impact. Being famous could still be the result and if so handle it well. Stay humble. If you don’t, then instead of gaining notoriety you may just end up notorious.

 

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A New Year Change Means A New You In Some Way

newyearsWe’ve all tried the resolution route, right? We start off the new year (or new season of life) with great expectations that THIS time we will really stick with that exercise program, Bible reading plan, savings commitment or reduced sugar lifestyle. We promise not to get so angry but rather to unload one or more of those other bad habits or even destructive attitudes.

But before long, we haven’t just stopped our discipline. We didn’t even notice that we quit!

Why is that? Well, I would like to suggest that at least one significant reason for our lack of follow through is that we didn’t deal with the issue or issues inside that were fueling our dysfunction, unhelpful habit or lack of discipline. You see, often, in fact most of the time, the reason we’re overeating, spending too much, being lazy or angry much of the time lies somewhere deep within us.

There is pain, disappointment, even despair that hasn’t been addressed so many of our actions are actually painkillers. And frankly we don’t want to face the pain so we hold on to the drugs so to speak rather than release them. And if we do get rid of one drug, but don’t take care of the inward cause, the tumor, we’ll either go back to it or find a more socially acceptable drug to get people off our back.

So, what’s a better way? Deal with the source of your pain, discouragement, anger, despair or major disappointment. Perhaps you’re still grieving a loss, feeling like a failure, angry about a recent series of events or with an adult child. There are hundreds of possibilities that you and a pastor, therapist, counselor or insightful friend or spouse need to talk through. Let God also show you where the real problem resides.

Because once you start to let go of what caused that pain and the scar or tumor truly begins to heal, you won’t find yourself needing the medication so much. You’ll actually overcome some of your fears, try new things and accomplish a resolution (change) or two. It’s not an easy road, but try starting somewhere this year. Take a step or two but first look inside. It may be more readily fixed than you think. God certainly knows it can be handled. Give Him a chance.

If Your Heart Is Hurting This Christmas

grave-at-christmas

Janice sat by herself in the mall waiting for Carol to buy another present at a nearby store. Janice had agreed to accompany her friend to the mall for some Christmas shopping but was now regretting that she had come. Janice hadn’t bought one gift and probably would not today or the next day.

While Carol had kindly asked her to go into just one more store and give her an opinion about her gift choice, she simply couldn’t. All she could think about was that her mom, who passed away six weeks ago, wasn’t here this Christmas. It was always Mom and me who went shopping together. But not this year or ever again.

So Janice sat in the mall corridor watching seemingly happy people talking, drinking coffee, laughing and obviously anticipating another wonderful Christmas. How could the world just keep going and celebrating when her world felt so dark, empty and cold?

Janice isn’t a real person but there are lots like her out there this Christmas and one of them may be you or someone you know. And while everyone grieves differently to some degree and for varying lengths of time, there are a few important concepts to remember and embrace when going through grief at a holiday.

First of all, you don’t have to live up to everyone’s expectation. People will want you to go places, be there at certain times, stay for a while and enjoy yourself. You don’t have to. If  someone asks you to come over, say that you’ll see how you’re doing that day and may only come for dessert if at all. You decide. Whether they are happy or pleased about it doesn’t matter.

Second, you don’t have to do all the things you normally do for a holiday. If you feel like decorating, do it. If not, skip it or find somewhere in between. There’s no one right way to do Christmas after a loss. Do it your way. It’s okay.

Third, enjoy at least a few memories of your lost loved one. It may be in conversation with one or a few, depending upon what you can handle. It might be alone with a journal, looking at pictures or reading old letters. Whatever works to remind you of the good things that person placed in your life is the way to do it. If tears come, embrace them. If you smile, then feel free to laugh, too.

There will be more Christmases and other holidays. They will get better. But it might just take a while, longer than you think. But that’s okay because that’s the way you are. And that’s all that really matters.

 

Christmas: Merry, Messy or Both?

messy_christmasA good friend lost his dad today. Another relative is still missing her husband who died far too soon. I had a call this afternoon from a company leader who watched the rescue squad carry a worker away who had been killed on the job in a tragic accident.

Those people will probably not enjoy a very merry Christmas this year. No, their emotions, circumstances and thoughts will likely form an often messy cauldron of hurt, sadness and pain. Maybe your Christmas doesn’t look very merry either. And yet it seems like everyone around  you is still having a great time and wonder what is wrong with you.

The reality is that you are not alone. Many are experiencing what you’re facing though they may never talk about it. It doesn’t matter. You’re not weird or abnormal. The very first Christmas was messy too.

Jesus was born into a messy situation to a woman who would be thought of as having an illegitimate child (though in reality she was married.)  He was born in a manger, not even a home, special room or place of care. Within two years the king was trying to have him killed. Yes, he had some special visitors, even supernatural observation and rejoicing,  but very few celebrated his birth beyond that.

You see, Christmas doesn’t have to be a totally happy, merry time. It only takes on its  complete significance in the context of messy. Christ was God’s answer for the world’s rejection of him, his way for us to get to God, become His child and find hope and strength to deal with messiness.

So how can we act if we’re facing messy this Christmas? First, if you’ve never done so, invite this Jesus into your life, your messiness, your selfishness and sin. He will help you overcome your mess every day you need Him.

Second, accept the mess as fertile ground for God to work, grow you and bear much fruit. Mess can be the compost that actually helps nourish the soil and causes greater growth.

Third, enjoy the special moments you can still experience this season. Don’t miss joy that you could relish because you keep staring at your mess.

Fourth, talk to God, get to know Him in the mess of your life. He specializes in fixing messes or showing His greatness in them.

Emmanuel means God With Us, even in the mess, especially in the mess. When Jackie had her cancer we left our Nativity out for the entire year. Why? Because we needed reminding that God would be with us IN the mess. He’ll do the same for you.

Do You Really Want a NEW Year? I Do. Many don’t.

change-taylor-swiftOkay, I’ve got your attention by putting a Taylor Swift picture above this blog post. And yes, I know that Christmas isn’t even here yet so maybe you’re probably wondering why I’m already looking at January 1 and beyond. However, the next few weeks will fly  by and frankly with the election now over, there are a lot of possible new ways of doing things that are ahead for our country. We of course don’t know what they all will be but hopefully many of them will be what we’ve all been waiting for whether we want to admit it or not.

The problem is that there are many people in our country who really don’t want to see significant change happen. For example, they don’t want more tolerance as I wrote about recently. They merely want their views to be the only ones acceptable and applauded.

Others will perhaps find opportunities for better jobs, more education and greater choice but would prefer to keep getting their government checks and other help rather than take the initiative needed to embrace those improvements in their lives. Staying where they are by choosing the easy way is better than having to actually accomplish something to receive their gain.

Millions will also likely look the other way when crooked, arrogant and self-serving leaders aren’t challenged, much more so prosecuted for their actions because that would mean that they were wrong about many of the  people they supported.

In additions many politicians on both sides don’t really want reform if it means losing their popularity with their constituents, relinquishing some of their perks and maybe not having a job with all that power anymore. They may talk about change, but will give little effort to see it happen. Remember our current president’s mantra about change we can believe in? Sadly, there has been little of that the last seven plus years.

So while New Year’s Day is just weeks away now, I wonder how much of the year will actually be new. I hope a lot of it. But it’s going to require that more of us actually desire the change that will make our country truly new, different, healthier and more prosperous. It will be change that requires both sides to listen, respect and respond kindly to those who disagree.

If we even did that on a small scale in 2017, it would really be a new year!