Have you had seasons when your relationships have felt stagnant? I know I have. I’ve even had times where I’ve been downright frustrated or offended in relationships and I’ve been ready to quit. Sometimes it’s my marriage, other times it’s friendships; it has even been with family members.
I was recently on a three week research sabbatical and, man, was I ever surprised at how it went. More on this later. In my time and space that I’ve never had the privilege of experiencing before, I was able to make some observations. One of the loudest observations I made is how many social games people play. There”s the typical ‘keeping up with the Jones” stuff and then there’s the ‘I’m going to take people down who have more than I have’ stuff.
If you are, “you are disagreeing with God. Questioning his judgement. Second-guessing his taste. According to him you were ‘skillfully wrought’ (Ps. 139:15). You were ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ (Ps. 139:14). He can’t stop thinking about you! If you could count his thoughts of you, ‘they would be more in number than the sand’ (Ps. 139:18). Why does he love you so much? The same reason the artist loves his paintings or the boat builder loves his vessels. You are his idea. And God has only good ideas. ‘For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago’ (Eph. 2:10 NLT).” – From Max Lucado’s Fearless (Affiliate Link)
Let’s face it: life is busy. I don’t just mean that there’s a lot to do. I mean if you don’t duck fast enough, your over committed life will smack you. In our personal lives, my wife and I have found ourselves asking this question a ton. It’s obviously a lesson we are in the process of learning.
Warning: I’m going to disclose some information in this post that will be very misleading unless you read the entire article. Enjoy.
It’s no secret that I’m a Christian. I regularly participate in activities that help me grow in my faith. This includes daily prayer and Bible reading, journaling, attending church, meeting with guy friends for accountability, plus more.
I recently invited some friends of mine to a movie. We were so excited to have some much needed guy time, as we all have at least 3 kids. Don’t get me wrong, my wife is the superhero parent in our home, but I have to play the martyr once in a while. (Enter smiley face emoticon)
I always thought leaders were the people who started the company or led the fight against the opposition. I thought leaders had to have thousands of followers; people looking to the one person in charge waiting with baited breath to find out what the leader wanted them to do. I thought leaders had to approve every decision, know how to do everything, and have an answer immediately available for any scenario. And to fall short of this expectation, a person would be anything but a leader. I might even secretly call them incapable or a failure.
With this mindset, I have run myself ragged over the past several years trying to have all the answers. And I never did this from a position of pride; I never thought I had to be a know-it-all. I just thought that since my practice is, well…mine, I had to know everything. The truth is (spoiler alert…), I don’t know everything, nor do I need to.
I spoke with Daniel Tardy from Dave Ramsey’s organization last week. He’s somebody I have tremendous respect for. I was telling him how exhausted I get with all the questions I get all the time, and he said something profound. He told me, “Just because you’re the leader doesn’t mean you have to have all the answers. That would be a huge mistake. I used to think that. It just means you have to be willing to go first.”
I have slept through the night every night since that conversation. I’m happy to go first. I’m thrilled that the expectation on me is not necessarily to always know what to do, but to be willing to take the first step. That’s something I can do, and it’s a lot easier than having every detail worked out in my head for every scenario I might someday be asked about.
Where in your life are you willing to go first?
I used to think the way I felt meant something. It doesn’t. I’ve just decided that my ‘gut feelings’ get me paranoid, in trouble, screwed over, or all three. So I’m learning to make my decisions based on facts, not feelings.
For instance, I could see a patient demographic print off in our printer in my clinic for a specific doctor. There are two logical explanations for this. Option 1: my associate is trying to rip me off by stealing patient demographic information. With this information, he can quit his job in my office, go down the street, open another office using the ideas and training he received in my office, and then reach out to all those patients and entice them to come to his new office down the street. Option 2: my associate wanted to see how many new patients came in to see him over the past month, and our practice management software prints the patient’s demographic information as part of this report. To be honest, my natural tendency is to default to the former. Yours is too. I’ll prove it to you. Have your parents ever called you on a night you decided to go to bed earlier than normal? Their phone call woke you up, so that must mean one of them has been in an accident, passed out, or died, right? I’ve been wrong about that 100% of the time I thought or feared that. Chances are, they’re calling to tell me they got home from vacation safely.
Through trained behavior, we can learn to respond in a healthier, more appropriate way. Navy Seals do this all the time. I recently read in the book Damn Few where Seal Rorke Denver’s colleague remained calm and continued to shoot at the enemy after a slight distraction: he was shot in the eye! Talk about trained behavior! I’ve never been shot in the eye, but if by some chance I happened to be shooting a gun at an enemy and I did get shot in the eye, I would probably just freak out.
So next time you don’t feel inspired, do your work anyway. Connect people. Serve people. Success loves action. So take action and, chances are, the feelings of inspiration will follow.
I’ve been thinking…dangerous, I know…about how we always see the very things on which we focus.
If you’re looking for things you don’t like, you’ll find them every time. If you’re looking for things that inspire you, you’ll find yourself inspired.
I recently made a commitment to be 100% intentional about what I think about. My mission: find reasons to be grateful. It’s working well.
Harry S. Truman said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” I agree, Mr. Truman – I’m grateful for your input.
We ask and answer about 350 questions every day. What will I wear? Should I address that? Or sometimes chilling questions like, “What color casket do you think he would have wanted?”
I ask God a question every day: “God, where are you working today and how can I help?” Here’s the challenge: we often ask a question and then don’t stick around long enough for the answer.
What’s more is we’re not the best listeners either. I always chuckle when I say something like, “Good morning!” And I hear, “I’m good. You?”
The reality is, when you ask something, stick around for the answer. If it doesn’t come, listen better. Sometimes it’s right in front of you, you’ve just forgotten what you were looking for.