Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Two Things We All Do Which Kill Relationships!



Relationships are hard!

Whether as a parent, a spouse, a friend, a neighbor, or a co-worker, each of our roles in life demand enormous amounts of work, and there are so many ways to poison a relationship

Here are two things we all do which poison our relationships:

Gossip

When conflict comes up, many of us naturally default to talking about people instead of to people.  It's so much easier to talk to someone else and vent.  Unfortunately, gossip never solves conflicts.  Best case scenario, you might spread a false rumor while gossiping and someone might correct your falsehood (Of course, it's not much of a positive if it requires you to be spreading lies mistakingly).

When we gossip, this is what we do:

  • Gossip involves people in conflicts who aren't involved.
  • Gossip spreads rumors which aren't true.
  • Gossip escalates situations rather than resolving them.
  • Gossip ruins reputations by spreading partial truths out of context.
  • Gossip poisons other people's relationships.
Instead of Talking About People, Talk to People
If you want to start having healthier relationships, talk to people instead of about people.  When someone wrongs you or disappoints you, go and talk to them.  Most of the time, when you confront someone about a situation with compassion (not anger), it disarms the situation.  Instead of you running stories through your head about how they might respond horribly, you start to resolve the situation with ACTUAL conversations. 

When you choose to confront instead of choosing to gossip:
  • You keep the conflict only between those who are involved.
  • You stop yourself from LYING about someone if the allegations are false.
  • You actively work to resolve the situation as opposed to escalating things.
  • You preserve other peoples relationships.

MARRIAGE TIP: Be Very Careful About Venting to or About Your Spouse
My boss/pastor gave me some great advice about marriage and ministry: be very careful with what you share with your wife about what is going on behind the scenes in ministry.  When you vent to your spouse about a co-worker, or anyone else when you're highly emotional, they see your emotional state and they hear your emotional explanation for it.  What they don't see is the reconciliation process. They SEE the damage a conflict with someone else causes you, but they merely HEAR briefly that the issue is resolved.  Your quick explanation that things are resolved can't outweigh what they saw before.
This is why it's a really bad idea to vent about your spouse to a friend or family.  All they hear is why your spouse is awful.  They don't see the positive or the reconciliation.  If you commonly vent about your spouse to someone, don't be surprised when that person doesn't like your spouse; They don't know any better.


Being Critical

Proverbs 1821 The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Sometimes mistakes are made.
Sometimes they fail to meet your expectations.
As discussed before, when necessary, you need to choose to confront.  

There's a difference between choosing to have hard conversations, and choosing to be critical.

  • Do you nitpick every small mistake?
  • Do you create a negative environment?
  • Are you quick to offer criticism but slow to offer praise?

I know I struggle in this area.  I'm quick to see and verbalize faults, but I'm slow to give unfiltered compliments.  It's something I'm working on.

Instead Use Your Words to Speak Life
Virtually every relationship could benefit from more words of life.  Whether compliments, affirmation, or gratitude, we need more words which bring life to people.
  • What compliments are you thinking but not sharing?
  • Where do you need to drastically increase your words of life?
MARRIAGE TIPAlways find a way to say something positive in each setting.  Start your day with a compliment or gratitude. When each of you comes home after a long day at work, find something positive to say. Whatever you start with will shape your time together.  Why not start with nutrients instead of toxins?
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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How to Prepare Your Child to Graduate & Not Keep Moving Back Home




YOUR KIDS ARE GOING TO GROW UP!

As a parent, you only have so much time to prepare your children to be adults...and then it's time for them to move out.  Whether they go to college, move straight into the work force, or sit on your couch unemployed watching TV, adulthood is coming.  You only have so much time to prepare them for it.

There's only so much time before your child graduates from high school but, more importantly, into adulthood.  As this  year comes to an end, and our juniors become seniors, the clock resets as we anticipate another class of graduates.

You only have so many weeks left...
  • Freshman – 208 weeks
  • Sophomores – 156 weeks
  • Juniors – 104 weeks
  • Seniors – 52 weeks
This past year's seniors have graduated.  Another year has passed, and we're one year closer to your child graduating.  Are they ready?  More importantly, are they ready?

For me, I moved back in a lot:
  • I first moved out at 19....and then back home at 20
  • Then I moved out at 22...and back home at 23
  • The I moved out at 23...and back home at 26
  • Then I moved at 26...and back home at 29
...and I was married for the last two returns home.  I don't write anything to put you down, and I do understand that many times circumstances make it wise to move back in with your parents.  This post isn't about those times. This post is about when a graduate fails or delays launch!  Where do they need help?


If you want to feel the urgency of the ticking clock until your kid reaches adulthood, buy a bunch of marbles and a jar. Then, calculate how many weeks they have until they graduate, and put that many marbles in the jar.  Each week, take a marble out of the jar.  Suddenly, you'll feel the urgency of your maturing child and, weekly, you'll remind yourself to be intentional about preparing them to grow up.


No one plans to ruin their life, they just don't plan not to
 - Andy Stanley

Here are five areas where you need to prepare your child to launch!

As a disclaimer before I continue, NO ONE is perfectly prepared in all of these areas at age 18.  Most of us haven't mastered all five of these areas by age 30.  Don't look at these as a score card so much as a guide for how to prepare your child to launch into adulthood!

Part of being a parent is letting go, and letting go means they get to make their own choices.  Giving them the freedom to make choices is also giving them the freedom to make bad choices.

You can do everything right, and they can still make bad choices.  You can guide them. You can love them. You can model a godly life.  And they can still choose foolishness.  This list isn't intended in any way to be a punching bag or a way to judge anyone.  It's intended to help you prepare your child to launch!


DIRECTIONALLY - Do they have a direction?

One of the hardest things for anyone to do in life is decide who they want to be when they grow up.  For some people, they never discover who they want to be.  As a parent, one of the best things you can do for your child is help them on that journey.

For me personally, I didn't give much of any thought to the direction of my life until I graduated high school.  My grades were at best average in high school.  I only applied to two colleges while in high school (and I didn't get into either one). The night of my graduation, I remember distinctly thinking to myself, "What did I do the last four years?"  It wasn't until several years later that I discovered a direction for my life.  That meant it took me eight years to graduate college.  While I like where my life brought me, I imagine an alternate reality where I have all I currently have, plus a masters degree.  At this point, getting a masters seems unlikely.

The 17 year old version of you decided who adult you was going to become!

That's a crazy thought.  So much of who you are today was shaped by the decisions the teenage version of you made.  Maybe you love your life, or maybe you have deep regrets.  Either way, I imagine that you wish the you of today could go back and tell yourself to avoid certain  paths, or to pursue certain paths.
Well, you can't go back in time and change your decisions, but you can be a guide to your child.

You can't (and shouldn't) control your child's destiny, but you can do everything in your power to give them some forward direction.  You can explore career paths. You can give them guidance. You can have them do strength finder tests. Guide them!


Look at who your child is, and help direct them to be the best version of themselves.

It's okay for them to not know who they want to be or what they want to do!  

Given that most college students change majors somewhere between 3 to 5 times, even most of the people that KNOW what they want to do at 18, don't REALLY KNOW what they want to do.

What you don't want is a child with absolutely no direction or guidance wasting years of their life after high school doing nothing.  You also don't want your child going severely into debt (student loans) while not knowing where they're headed.

I personally went to community college until I figured out what I wanted to do.  Classes were dirt cheap, and many of my professors were actually University of Texas professors.  I was able to complete all of my core classes except one science class (and I took a bunch of really cool random classes like audio engineering) before going to a far more expensive Bible college.

MATURITY - Do they act like an adult?

At 18, your child is legally an adult.  That doesn't mean they will act like one.

In our culture, failure to grow up has become such a significant issue that they made a movie about it called, "Failure to Launch."  The movie stars Matthew McConaughey as a 35 year old man who still lives with his parents.  He has a job.  He's personable.  He's obviously good looking.  He just never grew up.  While he's a man by almost all standards, when it comes to maturity, he's still a little boy.

Delayed adolescence is almost becoming an epidemic in our culture.  Your child needs to know how to interact on a deep level. They need to know how to talk to adults.  They need to know to be responsible for themselves.  Children are are taken care of by their parents.  Parents are the safe guard against immaturity.  By the time your child graduates high school, you need to shift your role from safe guard to guide.

You need to prepare your child to live independently.

When your kid graduates, they should behave more like you than their little sister!

FINANCIALLY - Can they handle money responsibly?

When it comes to money, sometimes raw statistics can be incredibly powerful.
  • The average total debt for the college graduating class of 2013 is $35,200.  *
  • They have $26,000 in Federal loans
  • They have $19,000 in private loans
  • They have $18,000 in state loans
  • They have $3000 in credit card debit
  • Average credit card debt for an American is $4,878  **
  • Average credit card debt for a card owner that carries a balance is $8,220

You can't control your child's decisions, but you can guide them to make better ones.  Setting your child on a good financial path as early as possible sets them up for life long peace when it comes to finances.  However, allowing them to rack up debt sets them on a path of life long bondage to the lender.  

Imagine what an incredible blessing it would be to your child to teach them how to avoid debt, always give, and always save for the future?

Imagine the generous life they would have if they simply applied these five principles:
  • Don't spend money you don't have
  • Always give a percentage of your income away right off the top (if you're not a church-goer, teach them to give to charities)
  • Always save a percentage right off of the top
  • Always have an emergency fund
  • Don't buy more house than you can afford

BONUS FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS:  
Strongly consider income potential when assessing student loan debt

Considering all our nation has gone through over the last 5 years, those five pieces of advise (okay, six) could have saved millions of people from significant stress.

I'm a big fan of Dave Ramsey's "Financial Peace University."  It's a simple, common sense way to handle your money.  One of the most common statements from people who go through the class is, "I wish I had heard this sooner!" "I wish I had learned this when I was 18!"   Once again, you can't turn back time, but you can help your child to make great financial decisions from a young age.



SPIRITUALLY - Do they have a faith that stands and grows on it's own?

A borrowed faith is a useless faith when you're on your own!

I'm not a fan of spiritual doomsday statistics.  I've heard countless statistics about how this generation is leaving the church in record levels.  My experience doesn't seem to confirm that, and neither does academic level research.  But all the research does confirm that between the ages of 18 and 22 is when someone is most likely to STOP attending a religious service weekly.  And other research seems to indicate that age 16 is the year when they decide what they're going to do when they graduate.

As a parent, the most long-lasting thing you can do for your child is develop within them a deep faith of their own.  Their football career will likely end with high school.  If they're really talented, maybe they'll play sports in college.  If they're world class, they'll play through the first 20 years of adulthood (which is extremely unlikely).  It's going to end, and most likely sooner than later.  Whether it's sports, band, cheer-leading, or some other extracurricular, they end with high school or MAYBE college!  Hours and hours of practices, lessons, and select tournaments leads them to a career that ends usually with high school!  Are you getting my point?  They come to an end.

The spiritual deposits you make last for an eternity!  

Do you want a great football player in high school, 
or great man or woman of God for life?

While that sentence pits sports and discipleship against each other, I don't actually think they're in competition.  I know a guy who was in band in high school, had a job, had a girlfriend, was in the top 10% of his class, made lots of music in his free time, hung out with friends, and was one of the most plugged in students in the youth group (he actually led worship at one church on Sunday mornings and another on Sunday nights).  Your child can be extremely busy with extracurriculars and sports and still be fully plugged into church, IF their spiritual development takes priority over extracurriculars.

That doesn't come from token church visits or occasionally pushing them towards church involvement.  It comes from you investing in your child spiritually to such a degree that they want to plug into your church.  It comes from them seeing you having a daily devotion time, and wanting to follow your example.  It comes from you living a life of devotion to Christ that is so appealing they want what you have.

I'm going to be honest. I feel I can do a pretty good job of predicting which students who graduate my ministry will struggle spiritually and which will thrive spiritually.  It's not because I'm brilliant; the patterns are just that consistent.  When a parent pours into their kid and makes consistent and meaningful spiritual deposits, that child knows how to grow spiritually on their own.

You can't control what choices they will eventually make, but you can control the level to which you have prepared them to be on their own.
  • Does your child know how to to grow spiritually on their own?
  • Does your child engage with the church in a multi-generational setting?
  • Do they know how to worship in a setting not catering to their preferences?
  • Are they part of the body, or just a consumer of the body?
  • Do they really own their faith, or are they borrowing yours?

MORALLY - Do they have personal moral boundaries?

When your child receives independence, they will likely also have incredible access to temptation.  All the safe guards are gone.  You have no direct access. Their youth leaders have no direct access. There is no immediate accountability.  They are able to re-create themselves as whoever they want to be.

They suddenly have incredible access to their favorite sin!

This isn't just a Christian problem. We all know someone who went off to college with multiple scholarships, and lost all the money because they decided to party their way through freshman year.  This stuff ruins lives, and leads to horrible regrets.
  • Does your child have values?
  • Does your child have boundaries?
  • Does your child know when they've gone too far?
  • When it comes to your family rules, does your child know the "why" behind the "what?"
  • Is opportunity the only thing stopping your child from acting out?
  • Is the fear of getting caught the only thing stopping your child from acting out?


By instilling values in your child (rather than just enforcing rules), you prepare your child to make good choices on their own!


What areas do you believe are most important to prepare a child before they launch into adult life?



*    http://money.cnn.com/2013/05/17/pf/college/student-debt/
**  http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/credit-card-industry-facts-personal-debt-statistics-1276.php


If you liked this post, you'll probably also enjoy this previous blog.




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Monday, May 26, 2014

Four Shocking Things I Wish Every Parent of a Teenager Understood



After 10 years of working with teenagers, I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to grab a student's parents by the shoulders and scream, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!? DO YOU NOT REALIZE WHAT IS HAPPENING!?!?"

While I have no teenagers of my own, I've watched 100s of other people's teenagers launch into adulthood.  I've heard other people's teenagers share the stories they won't share with their parents, and it doesn't take long for patterns to emerge.

Here are four things I desperately want every parent of a teenager to understand:


The Internet is a Dangerous Place & Your Child is Doing Far More on the Internet & With Technology Than You Realize

Today's teenagers have grown up in the world of the internet and smart phones.  They were raised on the internet.  They never owned a DiscMan. All they've ever known is the iPod and smart phone. Today's youngest teenagers have virtually no memories from before the era of the smart phone.

I've been working with teenagers for over ten years now, and I've always been fairly technologically savvy.  Still, with each passing year, I feel further and further behind.  As the internet expands, new social networks pop up, and countless new apps appear daily; it's almost impossible to keep up.

If you think your child's primary social network is Facebook, either you or your child are four years behind the curve.

  • 25% of teenagers admit to sexting (sexual texting). This involves either sending sexual texts or images.
  • Depending on the study, children are first exposed to internet pornography between the ages of 8 and 11 on average.  Therefore, by the time your child is a teenager, they have likely been exposed to internet pornography.

Two Apps to Be Aware Of:

Snapchat - This app allows you to send a message which is deleted between 1 to 10 seconds after it is seen.  This app has caused all kinds of controversy for the obvious reasons.  Most students use the app primarily as a method of chatting.  Others use it to bully others, sext, or send their best friend a picture of what they just left in the toilet (I'm serious about that last one too).

Whisper - Whisper is a social network where people can share pictures and receive responses while remaining totally anonymous.  Students can share things which they would otherwise be afraid to share for fear of repercussions.  While using Whisper, you can find people posting within a several mile radius.  Because all posters are anonymous, it allows girls of all ages to post nude or semi-nude pictures seeking compliments from people of all ages.


Thoughts from someone who works with teenagers:
  • Your child is not the exception!  Some of my best students have admitted to some of the worst things.
  • When I learn a high school boy doesn't have any internet accountability, I assume he struggles with porn.
  • Even students who themselves don't partake in sexting will be sent either sexts or naked pictures and videos of their peers, whether they want them or not.
  • Some of your kids are cyber-bullies.  As a parent, you have the right to monitor what they are doing online, and have the responsibility to stop them from being a bully.
  • Some of your kids are raunchy online and/or doing their best to convince the world they're a full-time stoner.  As a parent, you have the right and responsibility to monitor their online behavior, and to stop their current self from sabotaging their future self's reputation.  I have warned a number of students directly that what they are posting online WILL prevent them from getting a job in the future...unless they want to be a drug dealer.
  • Sending naked or partially naked pictures isn't the activity of fringe or troubled students.  I've had some of my most plugged in students at church ADMIT to sexting fully nude pictures of themselves to strangers. Just because you have a really good kid doesn't mean they haven't done some really dumb things.  
We all did dumb things when we were teenagers. The internet and technology make it incredibly easy to share ours or others' stupidity.  Your child is NOT immune to teenage immaturity.
I would advise ALL parents to install some form of internet monitoring software on your child's computer, phone, and tablet. And I would still recommend keeping a close personal eye on what they are doing online.

You Shouldn't Trust Your Teenager!

Jeremiah 17
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.Who can understand it?

Before you accuse me of being a paranoid control freak, let me clarify:  I'm not suggesting parents shouldn't trust their child at all, but I am suggesting that you use the same common sense you use in the rest of your life and parenting.  Trust is a major theme in virtually every TV show or movie about teenagers but, without fail, it plays out in the worst way possible.  I have no idea how many movies and TV episodes I've seen where a teenager who was about to do something untrustworthy yells at their parent, "Why don't you trust me?!?"

Well, they're most likely not blindly trusting you based on one of two principles:
  1. Trust is earned
  2. Parenting is a process of slowly extending the boundaries of your child's freedom
Besides either my mother or my in-laws, the most common babysitter we use for my 2 year old son is a 14 year old girl from my student ministry. After having known her for 6 years, I trust her to keep my 2 year old son relatively safe and alive.  She has EARNED a reputation as TRUSTWORTHY.  If she made bad choices in her personal life, or while watching my child, she would LOSE some of the trust she previously earned, and I would not trust her with my child.  It's not because I'm paranoid or a control freak. It's because I use common sense.

The longer your teenager demonstrates trustworthy behavior in an area, the more you should trust them.  Likewise, if your teenager has a long history of breaking rules and behaving in a suspicious manner, you should be suspicious.  

If they can't demonstrate responsible behavior within their current boundaries, why would you extend them greater freedom?  If they demonstrate suspicious behavior within the freedom you grant them, why would you trust them with more?
  • Trustworthy behavior is rewarded with greater freedom.
  • Suspicious behavior has the consequence of less freedom and greater monitoring.  
This isn't paranoid behavior. It's common sense everywhere else in society. 

Thoughts from someone who works with teenagers:
  • Some of my best students have shared some of the most insane stories of sneaking out.
  • I've heard stories of hook ups.
  • I've heard stories of pregnancy.
  • I've heard stories of drug use.
  • I've heard stories of people loading guns in expectation of a drug dealer coming over...
These are all stories from my years with teenagers in a church setting.

Do not be naive.
Do not assume your child is the exception.


The Amount of Time Invested in an Activity Needs to Match the Length of Time It Will Be in Their Life

The teenagers years are filled with competing interests:
  • School
  • Sports
  • Clubs
  • Church
  • Band
  • Vacations
  • School trips
  • Friendships
  • Boy Scouts
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes
  • A Job

There are so many great opportunities for your teenager.  It's only natural that you wouldn't want your teenager to miss out on anything.  There are so many good opportunities.  How do you choose what's best?

Instead of focusing on which opportunities they will miss RIGHT NOW, 
Think about who you want them to be for a LIFETIME.  

You need to decide what you value for your child for a lifetime, and make larger decisions based off of those values.  Otherwise, the flashiest promoter or most urgent announcement will guide your child's schedule.

Sports, school, and a job will always be more URGENT than church if you don't place it as a top priority.

If your child's football career is going to end in December of their senior year, don't let football determine their schedule during high school.

Whatever your prioritize, they will value!

What does THEIR schedule say about what YOU value?
What does THEIR schedule say about what THEY value?
If you don't value church involvement while they're living with you, why would you expect them to value church attendance when they move out?

They're Going to Leave...Make Good Use of the Time You Have

One of the most powerful things you can do as a parent is do the math to discover how many weeks you have until they graduate high school, then find a way to visually demonstrate the passing of time.  I've heard one group of people propose putting a jar of marbles (the number of marbles is equal to the number of weeks until they graduate) on your night stand for each child that you have.  Each Sunday remove one marble from the jar.  When your jar has 700 marbles those weekly removals aren't such a big deal.  When you get down to the final year, each marble is heart-breaking.

If you want something less theatrical,  The Legacy App tracks the time for you.  You enter your child's birthdate, and it will give you a weekly reminder of just how much time you have.

It's so easy to become passive as a parent.
It's so easy to become reactive as a parent.
Urgency creates pro-active parenting.

Love your kids.
Parent your kids.


If you liked this post, here is another article you may like:





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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Free Stuff | LIFT a Worship Leader Collective 2014 #lift2014


I don't know how long this content will be online for free, but right now you can download the content from Louie Giglio's LIFT Conference for free.  The main sessions have audio and low or high def video. Most of the breakout sessions are just audio.

The conference contains sessions from:

  • Louie Giglio
  • Chris Tomlin
  • Kristian Stanfill
  • David Crowder
  • Christy Nockels
  • ...and more

I'm downloading all of the content assuming it won't be up for free forever (the previous years content requires you to have a password.


Download the conference HERE
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Friday, May 23, 2014

Free eBook | "Disciplism" by Alan Hirsch


Free eBook from Alan Hirsh, "Disciplism." Download it HERE!
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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

VIDEO | "Oceans" by The Digital Age



Here's a video of The Digital Age covering Hillsong United's "Oceans."  They have a very cool take on things.


 
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Saturday, May 17, 2014

VIDEO: Elevation Worship | All Creatures of Our God & King

I don't think I ever would have guessed that vocoders and hymns would be a good mix for corporate worship, but they may have convinced me.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

FREE STUFF | R.C. Sproul's eBook "The Work of Christ"



Free eBook from R.C. Sproul, "The Work of Christ" here.
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FREE STUFF | Free eBook "Confident Parent" by Jim Burns



Free eBook on parenting by Jim Burns "Confident Parent."  Download it while it's free here!
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How to Form & Lead a Tribe | Seth Godin on Tribes

Seth Godin is an expert on marketing and leading tribes of people organically.  Here are his notes on leading a tribe from his TED Talk from a few years back.

Leading a Tribe | The Cycle

TELL A STORY to a group that wants to hear it
CONNECT A TRIBE | Find a group of people who are looking to be connected
LEAD A MOVEMENT - Based on this tribe
MAKE A CHANGE - Find something unique which unites a tribe


 THREE QUESTIONS ON LEADING A TRIBE


 Who Exactly Are You Upsetting?
  • If you're not upsetting anyone you're not changing the status quo

Who Are We Connecting?


Who Are You Leading?
  • Focus on WHO you are leading not the mechanics

TRIBE LEADERS

1) Challenge the status quo
2) Build a culture
3) They have curiosity about outsiders
4) They connect people to each other
5) They commit to the cause


Being a leader gives you charisma






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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

LINKED POST | 10 Ways to Avoid Awkward Silence in Small Groups



Working with teenage boys, I'm no stranger to small groups with lots of awkward silence.  Getting boys to talk is an art form. As much as I appreciate any pointers, I like to pass them along as well.

CLICK HERE
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Four Things Every Married Couple Must Do! (Video Blog Edition)





I'm not an expert on marriage or a master at being married but, over the years, I've been given some very good advice on marriage (I won't take any credit for these ideas).  If you've been married longer than your honeymoon, you know that being married is hard.  When you take one sinner and join them with another sinner, you get more sin.








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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

LINKED POST | It's Never Too Late to Intentionally Date Your Spouse: 15 Questions to Get You Started

In light of my post from yesterday on warning signs that your marriage may be in danger, here is an article on 15 questions to help start intentionally dating your spouse again.

CLICK HERE TO READ
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BOOK REVIEW & QUASI-RANT ABOUT JON ACUFF | Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, and Do Work That Matters



For Jon Acuff's fourth book, Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, and Do Work That Matters, he takes on the subject of pursing your dreams.  Or as he calls it, pursing awesome! According to Acuff, traditionally awesome was a destination which took a lifetime to achieve. The journey takes you through the 5 stages (each of which corresponds with a decade of your life):

  1. Learning (20's)
  2. Editing (30's)
  3. Mastering (40's)
  4. Harvesting (50's)
  5. Guiding (60's)

However, in the modern landscape, there's never been more opportunity to achieve awesome sooner rather than later.  The body of the book dedicates a chapter to each of these fives stages, and offers insights into how you can achieve a career which you both enjoy and that matters.

Throughout the book Acuff tells of his journey from working a series of average jobs he didn't care about to finally landing his dream job working for Dave Ramsey.

The GOOD

Start is a fun and quick read.  Acuff is a funny guy, and he fills the book with anecdotes and his signature wit.  Moving from subject to subject he's never short on personal experiences to illustrate the point.  Often times he throws himself under the bus or makes himself the butt end of the joke.  While he often writes of his many successes, he's equally quick to make sure you never make to much of him.

If you knew anything about Jon Acuff before reading this review or the book, you knew that he's funny. That wasn't surprising. The real surprise of the book is his insight into what motivates and inspires us.  While reading the first couple of chapters my mind quickly wandered towards several areas where I needed to START! In the week since I started reading the book that inspiration has led me to take a huge step towards this blog's next phase as well as starting writing an eBook. If the purpose of this book was to both motivate people to start, and equip them to finish, this book has accomplished at least 50% of it's goal already with me.

Some of my favorite chapters of the book were the appendices at the end.  Whereas the body of the book focused more on ideas and Acuff's personal story, the appendices gave practical action steps.

BAD

While the book succeeds at providing initial motivation to start, it's less successful beyond that point.  While each chapter of the body of the book focused on a different stage of obtaining awesome, the chapters quickly started to blend together.  I started to lose some interest around the middle of the book. A large portion of my dwindling interest came from Acuff intentionally placing all of the action steps in a chapter in the back of the book.  Chapter 2 ends with a note about how he intentionally chose to place all of the action steps in the back of the book to keep the flow of the narrative.  Unfortunately I think this was a misstep given the nature of the book. In a book which is all about taking action, it's worthwhile to pause after each step reflect on HOW to take those steps.  For me, I got lost in all of the lofty talk and anecdotes.  I just wanted to know what I needed to do.

Furthermore, while Acuff's anecdotes make the book engaging, eventually they start to make his story  unrelatable.  Acuff is clearly a natural starter. He switches jobs frequently, is quick to take on new challenges, and he's entrepreneurial. His rise to fame doesn't involve him identifying his dream and pursing it. Instead Acuff tried countless ideas and eventually one of his many blog ideas (Stuff Christians Like) went viral.  This led to both speaking opportunities and eventually a book publishing deal.  Eventually Dave Ramsey took notice and decided to offer him a spot on his roster.  With Ramsey's massive influence, Acuff was propelled onto the best-sellers list and in front of an audience of millions.  

Essentially he was firing off ideas shotgun style, and eventually he hit a small moving target. Luckily Rambo noticed and decided to personally back him with his own team of commandos. Maybe that's a bit over-stating things. To be fair, when Acuff found his blog going viral, he had the talent to grow his readership to huge numbers.  When he was asked to speak, he successfully transitioned to the new medium.  When Ramsey offered him his platform, he was up for the challenge.  He's a talented guy.  It's just his story seems filled with what looks like luck.  Therefore, it doesn't come off as transferable.

THE UGLY

Speaking of Acuff's story...

Ultimately the biggest problem with the book isn't within the book itself. It's what happened five months after the book was released, and one week after the START Conference. To understand why what I'm about to say is so troublesome to the book you have to understand central theme of the book is that Acuff's dream job is working for Dave Ramsey.  On September 20th 2013, less than six months after the books release, Acuff resigned his position with Dave Ramsey without really much explanation.  All we really know is that the decision was about moral failure or new opportunities, and both sides wished each other the best, at least publicly.  Since his resignation Acuff has continued blogging, speaking at national conferences, and publishing books (his latest his by his wife).

There are two big reasons this is a problem:

(1) It's difficult to take a book about finding your dream job seriously when the author of said book quites their dream job right after publishing the book.

(2) The series of events makes Acuff come off like a career opportunist.  Dave Ramsey has spent the last couple of years very clearly grooming talent to replace himself.  He knows he only has another 10 years or so before he needs to fully pass the torch.  Acuff was one of those talents.  Ramsey even let Acuff have a spot in his follow up to the mega-successful Financial Peace University, The Legacy Journey. Ramsey invested several years into Acuff, and put the full Ramsey marketing machine behind Acuff's books Quiter and Start. He even gave him his own START Conference.  As soon as Acuff had broken free from his reputation of simply being the funny guy and has built an impressive resume of best sellers, he resigned from Dave Ramsey's company.

I have absolutely no idea what actually happened, but from the outside it looks like Acuff used Ramsey to get to the big leagues.  I could be totally off base with my interpretation of the facts, but any way you spin the story he still left his dream job 5 months after releasing the book about finding his dream job. It looks bad. His actions after the release of the book act as a disheartening epilogue.

CONCLUSION

Honestly I'm not sure what I think about the book.  It's an entertaining book which starts off motivational, keeps your attention, and which ends with some great actions steps. However, the book's central ideas are somewhat undermined by the authors story




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Monday, May 12, 2014

FREE eBOOK | Keeping the Ten Commandments by J.I. Packer


Everyone likes free stuff!  Here's a free eBook from J.I. Packer called "Keeping the 10 Commandments."


CLICK HERE to download.



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