Month: June 2015

The Most Pervasive, Hidden Energy Waster and How to Avoid It (Hint: Stuart Smalley was wrong!)


No, I’m not going to shame you for scrolling through social media now, I wouldn’t even have your attention without it!

I have found myself over the years getting tripped up in all kinds of time wasters but more importantly, energy wasters. When I am low on energy I make terrible decisions; I treat people brashly, avoid obvious mistakes, fall into clouded judgment, make extremely little progress on important goals, and am just no fun to be around…even for myself.

So I’ve been paying attention to energy, to what drains me the most. Is it long days? No. Is it conflict at work or at home? No. Is it little visible achievement with a task or project? No.

I’ve found the biggest, useless, and most frustrating energy drainer that steals away my potential is self-doubt. Think of all the wasted moments and unused neurons and lost vitality just dumped into the void of lacking confidence and ‘what if it doesn’t work outs’ or ‘I’m not good enoughs.’

If we want to recapture the lost vigor and jump towards more progress and learning through mistakes and all that good stuff then we must learn to suppress self-doubt.

We’ve all tried the positive self-talk (thank you Stuart Smalley from SNL back in the day!). There is some merit to that self-help strategy for sure. Sometimes if I just put a smile on my face joy molecules start firing off again.

But here’s where Stuart was wrong. What if the self-doubt is true? What if I’m not good enough to pull this off? What if I really don’t know how to do this? What if people doggone it don’t actually like me?!

What if our strategy is to agree with the self-doubt statements to steal away their power over us?

“Yes, negative voice in my head, thank you for pointing that out, I don’t know what I’m getting into and I will probably mess it up. I will not do that one perfectly and all the people will not like me afterwards.”

“And so what self doubt voice! Big deal. I’m going to step forward with joy, and big-time effort, knowing that I will still be loved and accepted by God, knowing that I will learn and get better along the way, knowing that I can apologize and work out any issues that arise with other people. But I will not waste my time with you.

I will not waste my energy on you self-doubt voice. I won’t give you the best of my mental space to figure out this problem or challenge, because I agree with you, so time to move on to giving this my best try with my best energy.”

There you go, a window into my psyche that you didn’t necessarily ask for!

Instead of fighting self-doubt, agree with it, then it will pipe down and you can press on.  Of course, the unshakable foundation of knowing who you ARE in the eyes of God can’t be changed based on what you DO is a necessary starting point.

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Are You Still Waiting for Something to Change?

The mighty army of Israel was “quaking with fear.” They were hiding in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. Some had even left the Promised Land and crossed back over to the other side of the Jordan River (1 Samuel 13:6-7). Only 600 men and Saul and Jonathan remained. The enemy, too numerous to count, was squeezing out the resources and energy of the Israelites, no blacksmiths could make weapons and food was scarce. There was almost no hope.

The armies of the Lord sat. They waited and waited and waited some more. No word from the Lord. No clear plan of victory. No way out.

Have you ever felt that way? The odds are stacked against you. Maybe it’s with a project at work or a problem in a relationship or a pattern in your life. No sign of help from God. No hope to lean on. No pathway forward for change. What do you do in a situation like that?

Jonathan, the son of King Saul, looked at the brooding enemy army. He had enough; enough of the waiting, enough of the doing nothing, enough of the threat untested. He was going to act.

“Jonathan said to his younger armor-bearer, ‘come, let’s go over to the outpost…Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.” (1 Samuel 14:6)

So Jonathan and his armor bearer, scaled the cliff, and decided to just show up in the middle of the enemy camp and see what God would do.

Now, I don’t know if they had a little liquid courage, or if they were adrenaline junkies, or just had a few screws loose; but you’ve got to admit, their actions were a little insane. Enemies who wanted their blood, as far as the eye can see, and they jump into the middle of that.

I’m not quite settled on the risk factor of what they chose to do and don’t worry I’m not about to challenge you to jump out into the middle of a highway at rush hour either. But here is how God is challenging me.

Do I really believe that nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, from helping from stepping in whether by many or by few? Helping me with work challenges, resource limitations, and growth areas in my life? I don’t think I have. I’ve needed to confess areas where I thought God would NOT be able to accomplish His work.

Secondly, He does it by many or by few. He doesn’t act in this context apart from the initiative of a person. Is it time for you and for me in that certain area of life to take action where little faith abounds? Is it time to stop waiting for a sign, stop waiting for assurances that may never come because God is waiting for us to step forward, and say “Perhaps the Lord will act on my behalf” and then jump into the middle of the mess with our faith-filled effort. Where are you waiting? Time to step out.

Oh and, by the way.  When they stepped into the enemy camp, there was “a panic sent by God” among the enemies and the Israelites were saved.  They were saved by God through the faith-filled step of a few.

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What Kind of Leader Will You Be Today?

Saul went searching for some runaway donkeys, nothing more (1 Samuel 9). He was unaware that those fugitives were a divinely orchestrated ploy to lead Saul to the prophet Samuel and ultimately to be anointed as the first King of Israel. I can imagine his reaction “I was only looking for some lousy escapee animals!”

Listen to the promise Saul received at his surprise anointing.

“The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.” 1 Samuel 10:6-7

Those signs were fulfilled and those promises were activated. God is with you! His Spirit is powerfully upon you! You are a changed person! Saul would need those immense assurances to fulfill his approaching leadership demands.

Fast forward to the moment when Saul was to step into leadership. The Prophet Samuel goes out on a limb in front of all Israel and calls Saul, the newly anointed King, forward. But Saul can’t be found; he’s hiding among the supplies, among the baggage!

I try to replay the internal dialogue that might have gone on in Saul’s handsome head. “I can’t do this! I can’t be the King of Israel. I don’t know how to govern wisely. Israel has never had a King before, so what if they don’t like me? What if I don’t know what to do? I’ll be the target of every battle. I don’t have enough energy or experience for the role, it’s too much for me!” On and on and on. I/me, I/me, I/me.

The only explanation for a person to hide and hold back like this is that he was stewing on fear and limits. Saul got lost in his own mind forgetting the source of his leadership strength. “God is with you! The Spirit is powerfully on you! You are a changed person!” Instead of God’s ability, Saul focused on his own inability I/me, I/me, I/me. The whole point was that Saul couldn’t do it. But God could, through Saul.

It’s interesting to me that he hid among the “baggage.” I’ve found myself hiding among my own baggage; dwelling on the past that didn’t work out quite the right way or the mistakes I made or the hurts I endured, my baggage. That led me to a whole lot of I/me, I/me, I/me fear based and numbing excuses.

So my question today for myself and for you: Will you hide among the baggage of your life today? When called forward to lead and to serve in any capacity, will you do it with an active awareness of the Spirit’s presence and power in your life? Or will you choose to stay hiding among the I/me fears and limits?

(Cue the sound of an old-school megaphone here) Step away from the baggage! God is with you! The Spirit is upon you! Lead.