Matter- to be of importance; significance.
As I listened to the person on the other screen, of course on Zoom, talking about life, the plan he had built to make progress and impact, and his mixed ideas around motivation, he said something that stood out to me.
It was something I feel too many people may encounter all too often.
Immediately I realized that so many times we fall into a trap...
The comparison trap.
You’ve done it as well, I know you have.
And I would be lying if I did not admit to doing it myself.
So many people are constantly looking around at others trying to see how they measure up to those they see.
It is a death trap. It will kill your...
Or even worse...
To carry out your carefully constructed plan that is meant to thrust you into living a life of impact.
But the comparison trap is only the beginning.
As frustrating as comparison can be...
As life draining as it is...
As much as you may hate the fact that you do it...
It is simply the catalyst for something even more damaging, more frustrating, more life-draining, and more hopeless.
Falling into the comparison trap ultimately leads to a mindset.
A self-sabotaging mindset.
A defeated mindset.
A demoralizing mindset.
This mindset eventually settles in your heart and soul at which point you begin to feel...
Here is the line the guy on the other screen used, “I started to feel like it didn’t matter and wasn’t good enough.”
This was, of course, regarding what he originally felt was on his heart to accomplish.
How often have you found yourself not doing what you strongly feel you should be doing simply because you felt like it “didn’t matter"?
How often have you said, "it doesn’t matter”?
How often have you felt your life and your story “do not matter"?
All because you started comparing and allowing the comparison to make you feel like what you wanted to set out and do may not measure up somehow in the eyes of those around you.
Don’t let your tendency to fall into the comparison trap cause you to believe whatever it is you feel you should be doing does not matter, especially if you feel it is part of your vision, identity, and/or life’s purpose.
Let this sink in my friend.
If I were face to face with you I would look intently into your eyes and tell you that
IT MATTERS & YOU MATTER!
Blessings & Honor,
Much like nearly anyone could say, I’ve had some tough times; we’ve all gone through periods that gave us grief. Two years ago, I codified a philosophy for living rooted in my psychometric research for the Army; I found that the personal attributes of grit and gratitude are predictive of high performance in the military. Each attribute is good on its own, but their magnitudes mean more together. Additionally, I've added grace as a complement to gratitude. Personal conclusion: In times of #grief, #growth to #greatness is possible through #grit, #gratitude, and #grace.
As defined by Duckworth, grit is passion and perseverance for long-term goals, the accomplishment of which might define greatness. I like to think of gratitude as the quality of being thankful and ready to show appreciation. It is taking inventory of how my glass is half full, and then expressing appreciation towards myself and others for their contribution to the glass. I think of grace as the manifestation of favor and forgiveness. It is taking inventory of how my glass is half empty, and then using empathy to forgive myself and others for being less than perfect.
Grit, gratitude, and grace have been really helpful things for me to think about while viewing myself and the world; hope they help you!
Deteriorating health. A marriage on the rocks. Conflicts at work. The iceberg, dead ahead. Awareness buys you time, and time buys you options. What happens though when a sudden event brings your life to a complete stop?
I assumed March 2nd would go as any other normal Tuesday. The only difference was that my third child was scheduled to be born that morning. In retrospect, my first mistake was the assumption (perhaps a bit of hubris) that we would be in and out of the delivery room with no issue. According to my plan, after a check-in at 8:30 AM at the hospital, my third child would be brought into this world at around 11:00 AM, and I was wondering what the plan was for lunch. At 5:00 PM, he still wasn't here. At 6:00 PM, he still wasn't here. Congratulatory texts from family and friends sat unanswered as my wife and I wondered what was going wrong.
When my son finally made his appearance, he was unresponsive. A healthy pregnancy up until the day of delivery. This wasn't in my plans for the day. My mental and physical existence was equally split, simultaneously. Mentally, I was attempting to reassure my wife that everything was going to be just fine, while stepping out onto the battlefield for some spiritual warfare. Physically, I was attempting to hold my wife's hand to reassure her that everything was going to be just fine while using my other hand to manipulate an infant manual resuscitation bag, while the doctors tried to address the other issues plaguing my son.
As the next week in the hospital unfolded, I am unsure if I had to witness anything worse than my son being taken from my wife's chest in the delivery room just mere seconds after being placed there, as the doctors explained that he needed to be in the NICU with no further delay. As I followed the doctors and my son to the NICU, I turned around to look at my wife still laying on the delivery room bed, tears streaming from her face. I closed the door without a word. This wasn't in my plans.
I immediately became angry and resentful as I followed the doctors down the hallway. I wasn't listening to Him. We are told in Proverbs 3:5 to "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding". At that moment, I didn't trust Him and I thought I could lean on my own understanding. I knew better than what I was acting. My faith is strong and I allowed doubt and uncertainty to consume me. As I continued to be in prayer and thought throughout the week, visiting my son's bed in the NICU as he lay there attached to wires and tubes, I came to realize that my greatest failure was not my son's health or my wife's well-being, because I had no control over that. My greatest failure was an inability to listen to Him, an inability to be still and allow Him to work.
I was in a hurry to get my son home. I was in a hurry to get back to normal.
As my son's condition improved, I submitted everything I had to the Lord and finally gave up what little (if any) control that I had left. I submitted my heart, my mind, and my plans. I acknowledged that I was not sufficient enough to save my son, my wife, or myself. It never ceases to amaze me how words of the Bible come to life. I met Him halfway through Proverbs 3:6 ("in all your ways submit to Him"), and he held up His end ("and He will make your paths straight").
Our third child was born on March 2nd and was discharged from the NICU on March 8th. He is a completely healthy boy, and now our party of five is complete. Relative to some of the other children (and parents) we saw in the NICU, we made it out of there pretty easily. NICU was not in my plans and I handled it pretty terribly in the beginning. The MINUTE that I submitted my heart, mind, and soul to God in that hospital hallway, crying uncontrollably, I felt His presence and knew that we were going home with our son.
Men, be still and listen. Step outside of yourself and recognize that we do not possess nearly the amount of control that we believe we should have. In the midst of a difficult situation, submit to Him and your paths will be made straight. We know that whoever exalts himself will be humbled. The next time you face difficulty, give it all to Him……...and wait. I promise He will be there.
James 4:10 "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up."
Jeff Simon 2021
Quite a few years ago a fellow that I worked with was all jazzed up about his new girlfriend. In his mind, she was quite the catch; attractive, articulate, and fun. Problem was, he was already married to a gal who possessed all those same qualities, plus he had two small children with her. By the time he told me this he had already moved out of the house and was quite nonchalant about it all. Stunned by my friend's disclosure, I started peeling back the onion with him.
In his mind they had grown apart; she was not meeting his needs, their interests had diverged, and while not ready for a divorce, he wanted to play the field and experience some "freedom".
His story got me thinking about the human condition and marriage. Take a trip back to geometry class and imagine a line with point A (for yourself) and point B (for your wife). Let's call this the Line of Marriage (LOM). I believe most people when they get married would expect they are on the same line and will grow closer over time, experiencing the joys and struggles of raising a family and life together. Most people will attempt to stay on the line and grow their marriage, but often with their own strength.
Well, reality bites, doesn’t it? There are legions of circumstances, prior baggage, and sinful life choices that conspire against a man and woman from achieving the unity that many strive for. All too often partners that started together on the LOM end up launching themselves in a new direction, off the line and moving away from their spouse and marriage commitments.
Let’s go back and visualize our marriages as a triangle, but change up the names a bit for each point. We have point B (husband), point C (wife), and at the apex, point A. Let’s name Point A: Jesus.
Hebrews 12: 2 tells us "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfector of our faith…". That is a command that if both members in a marriage will follow, will set the stage for a healthy marriage and family life. If each person in the marriage is moving towards Jesus, if He is the One who occupies the priority position of daily worship and devotion in our lives, each will move up the leg of the triangle towards Him. When both parties of the marriage are moving north, closer to Jesus, they are also moving closer to each other.
Eph 5:25 tells men to love their wives, and that is all we can control. We can choose to love God, pursue Christ daily, and love our wives. Spiritual leadership isn't being able to read the New Testament in Greek or having all the right answers all the time. It means getting out of bed and getting to church on Sunday. It is the dad who needs to be getting the kids up out of bed and off to church, not mom pushing them the whole way there. It is dad's responsibility to ensure that the kids are participating in age-appropriate Sunday School and church activities, all the way through high school. Be seen by your family reading your Bible and making time to pray with your wife and children weekly. These are simple leadership activities that will encourage your wife to grow and move up her leg of the marriage triangle towards Jesus while growing closer to you.
Dale Maudru 2021
All day long, the faces on TV are talking. We’ve all got our favorites, they scratch a certain itch. They say the things we want them to say and we want more. Worse yet, we start to believe all that they say. The internet is buzzing with information. We have our bookmarked websites and check them daily, many of us getting our updates pushed to our phones for our enjoyment first thing in the morning. We read the headlines, but not the article because who really has time for that. Just a few words are all we need to understand what the author is trying convey, right? Can you feel your thoughts being pulled in a certain direction?
Social Media accounts are pinging with this alert and chiming with that alert. If you re-post that article
about that politician or that celebrity, someone will like it, maybe even comment on it. Feels good to
share information, doesn’t it… whether that information is beneficial to anyone or not. Wormwood1942 commented on your post agreeing with you, maybe you should add him as a friend…whether you actually know him or not. Soon after, his posts are in your feed due to the design of the algorithm. Can you hear him calling?
These are all vying for our attention and for the most part, we give it to them. I’m not saying these
things are all bad. When consumed properly they can be a vital part of our community and society.
Very good things can come from sharing information at the speed with which we are able to these days.
The problem is that it is so easy for us to get wrapped up in these circles of dialogue and to lose sight of
what is most important. We lose sight of the truth. We answer the call, but what (or whose) call are we
answering? The call we answer too often is loud but clear as mud: Our “news” comes to us 24 hrs a
day through push notification, our “friends” like the stuff we post and we should consider that
relationship, we should work 80 hrs a week at the expense of our family life and buy the house we can’t
really afford. Oh and here are all the meds we’ll need to take when we’re so stressed and overwhelmed
from trying to complete the above action items.
The good news is there is another call; a better call. Can you hear it? Go one step further: If you can
hear it, are you listening?
In John 10:1-18 (NIRV), Jesus tells the parable of the good shepherd and his
sheep to the Pharisees.
In this story we have sheep, a gatekeeper, a stranger, a hired hand and
ultimately a good shepherd. Imagine all the sheep in a large sheep pen or something, I don’t know
where sheep gather. But they’re all mixed up together. Then you have the hired hand. He’s there to
watch over us while we wait for our shepherd to return. (I don’t know who hired the guy in this story,
but he’s a wimp. He runs when he sees trouble coming. He takes off and leaves us to be devoured at the
first sign of trouble.)
Anyhow, sheep are to be trained in knowing their shepherd’s call, and when he sounds that call they are
supposed to respond. The problem is there is also a stranger who calls out. This stranger’s call is loud
and enticing, crafted by El Diablo himself. He confuses the sheep and they scatter, or at least they are
supposed to. In actuality, the sheep respond to his call; all the while not hearing (or not listening to) the
call of their own good shepherd. If you hadn’t figured it out, we are the sheep. Yes, the sheep.
To bring this home, take a look at your daily calendar. This is where we formalize our response to the
call we are listening to. Whose call are you answering? The more you respond to the stranger’s call, the
more you don’t hear your good shepherd’s call. You become confused as to who you are (identity),
what you’re supposed to be doing (purpose), and you have no means of completing your mission (plan).
Soon you’ll be thinking you’re an aardvark or a hippo, simply because the stranger is constantly pointing
you in that direction. Always, that direction is away from the good shepherd. Always, that direction is
the antithesis of the truth.
“Then he said to all of them, whoever wants to follow me must deny themselves. They must pick up
their cross every day and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 NIRV) This is my life verse, simply because Luke’s
gospel adds the phrase “every day” where other gospels leave that out. He doesn’t say to pick up their
cross “only on Sunday morning” or “When things get tough”. As men and leaders of our families, we
must be answering this call on a daily basis. Whatever our schedules look like, this must be a priority.
Some days it will be 5-10 minutes of prayer time, that’s ok. Other days you’ll find God allows time for
you to read His word and meditate on what he’s trying to show you. If we don’t fill our hearts and
minds with the word of God, what are we doing besides answering the call of the “stranger”.
Also, who is your hired hand? Is it someone that’s going to run when the ^%!@ hits the fan? Is it
someone that you can talk with for hours about sports or politics, but you can’t talk about how you’re
struggling as a father, or failing as a son, a brother or husband? Or do you have someone you can talk to
about the real stuff; someone you can call and they’ll show up at a moment’s notice when you most
need them. We need men in our lives that are walking the same walk we are. Men that are also
answering the call of the good shepherd.
Let’s face it, we are all struggling to answer the call of our good shepherd, but we’ve heard it and we
know we should be answering it.
My question for you is are you listening to the good shepherd’s call? How can you answer yes to that if
you’re not actively and routinely seeking out His word and spending time in prayer with the Almighty
Creator of the Universe?
Kick the Devil in his nutsack, turn around and answer the call of the good shepherd.
Men, this is a call to action. Are you listening?
Kevin Callaway 2021