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life, Personal Growth

4 Benefits to Having Uncomfortable Conversations

November 15, 2017 • By

I was recently invited onto a podcast to be grilled by the host for an hour.

I don’t know why, but conversations like this have always been difficult for me. I don’t answer questions “on the spot” very well, and I tend to freeze if the topic isn’t something I’m very knowledgeable about.

When I was younger, there were people in my life who would ask me questions about my faith, not in the spirit of exchanging ideas, but to try to make me look foolish. I honestly don’t know why your neighbor’s son was hit by a car, I’m not sure what happens to people who have never heard the gospel, and I have no idea if God can create a rock so heavy that even He can’t lift it.

Truth be told, I’m not much of a theologian. I’ve been reading through the Bible, over and over again, for around 30 years, and I’ve been in ministry for over 20. But I’m a Bible College dropout, and I’ve only read a small handful of books on theology. I know other people who are able to answer difficult questions much more concisely, and with greater confidence than I can.

Fortunately, the podcast was produced by a friend from our church, and it was done in the spirit of honest conversation, rather than an attempt to publicly debate me. Nonetheless, it was very uncomfortable. But, as I’ve been mulling the experience over for the last week, I’ve come to realize that there are some benefits to engaging in uncomfortable conversations.

They force you to really think. A lot of times, we just adopt our beliefs without giving much thought to them. We were taught certain things, they sounded good, and we accepted them. What we believe about God is the most important thing about us, yet we give more thought to the shoes we buy than the faith we buy into.

They make you dig deep. Let’s face it, most conversation we engage in is pretty shallow. It doesn’t take much thought, and doesn’t challenge us. But an uncomfortable conversation is like a workout. We have to search our memory for information we’ve read, observations we’ve made, and evidence we’ve accumulated. This is especially true if you don’t want to give answers like, “because the Bible says so” or “just because”.

They challenge you to decide where you really stand. I know that it’s important to pick your battles wisely. However, it’s also important to know what you believe, and not be wishy washy on certain issues. That doesn’t mean we become dogmatic or inflexible. It just means we move toward becoming established in our beliefs about what is important to us.

Lastly, uncomfortable conversations are humbling. I mean this in a good way. If you approach an uncomfortable conversation in the right spirit, you have the opportunity to learn what you don’t know, and you can start growing in that area. In the instance of the podcast, I was inspired to do some reading on the issues we talked about. I don’t want to merely postulate or philosophize. I want to actually know what I’m talking about.

If you’ve been avoiding uncomfortable conversations, I would encourage you to kindly engage in one in the near future. They are, well…uncomfortable, but so is exercising and learning new skills. Give it a try!

If you’d like to listen to my uncomfortable podcast conversation, click here.

life, Wisdom

Eight Wisdom Bombs That Will Help You Get Your $#!% Together!

September 23, 2017 • By

“Get your $#!% together!” Has anyone ever told you to do that? I remember being in my early 20s and having a mentor tell me that. Those weren’t his exact words but the sentiment was the same. I complained constantly about my job, I wasted a lot of time watching TV, I didn’t put much effort into my physical well-being, and I was lucky to have any friends because I was so sarcastic all the time.

In a way, those words saved my life.

Now I have three sons between the ages of 14 and 22. Every day, I do my best to teach them things that will help them succeed, get along with others, and avoid unnecessary pain and frustration. I’ve noticed that I find myself repeating particular lessons to them more than others. They are a core of eight things that most of life’s problems seem to stem from. They’re the eight things that took me from frustrated and failing to fulfilled and succeeding.

Put these eight things into effect in your life and it will really help you get your $#!% together!

1. Spend time like it’s a precious commodity.
Here’s the thing about time: it’s deceptive. We usually THINK we have more time than we actually have. A quick glance at Facebook and, before we know it, 20 minutes have gone by. We put off writing that book, earning that degree, or taking that trip, and years pass without making any progress. The time that we waste watching one more YouTube video, reading one more Twitter post, or posting one more selfie to Instagram is time that we’ll never get back to spend on what really matters.

2. Never underestimate the power of your words.
People listen, and they don’t forget. Speaking out of anger, “venting”, and off-the-cuff insults will have consequences. Speak the truth in love, speak life, and build people up with your words, and those words will have consequences too (Good ones!) Manage your words well because they will steer the direction of your life!

3. Never stop growing.
If a plant stops growing, it means it’s dying. Many people complain that their faith doesn’t do much for them. Most of those people can’t remember the last time they prayed more than they looked at their phone, or read the Bible more than they read Facebook posts. A commitment to growing applies to EVERY area of life, not just spiritual life. Read some good books, take a class, set new fitness goals, get some wisdom about parenting, marriage, LIFE. Whether you’re 8 or 80, you should never stop growing!

4. Don’t blame others for your unmet expectations.
Don’t blame the rich because your poor, don’t blame your boss for your lousy performance, don’t blame your unbelieving spouse for your spiritual condition, and don’t blame the poor behavior of others for your volatile temper. The sooner we take responsibility for our own actions, the sooner we can grow into people who live out their dreams instead of sitting around wishing.

5. Avoid laziness like the plague.
This one goes with number 1. Work hard, work smart, and don’t cut corners. Laziness leaves us open for all sorts of bad things. Poor health, difficulty finding or keeping a worthwhile job, frustration in relationships, financial hardship, the list goes on. The rewards for hard work don’t always come right away but they do come. No one owes you a thing. Success in life is NOT THE DEFAULT. We don’t just move toward success naturally. If you want it, you have to work your butt off to get it.

6. Treasure contentment.
My son owns three video game consoles. The other day, he told me he really wanted another one. Seriously?? Most Americans already have more than they need, and many of us even pay to store stuff in garages because there’s not enough room for it all in our houses. We throw away more than some countries consume and it’s pretty gross. What’s even worse is that some people can’t help others need because they’re too broke from buying crap they don’t really need. We need to realize when enough is enough, be content with what we have, and learn a better way of living than this excessive consumption. Contentment gives us financial margin and helps us to be generous toward others. It also lightens the burden of having to take care of so much stuff!

7. Great relationships take work but give back some of life’s greatest dividends.
Friendships, marriages, being a good neighbor; they take work! I thought being married was going to be easy. I was wrong. I’ve read books, talked to counselors, and gotten advice from those who have been married longer than me, but the rewards of working hard on my marriage are outstanding. At the end of the day, it’s the people in our lives that add the most value to it, and not the stuff we own. Work hard to be a good friend, spouse, and neighbor, and it will come back to you with interest.

8. Take risks.
You never really know what you can accomplish until you step out on a limb to do it. There are a lot of people with successful businesses inside of them but we’ll never see them because they won’t take a risk. There are other countries to explore, artworks to produce, and friends to be made if we just refuse to listen to fear and take risks. We won’t succeed at everything we try to do but we’ll fail at everything if we don’t at least try to do them. Take a risk. You might be taking the first step toward something amazing!

Well, that’s my eight. If you have any wisdom bombs that would help people get their $#!% together, then leave them in the comments. You might just help save someone a whole lot of frustration!