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How to be More Alive

April 21, 2018 • By

One of my favorite quotes is by Saint Irenaeus and it goes like this, “The glory of God is man fully alive”.

I know it’s actually a miss-quote but I really like it anyway. The expression “fully alive” really inspires me. It reminds me of Christ’s offer of a rich and satisfying life. It also makes me think of how many of us aren’t really fully alive. We’re alive in the sense that our hearts are beating and we’re walking around, but we’re plagued by unfulfilled hopes, abandoned dreams, and lives that make little to no impact on the world around us. When our ideas of a good time are watching TV or taking the edge off with alcohol, then we’re missing out on a whole lot of actual living.

It seems more like we’re kind of alive but not fully.

There are many reasons why we don’t live fully. Too many to list here. But I thought I’d share four things with you that might help you move to a greater place of fullness in your life.

Never let shame settle in.
Nothing sucks the life out a person like shame. Shame over our appearance, shame over our lack of anything, and especially shame over our actions. I had a conversation the other day with a friend who was wrecked by shame because he lost his temper at work. It’s like he was stuck in that moment, unable to enjoy life. You can’t live fully and hold onto shame at the same time. You can’t learn from your mistakes either. Accept God’s forgiveness, forgive yourself, grow from it, and get back to living.

Don’t compare.
Comparison can be deadly. For years I struggled with comparing myself with my peers in the same age group. Most of my friends owned houses before I did, they made more money than me, and generally seemed to be enjoying life a whole lot more. In addition, my pastor friends seemed to be reaching more people than me, and I imagined that there was an excitement about their ministries that made mine seem boring. When I learned to accept the uniqueness of my own journey, and that God’s blessing and favor were on my life, regardless of my own definitions and expectations of success, I could stop comparing, and start enjoying life right where I was.

Give yourself permission to dream.
Disappointment happens. And the older you get, the more disappointments stack up and it’s easier to stop dreaming than it is to keep getting your hopes up. We focus on failures, missed opportunities, and unfulfilled hopes instead of believing that the best is yet to come. By the way, no matter how old you are, it’s still okay to believe that the best is yet to come. Dream! Have big hairy ideas. Set audacious goals and go for them. Without a vision, we parish so keep dreaming!

Appreciate where you are while taking steps to move forward.
How often do we look around ourselves and express gratitude for where we are in life, and how God has taken care of us? Gratitude is the gateway to joy and appreciating where we are gives us an excitement for what’s next. But don’t stay where you are, keep moving forward. Read another book, take another step, create strategies for reaching your goals and act on them. I heard once that a rabbit’s heart beats just as fast the day before it dies as it does when it’s younger. It keeps moving and running until the end. I want to be like the rabbit. God forbid that I ever choose to bench myself and spend my days watching TV and complaining that I’m too old. There’s just too much life to live!

I hope you choose to live a life that’s fully alive. I hope you accept God’s best for you, dream big, live gratefully, and never stop moving forward!

Growth, life

4 Reasons Why Personal Growth Is So Hard

February 7, 2018 • By

“If it’s not growing, it’s dying.”

At least that’s what I’ve heard said, and I think there’s a lot of truth to that statement.

I like to play the guitar. I’ve noticed that, if I don’t practice regularly, my skill level doesn’t stay at it’s peak. Instead, it declines until I get myself on a regular practice routine again, and then it starts to grow.

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could exercise and eat right until you had the body you desired, and then it just stayed that way forever? Heck yes it would!

We were designed to grow. It’s what we’re meant to do. Growth makes us happy, makes us healthy, and makes us wise. When we set goals to learn, to achieve, and to improve our health, we experience growth in the process of reaching those goals.

Unfortunately, many people just don’t grow. They get comfortable where they are and remain stunted, like 17 year-olds living in 30, 40, or 50 year-old bodies. This lack of growth often leads to discontent, relational dysfunction, and poor physical health. At the end of the day, life is just so much better when we make growth in our lives a priority.

I have found that there are four reasons why many people never grow. They are not huge obstacles, and anyone can overcome them. It just takes a little commitment to move forward toward being your best.

Personal growth requires humility.
Many people don’t grow simply because they don’t feel like they need to. Pride gets in the way of seeing areas of growth potential, and it’s just not teachable. When interviewing potential team members at our church, we always ask, “What do you think you could learn from being a part of the team?” If the answer is something like, “I think I could really help you guys out,” then that person doesn’t make the cut. Feeling like there is no need to grow is a sign of arrogance that usually leads to bigger problems down the road.

Personal growth requires an investment.
It takes time, energy, and sometimes money to intentionally grow. Want to grow as a parent? You’ll probably have to invest your time in reading a book. Want to grow in your physical health? You’re going to have to invest your energy into some exercise. Some people even invest their dollars into hiring a life coach when they want to see even greater growth. People don’t grow by just sitting there watching videos or trolling Facebook. It takes an investment. The investment, however, is totally worth it!

Personal growth requires focus.
We are such a terribly distracted culture. Our smartphones have set their hooks in us and we’ve become addicted to the dopamine hits we get from glancing from one digital novelty to the next. It requires focus to put down the phone and pick up a book. We must constantly make the decision to say no to momentary entertainment and say yes to personal growth. It is the only way to make the journey of growth without making a thousand unnecessary stops along the way.

Personal growth takes time.
Sometimes I’ll meet someone who refuses to take growth actions in their life because they “already tried that”. This usually means they went to the gym for a month or read the first two chapters of a book. Growth takes commitment. We can’t expect months (or years) of growth to take place from a half-hearted, commitment-less, weak-sauce attempt at improving our health, intellect, or spiritual condition. Make the commitment to stick to it until you reach the place you want to be!

That’s four but I know there are more. What are some obstacles you hit when attempting to grow? Share them below and we’ll talk about it.

Be teachable, make the investment, focus, and stay the course!