Wading through life’s murky waters, we are often presented with situations that are neither black or white….but grey. Each day we are presented with situations and decisions to make and every day I pray for wisdom.
Right now…if you have been following me on this blog or on Facebook…you probably know that I have some big decisions coming up…or at least that I have to make some choices.
I am unemployed…looking to get back into ministry full time and trying to discern the future. I am trying to clearly hear God’s voice in the midst of the decisions and choices.
I feel like Elijah…waiting inside the cave…waiting to hear God’s voice. There is thunder…rumbling, fire and many other noises outside and yet God is not among the noise.
I would love your clarity and insight. How do you make life decisions…the big ones. Outside of the obvious prayer times…how do you clearly discern God’s voice?
Honestly, I am asking for your perspective and wisdom…will you comment?
I used to be 290 pounds. There it is.
I began to shed some weight starting August of 2007. Once a month, I would get onto a plane to visit a doctor in Scottsdale, AZ. Five hours of flight time for 30 minutes of her telling me…keep it up.
The diet consisted of lean proteins and vegetables…that’s it. No carbs, no dairy, no sugars…some supplements and that’s it. It wasn’t much. There were blood tests every two weeks and to say the least…it was a bit tough.
But, I had determined that enough was enough. Yeah…that’s me…on the right…the karaoke champion with amazing shorts. I knew I was slowly killing myself by carrying around all those extra pounds. I had determined it was time for a transformation. By January of 2008…I had lost quite a bit of weight. 98 pounds. And that is when the transformation began…not when it ended.
In 2008, I ran a 5K…and then a half marathon. I needed the running to keep off the weight. I needed the activity to continue training this new body I felt like I had been given. It has not been easy and keeping the weight off continues to be a struggle. But, I am determined…to continue the transformation.
I do not write this post to give myself a pat on the back and it’s not easy to talk about publicly because there are so many emotions wrapped up with the process.
I write this post to ask if you are looking for a transformation this New Year? Is the transformation you are looking for physical…emotional…spiritual? If so, know that your story…your struggle and your endurance through the process can be inspiring to others…and will be inspiring to me.
I have planned to run another half marathon in March this year. It’s crazy, cause I hate running…but it’s a story. One more compelling than the story of an out of work worship leader who watches too much HULU or spends too much time on Facebook.
What’s your story this year? What transformation are you headed for? Will you share your life story this year in hopes of inspiring another?
I hope so. I hope you share it with me.
Love you friends. Jesse.
After talking for nearly thirty minutes, I stepped off the stage and into the sea of volunteers. I had just spent the last half an hour talking to my volunteer teams about where we were headed…what the next year was going to look like…and what I was going to be expecting out of them if they were to be a part of the “team.” During the talk, I looked for the usual non-verbal responses…eye connection, seat positioning, head nodding and such. They got it…they understood it…they liked it…or so I thought.
I spent the next hour answering questions. Questions related to how this was all going to happen…I thought…wait…didn’t they just listen? At first, there was frustration. How could they not understand…why didn’t they just listen? And then…it set in…no matter how clearly I spoke at them…they wanted this communication to be a conversation.
They had bought in…but they were curious and really wanted to understand. Their questions weren’t challenging my goals…they were questions that brought about cemented change in their life and my conversations with them were what was going to last.
Since this time in my life, I now understand that having a hundred conversations like this was way more effective than any 30 minutes I had prepared. Good communication is based off of listening skills and if you cannot listen with intent…then you will be your ability to create change will suffer.
Undersand that people will often agree to your comments without ever buying in to them. They will nod their head…say yes…say they understand…even if they don’t. They may really want to understand, but for fear of looking ignorant…they simply appease. How do I know this? I do it…and I have seen others as well.
As a leader, understand that your ability to communicate and be an active listener will be the rock from which your platform will be built. If you have vision, goals and passion…they cannot be under communicated. Over-communicate. Have as many meetings as it takes for your verbiage and goals to become theirs. You cannot accomplish your goals alone, and if your patience for communication is lacking…I have found…that your ministry will be as well.
Here are some ways I try to be more effective with my communication…emphasis on try:
- Be an active listener. For more information on Active Listening…click HERE
- Learn to ask clarifying questions like, “Does that make sense?” Interpret their body language as they respond.
- Try to limit your assumptions of what they understand. Assuming the other person understands something can lead to miscommunication.
- Finish your meeting with a plan. Re-communicate the plan and see if they can repeat it to you. Make sure you are not dictating the plan…but ask the question…”So, where do we go from here?”
- Answer your phone or at least return the voicemails. Weeks come and go quickly in ministry…but for the volunteer…the days can pass a little slower.
- Answer your e-mail. You may not have the appropriate answer on hand. But respond to their e-mail letting them know you’ll work it out. Follow-up.
I pray God gives you the tools to carefully craft His dream for your life. I pray you have the patience to ask as many clarifying questions as it takes. I pray we all…get a litte better.
Posted in Leadership, Make You Better, Patience, Philosophy, The Book, Worship Leading
Tagged active listening skills, Communicate, Communication skills, development, goals and vision, leadership communication, speaker, Team, Worship Leader speak
There are days when I wrestle with God. There are days when I struggle to find meaning, purpose and strength to make decisions that cause every single comfortable step to bring an uncomfortable feeling. Some days I am walking on solid ground…and there are others where I am standing five hundred feet in the air on nothing but a single tightrope with no balance beam. Some days…the wind comes and I’m not truly sure if I have the balance to stay on.
I often wonder how Jacob felt when he began to wrestle the angel…determined to get his blessing from God. I wonder how Moses felt each time that he raised his staff in the desert…did he ever fear that his actions would have no power. I wish I knew how David felt as he knelt down in the riverbed to gather stones and placed each one carefully in his bag…what if he did not have the perfect stone?
I’m reminded that each of these men felt the incredible weight of responsibility and had the faith to stay determined. I’m not leading God’s people into the desert…I’m not facing some incredible giant and I am certainly not running for my life in a forest. But, I wonder how each of these men had the determination to face impossible situations and be celebrated for it.
It’s not every day that I feel like this and I hope you can relate. I am hoping that you understand my fears and that you have been through the tough parts, because your life (reader)…has a story that is important to me. Your life has truth, struggle, happiness and pain and tells a story of how God has interacted with you…in the good…and in the bad. It’s the struggle that brings us closer. Each time I wrestle with God…I am that much closer to Him…
So, I wrestle with God. I embrace the fear of the future and stare into the distance with certainty and shaky knees. I am determined to receive the blessing God has for me. I am trusting that His power will work in my life. I am gathering the stones of my present…knowing that no Giant is too big and no future is too uncertain when it comes to trusting God with my life.
I am excited, scared and uncertain which path is before me and I am not alone.
Thank you friend. Jesse
Ever get that feeling in your stomach…deep down where you just can’t wait? The churning feeling that nags at your very core…telling yourself, “It will be alright”…just doesn’t seem to calm it.
It was 3rd grade summer camp and I had met the love of my life. Lindsey. I’ll spare you her last name…just in case she is stalking me…but she was beautiful. Blue eyes, blonde hair and the softest…most gentle voice I had ever heard. I remember seeing her on the 1st day of summer camp in the cafeteria. They had us all lined up outside by cabins as we were nervously awaiting our first dinner…at our first summer camp. Saying that I was excited about this…is an understatement.
As they dismissed cabin by cabin according to which line was the best…of course the girls cabins were first. As they paraded in front of us….an angel seemed to walk on air. Her long blonde hair was softly falling behind her as she gracefully walked up the ramp…smiling…the best smile I had ever seen.
As dinner went on, I became transfixed…I would look at her and tried my best to not let her know…but I was staring. She noticed once and my face became a bright red as I clumsily looked for something to eat on my plate. But wow…she noticed me!
That night, as we went back to our cabins…I decided to take a bold step. I would write her a note. Not just any note…but one that would ask her the most important question I had possibly asked since Keziah in 1st grade (I asked “Kizzy” if she would be my reading buddy). You know the type of note and how it went…circle “Yes or No.” We only had a few days at camp and she was so beautiful…someone else would ask if I did not act quickly.
That night I wrote the note and tenderly folded it and placed it under my pillow before lights out. I became anxious. What if she said no…or what if she said yes…what was I to do? In my cramp and cold bed away from home, I could not sleep and planned the next day…what I would say and how I would give her the note. I hardly slept at all.
I will never forget that feeling. I will never forget the nervous twitching and checking of the note in my pocket. I can’t forget the awkward smile I gave her as I slipped the note to her before stepping in my line. Would she like me? Would she want to be my girlfriend…yes or no?
It seemed like the biggest deal of my life…my very life held in the balance of a 3rd grade girl who had a simple choice to make…yes or no. The world stopped as she quietly passed by me after breakfast. She had the note in her hand and then simply placed it before me on the table.
It’s funny how this moment in my life seemed to be bottled with such fear and anxiety over a camp romance. But it was such a big deal right? Each time I begin to get anxious about life…I remember times like this where my anxiety never affected the outcome. I remind myself that the “big deals” of today will not be the last and just as my nervous energy or anxiety would never have convinced her to circle yes…any anxiety I have over life now will seem like a fun memory in the future…I am sure.
Oh yeah…and she circled yes. How could she circle “no,” I mean…I was a freaking cute kid.
Grace and Peace. Jesse
Have you ever heard the old cliché…if you pray for patience then be careful because God will use circumstances to build up patience in your life. I’m not so sure that this is how God works…but having patience and the act of being patient is one that requires great strength and well…patience.
There are so many times in my life where I can remember wishing I was more patient after seeing what my lack thereof resulted in. Gifts…this is one thing I have very little patience for. I am anxious and excited to give or receive them. I remember one Christmas (and many others…but those can be for a later time) where I had begged for something that had the San Francisco 49ers logo on it. I didn’t tell my parents what I wanted…just that I wanted something with the logo on it and I had built up in my mind that I would get one of those puffy Starter jackets that were so popular. I would walk back into school after Christmas break and strut my stuff to the coat rack at the back of Mrs. Welander’s classroom and the whole class would be in jaw dropping awe of what I was wearing…the coveted Starter jacket…and a 49ers one at that.
As I played this scenario over and over again in my head, I began to eagerly anticipate Christmas morning and opening up that present first with awe and excitement. As the grand day was approaching, my parents went on a “date” or so they called it. All of us kids knew this as the night where mom and dad would do most of the Christmas shopping and then hide the presents from us after we went to sleep. I just knew that they had bought me the brand new puffy Starter jacket I had so desperately wanted. A few days later…I was alone in the house and with no patience left…I quickly and quietly snuck into my parent’s bedroom and immediately opened up the closet door. They were clever at hiding the gifts…but I knew it had to be in there somewhere.
It was calling to me…begging me to try it on. I searched and searched and found most of the Christmas presents and then…underneath the pile of clothes on the side was something red and gold. I dove into the pile with reckless abandon forgetting that I needed to be careful…unless my parents decided to come home early. I desperately clawed through the pile of clothes and found only a small bag with a 49ers beanie in it. Wait…where was the jacket? Did they not understand how much I wanted a Starter jacket? A beanie? ARGGGGHHHH! Did my parents not know how much of a loser I would be without one! My face began to get red…my heart started pounding and then I stepped back from the closet to take a breath. The jacket was not there. If they had bought it…it would be there. But it was not.
At that moment…I remember feeling like such a fool. I had never told my parents that I wanted that elusive Starter jacket. In my mind…I had played up the moment when I would walk into the classroom so often that I let it get the best of me. Now, not only did I know what else I was already getting for Christmas, but I knew what almost everybody in my family was getting. Christmas was still two weeks away and as I sat there looking at the demolished closet, I realized that my lack of patience had led to a premature experience and that my pride while invading the closet had been a mockery of what my parents had done for us this Christmas. Excitement now turned to gut-wrenching angst and sorrow. I had been a fool.
I quickly pieced back together the closet and tried to make it look like it had been before with each present hidden as they were. I backed up and sadly walked out of my parents bedroom in shame. If only I had just waited…or maybe taken the time to let my parents know about the beautiful puffy Starter Jacket…maybe that Christmas would have been different. Instead, Christmas morning rolled around and I opened each gift with a sense of shame and fake excitement…I already knew what I was getting and my lack of patience had ruined it.
Have you ever let yourself get in too deep to a situation because you had a lack of patience? Everything seems so important and felt with a sense of importance. It needs to be done NOW…or I need to change this NOW. Or even…I don’t like what is happening right NOW in my life and rather than have the patience and wisdom to wait for the right timing…you choose to raid the closet so to speak.
Without patience…I think you will find that what was so important to you at one time…is not so important now and that you wish you could have been a little more patient instead of the actions you chose. As I look back now…I’d trade the idea of a brand new puffy Starter Jacket for the memory of a Christmas without guilt and shame. And moreover…I’d trade many circumstances in my life for times where I had more patience and wisdom…instead of that sinking feeling you get when you realize…oh man…I should have been more patient.
May God grant you wisdom and patience,