How To Never Fail

I’ll just get this over with. The way to never fail is to never do anything. At all.

The person who never fails to make a sale on a car has never tried. The person who never fails to plumb a toilet or build a computer or grow a business or raise a human being has never actually done it before.

Failure is the sign that someone is actually trying something.

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People who are doing nothing never fail. But if you want to do something with your life that matters, something that lives beyond your few, short years here, you will have to except that failure is part of it.

You will guess wrong, you will offend people, you will lose money. You will say the wrong thing at a party. You will pick the wrong outfit for a date. You will blow the presentation by forgetting your script.

Oh well.

At least you are doing something. You are trying. That’s better than the critics on the couch, who have nothing of value to contribute.

Failure says absolutely nothing about you except that you were out there doing our job, and for whatever reason, it didn’t go so hot that day. The fish weren’t biting, the people weren’t buying.

Maybe your sales approach sucks or maybe you have bad people skills. Maybe that’s part of the reason you failed. You might be part of the problem. But you will never know that if you’re not trying. And you will never improve without failure.

So remember this: failing = trying. The more you try, the more you will fail. But the more you will succeed too. Eventually.

Cause you know who never succeeds? People who never try.

Do you have your free copy of my eBook, My Birthright For Soup? I would love to send it to you. Click here to subscribe to the blog and will get it to you today]

[This was also posted on my Kinja site]

The Other Side of Commitment

On the other side of commitment is everything you want.

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It’s a cruel irony. Our culture offers millions of options, and for millennials especially, there is this looming, strangling fear of missing out.

We don’t want to miss out. We are terrified of missing out. Of missing the one thing, the right thing.

So we leave our options open. We say “Maybe” to college majors and job opportunities and friendships and relationships and travel and church and volunteering and where we will spend our money.

Maybe. Possibly. I don’t know yet.

That’s our M.O.

The irony is that the very thing we seek, the deep connections, the being known fully and loved anyway, the waking up with the gusto of purpose and meaning, all the good stuff of life, is behind the door of commitment. But in our fear of missing out, we never say “Yes” to anything.

The Maybe is stealing your destiny from you. Maybe is thieving your dreams right from under your nose.

This word is no innocuous thing. It’s a heart position, and you think it’s protecting you from making the wrong choice. Instead, it’s blocking you from everything you want.

Stop saying Maybe. Stop saying I don’t know.

Say Yes to a friend who is reliable. Say Yes to a job that isn’t your dream yet, but it will pay the bills while you figure it out. Say Yes to the relationship that is good, even though you’re scared. So Yes to the church that’s more flawed than you expected.

Nothing is perfect. But many things are good, very good.

But until you walk through the Commitment Door, you will be outside, unknown, undecided, wandering.

Do it. No more excuses. Take Maybe out of your vocabulary. Just Say Yes.

Open the door of Commitment and step through.

What are you most of afraid to commit to? Is it any one thing or just pretty much everything? Share your thoughts below in the comments.

Buy this book & give 3 people clean water

Today is a really big day! The first book I’ve ever been published in became available for purchase today! #CouchRebels is on sale right now for only $9.99click on the picture of the book to skip this post and buy it now. [I wrote about it a few days ago right here.]

This book is no ordinary book, however. This book has POWER. Tell me how many books you have read that can give clean drinking water to 3 people this year? 

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Extraordinary, indeed. This eclectic collection of stories from radical adventurers and Jesus followers who refused to live comfortably not only inspires but also redeems. Every purchase of the book will provide clean water to 3 people. Amazing.

How did they do it? In one sentence, CausePub, the organization who published the book, partnered with Blood:Water Mission and committed to give a starting donation of 50% of sales to the charity, a number that will increase through the year. Found out more at Cause Pub.

Read the journeys and beautiful epiphanies of those who took the route of love and stumbled into incredible stories and revelations all their own. And at the same time, do a good and generous thing for others who need one of the simplest yet most vital things in life: clean water.

You can make a difference in the lives of others, in grand or small ways, just like the storytellers here. And isn’t that what we all really want from our lives?

Click the book image to the right to purchase the book. Or just click here. And then do two things at once: Get Inspired and Be Generous!

People can change

In my line of work (mental health), I have to remind myself of this all the time: “They’re still breathing, so they can still change.” Hope can be painful, but we should still do it. I have several people I have to believe for today. Who are you holding out hope for today?

 

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When it’s all up to you: the value of legacy

{If you found me through my article on Catalyst, welcome. And if you’re a regular or a visitor, please let me share my news: I had the privilege to be featured on Catalyst this week, talking about the church planting life and the value of raising up the legacy of the next generation of leaders. I’m hoping to have the opportunity to write more on church planting and leadership, something Josh and I are growing intimately familiar with. Thanks for reading. Please leave thoughts in the article comments section. Thanks. Now, without further ado…}

Church planting is like parenting. It’s exhausting, and in the beginning, you’re doing all the work. It’s a good thing you love your new, baby church.

But as it grows, it gains independence. It can tie its own shoes. And eventually, you get to go to the bathroom unaccompanied.

Yup, this is pretty much what it’s like in the beginning.

Okay, it’s not a direct analogy, but you’d be surprised by the similarities.

If you’re a church planter, you know: the policy writing, program development, volunteer training and recruiting, preaching and teaching, discipleship of new converts, janitorial duties, midnight counseling, Sunday bulletin design, weddings and funerals and hospital visits and baby dedications are simply all part of the job. Your job.

But this is only the infancy of the church, the stage of greatest need and dependence, and in many ways, the highest level of pastoral involvement. But it’s not supposed to stay this way.

After my son was born, we returned home from the hospital and tried to adjust to life without sleep. I remember hearing him cry one day and wondering when his mother was going to come and help him out. It was dreadful to realize I was the mother. Who gave someone with no parenting experience a new child who has no use of the English language?

Like parenting, church planting is a startling thrust into the fire. When we got the 2 AM call from a local hospital that the husband of one of our parishioners passed away suddenly, we searched about wildly. “Someone should call her pastor,” we muttered in our groggy stupor. And then we realized we were the pastors. We left our three week-old infant with my mom, who happened to be in town, and hurried to the hospital to comfort our friend.

Even if you’ve never comforted a new parent, cooked a casserole for a potluck, or provided the homily at a funeral service, suddenly, it’s up to you. You’re up.

Like parenting, it’s almost a given that whatever needs to be done will fall on you in the beginning. But that’s only the beginning.

Continue reading at CatalystConference.com.

I am the opposite of me

I am a paradox. And so are you.

We are clean and shiny in some areas of ourselves, yet disheveled disasters in others. The real estate of our souls and our yards is impeccable from one angle, and painfully unkempt from another.

How is it that we can live with coexisting brilliance and ignorance, with generous nobility and glaring narcissism?

Sometimes, I feel I’m an imposter, like the real me is the messy version, and the times I act right are just glitches, some kind of cosmic error where the light fell just right, and now the world thinks good of me.

But it feels like a balancing act, until I wreck it again.

So who am I? Can I be the bad and the good, at the same time?

Am I summed up in my moments of fear, panic and rejection or in my faith and courage?

Am I a scared, helpless child, wordless with shame, or a ferociously brave teacher who lives to inspire?

Am I all the times I hate to be alone, or the times I am frantic to get away?

Am I the girl who can’t find her keys or the idea-generating leader bent on improving her environment?

Am I the friend you can count on for everything, or the friend who will let you down?

Am I the blessings and encouragement I bestow, or the curses I hiss beneath my breath?

Am I the rage and anger I release on my very last nerve with my child, or am I the patient nurturer, singing this same child to sleep?

Am I the forgiveness I extend or the grudges I feed?

Am I all the times I disappoint or the times I keep my word?

Am I the girl who finds showers annoying or the girl who can’t stand dirty feet?

Am I everything I do right or everything I do wrong?

Am I the desperate woman wanting children I don’t have yet or the grateful mother to the one I do have?

It doesn’t seem possible, but I am all these things. It’s the conundrum of me. I can stop covering it up now, stop holding my breath so people will think of me as cleaned up and together.

The truth is, I am holy and I am full of sin. I am a work in progress. But at this exact moment, I am the good and the bad. 

I am all the things I’ve screwed up irreparably, the words I want back, and the genius and generosity in between. I am everywhere I’ve been and everywhere I’m going. I am my failure and my success. I am what I know and what I don’t know. It’s part of me. 

I just need to hit “Accept” on all this stuff, on the easy to love and the impossible to love parts of me. Cause it’s all me, and I’m not going anywhere.

No one notices the pillars

No one notices the pillars.

Take a look at the White House. The facade, the grandeur, the elegance, the sweeping landscape. The protesters in front. You can feel the history. But you probably walk right past the pillars.

They cast a lovely shadow, create an ambience to be experienced, but so often we look right through them while they stand at attention in a thankless work. As we enjoy the view, we forget if these essentials supports cracked, buckled or vanished, the place would topple.

This is true for those who support our organizations, our churches, businesses, non-profits. We take great pride in our out-front leaders, the big personalities, the charismatic types who lead rallies and bring in all the fundraising.

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But what about the pillars, the ones who stand behind, the last to leave, the ones with toilet brushes in hand? These are the pillars we walk right past. We don’t appreciate the pillars who stand beside us, who hold the whole place up with their relentless tenacity, who day in and day out take the sideline view to make the vision a reality.

A few days ago, our church said farewell to a family of pillars. They were rarely in front. Their names weren’t plastered on walls. Some people didn’t know them well. But they propped up our community with prayer, guidance and support. They showed up in the beginning, when there wasn’t much to show for the labor, when pieces were hardly in place. 

And they stayed. Because that’s what pillars do.

When pillars are people, sometimes we have to say goodbye when a new season comes along. But inevitably, within a healthy family of people, whether a business or organization, someone else will step in. Will become the new pillar. Will forsake notoriety and fame to build up and support something greater than themselves.

So here’s to the pillars. I see you. I am so thankful for you. May we all see the pillars in our lives, and give them the praise they are due.

A squishy, floaty, sturdy, heavy thing called Love

Only the things done in love matter.

Only the things done in love weigh enough to stamp eternity. Everything else just floats off the surface as vapor.

It’s not the act. It’s the intent.

Love might wear you out, but it doesn’t get tired that easily.

Love lets you be where you are right now, knowing you won’t always be here. It knows This too shall pass.

Love is lighter than gravity with a terrible memory for the bad stuff people do.

Love is more a grandmother and less a police officer.

Love doesn’t look down in vulnerable moments. It just looks you square in the eye. And it doesn’t flinch at all that you’re uncomfortable.

Love chuckles at the past, beams bright toward the future and sits perfectly content in this moment. Because its a pretty good one.

Love isn’t in a hurry, doesn’t wish it was somewhere else. Love can silence the phone and taste dinner.

Love likes itself, doesn’t wish it was someone else. Love takes good care of itself, but isn’t self-obsessed. Love doesn’t belittle itself because it doesn’t need your compliments. And it’s confident enough to care about you, to really listen, to squat down next to you in the dirt and feel all you feel.

Love looks past sour, crusty shells to warm, squishy insides. And knows just the words to safely let the guts out.

Love listens because the stories are the people, and the people always matter.

Love can tell you you’re wrong so kind you won’t feel the sting. You will just be grateful. 

Indeed, only the things done in love matter.

Jesus is love. If you don’t know him yet, introduce yourself.

When in doubt

I’ve mentioned before I was quite neurotic as a child, nervous and over-analyzing. Afraid to be wrong.

That’s still me, but the stakes are higher. I’m not just deciding which clothes will make me popular. Now I’m choosing financial investments and career moves. Big stuff.

My mind swirls with great ideas and good intentions, things that could change the world – maybe – and I never seem to get around to them.

I am afraid to decide.

Me when forced to make a decision. Waaahhhh.

When I was in high school, I was delaying deciding about one thing or another. In his office one afternoon, my Dad said, “When in doubt, make a decision. If you make a wrong decision, make another decision.”

Classic Dad-style pithy wisdom – well said. But now, I have to do it.

As a 30-something adult, my indecisiveness is crippling. I am afraid of what will happen if I make a choice. I don’t want to face even the simplest consequences.

Therefore, making a decision about the smallest thing is hard. Recently, I had to decide between writing and planning out goals for the next few months. “What if I can’t get everything done?” Paralzyed. I read blogs instead, until I realized I distracted myself from my choice. At least I caught it.

But it gets worse: at Cold Stone the other day, I couldn’t decide which ice cream to eat. “What if I don’t like it?” I finally decided. I didn’t like my choice. This is why choosing sucks, I whined to myself.

But this is partly why choosing is so scary: the consequences. (Cue the Frankenstein soundtrack.)

“What if I don’t like it?

What if I’m committed and I just want to bail?

What if I don’t like the dinner I order or the man I date or the career I choose?

What if I hate it?

What if I’m trapped?

AAAACCCKKKK!

It’s my own personal horror film.

It’s funny because we’re afraid to be trapped in a choice we make, and yet indecisiveness is a trap all its own. It’s double-mindedness, an unsteady soul overflowing with fear. And who can change the world or live a life free of regret stuck in back-and-forth mode? No one.

I don’t want my life defined by fear, but an indecisive life is a fearful, sad life indeed.

So what to do? Well, in most every day situations, simple boldness and the power of choice will do. For big-huge life decisions, check out the link below for a great guide. So here I’m going to tell myself a few ways to make decisions, and if you’re in my category, then follow along. Maybe we can help each other.

1. Recognize when you’re feeling decisiveness-challenged. There is an old familiar feeling of waffling, back and forth swaying in your mind. Weighing options with lots of “what if” questions. The “what ifs” will kill you, man. But you have to recognize the signs before you can do something about it.

2. When in doubt, make a decision. Pick something. And then own it. Be an adult and take full responsibility for your choice. It’s what the big kids do. Because deciding not to decide is still a decision. It just leaves you regretful with nothing to show for your time.

3. Don’t get distracted from the choice you make. I decide to start writing or working on a project, and as soon as I do, suddenly there are emails to reply to, blogs to read, information to glean. And I’ve forgotten about my decision. Don’t get stuck in between your decision and doing it. That’s as bad as not deciding. Follow through is key.

4. If you don’t like your choice, you have another choice to make: bail or stick it out. There are lots of things you can bail on. Making a decision is safer than we think. And only you can know which choice is better, although getting counsel from others is always a good idea. But don’t be a pansy. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stay. Marriage is a perfect example.

And for major life decisions, Michael Nichols offers a few solid suggestions on discovering what you really want and making choices you’ll be happy with. Check out his blog here, complete with a free downloadable, decision-making template. Cool, huh?

Okay, I feel sufficiently motivated by my pep talk to myself. Since I thought through this, I have been making quicker, more confident decisions without all the foot dragging from before. I hope you are empowered too.

Share your suggestions for making decisions below. I’d love to hear what you do.

Unblock your writer

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“I write in terror. I have to talk myself into bravery with every sentence, sometimes every syllable.” –Cynthia Ozick

“Don’t simply tell me that faith saves you, tell me how it almost failed you, too. Don’t tell me about love, speak of your passion. Don’t tell me you’re hurt, let me see your heart breaking. I don’t want to see your talent on the page, I want to see your blood.

“Dare to be naked before your readers. Because that is writing, and everything else is worthless crap.”

-Wisdom tapped from From Billy Coffey’s post Writing Naked

Perhaps, if you are blocked, you are not writing about what moves you, what terrifies you most. You are not afraid enough yet.

Write a few words about the scariest stuff, and then see how big your block is.

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