On Being Tired

Are you tired? I’m tired.

Our lives are so busy aren’t they? We just go, and go, and go. Never stopping to think about if we should be doing the things we’re doing. I do it. You do it. We all do it.

Busy is built into our culture now. We seem to thrive on the idea of productivity. We value businesses that are open 24/7. We love hacks and tips that are meant to make us faster so that we can get more done. We hold up the side hustle as the epitome of effectiveness. Because your 8 or 9 to 5 isn’t enough anymore.

Do you ever feel like if someone found out that you and your family don’t have something going on every night of the week then they’d view you as some sort of outcast from society? “What do you mean that you go home and have dinner with your family? Don’t you have anything better to do?”

We don’t even have time to have a conversation anymore. Now we just pass each other in the hall. “Hey man! How’s it going?” “Great. So busy. You know how it is.” “Yep, sure do. See ya.” Then we rush off to wherever we were headed.

We all wear “busy” as a badge of honor. We shouldn’t.

Busy is an addiction.

It’s a drug. There is a rush associated it. We’re proud of it. Like any addictive drug, it draws you in and leaves you wanting. So you need more and more of it to get that same rush you used to get.

Just so you’re aware, this isn’t me railing against you or our culture … although I probably should. It’s me railing against me. If you ever want to know what’s going on in my life or where I’m struggling, just pay attention to what I’m writing here. I write for me as much as I write for you.

I have a lot of irons in the fire; a lot of plates all spinning at once. I have a lot of roles that I’m trying to fill. The problem with that, of course, is that we can only handle so much. For everything that you add, something else has to get put aside. The more roles you have, the more things that don’t get the attention they deserve. Things get dropped. You forget things. Man, have I been dropping and forgetting things.

Also, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t me complaining. I’ve chosen a lot of the things I’m doing. On purpose for the most part. Things just catch up to you, you know?

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s time to make life simpler. It doesn’t have to be stark white and minimal where you do nothing at all. I mean, maybe that’s a great solution. But I’m not quite there yet. I don’t think I can just stop cold turkey.

What I am saying is that it’s time that I take my life and make it be what it needs to be for me and my family, and not what everyone else wants it to be. It’s time to simplify. It’s time to start being more intentional with what I do with my time and my life. I only get one of these lives after all.

Maybe you can relate? Are you tired? Have too many things going on and too many roles to fill for the time and space you have available? Are you tired of being tired?

Let’s start to make our lives better. Let’s make the hard choices. Let’s choose the right things and not all the things. Let’s choose to live with more intention.

It won’t be a popular decision, but it will be a healthier one. That’s a decision worth making.

One Step at a Time

It’s still conference season!

Over the last two days I was able to attend a “Family Teams” workshop and it was incredible. If you’ve never heard about Family Teams, they believe “that the way we do family in the West is mostly a failed experiment, and the scriptures are calling us back to a bigger and better design.” They are on a mission to restore the Biblical definition of “family”.

Over the past two days I have learned so much, found so much hope for what could be, and been convicted deep down to my bones.

Have you ever attended a conference, workshop, or even just a talk where the entire time you felt convicted about the things you were doing and how you were doing them, but at the same time felt incredibly encouraged that things could change and that you (along with God) had the power to change them? That’s really how I feel about what went down over the past couple of days.

From the very beginning I could feel God kind of pressing in on some things in my heart and life that I needed to change. Over the course of the conference He also allowed me to see tools that we could use together to fix things and gave me hope through the Family Teams team that things could actually change for the better … for me, and for my family.

In talking about families, it’s really easy to get stuck on families with small children. They have the most opportunity to grow their family into what they want it to be. For those of us with older children (or children that are already grown), it can feel like we’re too late to the party. It can seem that we’ve run out of time to make a difference in our family. I guess, better luck to the next generation, right?

Wrong.

That is a lie from the enemy and blatently not true. I almost fell for it. From the very beginning as the team was talking about “littles” and creating traditions for your family there was a whisper in the back of my mind that kept saying “See … it’s too late for you. You’re family can’t change.”

Side note: if you ever hear that or something like it, that isn’t God telling you that. That’s your enemy and you can fight back against that crap.

But I really almost believed it. I almost checked out right then. Thank God I didn’t. I would have missed so much and been so much worse off.

Here’s the truth and the gist of what I wanted to share with you today. There are two things:

First, I want you to know that it’s never too late. It doesn’t matter if your single, just married, have “littles”, older kids, or your kids have all grown up and gone. If you have a vision for anything (your family, your life, your career, whatever), you still have time to make it happen. If you’re not dead, God’s not done.

Second, if you want to see things change in your life, invite God in. Things probably won’t change over night. You might fall back into old habits. Change always and inevitably takes time. It’s not the quick changes that make the biggest difference anyway. It’s slow, intentional change. It’s one step at a time, worked out consistently over time that leads to the biggest change.

If there are places in your life that you want to change, they can change. Invite God in, follow His plan for your thing, and take small steps. Don’t rush it. Fail forward. You’ll be amazed where you end up.

Reconnect

Can I be honest with you? I hope so. I mean, you’re pretty much all I’ve got here.

I’ve really struggled with writing lately. Like, really struggled. I’ve written 2 blogs posts in a row that were last minute jobs. They probably have read like last minute jobs as well. In fact, this post today is a last minute job.

I hate that. I hate writing something at the last minute. It’s not my best work and the pressure to get something out the door makes this whole process feel way worse than it should.

Literally the only reason I’ve posted anything lately is because I made a promise to you at the beginning of the year that I would post 1 post a week all year long. I think that kind of consistency is important. Showing up every day is one of the keys to success. But it’s hard.

I’ve struggled with what to write about. Even though I have a hundred different ideas, I don’t really want to write about any of them. I’ve stuggled with making time to write. I’ve struggled with the words when I’ve finally sat down to write. So I think to myself “Maybe motivation is the problem? Maybe I’m just losing my motivation for writing.”

Or maybe it’s my job. I’ve been really busy at my work lately (we’re trying to ship a new app) and I’ve chosen to use the time that I should be writing as time for work. If I get up at 6:00am and I have an hour to do my quiet time and write for the day, I’ve been choosing to get up, maybe do my quiet time, and then get an extra half hour of work in before I actually go to work. That’s great - from a work perspective - but it sucks from a writing perspective.

Let’s just be honest, being busy at work is just an excuse for not writing. A “lack of motivation” is an excuse for not spending time where I know I need to spend it. Being busy someplace else doesn’t mean that I can slack on my other responsibilities, right? A lack of motivation doesn’t mean that I don’t have to show up every day. Just because I’m not feeling motivated or I’m busy doing other things on any particular day (or week) doesn’t mean that I can stop showing up at my job and doing what they are paying me to do. They would quite literally stop paying me and I wouldn’t have a job at all.

So I have to be able to work even though I don’t feel motivated. I have to be willing to show up even if I have other things to do.

But I’m not showing up. Not really. I’m posting, but it’s way less than half-hearted. I’ve gotten away from the habit of writing. I haven’t made the time to sit down and write on a regular basis in a long while. I don’t have the words to write effectively. So what’s going on? Here’s what I think is really happening:

Writing is where I have my best thoughts. Writing is one of those places where God and I tend to communicate best. So when I skip my writing time I lose out, not only on time to think but on time with God. Which is what I need more than anything else to be successful … in my job, with my family, in my life in general. The extra 30 minutes of work is great. Investing 30 minutes in God, writing, and my thoughts means that I can and will get way more than 30 extra minutes worth of productivity out of my day.

It’s the tithing principle, right? I can do a lot with 100% of my money. But when I am faithful and tithe 10% and allow God to handle my money, then He can do so much more with the 90% that’s left over than I ever could with the whole 100%. God desires the first and best of my finances because it helps us to trust Him. We and our money are blessed because of it.

In the same way, he desires the first and best of our days. So if I give him the first hour of my day (allow time for reading the Bible and praying and writing whatever it is that He wants me to write about that day) that means that I get to learn to trust that He is going to make me more productive throughout my day, and that He will bless me and everything I touch because of it.

So I guess if I were to boil all this down, my lack of writing shows my lack of spending time with God. I do a “quiet time” most days, but it’s probably 5 minutes reading through one of the plans on YouVersion. I don’t actually sit down, pull out my Bible, and read anything. I don’t usually take time to pray. I just move right into the next thing. Then I set about getting a head start on the work that is keeping my brain busy. I mean, we have an app to launch, right God?

What I’m learning in this season is that what I really need is this time with God. Three things specifically stand out.

  • I really need to pull out my Bible and read it. I need to listen for God to speak through the words.
  • I really need to take a few minutes - it doesn’t have to be long - and pray for a thing or things. I need to listen for God to tell me what to pray for and for Him to speak to me during that time.
  • I really need to write again. It doesn’t have to be journaling my thoughts for posterity (although that’s good too). It can be writing for my blog if that’s what I feel like God wants me to write. In the midst of that writing, I need to be attentive and listening to what God, through His Holy Spirit, wants to say to me and through me to other people.

So maybe in the end it’s not really a lack of motivation to write. I mean, this little bit of rambling is over 1100 words. Maybe it’s not that I’m too busy. Maybe, just maybe, it’s more about my lack of time, presence, and relationship with God. While it feels like the problem is motivation, perhaps it’s a lack of divine inspiration because I’m so disconnected from the source.

It’s time for me to plug back in.

What about you? Are you struggling with the motivation to do what you know you should be doing? Maybe, like me, you’re finding yourself disconnected from your source. I’m challenging myself - and now I’m challenging you - to reconnect and give God the time He deserves as the first and foremost part of your day. Together, let’s see what happens. I bet we find motivation we didn’t know we had, and a productivity that will rival the best of the “hustlers” out there.

I’m in this with you. Let’s go!

An Intentional Life

I have to confess … I haven’t been living very intentionally lately.

I’ve let my life be dictated by the situations around me. Instead of telling my life what to do I’ve been letting my life tell me what to do.

When you allow life to take you where it wants you to go you will end up in all the places you don’t want to be.

Life will take your money and tell you that living paycheck to paycheck and in debt is cool.

Life will take your time and tell you that busyness and hustle is the way to get ahead in life. It will threaten you and remind you how you don’t want to be left behind by all the rest of the “grinders” out there.

You will stop making time for the important things and instead work as much and as often as you can. You will start to skip “quiet time” for “I can get 30 minutes of work in before I head to work.”

You will stop making intentional choices with you diet and start eating whatever is in front of you. You will make bad choices at the grocery store. Because you have less money and time you will choose what’s cheap and not what’s best.

At least, this is what I have found is true for me. I didn’t even recognize that I was doing this at first. It was a revelation to me that I didn’t enjoy.

But there is joy in revelation. Even if the revelation hurts. We can always make corrections. We can always change direction. We can always choose differently.

I want to start to choose intention. I don’t want to be driven along by the whims of the world. Instead, I want to choose to do the right things … even if they’re hard. I want to redeem my time and use it wisely. I want to start to make the right decisions right away.

If you find yourself living unintentionally as well, I’m here for you. We can do this together.

October 04, 2019life

RX 2019

It must be conference season.

Last week I told you about a trip I took to Brooklyn, NY for React Day 2019. For 3 days this past week I was here in lovely Anderson, SC for RX 2019.

RX is a conference supporting Rock RMS, it’s product and it’s community. For those of you unfamiliar with Rock, according to it’s website:

Rock is an open source church management system that focuses on the heart of ministry - people.

At NewSpring, we manage all of our people and processes inside of the Rock church management system. Our website is run on Rock. And sometime soon, Rock will be the data provider for our new mobile app.

I love Rock. This piece of software was actually the reason that I originally got hired at NewSpring. In my first year or two I worked exclusively on helping get the Rock project launched. I don’t know that I was very effective, but it felt good to be a part of something that has the potential to change churches and how they do ministry around the world.

I haven’t done a lot of work lately on the Rock platform. I’ve been working pretty exclusively on our mobile app the past few years. But Rock has taken off in leaps and bounds. Probably because I’m not working on it any more. 😄

I spent the days of the conference learning about new things that Rock can do and how to help my church leverage the power of Rock. But that wasn’t the best part of the conference. All the things that Rock can do are awesome, but they aren’t the real power of the software.

The true power of Rock is its community. I’m an introvert by nature. People, small talk, and conversations wear me down and exhaust me. But for these 3 days, I caught up with old friends from churches around the country, met some amazing new people, and generally came away with a new found respect and admiration for all the people that are a part of this.

I got to meet a guy named Scott from a church in Washington. He is a volunteer with a full-time job and family responsibilities. Here he was, taking vacation time to come to this conference to learn how he can help his church implement Rock so that they can do ministry better.

I talked to people working at churches in Florida, Georgia, Arizona, South Carolina and plenty of other places. All of these people are working hard to reach people for Jesus with technology.

These are my people.

If you are in ministry, particularly if you are on the tech side of ministry, I think today I just want to try to encourage you.

You are doing an important work. No matter if you are one of 20 people on your team that focuses on just one product or if you are the 1 lone person at your church that takes care of everything, you are doing an important work. You are doing THE most important work. It’s tiring. It’s often thankless. But that’s okay right? We don’t do this job for the accolades. We do it because it’s our calling. It’s what we’re meant to be doing.

As the world leans more and more into technology it’s our job to try to keep up or surpass what the world is doing. There are big problems to solve and they are put squarely upon our shoulders. You, we, need to figure them out.

From the little things to help your church better shepherd the people in their care (“I just need this report to run”), to the giant issues of how to spread the Gospel to the world using technology, we are on the front lines. There is no problem too big or task too small.

I don’t have all the answers. Neither do you. Together though, through community and team, we can figure them out. “We” is always better than “Me”. One hundred percent of the time.

I’m proud of you and all the work you do. I’m super excited to be on this journey with you. Guys and gals, together we can change the world. Let’s go get after it.

Godspeed.

React Day New York 2019

React Day New York 2019

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to have been able to spend a couple days in New York and to attend React Day New York 2019 in Brooklyn. The conference was great and, having never been to New York City, the whole experience was a cultural eye-opener for me.

Let’s Talk React

For those of you that don’t know, I work as a developer at NewSpring Church where I work mainly on our church’s mobile app. Sometime this fall we’re hoping to release a new version of our app. We’ve been working hard on this for a long time and I’m really proud of what we’re building. I believe this app has the potential to reach so many people. I can’t wait for it to be out in the world, being used by thousands of people every week.

The app that we’re building is using React Native, Apollo GraphQL, and RockCMS under the hood. In going to the React Day conference we were hoping to get some new ideas or learn some things on how we can get better at the React Native part.

I learned so much at this conference. So many business and industry leaders from large companies all across the country were there to teach what they’ve been learning in the React space.

I came away with a bunch of ideas for stuff that we could be doing that we haven’t gotten around to yet. A/B testing, React Hooks, and Code Splitting just to name a few.

But the biggest thing that I walked away from the conference knowing was that as an organization, we are actually in a really good spot right now. A lot of what the people talked about we were already doing at least as well as, if not better than, they were doing it. When the folks from the Discovery Channel give a talk about how they are solving some of the same problems we are solving, we know we’re in good company. They might have a much larger scale, but they are the same problems, and that’s exciting.

We always talk about how the church should be leading the way in our culture, and I believe that should extend to the development space as well. We are right on the edge of what people are doing with React, and that makes me feel even better about what we’re doing and the space that we’re doing it in.

Let’s Talk New York

I’d never been to NYC. I’ve been to New York as in, the state, but before last weekend I had never been to New York the city. It was an experience for sure.

We took a train from the Newark airport into Penn Station pretty much right at rush hour as people were heading home for the day. The sheer number of people that were rushing to get to their trains to take them somewhere was overwhelming. So many people in such a hurry. It was honestly a little much for me.

Figuring out the subway/train system was something else that was pretty overwhelming for me. I was really thankful that I was with a couple of other guys from my team at work because on your own, that’s a pretty large thing to attempt to figure out. Which train do I take and what stop do I need to get off the train at? I suppose if I had done some research ahead of time it might not have been so crazy overwhelming. But since I didn’t, I would have been completely lost.

That being said, the whole public transportation system is awe-inspiring. The number of people that they transport through the city on a daily basis is incredible. Just think for a second about the sheer size of the whole system; the number of trains and how they keep everything moving and as close to on-time as possible. It is really, really impressive.

Also, I can visually confirm the presence of rats in the subway. Just saying.

While I prefer wide open spaces, Manhattan and Brooklyn were really neat places. I got to see some of the buildings I’ve only ever seen on TV or in the movies … which was super cool. Being able to put a real image in my head to places like Times Square, the Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Center is awesome. The next time I see the Avengers flying around New York, I’ll basically know where they are. Which is awesome.

All-in-all it was a great weekend and I’m actually kind of excited to potentially go back in 2020. See you then NYC!