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Posted by on Nov 9, 2012 in Communication | 6 comments

Love is Overrated

Love is Overrated

First off, I’m a hopeless romantic, so put down the stones and let me explain myself!

I haven’t been single for over a decade, so feel free to dismiss my opinions, but I don’t think the problem in the dating world is a lack of qualified suitors.  In fact, the problem is too many options!  Not too many decades ago, it was very unlikely that you were going to meet someone who would come in from a distant land and sweep you off your feet.  Pickins’ were slim.  Look around you…what you see…those are your options!

Contrast that with today.  Mr. or Miss Wonderful may just stumble into your world at any minute.  The possibilities are endless.  You can even go online and build the perfect suitor profile and bring them to you!  With so many potential options, it’s hard to commit.  You know the people around you aren’t perfect, so why settle? …especially when someone better may show up any day.

So how do you navigate the new world?  How do you avoid ending up with the wrong person but also make sure that fear of commitment won’t keep you single forever?

Here are some ideas to help:

1.) Narrow your options: Believe it or not, who you marry is not the only important choice in your life.  You can narrow your options simply by deciding what else is important to you.  For me, faith in Jesus and resolve to help build His church are primary values for my life.  Eileen (my wife) stood out to me as someone who shared those values from the very beginning of our relationship.  Without that, it would have been a non-starter.  What values are important to you?  Can that help narrow your options?

2.) Forget perfection: You’re not perfect.  No one else is either.  Besides, the real awesomeness of relationships is that they force us to deal with our imperfections.  Don’t look for someone who is perfect.  Look for someone who is willing to grow.  If you’ll be willing as well, together you can help each other become so much more than either of you could be on your own.

3.) Love is overrated: OK, here it is.  I think the “in love” feeling is hype.  The truth is that feelings come and go.  There are days you’re gonna be so passionately love-struck that you can’t separate from each other.  Other days you’ll hope they don’t even call because you can’t bear the thought of talking to them.  To make long-term decisions on feelings, no matter how deep, is to build your future on a very shaky foundation.

True love is born of commitment, not feelings.  Jesus said that there is no greater love than this, that a man lay down his life.  True love is the result of someone committing to lay down their individual life (desires, plans, feelings) for another person.  That’s why two people in an arranged marriage can find love.  Love came out of their commitment, not the other way around.  So don’t freak out if you don’t feel enraptured with passion every second of every day.  True love is much bigger than that.

4.) Try Someone On.  I used to believe in a strict dating guideline, that you shouldn’t date unless you felt the relationship was headed toward marriage.  Now, though, it seems like that puts too much pressure on relationships in the early stages.  I think the goal should be to learn as much as possible about someone’s values, strengths, weaknesses and willingness to grow with as little wounding as possible.  Perhaps my next post will be how to avoid wounds in dating relationships.  For more direction on “trying someone on”, though, see my previous post: Not Married – Just Sleeping Together.

What about you?  What ideas do you have about navigating today’s dating world?

 

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Posted by on Sep 20, 2012 in Leadership | 4 comments

Many Competing Priorities?  Why rigid time-management will NEVER bring “balance” to your life

Many Competing Priorities? Why rigid time-management will NEVER bring “balance” to your life

Several times in my life I’ve attempted to sit down and write out an ideal weekly schedule to live by…divided into 15min increments.  You know the drill…Monday: wake-up, read the Bible, pray, make breakfast, eat breakfast…  It was as if life was a weight-balance scale and if I could arrange all the competing priorities perfectly my life would have perfect balance.  Yet, every time I developed the perfect schedule I was never able to execute.

Here’s the problem I discovered.  Those weights…those competing priorities…they don’t weigh the same from week to week, or even day-to-day.  Wives get pregnant (how does that happen?).  Children develop bad habits that have to be addressed (another mystery).  Projects have deadlines.  Relationships have needy moments.  The weight of each of these competing priorities is constantly shifting.  You can’t expect to set a balanced scale and never tend it again.  To have constant balance, your scale must be adjustable.

Here are a two ideas to help your time-management system respond to this reality:

1.) Do your daily-planning…weekly: Many people develop a daily task list.  That’s a wonderful tool, but it doesn’t allow for big-picture thinking.  With many competing priorities, you’ll need to set aside a time each week to reflect on which priorities need your attention and when you’re going to be able to focus on them.  With daily planning alone, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s really important.  Here are some important components of your weekly planning session:

  • THINK.  Rigid time-management systems tell us where to be when so we don’t have to think about it.  But your weekly planning should have thinking time built-in so you can use common sense to help balance your life.  Family doing great, but you’re about to lose your job because of your performance?  I might get crucified for saying this, but maybe you should drop family movie night and work late on Thursday!
  • VALUES.  Use your weekly planning time to remind yourself of what’s important to you.  Make sure your time-management choices reflect those values.  There is nothing that will drive you more insane than knowing that you’re not living by your values.
  • RELATIONSHIPS.  Don’t just think in tasks.  Think in relationships.  Do you have a list of relationships that are most important to you?  Look at each person on your list and ask yourself what you would need to do this week to enhance that relationship.  Then, schedule it in.
  • BIG PROJECTS.  Most really important things can’t be accomplished in a day…or even in a week.  Break that big project down and ask yourself what you need to accomplish this week to move things forward.
  • TASKS.  There are always little things that have to get thrown in.  Schedule a few of these each day and knock them out after you finish your big items.

2.) Look for Opportunities and jump on them (be flexible): Another problem with rigid time-management systems is that we don’t know everything.  If we knew everything that was going to happen in our lives and in the lives of people around us, maybe we could build a schedule that would make the most of every opportunity.  Reality, though, is that unknown opportunities spring up everyday that can help us advance our professional and relational goals.  (i.e. – Thursday isn’t my day to pick the kids up from school, but it looks like I will win some real relational points with my wife if I can go pick them up today.  A minor adjustment to my routine and a great relational win!) If we look for those and respond to them, we can take full advantage of each day.  We must be willing to deviate from our schedule to jump on the unexpected.

Do you have competing priorities?  How do you manage it all?

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Posted by on Sep 5, 2012 in Personal Finance | 0 comments

More on Budgeting: Using Values to Simplify…

More on Budgeting: Using Values to Simplify…

My 5-year-old, Audrey, is also on a tight budget.  I told her over a year ago that if she wanted that new playground set from Costco that she was going to have to save for it.  $998 is a lot of money to find in coins just lying around the house!  A few weeks ago she found herself in quite a dilemma.  They started teaching about generosity in children’s church.  She felt challenged to give some of her coins from her piggy bank, but she didn’t know what to do.  If she gave the coins away, it would take away from what she had already saved toward the playground!

That’s the problem with personal finance…there are too many options.  We have a lot of places we could spend money and a lot of reasons to save money.  It’s easy to get lost in the process of figuring out what we should do and what we shouldn’t, and which order to prioritize things.  For me, the solution is something I call “values-based budgeting”.  The entire budgeting process is driven by personal values that I pull from God’s Word.  It gives me a starting point for simplifying the process and limiting my options.

Here are just a few of the values that drive my personal budgeting:

1.) Generosity.  Proverbs 11:24 says that “the world of the generous gets larger and larger” and that “the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller”.  To me that means that no matter how tight my budget is, generosity has to be a part of it.  Otherwise, my financial world would just keep getting smaller and smaller!

2.) Preparation for the future.  Proverbs 6:6-8 tells us to observe the ways of the ant, “which prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest”.  That tells me that I need to be aware that some of what I have now could be provision for the future.  I need to set aside the necessary portion to prepare for future needs.

3.) No Personal Debt.  Proverbs 22:7 says that “the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.”  It’s true.  A monthly payment feels like bondage that restricts financial growth.  God wants us to be lenders, not borrowers.  This is not just the result of prosperity…it is the pathway to prosperity.

4.) Timely Payments.  Leviticus 19:13 says “The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning.”  This tells me that if I have the money, I should pay them what I owe them as quick as possible.

5.) Faithfulness.  Luke 16:10 says, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much.”  I believe that if I can stick to my values, now, while my finances are small, that I’ll be trusted with more in the future.

What values are driving your financial management?

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Posted by on Aug 22, 2012 in Inspirational | 1 comment

Values don’t matter…until they cost you something.

Values don’t matter…until they cost you something.

It’s very easy for us to sit on our high-horse and look down on the moral failures of the corrupt.  It’s much more difficult for us to put ourselves in their shoes and still be willing to pay the price that it would have cost them to live by the right values.  The truth is that our values don’t mean a hill of beans until we have to give up something to live by them.

There is no sense in priding ourselves on our values until they’ve been tested.  A commitment to financial integrity doesn’t mean anything until you’re presented with a shady opportunity that could help you out of a tight spot.  A commitment of faithfulness to your spouse doesn’t mean anything until you’re tempted during a rough patch in your marriage.  Values don’t matter until they cost you something.

Here are 5 keys to living by your values:

1.) Be black and white.  When it comes to values, grey areas are not helpful.  You need clear lines that you’re committed not to cross.  The more clear the lines are, the more clarity you’ll have when they’re tested.  It’s OK (and healthy) to reassess your values from time to time, but don’t leave questions about values lingering.  You don’t want to be faced with a decision and not have clear values to help guide you.

2.) Ground your values.  Your values are only as good as their source.  If you’ve based your values on the way you feel or think about something then your values will shift when you feel or think differently.  If you base your values on something unchanging, you can rely on them to help guide you even when you’re an emotional wreck.  Ground your values in the Word of God.  Besides being unchanging, God’s Word is also true.  You can trust that living by Biblical values will yield great success in whatever you do.

3.) Write them down and review them weekly.  Not only does this help you make your values more black and white, but it keeps them in front of you every week.  Simply reviewing what’s most important for you to live by will quickly expose the opposing opportunities that present themselves.

4.) Start small and early.  Simply put, if you don’t make small sacrifices for your values today then you won’t make large sacrifices later.  Take back the office supplies you brought home.  Stop flirting with the receptionist.  Be generous even if you only have a little.  Go home and be with your family.  Make the small choices today and you’ll have trained yourself to make big choices tomorrow.  And when you do, write it down in a journal.  Go back and reflect on how much better your life was because you gave up something for your values.  This will encourage you in the future.

5.) Use Visioning.  This might sound scary at first, but it’s really no big deal.  All I’m saying is “see yourself” in a tempting situation and “watch yourself” make the right decisions.  There is no need for the first tests of your values to be in real life.  We have amazing imaginations.  I have faced all kinds of situations in my mind long before ever facing them in reality.  Because I had already “experienced” the moment, it was easy to stick to my values when the situation was real.

Are values important to you?  Where do they come from and how do you live by them?

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