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Weekly Thoughts

The intersection of work, life, sport and spirituality.

Called to be….

I’ve been wrestling with some big concepts over the last couple of months related to life. Obviously working with a new company and going through change makes you evaluate things, but I think there is something bigger at work. The 5280 Fellowship program has helped to challenge some of my thinking when it comes to calling and career. While my thoughts below are a work in progress, I have finally settled in on a few definitions that seem to make sense to me.

  1. Calling. Your calling isn’t what you do, it’s who you are. 
    If you have ever taken an EQI or Myers Briggs test, you understand that all of us are hard-wired with certain strengths and viewpoints. While some people are gifted with analytic capabilities, others are gifted with more social/emotional views and empathy. Others show signs of leadership and big-picture views. Whatever your strengths, these all add up to make you who you are. Calling is simply tapping into these strengths and using them in everyday life.
  2. Profession. You can use your calling in ANY profession. 
    Calling is not synonymous with profession, although profession can support calling. Since your calling is leveraging your strengths, you can use those strengths in ANY organization or profession. Professions many times are just a knowledge base that specify a role or function within an organizational environment.
  3. Platform. This is your position of maximum impact where your calling is leveraged in your profession or life. 
    I met with a colleague several weeks ago and he asked me if I ever considered doing something different or working in another industry. I told him that I have considered it many times in the past. I’ve been interested in sports marketing for a number of years, but while I think I’d love that industry, it would require starting over again from the bottom and building up that professional knowledge base. Given that I’ve been working in the AEC environment for 21 years now, my professional network and industry understanding allow me to operate with efficiency and provide greater value to the organizations I work for. Committing to the field I am in now allows me the ability to have a high platform to use my calling in my profession. For this reason, I am going to stay in my current field and work to be a knowledge expert as my calling comes to fruit.
  4. God’s will. God’s will has more to do with restoration and the fruits we all know as holy, than it has to do with a linear ‘perfect path’ of decisions and profession.
    About 10-or-so years ago, I had lunch with an architect friend and mentor of mine. He had been practicing architecture his whole life and owned his own firm. He was also a leader in a small little church I went to and I wanted to pick his brain about my career. I went on to tell him how unhappy I was with my current situation at work and asked him where he thought God wanted to lead me. I told him that I had two other job offers on the table and I needed discernment on where God wanted me.

    “It doesn’t matter. You can’t make a bad decision either way. They are just different options”

    I admit that I was a little frustrated with his response as I was looking for some discernment as to what he felt God’s will was for my decision. What I’ve come to realize as I’ve matured in my profession is that he was really saying, “God has given you the FREEDOM to choose.” If my calling is truly separate from my profession, I can use my calling in ANY job.

Career decisions are tough and I understand that we must continue to pray and ask for guidance as we move about our world. What can be truly freeing however is realizing that our true calling can be used in any area of life and in any career. At the same time, I believe that we should work towards professions and jobs that give us the biggest platform to impact our world. That is where our calling can be most effective.

What about you? Are you leveraging your calling? Comments and observations welcome in the comments!

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#complexity

I’m a tech geek. I’ll admit it. Friends have told me I’m an early adopter of technology and I’m always interested in the next upgraded tech gadget or toy. I upgrade my phone every two years without exception, sometimes just to get an upgraded camera or faster processor. As far back as I can remember, I’ve been like this. Totally geeking out about the next revolution in technology. When Macs first introduced their air transfer technology in the 90’s, me and my buddy sat in my living room staring at two computers transfer a file through thin air. It took over 5 minutes to transfer a 256K file. We were in awe.

Fast forward to just this past week. I was surfing through my Instagram feed on my new iPhone 8 and scrolled past a political post with over 20 hashtags bashing the opposing view.

When did humanity and stories get dumbed down to hashtags? A domino cascade of events gets simplified to #blacklivesmatter and #alllivesmatter or #guncontrol and #secondammendment. Depending on your hashtag, you either suck or are embraced as a friend (absent the rest of your humanity).

Meditating on this over the past week, I concluded that while the hashtag technology that fuels search engines is not without merit, there is a great danger in simplifying people, process and systems down to hashtags. The complexities in people and the depth of love and emotion are slowly eroding from our vocabulary and thought process.

Take the hashtag #Christian and what comes to mind? Crowds of people picketing Target over gender neutral bathrooms or servants volunteering time at the food bank?

There is nothing in nature that is as simple as a hashtag or 144-character tweet. Even the new technologies we all embrace are built on a platform of increasingly complicated infrastructure. If we learn anything from the divine complexity of creation, we must understand that the world is incredibly complex and requires perspective that we may or may not have. God’s master design is so intricate that it gets infinitely larger and smaller the more we study it.

What makes us think we can simplify any issue or person down to a one-word stereotype and even worse think that is okay? How often do I do this to people I interact with in this world? I am as guilty as the next person and must break free.

As I geek out over my newest and latest tech gadget, I must fight and not let my mind reduce humanity down to a collection of one-word buckets. We are so much more beautiful than that.

 

Busy.. busy.. busy..

I just started a new job a little over a week ago. Like any new job, the first month is a barrage of paperwork, forms, online surveys, meeting new people, and deciphering roles and responsibilities. Starting a new job is like running down the tracks and hopping on a freight train that is moving full speed. Once you hop on, you must orient yourself to your new surroundings and discover the destination all while dealing with your existing baggage.

With my new position comes a host of new responsibility, but one thing that remains consistent is the enormous about of time I spend meeting with people both inside and outside my office. There is a common thread to almost every meeting I have had with people recently.

“How are you?” –“Busy”

“How’s your work?” –“Oh man, it’s so busy”

“How’s your family?” –“Busy running around with the kids all weekend”

“How’s your life, church, hobbies, etc?” – “Busy, busy busy”

“I’m too busy to work out”

“I’m too busy to spend time meditating”

“I’m too busy to _________________”

I even saw an old friend of mine the other day and told him we should get together soon. “Yeah once things slow down and it’s not so busy we should put something on the calendar.” This is a friend I have reached out to multiple times over the last two years to hang out with no luck. I finally realized, that it’s not that he is too busy, it is just that he is too busy for me

A funny thing happens when you sit down and evaluate your life and your ‘busy’ schedule. Somehow, you always find time to do the important things. You’re never too busy to eat food. You’re never too busy to take a shower and drive yourself to school or work. You’re never too busy for things that really matter.

As I’m on this new freight train moving forward, I am really examining my world of ‘busy’. Does my ‘busy’ have any lasting eternal value or is it just stuff that fills my time?

Things I’m doing to try and cut the busy:

  1. Determine your anchors.
    What are the things you absolutely must do or should be doing? How can we maximize the value in those activities? God commanded us to treat our bodies as his temple. This means we need to eat, sleep and exercise as good stewards of His gift. In addition, meditation, prayer and spiritual formation should be anchors that are nonnegotiable do to their eternal value.
  2. Re-prioritize what’s important.
    Make a list of all the things you do during the day or week. For me, it is typically work meetings and activities. Looking at all the things I have going on, asking myself if all these activities are necessary is an important reflection. Can I combine things? What is the point of each activity, and how can I be mentally present at each one. This also includes making sure I’m spending time with the people I love, and friends that edify my life.
  3. Cut the fluff. There can be too much of a good thing.
    There is a term in endurance sports called Hyponatremia. This is a condition in which an athlete typically drinks too much water during exercise and dilutes their sodium levels. The thing about Hyponatremia is that it is often deadly. Something as simple as drinking too much water (which is the building block of life) can literally kill you. I talk to people almost weekly that have overloaded their plates to a Hyponatremia level. Something good like volunteering in your community or even your church, can create a condition where you choke out everything else and break down. I’ve experienced this multiple times in terms of panic attacks and anxiety because I’ve had too much on my plate. Go back to re-prioritizing what’s important and focus on 1-2 activities you can succeed in and then back away from the rest. God designed us for balance and there can be too much of a good thing.
  4. Ask for help and delegate. 
    There are plenty of times when there really is a problem of ‘too-much’. This is where we need to swallow our pride and ask for help. You’d be surprised how many people are ready to jump in and lend a hand when life really is ‘too busy’. I hit these times often, and am slowly learning how to ask for help and prayer to get me through.

It is good…

I’m currently going through a nine month fellowship program run by an organization that studies the intersection of work and faith. I think a lot of people, including myself, struggle with the question of what intrinsic value our work brings to the world. As a sales professional, how I can be of value outside of just strictly driving profits to the bottom line? Is our work goal simply to make a bunch of money so we can retire and travel the globe?

The beginning of the program has been thought-provoking in many ways but nothing quite as impactful as studying the creation story in the first part of Genesis. Setting aside the literal scientific questions we all have when we read a seven-day creation story, there are many parallels behind God’s work ethic and things we can model in our own work.

There were four key things that stood out to me when reading Genesis Chapter 1 that I had not considered before. These key elements apply to our work as people and our approach to business.

  1. A planned and staged approach to work. If you were God and all powerful, wouldn’t you just create planet Earth and every single thing in it in one day? I think about it related to my own work and how I try to wrap up as much as I possibly can in the shortest amount of time. If we have a proposal due, the faster we can get the thing done and out the door the better. Yet God himself took six full days to build creation. In business I’m always talking about the importance of a plan and strategic approach to everything that we do. Even my own athletic goals have a very strategic and staged approach to training. If we look at how God spaced out his creation efforts, we can learn that this is also how we need to approach projects in our every day lives.
  2. Pause to evaluate work at each stage. The next observation really struck me. You know how I mentioned trying to get through projects as quickly as we can and get them out the door? Well, In Genesis, God paused each day paused to evaluate His work. He doesn’t wait until the end of the project but he evaluates his work at every step of the way. To take time to reflect on work product and evaluate its goodness is something that’s in God’s nature. It’s something that I need to take more time to do.
  3. Celebrate a job well done, even when it’s not finished. In addition to evaluating work product at every step of the way, God also takes the time to celebrate his work. “It is good”. He blesses each day’s work and moves to the next step. This is something I find extremely hard to do when drafts of proposals and deliverables aren’t complete. To pause and celebrate work when it’s not yet completed is something that I plan to work on over the next year.
  4. Rest and recover. Last but certainly and certainly not least is taking the time to rest. How often do we rest after we complete a task? I definitely don’t have that gift! I finish one thing and move to the next as quick as I can. Rarely do I take the time to rest after a project is done. With rest built into the seventh day of the creation story, it is apparent that God built into us the need to recuperate and recover after goals have been met. Whether it’s a race that I have just completed or a project that I just got out the door, I need to take the personal time to rest and hit the “reset button” and recover for the next job.

I’m excited for the revelations that I received so far. Looking forward to this next nine month journey through the fellowship program and how I can improve me as a professional and help me reflect more of him in everything I do.


Genesis 1:3
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day”

Comparison and ‘Value’

Comparison.

It drives every aspect of our lives. How do we stack up in the rankings?

In work, do you get your self-worth from the number of sales you have brought in or the initiatives you’ve been able to bring to your business? Do you correlate the amount of your paycheck with your personal and professional value? Do you measure yourself by the house you own or the car you drive?

Often times, we spend our lives comparing ourselves to others in a desperate attempt to derive more self-worth or somehow feel valued.

I spent this past weekend in Leadville pacing at one of the biggest ultrarunning races on the planet, the Leadville 100 Trail Run. Profiled in countless books and media, the Leadville 100 typically boasts a 40-50% finisher rate OR a 50%-60% failure rate depending on how you look at it. Within that finisher pool, if you finish in less than 25 hours you get a big belt buckle. If you finish in less than 30 hours you get a smaller belt buckle. There are awards for top three athletes overall and the top three in each age group category. Walk around the finish of Leadville, and you hear athletes boasting about their accomplishments:

“I got a big buckle.” “I finished before the cutoff.” “I got on the podium.” “I didn’t finish because of….fill in the blank.”

I even stood next to a guy at the finish line that had a 200-mile ultrarunning race finishers t-shirt on (from another race) and it was tucked into the front of his shorts to show off his 200-mile finishers belt buckle as if to say, “Yeah, I’m proud of all you finishers, but I’m way more bad ass than you. I ran TWICE as far

I do think we should be proud of our accomplishments and set goals to pull out our best potential. The danger I find however, is when we derive our importance and self-worth from comparing ourselves to others and placing value on these goals outside the goal itself. Placing improper importance on the goal itself damages the life experience.

What if you still strive to achieve excellence, but you knew your value was not based in how much or how little you have or are able to do? What if your DNF (did not finish) in the last race didn’t matter to you anymore than taking first place in terms of how you see yourself?

One of my favorite authors, Donald Miller, wrote a book called “Searching for God Knows What” where he profiles the broken human condition and points out that we are all trying to achieve success based on how we stack up against other people. In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul clarifies that our inherent value has nothing to do with what we do or don’t do. (Romans 3:21-30) It has nothing to do with our accomplishments or feats in life. We are all valued as humans in the full and overflowing love that comes from God (whether you believe in Him or not).

What if we all lived our lives knowing that we already had all the intrinsic value we need by just being us? What if we no longer compared ourselves against others because we were all at peace with who we are already?

How would you live your life differently?

The intersection of work, life, sport and spirituality.

If you know me, you know that one thing that makes me tic is my pure desire to help people succeed. Whether it is at work, at school, at church or on the trail, nothing really excites me more than watching people achieve what they previously thought impossible.

I’ve been working through an idea to start up another blog that focuses in on business skills, goal setting and marketing topics. I have brainstormed a bunch of content and even put together some outlines. Thinking through the implementation of this idea, I have been drawn back to this Weekly Thoughts blog and how I’ve let it go dormant over the last few years. What started as a weekly devotional for me, has turned into something that I don’t invest time into anymore. In it’s place, I have invested time into my running blog and race reports as a way to capture memories of physical accomplishments. I’ve failed to keep up with a forum that challenges me to think deeper spiritually and grow closer to God.

And here I am ready to start yet ANOTHER blog.

I went for a run this morning, and a stark reality hit me square in the face. Without realizing it, I have divided my life into quadrants resembling stacks of quarters, pennies and dimes. “Work life” Spiritual Life” “Athletic Life” Family Life” have all staked claim to my heart and I have fought to keep them all separate. I’ve resisted bringing all but a few work and industry colleagues into my personal circle of friends. My church-going believer friends are separate from my running and college buddies.

I had a realization today that my work life, personal life, spiritual life and epic running adventures all intersect in the reality that makes me who I am. By placing everything into silos and stacks, I am in turn only offering a piece of each truth and revelation.

No more.

I’m taking a different direction with Weekly Thoughts where I will seek to highlight the intersection of sport, life, spirituality and work. I appreciate all the massive support I’ve had over the years and look forward to see how God will use this blog moving forward.

Hopefully, in the end, this reaches and inspires someone out there to break down their own silos. I hope it helps someone set some goals that make the impossible come into view. I hope that someone realizes that the spiritual strength that God brings will fill in some of the gaps. It all works together to make us who we are.

Please continue to comment on my posts and interact. Without conversation, this blog is flat.

Killing the Cardboard Jacket

Do you ever sit back and wonder when life became so complicated? Like when you start to analyze the web that has become our lives and start to pull apart the strands only to realize that there are knots you can’t untie? Our jobs, our time, our spirituality, physical activity and our diets feel like a complicated mess that roll us up and weigh us down.

Life was so much simpler when we were younger. My 4 ½ year old can easily find “solutions” to the biggest messes. It was cold out, and he told my wife that they should just cut up some cardboard boxes and wear them as jackets to stay warm. “We have coats,” she replied. “I know mommy, but it would just be WAY easier for us to cut up some boxes.

The simplicity of streamlining ideas migrates into our early careers. Solving problems is as easy as taking that textbook answer on process we learned in college and applying it overnight in the company we just started working for. “What do you mean there are 5 decision makers I need to sell this idea on to change the current process? Can’t you see how good my idea is?!

2016 was another hard year on me. God spent a lot of time showing me how my simple ideas and youthful thinking didn’t always translate into reality. This applied to my relationships, my work, and my overall thoughts on life. My pride was put in check on a continuous basis as I tried things that had always worked in the past and I was greeted with failure.

Reflecting on things at the beginning of this new-year, I keep coming back to a moment in time two years ago that I am convinced God is still showing me how to live out.

Two years ago while working at another firm, I had a co-worker undermine my role and position within that firm and cause a lot of pain, bitterness and anger. While I do not have an enormous ego, my pride was absolutely crushed through it all and I didn’t know what to do. We drove to church that weekend and I told Julie how mad and bitter I was and how much it hurt inside.

Steaming about the situation, I sat down in the auditorium while Julie went to drop Micah off in Children’s church and I heard an audible voice.

“It’s time to die to yourself Tim”

I immediately turned around to see who spoke to me but no one was there. I heard the voice again.

“It’s time to die to yourself Tim”

Realizing that God had just literally spoke to me, tears started to flow down my face as something amazing happened. It all went away. The bitterness, the deep pain, all of it.

The sermon started. The topic? Baptism. Dying to yourself. Letting the Lord truly take over.

I’m convinced there was a deep change in my heart that day, and the bitterness inside was gone. What I am realizing now is that dying to myself goes much deeper than dying to one situation or area of my life. Birth in Christ is death to my own flesh. Nothing is more evident than this past year where areas I surrendered to the Lord’s will brought success, and things I tried to do on my own failed miserably.

I am learning to trust his path but it’s not all that simple. While life is incredibly complex, this year I am choosing to make an effort to let God’s will be done, AND stay content in that plan. Hopefully every now and then He’ll just smile when I want to cut up a cardboard box and put it on as a jacket.


Romans 6:1-4
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life

Spin the Black Circle

It’s no secret that I am a music lover. There is not a single category you can pin me down to in terms of my musical tastes. I have an appreciation for it all. As I child, I remember listening to the radio and recording my favorite songs on to cassette tape so I could listen to them over and over. Over the years, I amassed a collection of cassette tapes, CD’s and MP3s.  I saved up each paycheck just to go blow it all at the music store.

We are in a new era of music. With Spotify streaming, the entire world of digital music is at our fingertips and on demand whenever we want it. There are podcasts, music TV channels, streaming radio and live feeds. We can turn it on and off with a click of a button.

While I enjoy being able to access whatever I music want at any time, several months ago, I hooked up my Techniques 1200 turntable and set out to build my vinyl record collection. The resurgence of record collecting is bringing many of us music lovers back to our youth and to a simpler time. There is something about dropping the needle down on a vinyl record and listening to the pure sound as it was originally recorded. Each song was carefully put in order as the artist intended, and after 20 minutes, you have to flip the record over to hear the closing tracks. Listening to vinyl involves all the senses besides taste. It’s a reconnection to pure sound.

As I build my vinyl record collection, I am discovering a new love for older records I have long forgotten or heard many times before. As I listen with intent, my appreciation for the artists, the lyrics and the music is at an all-time high. I close my eyes and picture the artist in the studio 40 years-ago recording that track just to connect with me so many years later.

I started thinking about my love for music as it relates to our spiritual journey. How often do we overcomplicate our faith or have it spoon fed to us as background noise? What if we took more of an effort to dust off that Bible, sit on the couch for 30 minutes and read the text as it was originally written. What new sounds would we hear? Would you see the transcript with new color? Would flipping the pages bring you closer to God?

In the world of Christian radio, energetic sermons, streaming podcasts, and religious TV, there is something to be said for putting all the noise aside, and spending some time reconnecting with God Himself. Like an old Vinyl record, the quality never fades.

———–
1 Peter 1:24-25

For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.

Identity

Micah, what do you want to be when you grow up?

My 4-year-old son looked at the tile floor deep in thought. Suddenly, he looked up with his eyes bright with anticipation. “A Jedi daddy. When I get bigger, I’m going to be a Jedi just like Luke Skywalker!”

I love the conversations I have with Micah. It is refreshing to see the world through his unjaded eyes and to get a glimpse into a soul where the whole world is ahead and dreams are alive with vivid color.

Thinking back to my own childhood, I answered that same question several times. A fireman, a doctor, a jet pilot, an architect, and a surfer were just a few of my dream professions. What child would have said ‘a director of business development and marketing’ anyway?

Outside of my lofty career goals, I strived through my youth to latch on to other activities to define who I was as a person. In junior high, most everyone is defined by some sort of activity. The jocks, the cheerleaders, the stoners, the nerds were just a few groups.  As we all looked to find our place, I locked on to what I thought the coolest people in school were…the skaters. I loved skateboarding from an early age. I was fascinated with surfing as a small kid, and living in Colorado, skateboarding was the next best thing. Skateboarders were counter-culture but still friends with all the other social groups. They did cool tricks and had cool hair. That’s what I wanted to be.

I was a skateboarder through junior high and transitioned to being a snowboarder in high school and college. I moved to California and became a surfer, and then became a triathlete. When being a triathlete wasn’t doing it for me anymore, I became a competitive cyclist, shaved my legs and started racing with 200 other shaved legged adult males. I moved to Colorado and became a runner, no… a trail runner, no…an ultra-runner…well…you get the idea.

Through all my various ‘identities’ I’ve had over the years, one place I have struggled is latching on to what it means to have an identity in Christ. What does it mean to be a ‘Christian’? It seems like such a small thing, but one area that I have struggled with is the stigma of some other Christian people and not wanting to be put in the same bucket as them. From the people holding up “You’re going to Hell” signs at football games to a few encounters with other Christians I have known over the years, I have struggled with embracing the identity.

But God is showing me something different. Hypocrisy and imperfection are results of the broken human condition. All of us have sinned, and part of my problem was putting too much stock in other people – specifically ‘Christians’- to do it right. I know full-well the extent of my own sin, and thank God for the grace He gives to cover it. Grace I should extend to others as well.

I’m beginning to realize three things:

  1. Having an identity in Christ means that I am a work in progress. I am an imperfect person pursuing a perfect God, and that’s okay.
  2. I have an opportunity to learn from my own past experiences and try and show the grace of Christ where I feel others have fallen short.
  3. Just because another person identifies with the title of ‘Christian’ and preaches hate does not mean I am like that person. It is like someone that calls themselves a runner but sits on the couch all day, eats junk food and does one 5K per year. That person can claim the title, but their actions don’t reflect the identity.

I’m starting to ‘own’ my identity and have more confidence in bearing the image of Christ, and that’s a good thing. I can be defined by what I do by being selfless, showing love, and embracing truth. I’m not perfect by the world’s standards, but thanks to grace, in God’s eyes I am. It’s pretty liberating and I’m humbled to be called a ‘Christian’. I’m an imperfect person pursuing a perfect God who loves us.

So next time someone asks me what I want to be when I grow up my answer is, “I’m a Christian, regardless of what I do professionally or recreationally, that’s all that matters most.” My prayer is that my son can say the same thing someday.

————————–

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here

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