Spiritual Fitness

 

 

Race (12)Recently I ran races on back to back weekends.  First it was a race called Rough & Rugged which was a 5k cross country, trail, mud kind of race.  I finished but was exhausted and struggled along the way.  Then the next weekend I ran a 10k on a flat course.  Again I finished but struggled and had to reach deep to keep pushing myself. After I finished that second race I made the comment that these races are much harder when you don’t train properly.

You see I had been running once a twice a week in preparation for both of these races.  I also did nothing between the two races and I felt it on race day.  I know this because at one time I did train hard and went into similar races in much better physical condition.  I ran better times and felt better after the races.  The preparation I put in made a difference on race day.  I was both mentally and physically ready.  That was not the case with these last two races.

It is similar in our spiritual lives, when we are staying connected to God and feeding our minds the truth, it is much easier to recognize lies and deal with the difficulties of life.  It’s the things we do day in and day out that prepare us for those big moments in life and those small moments that make a big difference.  Those crucial conversations, the big decisions, the temptation that comes out of no where or the unexpected tragedy.  When we are not training spiritually those things can knock us down and take us out.

So here are some spiritual exercises we can all do to keep fit both spiritually and emotionally.

  1. Pray – This is a very powerful way to train.  It has been proven to reduce stress and it’s a great way to express your heart to God.  How incredible to know that the God of this universe wants to listen to what is going on in your life right now.  Short prayers throughout the day or longer prayer times when you able are great ways to stay spiritually fit.  I like to use ACTS when I pray: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.
  2. Reading the Bible – For some this is a challenge, because they tried it and didn’t understand what they were reading so they gave up.  Keep trying, try a different translation, try listening to it, but keep trying.  the translation I’ve been reading lately is the New Century Version.  I just read through the New Testament in 30 days and am now reading through Psalms in 30 days.  You might not be able to read that much so set a goal that works for you.  Find a time that you can read for 5-10 minutes and try to stay consistent  When you miss a day, just pick it up the next.  Pray before you read and ask God to help you understand and to pick something up that he wants to tell you or teach you.
  3. Go to Church – I know that sounds simple, but unless you make that a priority in your life you will only go when it suits your schedule.  Today many people only go to church once or twice a month.  That’s good but your missing a lot by not going every week.  I know life happens and I don’t expect people to be in church every time there is a service, but it should be high on your priority list if you want to be fit spiritually.  Find a church that challenges you to grow and get involved.  Don’t settle for comfortable, because it’s hard to grow and train and get better when your comfortable.
  4. Volunteer at your Church and in the Community – When you make a commitment to volunteer it gets you out of your comfort zone and into making a difference through the local church and through good local organizations.  This is one of the best ways you can grow spiritually.  It will help you to serve others and be part of something bigger than yourself.  Serving increases your responsibility and develops your character.  It also allows you to use your gifts and abilities to make a difference.
  5. Get involved in a group – When you meet with other people to build relationships, learn, and care for each other it stretches you and pushes you to grow spiritually, relationally and emotionally.  When you open your life to some other people it brings a new level of accountability and connection that often leads to growth.  Find some other men or women or couples that you can get to know better, have fun with, have spiritual conversations and pray with.
  6. Listen to Messages – There is incredible communicators out there.  Find someone you connect with and start listening to there messages.  Several that I like a lot are Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, Jon Weese.
  7. Read – I already mentioned reading the Bible, here I’m talking about reading blogs, articles and books.  Some people avoid reading because they hated in in school. I’m not saying you have to read every day, but try to start reading because it’s a great way to get fit spiritually, mentally and emotionally.  There are great resources out there that can help you improve your marriage, parenting, finances, work life and build your faith, develop your character and grow your leadership.  Here are three books I’m currently reading.
  • The Top Ten Leadership Commandments by Hans Finzel
  • The Catalyst Leader by Brad Lomenick
  • The Cure by John Lynch

I encourage you to pick one or two of the areas I mentioned and start incorporating it into your everyday life.  If you do all of those on a regular basis you will grow and become more fit spiritually.

Top Ten Relational Needs

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This week I taught a class entitled “The Top Ten Relational Needs”.  It is based on a workbook by that title from Great Commandment Network. 

God made us with needs, and God promised to meet those needs.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Paul is telling us that God is willing and able to meet all of our needs. It also acknowledges that we all have needs as human beings

Neediness is a characteristic of our God-given identities.

Physical needs:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Sleep
  • Oxygen

Spiritual needs:

  • To experience God’s love
  • To experience God’s forgiveness
  • To experience God’s peace
  • Only God Moments

Here are the Top Ten Relational Needs:

  • Acceptance
  • Affection
  • Appreciation
  • Approval
  • Attention
  • Comfort
  • Encouragement
  • Respect
  • Security
  • Support

These needs are the same for anyone, no matter where your from, no matter how young or old you are.

It’s OK to have needs, it doesn’t mean your weak.  When we understand our needs, it humbles us and builds our character.

Only God and other people can meet our needs.  Why did God create us this way?

  1. Our neediness Encourages us to depend on God and look to him to meet our needs
  2. Our neediness encourages interdependence – We are not robots, we have feelings and emotions and our neediness requires us to have healthy human relationships. We are here to serve one another.
  3. Accepting the reality of our needs helps us to develop a heart filled with compassion for others
  4. Admitting our needs frees us to receive and give care.
  5. Meeting the needs of others expresses care and produces unity in the body of Christ

My question for you is this.  Of the top ten relational needs listed above, which three are most important to you and which three are most important to your spouse or significant person in your life?  If you can figure that out and then communicate clearly to each other about it, your relationship will begin to improve.  You can control whether or not you are meeting these needs with others, you cannot control whether others will meet your needs.  However, if you are loving and serving the other person the likelihood of them meeting your needs goes way up.  If your too needy, that pushes everyone away from you.  You have to first meet the needs of others and show that you can do it in a healthy way.

Balance

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A Balanced Life

Are You Courting Burnout?

What do you do to keep your life balanced?

THREE STEPS TO BALANCE:

  1. Get Organized around your purpose.

When you know your purpose it brings better focus to your life.  It determines the patterns in your life and the disciplines you pursue. Finding your life purpose is a process that everyone should go through. It will take some time and effort but it’s worth the time and energy.  A great place to start is to answer this question: What would I want my family, friends, co-workers and neighbors to say about me at my funeral?  Not what would they say now, but what would you want them to say.  Think about that and start writing down some things.

When we understand our purpose better, it helps to simplify our lives.  It allows us to eliminate the things that distract us and say yes to the things that further that purpose.  I my own life I’ve developed a purpose statement of Leading myself and others to grow in Faith, Character & Leadership.  That statement drives what I do at work, at home and in my spare time.  It’s what I write about in my posts, it’s what I talk about with the people around me.

Balance in life is possible if we practice life according to a single priority, and that single priority is our purpose.

  1. Define the dimensions of your life.

FOUR DIMENSIONS IN LIFE

  • Intellectual – This includes all activities that stimulate our ability to think.  It includes our work, what we read, what we research, what we study. Are we still learning and growing or are we stagnate and declining?
  • Physical – This includes how active we are, how much we exercise, the amount of rest we get and how we eat.  Basically how well we take care of ourselves physically.  Are we getting better or worse from a physical dimension?
  • Spiritual – This includes what we believe about God, about where we will spend forever, about the world around us, about why we are here and who put us here.  This includes our prayer life, going to church, serving other people, how well we love others.  Are we growing spiritually or declining spiritually?
  • Social – This is all about the relationships in our lives.  Immediate and extended family, close friends and casual friends, people you work with and people that work for you, current neighbors and previous neighbors, people you know from church, clubs, sports teams, people you went to school with, teachers, mentors, coaches and even the stranger you just met.  Are we developing and strengthening our relationships or are our relationships declining and dying?
  1. Build Capacity.

Balance is achieved when we establish, build, and maintain capacity in each of the four dimensions of life.  How much time and energy do we give to each of those areas of our lives?  That will only happen if we are intentional about focusing on each of those areas of our lives.

 

Reflect and rate yourself on the four dimensions in your life:

Play …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………Work

Intellectual

Couch Potato ………………………………………………………………………………………………..Cross Fit Freak

Physical

Dead……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….Alive

Spiritual

Poor …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………Awesome

Relationships/Social

Take this quiz to gauge whether or not you’re headed for burnout. (Pay attention not only to your answers, but also the way you react to the statements.)

1)     Despite getting adequate sleep each night, I wake up tired.

True

False

2)    Lately, I’d define myself as moody.

True

False

3)    Increasingly, I see the negative, or what needs to be fixed, with my work and others’. Positive comments and thoughts are rare.

True

False

4)    My vision or purpose is becoming blurry, or harder to focus on, despite being clear in the past.

True

False

5)    If I were totally honest with myself, I’d say I’m going through the motions at work or home, rather than contributing everything I can.

True

False

6)    I shorten (or wish I could do so) my workday just to leave work or get away.

True

False

7)    I lengthen many workdays to get the job done, instead of delegating or managing my time or mindset more effectively.

True

False

8)    I cut down or stop other activities (such as hobbies or other rejuvenating activities) in order to keep up with work responsibilities.

True

False

9)    I don’t have time to reach out to connect with colleagues,mentors or friends on a regular basis.

True

False

10)  Relationships within and outside of my work are not as strong as they were.

True

False

Score Yourself:

1-4 “True” answers: You should be in the normal ebb and flow of business ownership, or work. Continue to find ways to improve.

5-7 “True” answers: Burnout is rearing its ugly head. Within the next week, schedule two days away from work to reconnect and clarify your vision or purpose, and identify at least 5 action items that you can do to change the course and refuel your engines.

8-10 “True” answers: Stop, your in trouble. Stop everything and take a deep breath. In the next week get away for awhile to revisit your vision and purpose. Reconnect with colleagues and mentors. Write out your vision and an action agenda to get you back on track in doing what is important.

TEN TIPS FOR AVOIDING BURNOUT AND INVITING BALANCE:

  • Breathe deeply
  • Take a walk
  • Eat well
  • Drink water
  • Slow down
  • Team up
  • Sleep well
  • Loosen up
  • Have fun
  • Get away

Where do you need to focus more and be more balanced?

Life Verse

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NewPointe Community Church is currently in a series called “Life Verse”.  A life verse is a Scripture that someone keeps coming back to over and over again and that guides them in their life.  As I thought about that several passages of Scripture came to my mind.  As I thought about which one I should write about I realized that this Scripture is the one that I often quote and talk about.  I’ve used it at weddings and funerals and in mentoring sessions with individuals and couples.  This Scripture is challenging to me and a constant reminder of how I should live my life.

It’s often called the Love chapter because it gives us a very clear description of what love is.  It’s not just one verse, it’s actually 4 verses.  So here it is:

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures.”

I’ve often put my name in place of love, which makes it personal and very humbling, because I realize that I have a ways to go in understanding and living out this idea of love.  So here are some points about this powerful passage of Scripture.

  • Love is a verb not a noun – This passage is all about the actions that we take not thoughts that we have.  It deals with what kinds of emotions direct our lives and what kind of behaviors come out of us.  Love is all about doing and showing the people around us that we love them.  To be patient, kind and trusting takes actions that show those traits.
  • Love is others focused – When it comes to understanding love it’s all about being focused on the people around us and not on ourselves.  It’s paying attention to the people in our lives and taking the time and energy to love them and serve them.
  • Love is powerful – If love is your base, it can overpower all the negative emotions we struggle with.  Love brings us back to the way God designed us.  It fights against the resistance that pushes us to be selfish, self-centered and negative.  Everyone wants to experience love whether they admit it or not. When we love it shows strength and character.
  • Love is long-term – When we love the way this Scripture says to love it keeps us focused on the big picture and the long-term health of all our relationships.  It looks beyond the current situation or pain and sees how things could and should be.  It allows us to be patient and to trust when the situation doesn’t feel like we should.  Love is what gets us through the dark times in our lives. Love is what picks us up and gets us through.
  • Love Works – We all want to be around people that love well. We are drawn to people that live out these actions.  Jesus was the perfect example of love.  When we put his name in place of love we can say yes that’s Jesus.  I think that is why people were so drawn to him and why so many people are still following him today.  Love really does work, love gets results and changes lives.

So here is the challenge.  We can all grow in this area of love because non of us are Jesus. Love is the key to life because when everything else is stripped away love remains.  Whether it’s loving other people or loving God, that is what changes lives.  When we allow God’s love to penetrate and take over our hearts, our behavior starts to change, our thoughts start to change and our perspective starts to change.

If your relationships are not working ask yourself how much love you have in your heart.  If there is not much there, then turn to God and ask Him to fill it up with that kind of love.

Verse 8 starts off with this – “Love never fails.”  God never fails, he never gives up on us and always believes the best about us even when he knows the worst about us.  Love Well!

Above the Line

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Being healthy emotionally is hard work.  It’s easy to fall into a victim mentality and feel like everyone is against you.  In their book The Oz Principle, Roger Connors, Tom Smith and Craig Hickman give some clues on when we are stuck in the victim cycle or living below the line.

  • You feel “held captive” by your circumstances
  • You feel you have no control over your present circumstances
  • You find yourself blaming others and pointing fingers
  • Your discussions of problems focus more on what you cannot do, rather than what you can
  • You fail to confront the toughest issues you face
  • You find yourself being “sought out” by others so they can tell you what someone else did to them this time
  • You find yourself unwilling to ask probing questions about your own accountability
  • You repeatedly find yourself in a defensive posture
  • You site your confusion as a reason for not taking action
  • You avoid people, the meetings, and the situations that require you to report on your responsibilities
  • You find yourself spending valuable time crafting a compelling story detailing why you were not at fault
  • You repeatedly tell the same old story about how someone took advantage of you
  • You view the world with a pessimistic attitude

So how do we avoid this victim mentality?  How do we get unstuck from these destructive patterns and habits.  The keys are taking responsibility for your own actions and bringing accountability into your life.

According to the authors you can improve your own ability to remain “above-the-line” by watching for the following clues that indicate accountable attitudes and behavior.

  • You invite candid feedback from everyone about your own performance
  • You never want anyone, including yourself, to hide the truth from you
  • You readily acknowledge reality, including all its problems and challenges
  • You don’t waste time or energy on things you cannot control or influence
  • You always commit yourself 100 percent to what you are doing, and if your commitment begins to wane, you strive to rekindle it
  • You “own” your circumstances and your results, even when they seem less than desirable
  • You recognize when you are dropping “below the line” and act quickly to avoid the traps of the victim cycle
  • You delight in the daily opportunity to make things happen
  • You constantly ask yourself the question, “What else can I do to rise above my circumstances and get the results I want?”

Whether at work or at home staying above the the line of accountability is vital to emotional and relational health.  When we are below the line we ignore or deny reality, we say it’s not my fault or my job, we point fingers, we say we are confused, we cover our tails and we wait & see.  When we are above the line we see the issue, we own our part, we work on a solution and we take action on what we can control.

Make a commitment today to be more accountable and responsible in all your relationships.  Work at staying above the line and don’t focus on things that are out of your control.  Focus on your own thoughts and behaviors and own your part of the problem.  Get help and counsel from others to help keep you above the line.  If you do that you will grow in character and leadership and be much healthier all the way around.