Goal Setting for Real Progress

New year, new you, right? We’ve all made New Year’s resolutions filled with lofty aspirations, only to find ourselves feeling defeated by February. You’re not alone. Setting goals that are too ambitious often leads to disappointment and discouragement, leaving us hesitant to even try again. Most of it is bull crap. If you’re nodding in understanding, then join the club.

The problem, often, lies in our approach to goal setting. We aim for the stars, only to land in mediocrity, or worse, give up altogether. It’s time to break the cycle of unrealistic expectations and set goals that are more realistic, sustainable, and lead to actual progress rather than disappointment.

Be Realistic

Remember Henry Ford’s words, “Fail to plan. Plan to fail.” Setting goals that are wildly out of reach is a recipe for discouragement. Instead, focus on incremental steps, small victories that build momentum and keep you motivated. Want to run a marathon? Start with a walk around the block. Aiming for a promotion? Focus on exceeding expectations in your current role. Remember, progress, not perfection, is the key.

Activity Based Goals vs. Outcome Based

Often, we get caught up in desired outcomes, “I want to lose 10 pounds,” or “I want a corner office.” But focusing solely on outcomes can leave us feeling directionless. Instead, shift your focus to activity-based goals. “I will walk 3 times a week,” or “I will take one online course relevant to my career goals.” Activity-based goals define the steps you’ll take, making the journey itself the focus, not just the distant finish line. This shift in perspective keeps you engaged and motivated, celebrating each step towards your ultimate goal.

Leave Room for the Unexpected

Life is a messy, unpredictable thing. Clogging your schedule with to-dos and commitments leaves no space for the unexpected, the spontaneous adventures, the moments of connection that make life truly meaningful. Schedule some buffer time, some white space in your calendar where the unexpected can unfold. Remember, sometimes the most valuable goals are the ones that emerge organically from the space we create for them. Meaningful conversations with loved ones and adapting to life’s curveballs are just as important as achieving your goals

Include Fun Goals

Let’s face it, all work and no play makes for a pretty dull year. Make sure your goal list isn’t solely composed of career aspirations and fitness routines. Include fun! Plan a weekend getaway with friends, learn a new hobby, join a book club. Prioritize activities that bring you joy and connect you with the people you love. Including these in your goals and plans will prevent burnout and keep you energized for the long haul.


Goal setting isn’t about reaching some impossible ideal. It’s about creating a roadmap for progress, a framework for intentional living. By setting realistic, activity-based goals, leaving room for the unexpected, and making sure to include some fun, you’ll be setting yourself up for a year of meaningful growth, not just empty promises. So, grab your notebook, ditch the pressure, and get excited about the journey of setting goals for real progress. Remember, the best goals are the ones that make you feel alive, not just exhausted. Happy goal setting!

Becoming Better Men… Key Topics

An incredibly complex, comprehensive, and challenging thing, no doubt, but I believe there are a few areas of discussion we stand to give better attention in order to help us become better men.

Better Understanding of the Masculine and Feminine Dynamic

It is a sensitive subject, I know. While there’s a lot of noise about who is or isn’t a man or woman anymore, there is what I believe to be a misunderstood tension between masculine and feminine at play. 

The fact that masculine tends to be associated with men, because men are generally the masculine gender, and feminine tends to be associated with women, because women are generally the feminine gender, is where the misunderstanding begins. 

While those generalizations are true and real, they are not absolute. We should all know there are exceptions to any generalization. 

I believe in order for us to have productive conversations about masculinity and femininity we must be capable of thinking about their respective traits as independent of gender while acknowledging and honoring that the generalizations about gender are true and real.

I want to go into more detail on this subject later because it is very complex.

Better Patriarchs

That’s a trigger word, I know. But that is not my intent. I believe the existence of patriarchs and matriarchs in our families is a separate subject from the controversial topic of ‘patriarchal society’. 

On one hand, I am under the impression that men have mishandled the role of patriarch in our families which has contributed to the perception, however real it may or may not be, that our society is ‘patriarchal’ and riddled with ‘toxic masculinity’. 

On the other hand, my impression of women’s response to mens’ failures does as much to perpetuate a destructive cycle as it does to advance matriarchy. 

It is mens’ fault, though. Again, speaking in general terms. The cycle started with men mishandling masculinity and patriarchy. We must accept that responsibility and change. Women must also acknowledge a cycle is occurring and choose to end it. 

The fall of man took place at the moment the original patriarch and matriarch did not choose and act in accordance with God’s design. 

This will be a very interesting topic to continue exploring. 

Better Influence In Our Communities

Triggering terms like ‘patriarchal society’ wouldn’t exist if we were better influences in our communities. Again, I’m speaking in general terms. 

Who holds us accountable, other than our wives? Who do we hold accountable? How well is it working? 

The reason ‘patriarchal society’ has become such a terrible thing is because men have done a terrible job holding people accountable to moral and ethical standards. 

It starts at home with the family and carries over into community. Again, it is men’s fault. This too will be an interesting topic to cover more moving forward. 

Better Followers of Jesus

I’m not one to shove faith down anyone’s throat, but I am not ashamed to discuss my faith in Christ and encourage others to do the same. 

It is my belief that if we truly approached all the topics I’ve outlined above with the heart of Jesus, the world would be a much better place. By ‘heart of Jesus’ I don’t mean the one dimensional soft version we tend to fixate on in church. I mean the one who also flipped tables and looked powerful people in the face and said “I am” knowing what would happen next. 

He is the only Alpha I know. Anyone else using that term is out of context. 

Moving Forward

The intent of this post is only to serve as an intro to these thoughts and positions. I want to continue learning and growing in these areas myself and share in the journey with anyone who seeks to be a better man. 

The Sound of Freedom Movie – My Thoughts

How did The Sound of Freedom stir up so much controversy? Why did certain groups of media, celebrities, influencers, elites, and all their sheep hate this movie so badly?  After seeing the movie that is still a mystery to me. 

Before seeing the movie, I watched the docu-series, Light in the Darkness, because I wanted to hear more of the backstory and understand some of the facts before going to see the movie’s portrayal of it. I know how wild movie creators can be with the dramatization of true stories. 

After watching the docu-series I couldn’t understand why there was so much backlash about the movie. The talking heads or headlines of the world were making out like the story is over-embellished, the main character has a hero-dad-god complex, and the movie is for “QAnon believers” (because we have to bring extremism into every discussion these days and label any opposing perspective as the extreme we are against).

My thoughts about the backlash before seeing the movie were, ok yeah it’s probably dramatized for a movie but so what that is the case with literally every true story movie that has ever been produced. Other than that, I couldn’t understand what would be so conspiratorial about the movie, especially after watching the docu-series which clearly lays out the dark reality with all the evidence needed to see there is a problem. 

So I went to the movie with a somewhat open mind to try and see what some people believe is so controversial. Throughout the movie, I was able to pick up on plenty of the dramatized details, but again it doesn’t matter. The overarching truth of the movie remains – there’s a sex slave trafficking industry in the world and it is a problem. This literally cannot be denied. 

Taking my consideration of others’ perspectives a little further, I asked myself the question, “Why would people be so upset about this despite the premise of it being real and true?” Here are the only answers I’ve come up with (and these are purely my thoughts and opinions): 

  • They actively participate in the problem. Maybe they don’t rape children, but consuming child pornography is no less evil. 
  • They know people who actively participate in the problem. Powerful and deceitful people tend to have amazing ways of getting others on their side. 
  • They somehow profit from the problem. This could be as direct as literally gaining from the trafficking transactions or being under the financial influence of those who do (think Epstein, Weinstein, those types).
  • They blindly believe what those who perpetuate the problem say and do to deceive people into believing there isn’t a problem. This removes a layer of positional or financial power. So many people will blindly believe whatever the talking heads say that the evil people of the world get away with literally anything. 
  • They have somehow been a victim of the problem and need help. There are a lot of twisted perspectives from people who have been victims of sexual abuse. It is terribly fascinating how deceived we become during and after being the victims of abuse. 

I’m sure I could expand on these thoughts or come up with more ideas to list, but ultimately it all points back to evil. The only reason I can think of for people to be so up in arms about this type of movie is evil. If a person can’t agree that the problem exists and on any scale, it should be dealt with, and this movie sheds light on that problem, then that is a person too consumed by evil. 

Evil exists. It is very deceptive. And whether a person believes it or not there is an author of that deception commonly referred to as the devil, satan, or the enemy (by us crazy far-right Christians). But again, some people just refuse to believe so they’re repulsed by even the mention of God (just like the devil himself). 

The movie is primarily about children, and understandably so given the details of the true story the movie is based on. But the problem exists for adults, primarily women, as well. It is atrocious. 

One of the powerful lines in the movie is “God’s children are not for sale”. To believers in God and the battle the enemy is waging for the hearts and souls of man, we all know that statement applies to a much broader audience than the young children in the movie. 

Young and old and every race, we are all God’s children, and we are not for sale. 

The Workers Are Few

“The harvest is plenty but the workers are few.” That’s what I thought of multiple times throughout a long and enduring day of laborious work volunteering for  Rebuild Upstate to build a wheelchair ramp for a person in need. 

Why is that what I thought about? I could go on and on. Lord, help me.  

There is so much need all around us, so much opportunity to ‘be the hands and feet of Jesus’. But it doesn’t always look like what our ‘Christian culture’ has become accustomed to. 

There are a million ways to make a million bucks and throw money at any number of causes with the expectation that anyone but ourselves will actually do the work. 

There are a million ‘reasons’ why we don’t have the time, skill sets, personality, or whatever other excuses we can muster up to stay comfortable and justify our ‘someone else should do it’ posture. 

I couldn’t be more proud of the family and friends who joined me in serving, hands-on, in a way that was difficult, unfamiliar, uncomfortable, laborious, and exhausting. They are the epitome of self-sacrifice, embracing the discomfort necessary to do unfamiliar things for the service of someone we didn’t even know just because there was a need. 

I saw people learn skills they didn’t have before to do a job that needed to be done. I saw people who could have been doing a million other things doing something that too few are willing to do. Why? Jesus. 

I’d be the first to proclaim “yes, we should be generous financially”. 

I’d be the first to proclaim “yes we should use our gifts and talents in any setting to ‘do ministry’”. 

I’d also be the first to say if you want to get another perspective of what Jesus was like, the son of God who lived the life of a carpenter and ultimately suffered for all our sins, then you need to get your hands dirty, suffer some pain, do things you’re not familiar with, and serve someone. 

Serve someone who you don’t even know, someone who can’t give you anything in return. Try doing it without even meeting them so they can’t even say thank you. Try doing it where no one will see and offer any type of appreciation or encouragement that strokes your ego. 

That is true selflessness. That is Jesus – the Jesus who was crucified on the cross for our sins. 

Why The GOAT Tom Brady Has Zero Influence In My Life

The man that has left little doubt that he is the greatest of all time (GOAT) at playing NFL quarterback has literally zero influence in my life. 

Why Tom Brady Is Just Another Guy To Me 

I’m gonna lead with the long answer and then summarize it with the point of all this reflection at the end. 

Deflate Gate

I’m not sure if this controversy came first or later, and it doesn’t matter. If you’re familiar with the story, you know there was controversy about Brady and the New England Patriots playing with deflated balls (footballs that is) which is against the rules. 

Whether or not it made a difference in all the winning isn’t up for debate. It is against the rules and he knew it. The claims that he didn’t know it was happening or anything else that excuses this violation are just ignorant positions to take. 

It was a bad decision.  We all make em. There are consequences. 

Strike one. 

Spy Gate

I believe this one came later. The Patriots were accused of spying on their opponents sidelines in order to learn their play calling signals. If memory serves me right there was even evidence proving it to be true. 

Again, cheating. Breaking the rules. Whatever you want to call it. I don’t believe for a second that Brady and Belichick didn’t know this was going on. I believe they were fully aware and let it happen. 

It was a bad decision. We all make em. There are consequences. 

Strike two. 


I don’t know much about the lady. I don’t know much about her marriage to Tom. I know half what we hear in the news can’t be trusted. 

I do know a lot about marriage, though. I do know they are now divorced. And I do believe he holds the lion share of the selfishness and blame in this situation. 

Don’t get me started on the claims of his current girlfriend status – another beautiful supermodel except this time almost 20yrs younger than us (Tom and I are the same age).

Who knows who this guy will end up with or what he’ll end up doing other than throw a football (b/c he sure as hell can’t run it). But I really no longer care. 

Divorcing Gisele was a bad decision. We all make em. There are consequences. 

Strike three. 

He’s out in my book. 

The Thing About Influence

The point of all this is we have to be careful who we allow to have influence in our lives. 

I do not care how much ‘success’ someone has. 

I do not care how much someone has ‘won’. 

I do not care how much money someone has. 

I do not care how much fame someone has. 

I do not care how much ‘power’ someone thinks they have. 

If someone does not have strong character, they are too weak to influence me. 

The greatest weakness any of us has is flawed character. 

I’ve failed many times. I’ve been knocked down many times. I’ve tried to learn from every experience, and I will never be perfect. 

What about redemption? Yes, we all can overcome our failures and strengthen our character. In Brady’s case, we’ll see. But chances are I’ll never know. 

Where this really should apply to all our lives is in the more everyday relationships we have. 

Who Do We Allow To Influence Us? 

Look around you. What do you want for your life? Who has it? I bet no matter what you come up with there’s a deeper root of being loved and respected. Both of which are built on character. 

I’m not talking about just any character, though, Godly character – a much bigger subject than what this post is about. 

As far as being influenced by people goes, we have to learn to identify the people who not only have what we want for our life, but people who are stronger where we need to be stronger, who know where they are weak, and who are always working on getting better. 

Right now, that just is not Tom Brady. His life seems to be hot in the news right now, but I hope people are wise enough to know it is more sad than it is anything else. 

Please choose who and what influences your life very wisely. 

Re-Breaking the Blogging Ice

As of today, I’m officially starting back to blogging. 

Way back in 2004 or 2005, when I first started blogging, I was on the blogger platform. Then around 2007 or 2008, I got in a self-hosted WordPress site. That was like going high-tech back then. 

Blogs had a totally different feel back then. They were more personal opinions. They could be about anything on the writer’s mind. Having a brand or a niche wasn’t the point. It was what people with anything to say did before social media had really taken off. It was truly a web-log of thoughts or teachings. 

Now blogs are supposed to be super focused on specific topics and have strategic monetizing and all this other crap. It’s literally what I’ve done on and off in various capacities for various businesses over the years as a way of earning a living. It can be a lot of fun and at the same time, it can take a lot of the fun out of being online. 

I’ve allowed what everyone else has influenced blogging to become to take away the joy I used to experience from creating…the joy of having written out thoughts just for self-expression…regardless of whether or not it is read by anyone or is correctly done (as evidenced by this run on sentence) or ever makes a dime of revenue. 

So I’m picking up the modern-day ‘pen’ again (so to speak – it’s obviously a keyboard). Over the years, as I’ve neglected this, I’ve actually jotted down a ton of notes of things I’d like to ‘talk’ about. Writing will have to do (at least for now). Obviously, I like parentheses’ thoughts as well. 

If you happen to see this because you’re still subscribed to my blog through RSS, I apologize. Take that however you want. I either apologize for leaving you hanging or for whatever potentially unwanted email in which you might be receiving this. Honestly, I’ll be shocked if anything even still works on my site when I go to copy this from my notes app into WordPress. 

Obviously, I’m gonna have to do some work on the ole site if people actually start coming to it again. It’s so out of date. The picture of my family is probably about 8yrs old, I’ve only written a couple of times over those years, and a lot of my experiences in life have changed my views on some of what I used to write about. It’s called maturing. Most of us do that as we get older. I’ll never stop trying to improve. 

Anyway –  I just needed to get this post out as a way of breaking the ice – more for myself than anything else (I like hyphens too). 

This post will not be SEO’d. I will not post it on social media. In fact, I might not do either of those things much or ever with future posts. We’ll see. As I write these words I’m literally thinking it’s like I’m talking to myself but if anyone else happens to read it I’m happy to be talking to you as well. Either way, I’m ok with it. 

Ok – til the next post… living our adventure. 

Social Media Control

social media icons

Imagine a typical weeknight, probably around 11:30 pm. You’ve managed to get into bed by now, exhausted from the busy day. Instead of setting a literal alarm clock for the next morning and going right to sleep, like people did back in 2005, you reach for the smartphone to set an alarm app. 

Before you know it, 30 minutes or more have passed, you’re still looking at the phone, but you still haven’t even opened the alarm app. What happened? Why is it happening so often? Why has this become the norm for so many people? Social media. 

Chances are you or someone you know has at least considered taking a break from social media at some point. You might have even tried it, and maybe even learned some things from it. I want to share what I’ve observed and experienced during my own breaks from social media. 

Social Media Sucks

Hear me out. Social media doesn’t just suck on its own. It’s actually a really powerful tool. We can instantly communicate with just about anyone, see what they’re up to, share what we’re up to, and even provide feedback about it all (likes or dislikes, etc). When used properly, it can be a great tool. But who decides what is proper? 

How we define proper use of social media for ourselves determines whether or not social media sucks. We all have choices in the matter. What content are we going to consume or post? Who are we going to interact with? How much time and energy are we going to spend on those things? 

When we find ourselves unable to reasonably answer those questions and we catch ourselves mindlessly scrolling, possibly even losing sleep, then we’re letting social media suck the life out of us. 

Nobody Cares About Your Social Media

That’s probably a little extreme to say, but you’d be surprised how true it is. The times that I’ve taken a break from social media, I haven’t done a post to let everyone know, so it was not a big deal to anyone but me. 

You’ve probably seen what I’m talking about. The post that goes something like, “Hey friends, I just want to let you know I’m taking a break from social media because I need to focus on ____ (God, family, career, something of priority).” What makes us think anyone cares so much that we have to make an announcement like that? 

I’ve taken so many breaks from social media. The longest and most recent was a six month period where I vowed not to post anything other than about my anniversary and kids birthdays, all of which took place in a 30-day window. So for all those other months, I didn’t post a single thing. 

Not one single person cared that I was virtually non-existent, or digitally. No one reached out to see if there was some reason I hadn’t been around on social media. 

This makes me believe that announcing a social media break is somehow self-serving. It seems to be a way of provoking a reaction from the digital connections so that we will feel as though they care. We’re only deceiving ourselves. 

Real Friends Don’t Need Your Social Media

The reason no one even noticed that I was inactive on social media for months is the people who actually care about me most are in touch with me regularly offline. They call me, text me, invite me, and see me where we’re doing life together. 

It is incredibly important to know the difference between actual friends who really know us and really love us despite our imperfections and those who only know of us and maybe love an idea of who they perceive us to be. 

I’ve learned that true friends don’t care what I can or can’t do, or what I’ve done or haven’t done. They might celebrate my accomplishments when I have done something, but they love me even when I’ve done nothing. 

I’ve learned that true friends don’t care what I have or don’t have. Some of my best friends in life have known me through plenty and poor and it doesn’t matter either way. They love me for better reasons. 

True friends are not digital. They’re real reel, which brings me to the next learning. 

Our Highlight Reel Isn’t Real

The beautiful profiles of beautiful people going to beautiful places and living picture perfectly beautiful lives is unbelievably deceitful. Comparing and aspiring to that is always going to be an empty and disappointing pursuit of a fantasy that does not exist. 

Life is hard, and sometimes ugly. Everyone has something they are dealing with, the kinds of things that aren’t sexy on social media. The kinds of things only those closest to us are likely to know about. 

When we find ourselves more interested in highlight-reel social media interaction than we are in real-life relationships, we’re on a very slippery slope. Anyone can hide who they really are or what they’re really going through from a digital audience. 

Becoming obsessed with highlight reels is both deceiving and being deceived. It’s leading others to believe partial truths at best, or at worst outright lies. It’s being led to believe that the people who interact with or like the highlight reel really love who we actually are when they really don’t even know us. 

Pursuing Popularity Is a Sign of Insecurity

Teenagers everywhere are competing for follows, likes, comments, or any other indicator that might mean they’re popular. Adults are doing it too. The platforms themselves are designed to prey on our desire to be accepted, which leads to a comparison contest of who is most accepted, aka popular. 

This is again a deceptive distraction from the relationships that actually matter. If we’re constantly pursuing popularity among people who don’t really know us, we will never appreciate the love we already have from those who do really know us. 

To choose the pursuit of popularity over the pursuit of true intimacy is a big sign of insecurity. It is a fear that we’re not enough. It is a fear that our real relationships are not enough. It is a fear that we might be missing out on something better, and believing the lie that digital connections are somehow better than real ones. 

Good Intentions Aren’t Enough

Many of the popular profiles on social media are well known for good reasons. Their intentions are good. Their messages are good. 

It is easy for us to believe that because our social media is good or well-received that it is needed. What will people do without our online presence to encourage them? 

The truth is our motivational speech is only as effective as our relational reach. It doesn’t matter how good our intentions are or how well-received our messages may be without real-life relationships. 

If our best relationships are social media connections we will eventually be void of authenticity, completely unmotivated, and thus unable to motivate anyone else. It just isn’t worth it to be so wrapped up in social media that we believe those connections are more important than real relationships. 

How To Take A Break From Social Media

The dopamine that fires in our brain during social media engagement is powerfully addictive just like literal drugs. The time that I’ve spent denying social media dopamine hits has taught me a lot about myself, our social media culture, and the dangers of the vortex. That’s exactly what it is if we let it be, an energy-sucking vortex. 

If you or anyone you know has a difficult time putting down social media, consider the following tips to regain control:

Remove the drug. The best way to detox from unhealthy dopamine addiction is to cut off the supply. That means take a break from social media. 

Challenge yourself to take a break from social media without announcing it on social media. Set a strong tone for yourself. Draw a line in the sand to tell yourself that you will not be controlled or dependent on social media engagement from this point forward. 

It might not be enough to have the good intention of staying off social media for some time. If we can’t resist the temptation, we have to remove it. For many people that means completely removing access by removing the apps. 

Request accountability. For some of us, removing the apps is still not enough. A really close friend of mine noticed their tendency to just reload the apps and log back in, so they asked me to change their password so they couldn’t log back in. 

Retrain the brain. The point of all these things is to retrain the brain to think differently about social media. We have to learn to keep it in proper perspective and keep our priority on the real people in our lives. 

Remind yourself that when you do go back to social media (if you do) that you will be more aware of the effects that lead to the vortex. Remind yourself that it’s worth enduring the moments of feeling left out or overlooked by the digital world, because ultimately that world isn’t as real as what’s all around you in real relationships. 

There are invaluable positive results from being diligent and vigilant in the effort to maintain a healthy balance with social media. My hope is we all make that effort not only for our good but for the good of everyone around us. 

Open Letter to Millennials From a Gen-X’er

Dear Millennials,

You ARE special.  Your individuality IS a blessing.  You DO have the potential to be the greatest generation ever.  I am personally pulling for you, and thought that I’d offer an apology and some insights that you might consider along your journey to greatness – from one awesome generation to another.

Allow me to briefly introduce myself.  I’m a later model Generation X’er, born in 1978, only 4 years before 1982 which is the year someone decided should be the year to define your generation “Y & Z”, Millennial, or whatever.  I don’t pretend to fully understand all that generational line stuff.  What I do know is we’re all the same in some sense.  We all want to live life to the fullest, with purpose, passion, and prosperity – however we each define those things individually.

My generation boasts of being the best of both Baby Boomers and Millennials with none of the downside.  We boast that we work hard but play hard too, that we created, or least developed, the internet, pioneered cell phones, and  transformed culture in the 80’s and 90’s.  Like the Boomer generation before us and your Millennial generation that is following us, we Gen-X’ers have plenty of reasons to believe we’re awesome world changers.  But among us are people like me who are willing to admit there are some things we totally screwed up.

For years your “Millennial” generation has been under scrutiny for many particular things, but generally speaking for the hard shift in thought process, beliefs, and values that you’re bringing into adulthood.  Some of the differences are pointed out as good things but most of the things being said about your generation are negative.  It’s typical internet.

That leads me to the apology.  I won’t speak for everyone in my generation, lest I instigate a cowardly internet word-lashing on myself, but I will apologize for a few who I believe would agree with what I’m about to say.  Hopefully it comes across as intended and is received well.

You deserve an apology.  One of the most negative things that has been said about your generation is that you have a terrible sense of entitlement.  I have to say that I agree, to some degree, that there is merit in that accusation.  It is unfortunate that the matter hasn’t been approached with more grace, but it is a matter worth addressing.  The one thing you are entitled to, and I believe this firmly, is my generation and the “Boomer” generation owe you a heartfelt and sincere apology.  So on behalf of myself and any others from mine and my parents generation, here it goes.

I apologize that our (older) generations have been so lackadaisical in leading your generation.  That is the over-arching statement of apology.  Allow me to explain in more detail.

The Boomers are your grandparents.  We Gen-X’ers, your parents, should have collectively done a much better job modeling respect for our elders, and instilling that value in you.  Human nature is to be impatient and frustrated when things don’t go as we think they should, or when things don’t change as quickly as we want them to.  Things have changed quite rapidly in recent decades, but for good reasons it is sometimes necessary to pump the brakes to watch and see how we as a society will adapt to change before moving on to more change.  We all should do more to listen to and learn from each other.

Boomers should adapt to new ways of thinking and advancements in technology, etc.  Millennials should accept that some things are the way they are for good reason.  One of the things your generation has been accused of is disregarding hierarchy at work, feeling entitled to jump rank or advance more quickly, or that there should be no rank at all, and it’s been attributed to the fact that you received participation trophies your whole life.

There’s a reason rank and hierarchy exists.  In the adult world there are difficult situations that require someone to make difficult decisions that they have to take responsibility for, and that is why we put people who, through experience, exemplify the ability to make those decisions and then take responsibility for the outcome.  I understand that sometimes the wrong people get put in those positions, sometimes they get put there for the wrong reasons, sometimes their motives are self serving, sometimes they do more harm than good etc etc.  I understand that there have been failures to hold people in those positions accountable and that has enabled some really bad things to happen in the past.  But for the most part people in positions of authority are there and got there for good reasons and they’re capable of doing good things.

As for the participation trophy part, the hard truth is there are real winners and losers in many areas of life.  The participation trophies we (your parents – Gen-X’ers) gave you were intended to teach the value of getting in the game and staying in the game, because the only thing worse than losing is not even participating.  Unfortunately, that idea was not executed well through intentional teaching of the moral behind the method.  Again – poor leadership.

Another area of serious concern, for us older generations, is the massive shift in our culture to a virtual reality that is not real, and it is our fault.  We created it with wonderful intentions and made it a monster in the process.  As this technology developed it became increasingly easy to pacify you with devices and justify it as helping you learn, and it worked, but it did as much harm as it did good.

One of the most consistent claims of every generation, particularly in our younger years, is that the generation before us just doesn’t understand us.  I completely reject that claim for all generations.  From the day iPhone was invented I’ve been saying the greatest difference between our generation and your generation is the devices, having unlimited access in your pocket to too many pitfalls – the same pitfalls every generation deals with in some form or fashion.  Dealing with fear, failure, rejection, comparison, peer pressure, sexual urges, etc – timeless.  Doing it all via a device – still brand new.  The trials and temptations are all the same, only the tools have changed.

Now, Gen-X’ers are as bad as anybody about spending countless hours consuming digital media and engaging in virtual connection.  But many of us still remember the virtues of the pre-digital age that should be carried forward.  There is so much more to the real world and real connection than what the digital world has become, and it has completely altered the way you think – both good and bad.

In many ways, the world, both real and digital, cannot be trusted.  It is wonderful but corrupt, delightful but deceiving.  We threw you into the digital world before we really even knew ourselves what could happen, and we didn’t keep what you were learning and experiencing rooted strongly enough in real world principles and values.  We didn’t prepare you well, and I apologize.

I could go on and on about the negative matters everyone is shouting about that seem to divide your generation from those before you, and I’m willing to apologize for our failure in every one.  But part of the point of this apology is to make it clear that dwelling on negative isn’t productive, and shouting, bickering, and complaining isn’t helping anyone.  The bottom line – we, the Boomers and Gen-X’ers, failed you in many ways.  We failed to parent you well while we were off working and partying so hard.  We failed to lead you well by exemplifying values and virtues that matter most, molding your understanding and belief in those things, and reminding you often how those things are tied to the greater purpose and passion we long to live for.

I also apologize that we older generations once again demonstrated poor leadership in how we have expressed our concerns.  We as a collective group have obviously done a poor job communicating – which involves listening as much or more than talking (or shouting online).  I’m trying to change that.

You Millennials are an interesting bunch, and I’m learning to love our differences more all the time, especially as my own kids get closer and closer to adulthood and I want them to have the best qualities of your generation and our generation and the generation before.   Just as my parents heavily influenced many of my positive characteristics, your parents influenced many of yours.  None of us can take full credit for who we are.  We’re all influenced by someone.  Who, is the question you have to ask yourself.

We older folk might have failed you in some ways, but in so many more positive ways I’d say we’ve succeeded.  Your creativity is amazing and your generosity is inspiring.  Your sense of adventure is exciting and your value of acceptance is encouraging.  We can’t overlook those and many other positive things that you exemplify.

Leading well is something I personally strive to do, even when “leading” only myself.  I personally screw up more than I like, but I hope that more often than not my example to others influences positive change.  So, as part of that effort, I am committed to setting an example of listening, learning, and adapting to change.  I am committed to having open, honest, respectful, and encouraging dialogue.

If we’re going to make significant change that prevents repeating the failures of the past and moves us forward to a brighter future we have to become better leaders together, starting with leading ourselves and letting the positive results of that influence others.  One of the greatest lessons you’ll learn in the years to come is how to TRULY identify a good leader vs a bad one – not by political standards or media narrative or Hollywood glamour – I mean real people who make a real difference in your every day world.  The majority of them are not on a stage with a microphone and a camera in front of them.  They’re in your community, all around you, and I bet they’re willing to listen and learn with you through face to face conversation.   You just have to approach them with respect and humility.  If you need some pointers about how to do that I’m here to help.

I want you crazy Millennials to know I love you.  I’m not shouting at you or condemning you.  I want great things for you.  I believe in you.  My kids are among you or coming along right behind you!  I trust you can sense my sincerity and be willing to follow the example I’m trying to set.  Listen, learn, adapt, and patiently wait for the best and most meaningful changes to happen in proper time as we all find productive ways to work and progress through life’s journey together.



Three Thoughts From Recently Reading Proverbs

The book of Proverbs – challenging, encouraging, instructing.  It teaches us wisdom, discipline, and moral choices.  I love the book of Proverbs.  I’ve read it more times than I recall, and I believe it would change the world if everyone would read it and try to apply it to life.  Regardless of spiritual or moral beliefs, or age or gender or race, everyone can learn from Proverbs.  No matter where we are on our journey there’s something we can learn from Proverbs, and even if we’ve read it multiple times there’s always something that stands out to us differently than the time before.  If we’re applying what we’re learning then we’re growing, and as we grow we change and see things with a different level of wisdom, discipline, and maturity.

As I read through Proverbs again a few months ago I made some notes and highlights of things I thought I’d share here.

IF/THEN but Jesus

In our high tech world there is logical programming all around us.  It reminds me of the first simple computer program I wrote in a high school class teaching us how computer logic works.  It involved some very basic IF/THEN logic.  IF”X” happens, THEN”Y” happens next.  There could also be and OR added to the logic making it IF/THEN/OR, so IF “X” didn’t happen, “Z” could happen instead of “Y”.  The X,Y,Z could be whatever we told the computer it should do.

As I read through Proverbs this past time I seemed to see a lot of the wise instructions and warnings as IF/THEN/OR statements.  A great example of this is Proverbs chapter 2 (NIV).  Read it and notice the IF’s in v1-4.  Now notice the THEN’s in v5-9.   There’s even an OR at the end of the chapter (v22).  There are warnings about wicked men and adulterous women in the middle, but from beginning to end we could summarize Proverbs 2 with this IF/THEN/OR statement of logic.  “IF you accept, apply, value wisdom;  THEN you will find knowledge of God, blessing, and protection;  OR you will be cut off and torn from the land.”

Look for places where IF/THEN/OR can be applied to what the scriptures are saying.  Proverbs 3:3-4, IF you commit to love and faithfulness, THEN you will win favor.  Proverbs 3:5-6, IF you trust in the Lord, THEN he will make your paths straight.  I don’t want to completely dumb down the scriptures to computer logic, as though I’m a robot, but I must say that looking at it this way is a new way to engage myself with the instruction it offers and commit it to the choices I make.

Before I move on to my next observation I want to point out that none of the IF/THEN statements remove God’s love for us or Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins.  Also, none of them are standards or behaviors that can save us from our own sins.  But ALL of them are truths, that either draw us closer to God or push us further from Him.  They move us along His path or down other deceitful and destructive paths.  The most important IF/THEN in the bible is, “IF we accept Jesus as Lord, THEN we will have eternal life.”

God is Wisdom

Wisdom comes from God.  It is the foundation on which all life is built.  It is His first creation before all other creation.  God IS wisdom.   (Proverbs 8:22-31)

Wisdom comes with time and experience, so it makes sense that it was with God, and is God, since the beginning of time.  Wisdom with God the father, son & holy spirit should be a constant desire in our pursuit of Jesus if we really believe in Him and want to follow Him and serve Him.

Gaining wisdom is knowing God.

Wisdom is…

As we know and understand God more and more during our pursuit of wisdom we learn the characteristics of God and wisdom that should be exemplified in our lives.  Here are some that I made note of as I read Proverbs in recent months along with the chapter/verse that brought these to mind:

  • Wisdom is humbling – 1:22-33
  • Wisdom is discernment – 2:9-11
  • Wisdom is obedient – 3:9-10
  • Wisdom is discipline / self control – 5:23
  • Wisdom is listening / speaking wisely – throughout the book of Proverbs, but especially noticed these instructions in chapter 10.
  • Wisdom is righteousness – 11:8
  • Wisdom is protection – throughout, but 13:6 stood out
  • Wisdom is contagious – 13:20
  • Wisdom is rewarding – 13:21
  • Wisdom is content – 13:25
  • Wisdom is patient – 14:29
  • Wisdom is generous – 14:31
  • Wisdom is planning – 16:3
  • Wisdom is action – 16:9
  • Wisdom is honest – 16:11
  • Wisdom rules – 16:14-15
  • Wisdom is invaluable – 16:16
  • Wisdom is just/fair – 21:12-15

This list could go on and on, and I look forward to future readings where I recognize more wisdom nuggets throughout the book of Proverbs.  The point of this list is to recognize that God is the epitome, he sets the standard, for all of those things.  To pursue God is to pursue wisdom, and vice versa.  The purpose of Proverbs is to teach us to pursue God by pursuing who He is, His character, to be drawn closer to Him, and continue to become who he created us to be, made in His image.

I have so many more specific things I’d love to share from Proverbs, so look forward to those on future posts.

3 Reasons to Be Hung Up on Stewardship

Why am I so hung up on stewardship? Nobody has ever asked that directly, but I often feel like some of the comments and attitudes aimed in my direction are dancing all around that question.  So here are three quick reasons I get hung up on stewardship.

1 – Our life is not our own.

Living my life to bring honor to God, managing Gods blessing Gods way for Gods glory (as Chris Brown says it) – whatever you want to call it if we claim to be followers of Jesus then we should be stewarding everything in our life for Him. I’ve seen how financial stewardship affects my own walk with Jesus and I don’t ever want to let being a poor steward hinder my faith. AND I want other Christians to experience the same peace and joy in their walk with Him.

2 – We’re called to share the gospel.

The gospel itself is an act of generosity where Jesus gave His life for our sins. We’re supposed to share it by how we live it. The early church shared Gods love through extravagant acts of generosity and people were so blown away they knew there was something different about followers of Jesus and they wanted to experience it. Being generous requires being good stewards. Sadly not enough of us have let the 2350 money/possession related verses in the bible get into our head and hearts deep enough for our behavior to demonstrate our belief in those scriptures. The world is watching and our generosity is the gospel for a lot of the world. I don’t have to be the one leading people through the prayer for salvation to know that how I steward my resources is part of their experience with the gospel.

3 – Ministry costs money.

A lot of people are vocational ministers and evangelists and, as the body of Christ, it is our responsibility to take care of the needs of those vocations as well as the needs of the ministry organizations they work for. God’s church has to be funded and that requires the diligent stewardship and generosity of His people. We often hear “God doesn’t need your money” followed by “it’s not about what God wants from you but for you” etc. That’s true. God’s plan is gonna happen either way, but shouldn’t we want to be a part of it anyway?

So the short answer is that teaching financial stewardship is part of my calling for spreading the gospel.  If the reasons above aren’t good enough to get every Christian a little bit hung up on stewardship shouldn’t we be concerned why not?