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Spring Break

My local school system schedules their annual Spring Break for the week following Easter. This year Easter happened to fall about as late on the calendar as possible so for some it felt like the break would never arrive. I heard one teacher describe it as a rumble; she said the entire school was rumbling. Everyone was ready for Spring Break to arrive – at least most everyone. Some kids love being with their friends and will miss them during the break. Some parents are busy and their schedules coupled with limited help to care for the kids require them to rely on the school to help with the daily care of their children. These exceptions aside, the overwhelming majority of people are ready for Spring Break.

The question is why is Spring Break needed? Summer break is just a few weeks away. Why not just push through? It is not just on the calendar so teachers can get a break or stretch the school year. There are several reasons why it is important. Some of these reasons can be applied to any situation where breaks are needed. Maybe one of these will give you some better understanding.

Your Kids Need a Break

I know you cannot imagine that your kids need a break. I hear parents tell their children “wait until you get in the real world and don’t get summers off”. The truth is some professions do get the summers off. Some even longer periods than that. The reason is that everyone needs a break. The constant routine of doing the same thing over again can cause us to stop growing and learning. This is true for adults and children. Taking regular breaks refreshes our bodies and our minds to receive things that we may otherwise overlook. It is not always about rest. Usually, it is more about routine. I know how much more aware I am when my routine is changed and how many other problems I can solve in my regular environment after I have been taken away from it. The children need those same kinds of breaks so school continues to be about growth and does not become a rut.

 

Your Kids Need You

Don’t allow Spring Break to turn into a week of frustration with what you are going to do with your children while they are out of school. Some parents will even complain out loud about how they feel it is a burden to have the children out of school. Some parents are intentional to take a vacation during this week and go away with their children. Some parents are just not able to do that. You should not feel bad if you cannot make those arrangements, but you should be even more intentional about spending the time you do have with your children. You have the ability to make the greatest impact on your child’s life. Don’t allow the normal post-school routine to continue during that week. Change it up a little bit and spend as much quality time with them as you can. You may not see the immediate results, but I can assure you that you are having a lasting impact.

 

Someone Else Needs A Break

When you go on vacation it is not just you that is getting a break, it includes all the other people who have to deal with you on a daily basis as well. I say that with as much gentleness as I can, knowing that we all want to feel needed. But the truth is our relationships at work are better because we took a break and they had a break from us. At Spring Break, it is not only the teachers who are getting a reprieve. I am sure the teachers come back rejuvenated and with a fresh perspective for their students. But sometimes the students need a break from the teacher and from one another. These are not the only people involved in a school though. The custodians, secretaries, administrators, bus drivers, and others all need some time away as well. Having a break gives them renewed focus and patience to do their jobs well. When their jobs are done well, your child has a much better environment in which to learn and grow. Don’t be selfish and believe that a break is just for you. There are many other people who benefit and those benefits spread.

 

So if you are in the middle of your Spring Break with children, make sure you appreciate the time and work to be intentional about it. If yours has already passed, take these words to heart for the summer. A life lived intentionally will benefit everyone around you.

The Truths We Ignore

We believe what we choose to believe. No one can force us into believing anything. We are not always convinced by facts either. Believing something is a choice. For people of faith, believing in God is a choice. For those who do not believe in God, that is also a choice. There are times we choose to believe or not believe and the consequences are minimal. There are other times, however, when we choose to ignore things that can cause us great harm.

Why do we choose to ignore important things that eventually extract great costs in our lives? All of us have been guilty at some point of ignoring something that we would later come to realize even though everyone else could see it but us. We thought we were the exception to the rule or that the person who was trying to convince us otherwise was just wrong. There are many reasons why we ignore certain truths. Here are three that I think are the most common.

Some Things Are Painful

There are some things we believe will cause us great pain if we admit that they are true. I see this most often in relationships. A person falls in love with another person but that person is not healthy for them. They may be abusive or they may influence them to do things they would not normally do. Parents and close friends will often point out some of those misgivings but love has blinded that person from being able to believe the truth. Eventually, that relationship progresses and it becomes more clear that this was a bad choice but their fear of the pain of losing the relationship causes them to continue. They deal with the pain they have in order to keep from dealing with the unknown pain of a breakup. Choosing to believe the wrong thing always brings pain. Sometimes we prefer a pain we know over a pain we don’t.

Things We Want To Do

There are things we want to do and we do not care that it is a bad choice. Since I previously talked about relationships, this certainly applies to those as well. I recall some personal relationships that I just wanted and it did not matter the consequences. There are times we know that something is going to be harmful to us but we choose to do it anyway. We want that car so we go into debt even though there is plenty of evidence that it is a bad idea given our current situation. We may have even had terrible experiences with debt previously and have experienced the Proverb that tells us that the debtor is a slave to the lender. But our wants override our reason and we go headfirst anyway. The thing we want to do overcomes the truth we need to believe.

Things We Believe Will Cost Us

There are times we have placed a high cost on belief. Over my life, this has been a popular excuse for people who did not want to follow Christ. They felt like following Christ would cost them too much. To be honest, there were times the church puts unnecessary costs on becoming a disciple of Jesus. They expected things that Jesus would never have expected and people just do not want to give up certain things. Following Christ does have a cost. Sometimes people feel that the cost is too high. There are things they prefer not to change. Things they do not want to give up. Lifestyles they are so accustomed to that they cannot imagine it being any other way. When we think the cost is too high, we just avoid believing, when even in the long run it may cost us everything for not believing. There is a price to pay for believing or not believing. Do not fool yourself into thinking that only one side has a cost.

So what truth are you ignoring today? Have you avoided certain choices or ignored things because of one of these reasons? There are consequences when we ignore the truth. I do not know what they will be for you. But usually believing the right thing is not as difficult as you have made yourself believe.

When It Takes Longer Than You Expected

They say that patience is a virtue. It very well may be, but it is not one that most of us possess. It is something that people pray for even though that alone is a clear sign we are not patient and want it now. As culture continues to move toward more speed and instant gratification, we will continue to struggle with this. Waiting on things can create tension that sometimes turns into frustration and maybe even anger.

Sometimes we are prepared to wait. We take our children to Disney World and the lines are long but had prepared our minds for the wait before we arrived. Even then we can find some frustration. The times that most often boil over in our lives are when things take longer than we expected. A good working definition of disappointment is unmet expectations. When things do not go as we expected we are disappointed.

This can be as minor as trying to make a quick trip to the grocery store that turns into a big ordeal or a problem in a relationship that we thought was a snag that has turned into a major conflict. What should have taken minutes or days has now turned into hours or months. Maybe we got sick and thought we would be over it in a few days only for the doctor to tell us this was going to be a long term treatment. When things take longer than expected it begins to take a toll on us. Some people get frustrated or angry while others get discouraged or depressed. There are reasons we get angry or discouraged. Here are a few of the reasons we struggle when things take longer than we expected.

 

We Feel We Have A Crisis

If it involves us, we feel it is the most important thing going on. When someone else is sick we find it easy to tell them that it will soon pass and that we will pray for them. When someone else’s marriage is in trouble we have exactly the right advice that will make things better. When it is us that is sick or struggling in a relationship, we feel like the world is going to come to an end. We feel like no one has ever experienced what we are experiencing. Our situation is different and we think that everyone should drop what they are doing to help us deal with our crisis. Our situation is probably not as dire as we think and it is highly unlikely others have not and are not going through exactly the same thing. But when our selfishness takes over we view ours as the worst and the longer it goes the bigger the crisis becomes in our minds.

 

We Cannot See The Entire Picture

We are not the only customer at the grocery store. We are not the only patient who is sick. We cannot always see what is going on behind the scenes; what the other people involved are dealing with in their own lives. More importantly from a spiritual perspective, we cannot see what God is trying to accomplish as He works all things together. We see our tiny little spot of the world and our limited situation. Recently in our business, we had items to ship for purchases customers had made. The customers were anxious to get their items. We had booked the freight in a timely manner with a national freight company. Occasionally, because we are in a rural area, it can take up to two days for the freight to be picked up. This time it took over a 1 week. The customers were upset with us because they felt we were not doing what we were supposed to do. We were upset with the freight company because we did not want to lose sales. Our freight broker was frustrated because he was providing a service from this company and the customer service reps at the freight company were confused as to why the terminal was not getting the freight picked up in a timely manner. All the while, the terminal was down two drivers and could not man all of their routes, but they were the only ones aware of that dilemma. Everyone had a small piece of the situation. Knowing one piece of information could have helped everyone else come to a different conclusion.

We Have Taken No One Else Into Account

We received bad service at a restaurant. They must be a terrible waitress or they have bad systems in the kitchen. Those are two common conclusions we come to in that situation. The reality is that the waitress may be struggling with a child who is sick at home and feels overwhelmingly guilty that she is at work and home caring for them. Between serving tables, she is stepping out back to call home to make sure the child is okay until she can get there and in the meantime, we finish our glass of water wondering where she may be. In our mind, she isn’t doing her job. In her mind, she has a more important job. What would happen if when we had bad service, instead of making assumptions we chose to engage that person and make sure they are doing well. Having concern for others will certainly change our perspective. It will also make delays a little more tolerable.

There is no way to avoid delays. Sometimes things will take longer than you expected. If we can understand that we are not the only ones involved and that others are working through situations themselves, we can manage the delays better and not get quite as frustrated. Delays will happen. How you handle it very well may affect the outcome.

Perspective: set your mind on things above

Recently our church staff has been reading Andy Andrews’ book “The Noticer”. The book is about changing your perspective in situations. Usually, the biggest obstacle we have is our own perspective. It is the way we see things. Our point of view. The apostle Paul wrote some similar words when encouraging people to take a different perspective. He said, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2 NKJV). He gave us some clear instructions to help our perspective.

Where you have your mind set matters. That is why they call it a “mindset”. There is a quote by Marcus Aurelius that says “The things you think about determining the quality of your mind.” Our approach to every situation will determine how well we deal with it and often what the outcome will be. How can this verse help us with perspective? Here are three things this verse says.

 

Perspective Is A Choice

You will tend to see what you are looking for. Paul instructs people to “set”. It requires intention. We hear from a young age that we can do anything we set our mind to do. Where we set our mind matters. It is our choice. If we tend to see what we choose to see, then choosing to see better things will make a difference.

Perspective Is Mental

Perspective is not really what you see anyway. It is what you choose to see. You can see problems or you can see an opportunity. You can see faults or you can find good. It is all in what you set your mind to see. That does not mean there are not difficult times or problem situations. It just means that where you set your mind will determine what you see.

Perspective Should Be Broad

Look up. He says to set your mind on things above. He is spiritually talking about the things of heaven and of Christ. I would tell you that looking up matters. It broadens your perspective. We often cannot see the forest for the trees. It is because we are focusing on this one small aspect. Look up and see the bigger picture. A broader perspective will help remove selfishness and self-centeredness.

 

Choose to set your perspective today. It will make a tremendous difference in every situation of your life. Things will improve even if nothing changes but your perspective.

Urgent Vs. Important

Many words have been written about the tension between urgent and important. In the 1960s, Charles Hummel published a booklet called “Tyranny of the Urgent”. In it, Hummel makes the case that there is a constant tension between things that are urgent and things that are important and that far too often the urgent wins. There is a story about a man named Lazarus that Jesus raised from the dead. Upon examination of the story, the raising from the dead is not even the point of the story. It is really a great picture of the tensions between the important and the urgent.

In the story, Mary and Martha need Jesus to come right away because their brother Lazarus is sick. Jesus decides to wait a couple of days. When he does decide to go, His disciples are scared that they are going to get killed if they go and so they try talking Jesus out of it. Lazarus dies and the sisters complain when He finally arrives. Jesus seems to repeat this constant theme several times: this happened for your sakes. They had urgent problems. A sick brother. A fear of being killed because of previous threats. Jesus was concerned about the important more than their urgent. He wanted them to believe in Him. everything that happened took place so they would believe more.

Important is a long term strategy. Urgent is a short term disruption. If you have not determined what the important things are, the urgent things will constantly drive your life. Many people go through life from one crisis to the next without ever taking the time to determine what they deem to be most important in life. Determining what is important requires some big-picture thinking. Where do I want to go? What do I want to accomplish? Who do I want to be? What kind of life do I want? It requires you to determine your priorities instead of letting your life be dictated by the current situation or need.

Someone else will be glad to set the agenda for your life and family. Sometimes we do not even realize how other things become urgent and take us away from the important. Social media has an agenda for your life. Television and other entertainment have an agenda for your life. So do retailers, websites, email, friends, and coworkers. They may not describe it that way, but they all have something they want and expect from you. If you allow their urgency to overtake your important you will find yourself following their path instead of yours.

I encourage you to take some time and determine what is important in your life and work to control the moments that the urgent disrupts your life. It will require you to answer some important questions and have the discipline to follow through and say no. Understanding the value of the important over the urgent can be life-changing.

Things That Cause Us Not To Hear

Have you ever had someone talking to you and then realize when they finish that you virtually heard nothing they said? Or being asked if you took care of something but not even remember being asked? Or talk with someone about a matter yet they hear something completely different from what you said? You have probably had all of those experiences and possibly others when for one reason or another, communication failed.

It is frustrating for important information to be missed leading to something not happening the way it was planned. This affects our job, our family, our marriage, our friendships, and our faith. Jesus said that His sheep know His voice and they follow Him because they know His voice. My wife has said to me that early in our relationship she could speak in a crowded room and I could hear her voice anywhere in that room. Now she says she can sit right beside me and a I don’t hear anything she says. I think she is exaggerating on both parts, but there is also a tinge of truth.

Why do we struggle to listen at times? Why do we miss important information? Why do people speak to us, especially those we love, and we miss part or all of it? I think there are several reasons why we do not hear what is being said. This is not a discussion on the differences between hearing and listening, but before we can listen intently enough to decide what someone meant, we first have to hear clearly enough to even start that process. Here are four reasons that cause us not to hear what is being said.

We Have Already Decided
As a pastor I see this happen frequently right in a church service. For example, someone comes to the stage at the time when the offering is typically taken. Some people in the room think they know what is going to be said so they immediately tune out the person talking. This person on stage may tell an important story about how someone’s life has been affected or they may make an announcement that people need to hear, but because we have already decided “they are going to take the offering” we listen to nothing else they say. How do I know this happens? Because some people start talking as soon as that person enters the stage. Other people get frustrated because they missed an event or someone tells a story about something that happened in the church and they say they did not know anything about it. The problem was they did not listen.

This happens in every place of our lives. We think we know what our spouse is going to say because we think things like “here we go again”. We think we know what our boss is going to say so we start before listening and miss an important change to a process. Don’t just assume you know what someone is going to say. Take the time to hear it, even if you have heard it before.

We Have Something More Urgent Going On
All of us have things going on in our lives and some of them are urgent. Some of those things are tragic, painful, exciting or joyous. There are times when something going on elsewhere in our lives overtakes the person directly in front of us. For example, if you are having trouble in your marriage, when you go to work, that urgent matter often overrides everything that is going on around you. When we have stressful things going on at work, it can cause us to miss things our spouse or children are saying to us because those stressful things dominate our thoughts. It does not matter what someone else says if we are thinking about something completely different while they are talking to us. If this is a one on one conversation, it would do us well to share this with them so they do not waste their time and we do not miss something important.

We Are Just Too Distracted
Most of us carry the number one distraction tool known to man around in our pocket: a smartphone. Every single day new things are being added to those devices to take more of our time and our mental capacity. No matter how nimble our brain, we all have limited brain power. Our capacity to pay attention and take in what is being said is a limited resource. We have names and diagnoses for people who struggle with paying attention but the problem is not getting better. Our senses are constantly being stimulated with something new going on and those distractions limit our ability to hear and to comprehend. Learning to manage those distractions will help us hear more and miss less of the important things we need to hear.

We Know Better Than They Do
We all believe we are good at something. We know more about certain things than other people. Truthfully, everyone is a “10” at something. If we know what our “10” is, we will struggle to listen to what anyone has to say about that topic. Success in any area of life will tempt us to tune out advice or instruction in that area. Why? Because we think we know better than they do. When we believe our idea or our way is better, we will limit our hearing about that subject. I have been in rooms where I knew I was more qualified than the person speaking and the tendency is to shut them off. What we need to remember is that we can learn something from everyone, even if we believe we know more than they do.

With a little intention, most of these obstacles to hearing can be overcome. Listening better can be life-changing. I encourage you to work at hearing what others are saying. You will miss less and grow more.

3 Most Common Reasons We Complain

Most of us have experienced catching ourselves complaining. If you haven’t, you may not have the self-awareness to realize when you are complaining. You do not have to have a special sense to find things to complain about. However, I have met some constant complainers who led me to believe that this “special gifting” may actually exist. All of us have things that we could complain about if we chose to.

The question I want to address today is “Why do people complain?”. Since every one of us falls prey to complaining from time to time, what are the things most likely to cause us to complain? Why are we susceptible to it? Are there some things we could be aware of that when faced, we could make a more deliberate choice. It may also give us some insight into what is going on with other people when they offer their complaints as well.

Unmet Expectations

Everyone has expectations. Some are expressed while others even the complainer is not even aware of. Expectations are always a conversation I have with couples prior to their wedding. Each person is coming into that relationship with expectations. Many of those expectations are subconscious, or things that they had not even considered. Things like who is going to handle the money, clean the house, and cook? How often should you have sex, what does conflict look like and how many children are they going to have? What will discipline look like for the children, will we get into debt and will one parent stay home with the kids? There is an expectation associated with every one of those questions and a thousand more. The problem is that we often do not verbalize them and when our expectations are not met, we complain.

When we go to a restaurant expecting to be served and the service is non existent or the food is mediocre when we expected it to be delicious, we are likely to complain. Anywhere we expected one thing and got less or different, we are likely to complain. We should be more aware of the expectations that we have and seek out the expectations of others so there is less complaining.

Lack of Understanding

When we do not understand something, a natural tendency is to complain. What we should be doing is seeking to understand, but instead we choose to complain so that we put the burden on someone else. It is someone else’s fault for not explaining it properly or not giving us enough information. None of us wants to feel “dumb” or like we do not know something. Even if we make an attempt to get the information we need we will often preface our question with something like “Can I ask a dumb question?”. But usually, instead of taking the effort to seek out what we need to know we resort to complaining to attempt to divert the problem to another person. It will also help us to know that when people are complaining about something we have done, what they actually may need is more information and clarification.

Something Completely Non-Related

Have you ever had the experience of having trouble at work and you take it out on your family? Or someone irritates you and the next person you come in contact with gets the brunt of it? I have seen this happen more than once in my own life (especially the second one) and I am aware that it happens to other people as well. So many things have the ability to affect our attitude. Sometimes our complaints have nothing to do with what is happening but rather something that has happened. If we can be self-aware, it will help us avoid things bleeding over where they don’t belong. It will also help us extend grace when complaints are leveled our way. It may have absolutely nothing to do with what we were doing. They may just be having a bad day.

No one wants to be identified as a chronic complainer. We usually avoid those people. When we are more aware of the things that cause people to complain, it will help us avoid doing it and understand others better when they do.

3 Common Reasons For Spiritual Resistance

I have heard it said that the enemy is not attempting to just ruin your day, he is trying to ruin your destiny. I am not sure if your experience has been like mine, but I suspect it has. It seems like every time I feel there is a significant move in my spiritual life, the adversary begins to work even more. Someone shared a Joyce Meyer quote with me recently that I think fits the scenario, “a new level, a new devil”. Why is that the case? Why does it seem the enemy works harder when we are moving closer to the place God desires in our life? I think there are a few common reasons that this happens. If we are aware of these things, it will help us overcome the resistance that we are experiencing in our lives.

To Keep Us From Things We Cannot See

I mentioned earlier that he is trying to ruin your destiny. He is trying to keep you from things you are not even aware of at the moment. There are things that God has prepared for you that you do not even have the ability to comprehend at the moment. We are reminded in 1 Corinthians 2:9 “That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” ” Satan desires to keep you from the things God has prepared for you and when your spirit is stirred, you become more aware of the direction He has for your life and therefore more opposition is needed.

To Disrupt Things We Can See

Think about the things God is already doing in your life. You very well may be operating in a very favored place that is exactly where God wants you to be and doing what God wants you to do. When you are in “the zone” as some athletes call it, one of the worst things that can happen is to have that disrupted. Disruption to our work keeps us from being as fruitful as we possibly could. Satan will use every tool possible just to slow things down. Disruption is just a tool to get you to look somewhere else.

To Distract Us With Things We Should Not See

Distraction has the ability to cause destruction. If we get our eyes focused on unnecessary things, it will take our eyes off of the most important things. Distraction has caused accidents, lack of productivity and missed information, among other things. Distraction is a great force. Our eyes on things unnecessary will hinder us from the things that are. In the modern day of technology, there are more opportunities than ever to be distracted.

If you feel you are experiencing spiritual resistance more than normal, be encouraged. It usually means God is also at work and you are listening. Just as the enemy offers us resistance, we have the power through God to resist him as well. Offer your own resistance and keep moving forward.

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About Me

I currently serve as Lead Pastor at Open Door Church and I am a certified trainer & coach with the John Maxwell Team. I am also an Associate Trainer with EQUIP training leaders around the world. I currently own two businesses related to the foodservice equipment industry. I am a certified speaker, teacher and coach with the John Maxwell Team. I can offer you workshops, seminars, keynote speaking, and coaching, aiding your personal and professional growth through study and practical application of John’s proven leadership methods. Working together, I will move you and/or your team or organization in the desired direction to reach your goals.