Tag Archives: reactionary life

Links I Loved This Week

I read a lot of articles and blogs on the interwebs. Here are my favorites this week.

Leadership

I’m a bit obsessed with Harvard Business Review, my favorites for this week were:

What’s Your Influencing Style? A great article about leading through influence rather than simply relying on a title.

No is the New Yes: Four Practices for Reprioritizing Your Life Incredibly helpful concepts and practicals to help be proactive in prioritizing life. Helpful for me in light of my Reactionary Life posts.

Seth Godin wrote about learning leadership lessons from congress. Mainly by explaining how horrible they are at it. It was enjoyable and sad that “representatives” are really corporate advocates.

Thom Rainer wrote 10 Lessons in Organizational Leadership from Steve Jobs. Incredibly helpful.

Christianity, Masculinity, & Parenting

Spurgeon & Manly Men is an older post but worth considering since the tendency is to try and nuance Christianity to where you have to just-add-Jesus to your current American Dream lifestyle and you’ll be fine.

Mark Driscoll wrote for the Washington Post “Why Men Need Marriage” which has some great thoughts. At the same time, we need to hold up God-glorifying singleness as high as we do marriage to encourage the healthiest marriages. Otherwise marriage becomes a point of idolatry.

(My Personal Favorite) Connecting Church & Home Conference audio. I’ve listened to the first 3 sessions and they are incredibly encouraging for parents. I highly recommend them.

Barnabas Piper wrote a blog titled Vehicles, Obstacles, & Parenting that cuts to the heart of how parents have a tendency to treat kids as a means to their own end. Really great thoughts.

The 4-minute video below titled Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus caused a big stir in the Christian blogging world, but I enjoyed it. His thoughts are worth watching and considering.

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The Reactionary Life: In Church

Last week I wrote about my realization that I have been living a reactionary life at home, at work, and at church in a way that has prevented me from enjoying life, enjoying relationships, and pursuing excellence in all areas of my life. I received some good feedback and some questions, so I thought I would elaborate on each of those areas as I seek to be proactive in the coming year.

In my job as a pastor I see the reactionary Christian life everywhere. Where there is a professed desire to have a quality devotional life or prayer life, but lacking a plan it never happens. This carries over into how we treat accountability relationships along with how we approach loving people who are part of the church and those who are not a part of the church.

This is a reflection to how we interact with God and what we believe about how we imitate God.

Is God Reactive or Proactive?

Does God wait for us to act and then come clean up our mess? Or let it all unfold until it gets really bad and then come help? Or do we have a God with a plan and the power to accomplish that plan?

Nearly every Christian would say yes to that last question, but if faith is proclaiming a trust in God and His plans so you will follow Him and His plans, then we have to check our verbal answer with the answer of the lives we live. The scriptures are clear that God had a plan from the foundation of the world and works with and through our human history to accomplish His perfect plans that scripture says can never be thwarted.

Now that could open up a number of questions or frustrations, but what it reveals is that we have a very proactive God. He even states His goals as restoring all things to their perfect design, wiping every tear from every eye, and implementing a reign of joy and peace with Christ as King one day.

Since we have a proactive God, the response of the Christian is both in reacting to God’s plans for His people and proactively pursuing His goals and His mission. This occurs in the way a Christian lives and the mission the Christian is on.

In the Christian’s Life

God being proactive in working for and toward specific things challenges us to know and participate in those specific things. For us to know and participate in these initiatives of God we must know God through His scriptures and by prayer. We must be a part of His community of people who worship Him and participate in His mission.

Scripture and Prayer

Many Christians know they should read their bible and they should pray, but many do not. This is both a want-to and how-to problem. The lack of want-to is part having not read the bible (because when you do, it draws you into more) and partly a heart bent on selfish desires that will be confronted by the scriptures. So we can’t just jump to the how-to without appropriately analyzing the lack of want-to. But there are times when you need to push pass the lack of want-to in order to know the benefits of scripture (same could be said of exercise or any other disciplined habit).

For scripture and prayer it often helps to know God’s purposes in giving us these is not a road map for life (though it has good advice) or to offer a wish list to the benevolent gift-giver (though we will never have without asking). The primary purposes of these are to know God and specifically to get to know Jesus Christ, who lived perfectly and died because of imperfections and sins, but then rose from the grave. Once you know the purpose is to know and be like Jesus, the need for these becomes hugely apparent (since I am not like Jesus often enough) and the need for how-to develop this habit increases.

Reading calendars such as the daily lectionary and the slew of other reading plans are immensely helpful guides to reading and reflecting on scripture daily. My challenge is always approaching these with a legalistic mindset of completion rather than in simply trying to commune with God and know Christ. I miss days (don’t tell!) and feel the need to catch up instead of picking it back up to meet with God.

Prayer can be the same way if you do not cultivate an understanding of it or a habit of it. Books like A Praying Life and Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire (a MUST read) have been immensely helpful in encouraging and informing my prayer life.

Community & Accountability

The church is intended to be a healthy family that loves one another like Jesus loves them. This doesn’t just happen, it must be pursued. If you are lacking community, become the type of community you want to be a part of by beginning to pursue and care for individuals within the community. Invite people to meals, to coffee, into your normal routines and habits and utilize those times to have personal conversations. I plan on elaborating on this in the coming weeks, so I’ll move on.

When it comes to accountability, we must ask the question of why. Are we pursuing this as a confessional booth or is this the way I become challenged to be more like Christ? The confessional booth accountability leaves people in their sins and flaws, even creates a seemingly inescapable cycle since it is focused on actions instead of on increasing faith in Christ.

Proactive accountability sees the aim of knowing and loving Christ as the true way to put to death sin (Colossians 2:20-3:4) as opposed to harping on getting better morally. Morality is first fruit, not first step in overcoming sin while knowing Christ is what ultimately makes sin seem worthless and trite. So gather in your gender small groups and begin to ask, “How is Christ becoming more valuable in your life?” and when sin comes up ask, “Where did you stop believing that Christ was enough?” Obviously these are a few of the many questions that could be asked, but the aim is always the same, it’s conforming to Christ’s way of life as opposed to your selfish desires.

On the Christian’s mission

God is proactively working to bring His good and gracious reign into reality in and through individuals that make up a community. If this is God’s aim, we must proactively make this our aim. This requires sacrifice and changing your lifestyle. If you are unable to have time to love and serve your neighbor like Christ, it’s likely that your schedule will have to shift to make margin for this. But more than your schedule will be required of you.

Entering into relationships to truly be like Jesus in healing the brokenness in people’s lives will require emotional strain, financial strain, and personal space strain. You have to be prepared for this, because there is so much joy in doing it.

All that goes into the Christian life and the Christian’s mission can seem like a big juggling acts of activities, but only really require one thing. That one thing is to love Jesus Christ and His gospel more than anything else. The result of knowing and loving the gospel is seeking God, loving other people who share your beliefs and loving those who do not. This is the pattern of believers in the scripture. Christ becomes supremely valuable so they devote themselves to knowing more about Jesus and embodying Him to each other and their neighbors.

The reactionary life prevents you from truly knowing God and participating in His mission. For the Christian, there is no other way than to become a proactive seeker of God. Believing in a proactive God leads us to become proactive followers.

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The Reactionary Life: At Work

Last week I wrote about my realization that I have been living a reactionary life at home, at work, and at church in a way that has prevented me from enjoying life, enjoying relationships, and pursuing excellence in all areas of my life. I received some good feedback and some questions, so I thought I would elaborate on each of those areas as I seek to be proactive in the coming year.

When it comes to reactionary work, I’ve been in situations and seen plenty of people in situations where the inbox never gets empty, the initiatives and projects they wish would be completed get relegated to the background for the immediate need, and their schedule is guided by the immediate need instead of by the goals of job.

So the question I continue to ask myself is how do I move from reactive to proactive and encourage others to do the same?

Love Your Work

The NY Times recently had a series of articles remembering people who had died and celebrating their life. One of them was Richard Geller, a teacher at Stuyvesant High here in NYC. He taught math for 43 years and died of lung cancer. His students had him speak at their graduation before he died. He challenged them about their future career:

Assignment No. 2: Find a career that you enjoy as much as I enjoy teaching math. You will be much happier with your life if you enjoy your job. And if your parents don’t like what you choose, that is their problem, not yours. When they see you happy in your life and career, they will be happy for you, too.

If you hate your job, just endure it, or wish you were doing something else, you’ll never be proactive at work. You will do just enough to get by, be bored due to the lack of challenge, and won’t think about how you can use your career or time at work for the benefit of others. If you hate your job, go find a new one and discover the work that makes you feel alive.

Every job has a loveable facet that must be cultivated in order for you to proactive and seek to use your work for the good of your co-workers and others.

Right now, I’m lucky. I love my job. I didn’t love my first job where I worked for the state government, was bored, told to pace myself to not finish quickly and not given enough work. It was miserable. I initially thought it was engineering, but it was really the company. I later committed to enjoying the parts of engineering that matched my skills, pursuing them wholeheartedly through sharing my goals with my boss and seeking out more knowledge over it.

The difference between hating and loving your job determines whether you will experience joy in work like you were made to experience. When you begin to even try to love your work it sparks a desire to make your office, your employer, and your clients be as successful as possible. This becomes the motivation for moving from reactive to proactive.

Cultivate Fruitful Work Rhythms
We all desire to be fruitful at work, to produce and accomplish great things, but much of that production is contingent on how we approach work. Are you exhausted and don’t want to be in the office or are you looking forward to the task ahead?

I’ve discovered there are certain things I do that greatly motivate me, refresh me, and enable me to work well. As a Christian, my fruitful work is the product of cultivating a rhythm of rest and work. In the creation account, God makes man on the 6th day, Sabbath rest is on the 7th and work starts the 8th. Rest leads to work. This is counter to the American work-for-the-weekend mindset, it states that we were created to do great work and rest provides the refreshing time to enable us to re-engage our work to be fruitful.

I’ve seen this to be true in my life not just in taking time off on my weekends, but also in my everyday. As a Pastor, my schedule is Sun-Thurs, but I have a household to care for which usually takes another day of work. Our family has designated one day a week where we don’t work, we don’t do homework, we don’t prepare for ministry, and we participate in activities that will be refreshing. This conviction has led to more work the other days of the week, but working more to enable a truly restful day is worth it. But rest doesn’t mean we do nothing, we feel refreshed by enjoying our city as a family, spending time reading, and occasionally watching movies.

In the everyday, my day starts off with scripture and a long walk to work, but long walks have always been refreshing for me providing time to think, pray, and then I get to work to read scripture, journal or type out my thoughts. This is what refreshes me to be ready to work well. For others it could look totally different.

I mean, my mornings involve Dr. Pepper, but yours could involve coffee.

Projects, Content, Meeting, and Email Time

Another change I have made is scheduling out my week. I’ve blocked off designated times for meetings, for working on projects, for reading books and online content and for email.

If I don’t do this, I end up booking so many meetings that I’m drained or trying to empty my Google Reader or email perpetually and put the projects aside for another time. This is part of me learning how I work best. I’ve learned that I have enjoyed reading blogs and books to get my mind thinking and brainstorming about new ideas.

At times this has turned into collaboration with others. Collaboration is different than meetings for me in that I want to discuss and dream about ideas rather than the details. I usually leave times of collaboration ready to work on my projects with more diligence and focus.

Email is usually the most challenging, since you can only put off some emails for so long before it is incredibly rude. But setting aside time daily and larger times weekly to crank out emails has given me a lot more freedom to stop stressing about the number in the parenthesis.

These are the things I’ve discovered change me from being reactive to proactive as I have approached work over the years. Obviously there is so much more that can and is done, so if you have an approach that is helpful to you, please leave it in the comments. My hope is that this sparks ideas for you as I know the frustrations of work when approaching reactively.

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